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Auburn’s Tuberville Addresses The Media

By on September 19th, 2006 in Football Comments Off

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville held his weekly press conference Tuesday and much of the talk centered around the health of his team. Much has been written this week about the condition of the Tigers following a physical 7-3 win over sixth-ranked LSU Saturday.

Brandon Cox did not practice Tuesday but is expected to play on Saturday against Buffalo. Cox suffered a deep leg bruise in the win. Also expected to return is cornerback Jonathan Wilhite. He also missed Tuesday’s practice.

While a lot of the Auburn players are hurting today, all are expected to play on Saturday with the exception of tight-end Cole Bennett who had surgery yesterday and could be out the rest of the season.

Below are some of the comments made by Tuberville during Tuesday press conference, courtesy of the Auburn Athletic Department…

 

 

 

Opening Statement … 
“It’s good to be back on the practice field. We had a very good practice and had some guys that were very sore, obviously from last week’s very physical game. Brandon (Cox) was out throwing and running, but he wasn’t ready to practice. He will practice tomorrow. Kenny Irons is about the same way; Karibi Dede too. We have several guys who are kind of slow today, but should be picking it up more as the week goes on.

“We had a very spirited practice. Guys practiced hard. Sometimes when you are coming off of a game like that, you can feel a sense of a letdown, but there wasn’t any this morning. It was good to see the guys bouncing around, having fun and trying to get better. Obviously, last week was a big week for us. It’s up to the coaches and I to get these guys ready to play our second non-conference game out of four.

“Buffalo is a team that we obviously don’t know a lot about. We have never played them before. They’re from the MAC; we usually play someone from the MAC every few years. It’s usually a game where you get a lot of looks. Buffalo is a little different offensively; they run a lot of formations. They do run the football. They are pretty much balanced on offense. They have good running backs and they have a quarterback that has been there before.

“They have scored some points this year. They have had two overtime games. You can tell they have been playing hard and doing things to try to make themselves better with a new head coach, Turner Gill. They look different than they did last year; we already looked at last year’s film. Defensively, they are a little bit like us in that they run a four-man front. They fly around because they have a lot of speed on defense and it should be a little bit of a carryover of what we do to be able to work against ourselves to put the game plan in.

“Again, today was a good practice. It was probably a little better than I thought it would be knowing that we are coming off of that big victory. We have good senior leadership and the guys are doing a good job of telling the younger player you have to go back out and get ready. Another week will be here before you know it. It’s good to see the guys respond.”

On Brandon Cox 
“He is going to play. He is going to get out there and go. You would like to say you can play a lot of players, but we never approach a game like that. We want Brandon to go in and we are not a `rolling ball of butcher knives’ right now on offense. So we have to get better at running, throwing and blocking; all of it. We are not going to be able to do what we would like to do if we don’t get better on offense. You don’t get better without practicing or playing. We want to go out and play a more balanced game this week. We want to be able to do some things that we haven’t been able to do. But Buffalo will have something to say about that. We are approaching it as a game where we have to go out and get everyone ready to play and play hard-nosed football like we have been playing.”

On the need to win impressively… 
“I don’t worry about that at all. I’m sure there are people who don’t know much about us. Obviously, there are a few that don’t. They’ll look at the scores, but that’s not what this program is about. We want to go out and play as best we can and we’ll take one point every week and we’ll go on with it. We are going to approach this game like it is going to be a hard fought game, which it will be. It will be a good challenge. I know everyone is saying they are a new team and all that, but you have to prepare and you have to mentally be ready to play and go out and get it done. We are not practicing for next week. We are not thinking about last week. We try to get our guys focused on this week.”

On Buffalo head coach Turner Gill… 
“He made a name for himself and got a job at a pretty young age. It’s a great opportunity for him. In their first game, they won in overtime. You can tell they have played hard. They are getting better. He wants to be a balanced offense and they are working at it. They are working at getting better each week. I can just faintly remember some things that he did, but he was a very good football player.”

On Auburn’s depth in the secondary… 
“Last week, it wasn’t very good once we kicked the ball off. Patrick Lee practiced full- speed today. Everyone will be back. Jonathan Wilhite did not practice but will by the end of the week. It’s a hamstring, but it did swell a whole lot. It’s not one of those that is going to be five or six weeks. Hopefully, it’s just a matter of a few days. He has spent a lot of time in the training room. Other than that, everyone should be about the same. It’s good to get Steve Gandy back. He is going to be on all special teams and will play a lot at linebacker this week. Kevin Sears is doing well playing at middle linebacker and outside at SAM and most special teams. It is good to have a little bit more depth back there going into this game.”

