Head Coach Kevin Sumlin
There are several things we have to do to win these type of big ballgames. Need to find out where we are from a competitive and talent standpoint. Where are we from a depth standpoint in relationship to elite teams in the SEC. When we're on that field, we're comparing ourselves to the best teams in the nation. Number of things we have to do. Have to deal with our players now and where they are physically and mentally. Playing with schemes giving them a chance to win, which we've done. We must execute in those games to close them out, which we haven't done.
Second thing is to develop depth and increase talent level in recruiting. Effort has not been an issue this whole season. I'm very proud of this team's energy level and effort every week. It hasn't always been the right thing they've done but I don't think anyone can argue that they've been flat or haven't been ready to go. In game like that that's that physical, we defensively only let a few plays out, and against a great team that's what happened. But if you look at what we did defensively and physically, we crowded the line of scrimmage and had a great game plan. We defended some deep balls, got lucky on a couple of them and forced their QB to be accurate, and that gave us best chance to win game. I thought we executed defensive game plan as well as anything. We just needed consistency. LSU is a good team.
We're making strides defensively. Coming in to this season, the big question was how we can improve the defense and are we going to get manhandled. and I think our defensive staff has done a nice job of mixing things up and creating a mindset about the line of scrimmage. I think our defensive staff has done a nice job. Damontre has always been a talented guy. The biggest difference for him is he's grown up and matured. Talent is one thing, then consistency comes with growing up, and the ability to deal with success and failure. Knowing the difference between pain and injury, and extending yourself even when you know you're tired. He has developed into complete player, maintaining gap integrity, playing from sideline to sideline. He's fun to be around, he's growing up. As i said, the light comes on for people at different times and when it does you get consistency. That's all part of growing up.
All kinds of things have caused turnovers. We have a play where Ben Malena has finished run many times that same way and been pretty sure handed with the football, that's out. We hit Mike right in chest with ball and he takes his eyes off it...boom. Number of things are going on. We're working at it. Biggest thing is we haven't gotten any turnovers last two weeks. We have to continue to try and create turnovers defensively. We are playing solid. Last week was about as solid as you can be, but we haven't created any turnovers. Against a team of that caliber with that kind of speed, when the ball bounces up like that there's a better chance they're gonna get it than you. Turnover margin is a major stat. This league is very strong and very competitive, and very competitive not just on Saturday. People are finding out it's year round with recruiting. The coaches in this league are extremely competitive on the football field and in recruiting. Because of that there's some very talented guys in this league and some really good coaching.
No doubt this is a dangerous game. Same thing as Arkansas. You see they have it rolling again. Arkansas has some really good players and it looks like to me they said they have had enough. This team has similar circumstances. Backs against the wall and have lost some games. Prideful program coming two seasons off of a national championship. Players on this team in one of the storied programs in college football. Playing at home and we'll get their best shot. These guys have got a lot of pride, got really good players, being at home we're going to have to get over there and play our very best to get out of there. For our players it's exciting to go to these new places and play and see things. I think that's kind of helped our energy level, to enjoy that and see some things as seniors that you thought you'd never get to see. Everything is new to us. We try to create some excitement out of that. We have a way we do things in travel. From a record standpoint our road routine has been pretty successful. We won't do anything to change that with this stretch coming up. Change this time of year is how you practice. There is a delicate, fine line. No one is 100% in the country right now. Guys are beat up and you have to be able to balance getting your prep in, keeping your physicality, but not going overboard in trying to get your team to the field fresh. That's the challenge this time of year.
I thought for what we asked our offense to do, it was a really good football game. We have to get better, we know that. But you come out of that game saying I don't think at any point we got "manhandled" like some thought would happen to us the whole year. Our players understand the challenge. We know we can play better and we need to play better. LSU had a lot to do with that. I think our offensive line did good enough job to give us chance to win too.
