Auburn’s Tuberville Talks About the Arkansas Loss and This Saturday’s Showdown With Florida

By Posted on: October 10th, 2006 in Football Comments Off

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville held his weekly press conference on Tuesday and said the Tigers are still picking up the pieces from Saturday’s 27-10 pounding by Arkansas. He said there was a little hangover on the practice field Sunday but that things have progressed as the week’s gone on. 

Tuberville says there are no excuses for Saturday’s loss and there is obviously a lot of work to do. “We are getting ready for another SEC game. After last week, we have a lot of work to do, as we noticed. We have to coach better, we have to play better. Last week wasn’t anything that happened fancy. We just got beat. We got beat on our own field, which our guys have taken very hard, which is what you should expect,” said Tuberville.

Here are more comments from Coach Tuberville’s press conference courtesy of the Auburn Athletic Department

Opening Statement…

“We didn’t have a lot of injuries. Brad Lester went about half speed today. We’ll have to wait and see as the week goes to see if he is going to be full speed. Everyone else is starting to get back a little bit. We are still missing Cole Bennett and Joe Cope. Other than that it, looks like we are going to be pretty close to full strength. Tray Blackmon will be playing this week. He’s practiced well. He’s been looking forward to this. He is going to be a little rusty. He has never played in a college football game, so we’ll have to see how that comes.

“We are playing a very good football team in Florida, which is playing as good as anyone, not just in the conference, but in the country. The Gators have moved up very high in the polls. They are playing very well and is very opportunistic. People are making mistakes and they are taking advantage of them. They are very athletic. They have had top recruiting classes; I’d say at least in the top three in the last four or five years and it shows. They have players at every position. They do run a not very conventional offense. It’s a little different from what you normally see, so it takes preparation and time. Defensively, they are very aggressive. They make things happen. They challenge you in special teams. Their special teams are a little bit different from what you normally see, so preparation time is going to be a little bit longer this week.

“The coaches have spent a lot of time preparing through the summer and also starting Sunday. We have had to get back to fundamentals and basics. We needed to do that, and we still have a lot of guys who are making mistakes that we don’t need to make. Again, it’s one of those things where we just have to keep practicing hard, try to push them as much as we can. It will be a great atmosphere here this week, a lot of attention on this game, two top 10 teams playing each other in this conference. Our guys usually thrive on that. They’ve had good practices starting today and they are looking forward to hopefully playing better than what they played last week. We are looking forward to hopefully coaching better than what we coached last week, so it’s a lot of challenges.

“We have a lot of things in front of us. The world didn’t come to an end last Saturday afternoon when we lost that game but as you could expect, it’s taken very hard by a lot of people in this building. Again, we got beat by a good football team and that is going to happen if you don’t bring your A-game every week. Our players understand that.

“We started preparation today for another SEC game. It will be one that we are excited about because we haven’t played Florida in a while. We’ve had some very good games over the years. Auburn and Florida had played each year and always had a very competitive game. We are looking forward to the challenge this week, a night game. Our fans should be into it and it should be a great atmosphere for college football and the SEC.”

On Auburn’s “A-game” being able to beat Florida… 

“Well, you never know until you play, it goes both ways. Can their “A-game” beat us if we play ours and vice versa. We have a good football team. We have just not played a good football game this year. I thought one of our better games, on both offense and defense, might have been our first game of the season. There are several reasons we haven’t improved: injuries on offense, it is hard to shift gears in mid-stream, defensively we are still running some new schemes, and our guys are catching on to it, but we have just got to start grasping it better. This will be a tremendous challenge in all three phases of the game. Two good football teams — two of the better ones in the country — will play this week. Hopefully, we play to our potential, and we’ll see what happens.”

On Auburn’s defensive changes… 

“We have made some moves at linebacker with Tray (Blackmon) coming back. Tray Blackmon and Merrill Johnson will play outside linebacker, so to speak. It’s a little bit different in the scheme we are playing, but sometimes they will play inside. Karibi (Dede) has played middle linebacker before. He played all spring and some last year so it is not anything different. All three linebackers just have different responsibilities and they line up in different positions, but it’s all about concentrating and playing with good fundamentals and techniques. I think it will be good for us. We get a little bit more speed on the field with Tray. There will be a lot of attention about him playing, but we have got to remember that he hasn’t played in two years. He is going to be a bit rusty, but you can tell that he has fresh legs because he is moving a bit quicker than most people at practice, and he is going to be eager. How much he will play? We will have to wait and see. Merrill has also played well for us this year. Having both of those guys at weak side linebacker is like having two peas in a pod. There is not a lot of difference between either one of them. We will get a fresh look and a fresh set of legs with Tray, but I think the big move is moving Karibi inside where he can maybe get people lined up a bit more consistently than what we have had in the last couple of games.

On the Arkansas game… 

“You hate to say that we didn’t do the right things. If we go back and look at it, maybe if we did anything that affected our intensity, especially on defense, we might have done a little too much. I don’t want to go past the fact that Arkansas came to play, and they executed. They didn’t do a whole lot; they threw seven passes past the line of scrimmage. That is a tribute to them, knowing that they had a young quarterback on the road. We knew that, too. We challenged them, they challenged us, and they won the challenge is what it basically came down to. Are we going to cut back? Probably not. The thing we are making sure we are trying to do is to make sure that we don’t make as many mistakes consistently. You always make some, but that was a game our alignment sometimes caused us some problems. Not with the players, but by us putting them in positions for possibly the plays that they ran. They made plays and we didn’t, that’s the bottom line.”