On Blake Field 
“Blake did well last year when he had the start against Western Kentucky when Brandon was sick. We have always liked to play our backup quarterbacks in most any game that we play. Last week wasn’t one of those. Against Mississippi State, he got to play some. As you go through the season you want to get your backups in as much as you possibly can even when the game is still in doubt as we did with Brandon when Jason (Campbell) was playing. In 2004, Brandon went in several times in the first quarter and second quarter, so we’d like to get a lot of these guys in game a lot more. We are playing a lot of defensive players, but again, we are not hitting on all of cylinders on offense. We are still trying to work out our timing and kinks out on the offensive side of the ball and it’s hard to do that when you are playing a lot of players.”

On Tim Hawthorne 
“He is practicing with the offense every week. He is learning it more and more. I think that is what is going to be more beneficial to him. You never know what is going to happen down the stretch, so he is one of those guys that’s just hanging right on the edge. He has a lot of talent and he really has good work ethic. You need a lot of receivers in practice with what we do. We’ll keep him down with the varsity and let him practice and learn as we go along. You don’t know what is going to happen, so he is one of those guys who is kind of out there practicing and waiting to see what happens the next few weeks.”

On Cole Bennett, Gabe McKenzie and Tommy Trott 
“Gabe and Tommy have played well. They don’t have the experience that Cole has had. I hate it for him, being a senior. Yesterday, Cole was operated on. It was successful. They did have to insert a screw, and they are very optimistic of when he can come back. Obviously it is going to be quite a few games. He wants to come back by the end of the season — maybe the last two or three games of the regular season — but you never know how that is going to work until you get into the rehab and how fast he progresses. It was a break and he has some rehab time in front of him. Gabe and Tommy are doing good. They have practiced and played a lot. We did move Michael Goggans up as a precaution. He will not play right now until we find out how things go with those two. A couple of years ago, we did play Leon Hart in a situation in three tight ends where we didn’t have three tight ends. We just played two tight ends and three offensive tackles, so we could get back to that scenario. Again, Michael has a lot of work to do to learn the offense.”

On the saying `play every game like it’s the national championship’ … 
“Most of these guys, especially the older guys, understand that you only have so many opportunities to play. The only time it’s really fun in college football is on Saturday. It’s not during the summer, or two-a-days or spring practice or the weight-lifting. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into a season. You always look forward to playing and our guys look forward to playing this week. That was a very emotional and physical game last week as we all know it was going to be and it was a conference game, which sets it apart from most games anyway. Our players put a lot into it, but again, I’ve seen a good mixture of younger and older guys down looking at film, getting ready for this game. I think that is just maturity. This is the biggest senior class we’ve had and they are very good away from the coaches with the younger players. You have to count on your seniors in a lot of games. Last week we knew the players were going to be ready. You really have to lean on your experienced players and your older guys who have been around, knowing that when Saturday gets here, no matter what you’ve done the week before, you have to be ready the next week. You can’t lose an opportunity to get better in this business.You have to take every opportunity and play every snap the best way that you can. We will find out a lot about some more players this week. Hopefully, we can play a few more than we’ve played.”

On the offense… 
“We are looking for consistency. If you are going to win this conference; you have to set yourself apart on offense as well as defense. You can’t lean on the defense every week or on the kicking game every week. As Al (Borges) and I talked immediately after the game, that’s one that he owes Will Muschamp and the defensive guys because they gave us an opportunity to win that game.

“When you play a season, different people are going to step up each week. The offense needed the defense this week and there will be times that the defense will need the offense. Is there a concern? No, there is not a concern. We have the ability to be a good offensive team. I’d like to see us step out a little bit more the next few weeks.

“We knew last week was going to be a low scoring game unless there was a lot of turnovers. In the Mississippi State game, we played well, but I knew the guys were looking ahead. Our players need to know that we have to get better on offense for us to be successful in the conference this year. We just are going to have to be a little bit more explosive. Our offensive line is going to have to protect a little bit better because we gave up a few sacks the other day, a couple that were on screen passes where the effort was there but we just missed an assignment. We need guys to step up and make plays because you can’t lean on Courtney Taylor every week at receiver and you can’t lean on Kenny Irons. Different guys have to step up.

“We are going to be a good offense and they are working hard and the players understand that offense is a lot harder to play than defense because it is all execution. Eleven guys have to do their thing every time; a couple of guys make mistakes and it’s not going to work. Right now, consistency is our main concern. Last week, we won the ballgame because we were the only team that made a 75-yard drive without making a mistake and that’s the reason we won the game. Now, we need to do it four or five times a game.

“This week, hopefully we do more of that. We can learn from it and get better. That’s the reason you practice and the reason you keep harping on concentration and focus and finish with offense. It’s a timing issue, but it’s also an issue where players have to understand five plays in a drive sometimes might not get you across the goal line, you might have to go ten or twelve. We are not to that point yet. We have a great opportunity to get there.”

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