If you play golf, you know there can be just the slightest things that can make the difference. Some days you can't do anything wrong. Sometimes it's mental. We're working through that. He's an extremely talented guy. No one cares more about it than he does. You look at where we are right now with some of critical errors that happened in a big game like that, you have some redshirt freshmen playing. Turnovers at one spot. The ball hits a guy right in the chest, field goals...all one thing in common. We're not gonna give up on these guys. These guys are talented. Put them in position to play big games at highest level. They've made plays for us before and they'll continue to get better. Because of that we'll keep working with all of them.
On Emory Blake...
We recruited him hard at Houston. I haven't seen him since then. Here's a guy who has played on a national championship team. 6-2, big, athletic player. He's been around the game all of his life. Great student athlete. Great representative for them. Wish him all the best except for this Saturday and he knows that. Guy we'll have to pay attention to.
On Auburn's Running Backs...
Auburn RBs extremely explosive. They've had three top 10 recruiting classes in a row. Guys there that can really do it. Both guys are wire-to-wire backs and they're not little. Just like anything else you prepare for it but hope they don't get on track this weekend. We have to continue to tackle well. Thought last week we tackled a lot better than probably all year long, even on perimeter. It wasn't always pretty but we got guys on the ground. We have to continue to work at creating turnovers defensively and take care of ball offensively. If we can continue to do that we can be successful.
Positives from Playing LSU Close...
There are no moral victories in this deal. You guys know that. All you care about at end of year is wins and losses. Nothing else to that. But what you can take from it is analyzing your program internally, noting where you are at, and what you have to do to be at that elite level.
Defensive Coordinator Mark Snyder
I was very pleased with our physicality. I thought we matched them physically. I thought our guys did a great job and held up pretty well. Deshazor set the tone for us at that game on defense. Right off the bat he set the tone. Felt way he was playing and Dustin was holding up we didn't want to rock the boat. Howard Matthews did well. He had a great week of practice. He can still improve in some areas but played pretty well for us.
On lack of turnovers...
We work on sudden change (turnovers). Obviously we need to work on it more. We have to be better. Great, dominant defenses take the field with attitude after sudden change. And I didn't quite feel that.
Obioha is really playing well. He's playing with a lot of confidence. He's going to be a really good player around here.
Damontre has become the complete player. Chasing the football, taking on blocks. Tackling very well. Tackling with a purpose. Not only that, but he's 100 plays in and still doing it. That's pretty impressive.
Turnovers are the ebb and flow of game. Another disappointing thing no doubt. We have to create turnovers. Give LSU credit they do great job not turning ball over. We talk to guys about taking ball away. Turnovers are something offense gives to you. We have to take the football away in this league.
Auburn very talented group. Little bit young but very talented. Great coaches. We are expecting their best. They will come out humming at home and at night. We'll have our hands full.
Offensive Coordinator Kliff Kingsbury
I was pleased with the game plan and wouldn't change it if had to do it over again, just not turn it over at crucial points. The effort was outstanding. The defense gave us the ball back with chances to win the game but we didn't get it done, that's the most disappointing.
On Johnny's turnovers...
Two of those weren't Johnny's fault at all and on the other one the guy made a good play. Will have that against team like that. I would never tell him to not do his thing, that's what he does. He fights and does whatever he can to help his team out.
I think you learn from every rep at this point. That was game 7 for him. Three of those games he didn't play the whole game. Any live reps will be great learning experience for him.
Play of the offensive line...
O-line fought hard, that's a great defensive line. Protection was pretty solid most of day. We felt like we were able to do what we wanted to do offensively. Didn't have to change schemes in the game.
I thought LSU had great scheme. We hit them with things early they hadn't seen. Don't think their level of play wavered. We missed some opps and turned ball over. To their credit they made that happen.
Auburn has been put in tough spots this season. They have a solid defense. They will be a great challenge. Sumlin doesn't make big deal about being on the road. We have a routine and we stick to it. Embrace the challenge and have fun with it.
Tuesday Press Conference Notes
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