On Brandon Cox getting rid of the ball earlier… 

“If you noticed Brandon last year, there were a lot of times when he held the ball two seconds, maybe closer to two-and-a-half. If there wasn’t anyone there, he would chuck it and get rid of it and understand and go back to the huddle. This year he might be pressing a little bit knowing that we haven’t been as consistent, maybe waiting a little bit longer to get the ball off. There have been several sacks — we have given up a lot of sacks this year — but several of those have been coverage sacks. Instead of him not getting the ball off and throwing it away, he has tried to make something out of something that’s not there. Again, that’s just a guy who is trying to make plays. Brandon has grown up. He understands the offense more and more. He probably needs to make a little bit quicker decisions sometimes to help his offensive line out, because you can only protect for so long. It’s a combination of things. Again, we have a good group of guys at receiver who are working hard. Rod Smith played one of his better games, he made some plays. It’s one of those things that if things don’t work, you can look at a lot of different areas. Basically, most of it is just lining up and playing your positions and don’t try to get too much out of something. If it doesn’t work, make sure you get to the next play and go on.”

On Florida’s two-quarterback system… 

“It’s nothing new. Their offense is like a no-quarterback offense. The tailback takes a snap and he either runs it or (Chris) Leak does a great job o throwing play-action passes off of their running game. They are a running football team that likes to throw play-action passes. They have a big guy that goes in in short-yardage situations who does a good job of following his blockers. They use their guards and tight ends as a lead blocker when they don’t have two backs in the backfield. It’s different than what you normally see, but it’s becoming more and more of an offense across the country. Two quarterbacks is a little different, but they have done a good job of game planning and knowing when to put him in. He’s been very efficient as a young quarterback in not making mistakes, of being patient and following blockers. He’s tough to get. He’s a big old boy. He’s a big kid. He’s very physical and makes you think he’s a big tailback running the football and not a quarterback type. It gives them a good one-two punch. Coach (Urban) Meyer has done a good job of utilizing both of them.”

On Auburn playing with less pressure… 

“Our guys look at is as one week at a time. The biggest thing in our profession is the work and effort and time these guys put into playing 12 games. I’m not talking about just the week of practice. I’m talking about from January all the way around. You don’t have many opportunities. So when you go out and you prepare like any team does, whether it’s us or any other team, and you go out and you are successful, you don’t have an opportunity to really think about it and grasp the moment. You find out a lot about your team during adversity, and we’ll find out a little bit more this week. This is the first time we have had a setback. You have to let it go. Just watching our players practice, even on Sunday, there was a little bit of a hangover. But you could tell that they are really looking forward to playing this game coming up. It was a good practice today, very energetic. The leaders took over and we got good leadership. You find out a lot about that. There’s no pressure on these guys. They know that they have to go out and win and normally you can’t lose two games on the Western side and have a chance to go to Atlanta. So there is probably a little bit more pressure in that area. I just want us to go out and play and hopefully start playing as up to our potential. It’s one of those where we just keep waiting for it to happen, but that’s the reason we practice and that’s the reason we keep playing. There will be another game after this one. We’ll just keep going on because we are just halfway through.”

On the Gators’ defense… 

“They are very aggressive. They do a lot of slanting. They move them a lot. They play a lot of man coverage. They do run some zone. They zone blitz. They are very active inside. Again, they play with their hands well. They are very athletic. They get off blocks well. I think they are averaging 56 yards rushing allowed. You force people to throw the football, sometimes when you don’t want to, and get them in long-yardage situations. It’s a real big advantage when you are a very athletic defense where you just turn it lose and get up the field. It will be a challenge for us. It will be a big challenge. They are very similar to LSU and we had some yards on LSU, but we struggled at times, too. It goes back to just being consistent and run your offense, try to make things happen and don’t panic when they don’t as we didn’t a few weeks ago. Again, we have to be a lot more consistent on offense against good football teams and against good defenses like this, which this will be one of the better ones we have played against.”

On the team pressing… 

“When you are struggling to score points, everyone starts pressing – coaches and players. You start looking around and asking `what are we doing wrong?’ It all gets back to just being consistent. A lot of times you want everything quick. When we play our best is when we take the ball and we are very patient. That’s what type of offense this is. This is a patient offense. We are not going to trick anyone. We try to be physical, try to run the ball. We play-action and we do a little bit out of shotgun. In the last few weeks, we’ve run 40-45 formations, which is quite a bit. Again, it all comes down to execution. On the offensive line, we have to get better. When we are beat up, maybe it is going to take a while to get better. We have a new center and some of our guys are beat up that are playing. Then you lose a senior tight end. You don’t only lose good football players, but you lose leadership. We have had to grow a new identity in the last few weeks. I thought that at times we looked pretty good, but at times we just shot ourselves in the foot, along with playing a good team in Akansas.”

On Tray Blackmon… 

“You break a rule and most of them understand what the penalties are. I always look at all of them different, but you also look at what is best for them. I wasn’t looking at what’s best for this team. We are looking out for these young kids and what is best for them 15-20 years from now. It will help our team, but it will help them more. I think that he is a much more attentive young man. He made a mistake and he understood he paid the price for it. I think he will be not only a better football player for us, but he is going to be a much better person. I think he understands that. The players have rallied around him. That’s what this is about. It’s about young guys growing up and being good people and understanding the difference between right and wrong. We are not looking for a way around it. We didn’t from day one. He knew it. I never had one player come to me saying, `we need him, we need him.’ Players understand that you do things the right way and you have the opportunity to reward with playing this game of football and representing Auburn. I think that is the most important thing.”

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