"It Was A Slugfest, And They Made More Plays"

SAFETY DEREK PEGUES: "We were down. We fought hard, we gave them everything we've got and still came up on the short end. But like Coach Croom says, we've got a 24-hour rule so tomorrow we have to get this out of our head and get ready for Georgia Tech."

Coach said you were the first to speak up in post-game: "Yeah. Everybody's head was down. And we can't let one game just end our season like this. We've got nine more games left and we're going to go out and fight hard. And hopefully we've still got a chance to win the SEC, you know. We can't let this get us down so I just wanted to keep everybody's head up and spirits high."

Would you have imagined holding Auburn to three points and not winning? "Not really. But that's the way the game went. The offense fought hard, Auburn's got a good defense, too. The offense fought hard and the defense fought hard. At the end we missed a play too, you know. We let them gash us on that third down and run the time off the clock. So it's just as much our fault as it is offense."

How did those three post-patterns happen? "They caught us in the right defense. We were in a middle-field safe, and watching film they didn't run a lot of posts; they ran a lot of other routes. They switched it up on us a little bit, and hit a couple of big passes. But we were able to stop them and keep them out of the end zone."

Is it a helpless feeling on the sideline watching the offense? "Nah, nah. It's our job to go out and stop them wherever the ball is set down. The offense has their job to do and we have our job to do. And no matter where the ball is fielded it's our job to go out and stop them. Auburn has a great defense, we missed a couple of plays. But it's not a helpless feeling. Everybody was struggling, we knew what kind of game it was going to be when we came in. It was a slug fest and they made more plays than we did at the end of the day."

PUNTER BLAKE McADAMS: "We came in wanting to keep returns to a minimum, pin them to the sideline. He's a great returner and he showed on one of them, if you don't pin him in he's going to return it. But I think for the most part we did a really good job of it."

How did the wind affect your kicking? "It was a factor, definitely. But for some reason I kicked better into it a couple of times! The style we were going go to, if it's not solid it's not going anywhere…which I had a couple that didn't."

Was the snap mis-handled on the field goal? "It doesn't matter if it's clean or not, it's my job to get it down. It's both of our jobs to get the snap, the hold, the kick, all three of us, and I didn't do my part getting it down. I just couldn't get my spot, I pinned it on the ground and tried to get it up and the timing was off."

"I just take them one at a time. Two times or 20 times you have to approach every one one at a time and you can't think ahead."

Can you explain the lift it gives pinning a team deep? "Oh, it does, it lifts everybody up. The crowd, the team, everybody. You get a chance to pin them deep and get good field position for your defense. And a lot of times you get turnovers down there, too, like tonight we got a safety."

What was the locker-room tone after Coach left? "Just keep your heads up. We fought hard. 3 to 2, you don't see many of those games! Our defense played their hearts out. And our offense is working, getting better. We've just got to pick our heads up and take them one game at a time. We've got nine more left, nine more opportunities."

DEFENSIVE TACKLE JESSIE BOWMAN: "I know we went out and played very hard. We're aware we missed a couple of plays on defense and offense but we're going to bounce back next week."

The defensive line set the tone: "We don't have no all-stars, no big-name players. We just have blue-collar workers that come to work every day. We were very much prepared due to our coaches, and we just went out and played hard like we normally do."

Could you imagine losing holding Auburn to three points: "No! That's how the chips fell. We're just going to bounce back next week."

How do you make stops, then have go right back out there? "We're used to it. We're used to going out and playing, we were very much aware of that."

How difficult is playing the no-huddle offense in a spread system? "We were prepared. Our coaches did a great job preparing us for that, so we were ready for it. Hats go off to our coaching staff."

You did a lot of mixing fronts, three and four man: "That's our scheme, we do that throughout the year. We're really aware of that."

Was it hard to believe how often the ball came loose, how many chances you had? "No sir, watching film we were very much aware they'll put it on the carpet. So we were going out to get the ball."

"Missed opportunities, every time we got an opportunity we wanted to score points. There were some missed opportunities out there. But we'll bounce back."

QUARTERBACK WESLEY CARROLL: "We had been in this position before. Just like the Egg Bowl, just like the Liberty Bowl. And we were one play away the whole night. Because we had them where we wanted them, we were a touchdown the whole night from going ahead. And we just didn't make the play."

"We'll bounce back, I'm sure, this team. We started out with a loss in the SEC last year and we still did pretty well. There's a lot to work on, and we'll be alright."

What was impressive about Auburn's defense: "The fact that their team speed is just tremendous. They fly to the football. They fit well on defense, clogging up holes, and they were tough. They were really tough. They had great effort all game and I think we had great effort all game. There was no problem with how we played effort-wise. We just have to put it all together."

His view of the throw to Brandon McRae that was intercepted: "No, I didn't get a good look. I was obviously pretty far away from the play. It's something we'll have to look at on film. And I know B-Mac nine out of ten times is going to make that play. Something got the best of him. But he'll come back next week and I'm sure he'll perform to his best. That play did not win or lose the ball game, there were plenty of opportunities that we had as an offense to get a first down or keep a drive going and we didn't execute."

What do you think about when those plays keep coming back empty? "Other than the fact that we know we're capable of making these plays, it just hurts. It hurts inside because we know we gave great effort. And it wasn't about them out-playing us; they were a great defense but bottom-line we beat ourselves and we did not make the play when we needed to. And I'm sure we'll work on these things and be better-prepared for next week."

What missed opportunities are going through your mind right now? "Well, we missed two fourth-down opportunities that I can remember. And the philosophy of this team on offense is if we have a fourth down we've got to get it. We didn't make the play when we needed to, but I'm sure we'll work on it and correct the mistakes we made."

It looked like a lot of roll-out passes were called: "It really wasn't so much that, they were giving it to us. We were able to make plays on the perimeter going out, and were pretty successful with that all night. Obviously they have a great pass rush and that was working well. That's why we stuck with it."

The 4th-and-1 in the third quarter, was that supposed to go to the tight end or the fullback? "That play, the primary route is the fullback. And they had it covered from the start. We'll have to look at it and maybe we should have called a timeout, but that's not here nor there. We have to come up with that play one way or another."

The running game struggled without Dixon: "Well, I don't think anybody has any doubt Ducre can carry the load because he's a great running back. Obviously that's the greatness of having two backs able to play like that. I'm sure A.D. will come back strong and be back soon and in his absence Ducre will be just fine."

Was it a surprise to go for 4th-and-15? "I know obviously the coaches know more than we do, as far as seeing what the defense is giving us from up-top. And we had an opportunity to make a play, once again we just couldn't make a play. We'll go back to the drawing board and correct it."

OFFENSIVE TACKLE DEREK SHERROD: "We prepared pretty good and we worked hard for it."

The 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter: "We ran one of the best plays that we had; unfortunately people make mistakes. I don't know the specifics about it but it came down to who wanted it the most. Unfortunately we came up one yard short."

What about their defensive front made establishing the inside run so tough? "It's basically the details. They worked hard as a unit because that's the main thing you have to do, as an offensive or defensive line. They did a very good job of that."

"We were basically going to do what we always do because we're based on a running team and that's what we know how to do best. We were going to go out and prove we know our fundamentals and do what we do best. We did a good job of that."

Last year after disappointing losses you heard the criticism; do you tune that out this week? "Yes, sir. Everybody is going to come up short every now and then and it's basically how you bounce back. You have to come back next week and work harder and take this as a learning experience. Because the game could have went either way at any point. You have to better prepare yourself for next weekend."

"I felt pretty good out there, I just wanted to work as hard as I could for my team."

DEFENSIVE TACKLE KYLE LOVE: What made the defense so much better than the previous two games? "We just knew we had a hard team to play, not saying the other two teams we played weren't good, but we just knew we had a lot of pressure on us as a defense. Everybody kept talking all week about how we were playing the number 9 ranked team in the country, so we knew we had to step up our game and come out and play hard. We knew Auburn was a strong, powerful team so we knew we had to strap it up and play hard."

The defense didn't seem to have much of a problem with the spread offense. What were you doing to neutralize it? "Everybody just filled their gaps and did their assignments. And we wanted to keep everything inside the defense so we could make plays and make tackles."

How difficult is it to lose after such a great effort? Does it make the loss even tougher to take? "I wouldn't say it makes it tougher. We all just know that we have to come out next week and put this game behind us and play Georgia Tech. We need to win against Georgia Tech and not let Auburn beat us twice."

Do you think the defensve will be able to put forth this same kind of effort against Georgia Tech next week? "Oh yeah, we are going to keep this effort. That's the only thing that we can control - effort and attitude. So we are going to keep on playing our game, rush the quarterback, make sacks, make tackles and keep playing hard."

Since you have been here, where does this defensive effort rate? "I would rate this performance high because we played really good as a defense. We came in and jelled and flew around and made plays."

If you can disregard the loss for a second, can you look at this game as a confidence booster for the defense? "Yeah, we do. But we still have to put it behind us and not let the same team cause us to lose twice. We just need to come out against Georgia Tech and not think about the Auburn game."


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