Todd Van Emst
Head coach Gene Chizik and Auburn players discuss the Tigers' win over the Aggies.
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik
"Obviously, it was great to get a win today. That is just as simple as I can put it. I am very proud of our team because again I feel like they have worked every week. I feel like again today, they deserved it. They deserved to win, and they deserved for several guys to get to play who haven't gotten to play a whole lot this year, and I am just proud of them. I am happy for them. Again, I think this is something that you can build on. We have a great SEC game coming up next weekend, and it is going to be extremely tough, but we will take some things that we did a little better this week than last week, and we will try to build on those, and we will continue to work every day in practice and try to improve. We know what we have cut out for us next week, but we are going to enjoy tonight and enjoy the victory."
On QB Jonathan Wallace in his first start
"I couldn't be more proud of a guy. I felt like the beginning of the game for him when you are a starting quarterback, I said it during the week, that it is a whole different entity as coming in as a role player and things of that nature. So, Jonathan started off a little bit slow. He took a big hit in the game and never came out. He is just one of those tough guys. I couldn't be more proud of him. We will look back tomorrow and see some things obviously that he can do better, but overall I couldn't be more pleased with the way he managed the team, directed the team, made plays at critical times in the game when we needed them, and for a young guy to come in there in his first start, I am sure he will be very critical and hard on himself. That is just the way he is, but just looking at it from the naked eye and what I know, I am very proud of the way that he performed."
On how Daren Bates' fumble return for a TD changed the game
"Well it did. We have been waiting for something like that to happen defensively for us all year long for something big to happen with a turnover or a turnover for a touchdown or something big to happen, and I think that certainly gave us a spark. As I've said before, this game is so much a game of momentum swings back and forth. That was one of the momentum swings that we just really haven't been able to get most of the year so I thought that was big for our team to get that. Again, I think that kind of spring-boarded us for the rest of the second half."
On Auburn's running game with Tre Mason getting 22 carries
"Well at halftime we knew they were putting eight or nine guys up around the line of scrimmage, and we just felt like we still needed to run the football. We had to stay at it, and we had to stick with it. We went back to some counter game and some things where we thought even with eight or nine guys down there, we still had an opportunity to stick the ball up there and run it. Sometimes they had to make a guy miss that was unblocked or whatnot, but they ran the ball well. Onterio (McCalebb) ran the ball well. I was very proud of him tonight on some different things and Tre (Mason) ran it well. Again, we just felt like we had to be able to do that in this game particularly as you get in the third and fourth quarter with a team that you feel like that you should be able to wear down eventually and that is kind of the way it unfolded."
What was the difference today running the ball so many times despite New Mexico State stacking the box?
"Well, we took several shots down the field number one. Even the one that was a great catch by Emory (Blake) on the sideline there I think was in the third quarter. With Jonathan, we were going to take five or six shots down the field, and we just had to do that if they are playing everybody up there. You take five or six down the field, you are going to hit one or you are going to get a pass interference here or there. So, we started to do a little bit more of that trying to loosen that up some, but still at the end of the day, we just felt like matchup-wise, us continuing to run the football that would be our advantage at the end. It is hot out so we just felt like at some point in the third and fourth quarter, we could wear them down some with the run game. But we also, again, took our shots down the field and tried to loosen it up a little bit, but those two things combined, we just stuck with it."
What did you discuss at halftime leading only 7-0?
"It was very obvious. They put everybody up there and said you are not going to run the ball so we had to make a little bit of an adjustment like I said with the counter game and some things directionally that we felt gave us a chance to run the ball. But, it was based on some of that. Again, they did a nice job. Conceptually, they were very bent on putting enough guys up there where we couldn't run it, but at the end of the day, I think our receivers really got into the perimeter blocking and took care of some of their drop down safeties and we made some big blocks running off the corners. Again, we were able to get some running backs in there that would make a guy miss here and there. I think Onterio made a couple of guys miss on a couple of his big runs."
With so many emotions after the game, after leading only 7-0 at the half, is their relief to get a win when so much has gone against you this year?
"I don't know if relief is the right word. There were a lot of guys who were extremely happy, coaches and players in the locker room. It's been a little while since we have had that feeling so obviously, it was good to see everybody with a smile on their face and again having a good win. This football team, again, we watched them last week against Louisiana Tech. They really played a pretty good football game, and the score was 7-0 at halftime of that game, too. Louisiana Tech we know can score a lot of points. So, this wasn't going to be a game where we walked in there and just rolled over. It was going to take a lot of work. So, I think it was obviously great to have the win, but also it was great that we didn't always execute everything just right and just perfect, but we kept pounding away and pounding away and pounding away. We ended up with a win that was very good for everybody."
On finishing the third and fourth quarters very well today
"Well, I definitely think we have finished the third and fourth quarters better than we have all year. I don't think there is any question about that, particularly in the fourth quarter. I am not sure exactly what the stats were, but that was definitely a quarter that we finished the game."
Do you look back and maybe say you should have gone with Jonathan Wallace earlier in the season?
"I don't. You know I don't. As a coach, you know the instinct that you use and the instinct that you have, you have to go with it, and I don't look back and second guess things. I am very happy with where he is at right now, and I think his progression in learning and executing has increased and improved week by week. I am just very proud of him for where he is at this moment, and we are not going to look back and play the what if game."
On Auburn's third down defense
"We thought we were getting close to getting a shutout which was really, really good to see. It was good to see our defense score. Our third down defense again with the exception of last week, we've been making progress on that all year and so our pass rush was better today. Our third down stops really helped us in certain situations. Again, we are still not playing the ball in the air as well as we would like to. There are too many long completions out there where we feel like we are in position to make plays, and we are not getting that done. But again overall defensively the pressure was on the quarterback a lot better than it has been, and this was a team that really was adequate at throwing the ball and that was kind of their forte. So, I think our defense stepped up to the plate today."
On Daren Bates' stiff-arm en route to his fumble return for a TD
"I am just glad he scored. I am just glad he scored. I was very happy for him. Again, I was very happy for our defense. Again, we are just looking for some things happening. Again, we are hoping to take some of those momentum swings and build on them for next week because we certainly know that we have to do that to be able to play against a team like Georgia, we are going to have to have some momentum swings on both sides of the ball that are going to be instrumental in staying in the game and winning the game."
When you saw Daren Bates' stiff-arm, did that charge you up?
"Well, it is exciting when you see the sideline get jacked up about stuff like that and of course our fans as well, too. Right now anytime we can get any kind of electricity going in the stadium however we have to get it. I am as happy as anybody."
How far can you carry over the fun and confidence from today to next week?
"Well, they had fun today, and that is a great point. They did. They had a lot of fun today and of course, the fun you have in football is when you win. So, I think it can carry us a good bit. I really do. We have the capability to come out here and play very, very well against very tough teams. I know we have that capability. It is in us and today I hope offensively and defensively, we can take some of the things that we have been working on. Today, we actually executed them in a game. We rushed for (311) yards, but we managed the game well. Defensively, we did some good things on top of that so you hope you can parlay that into something tomorrow when we go back out there and we start work again for Georgia. You hope you can parlay that into some excitement and generate some fun back into the game for these guys."
On Jay Prosch and Trovon Reed scoring TDs
"I love watching Jay Prosch play. You guys probably see a lot when you see him carry the football and things of that nature and to be honest with you, he needs to get the football more. I don't think he has ever been stopped on a 3rd and 2 yet. I am not sure if my stats are exactly right, but it would be very rare, but I love watching him block. I love watching him catch the football. I love watching him run the ball. He is a fun player to watch, and the reason he is a fun player to watch is because he loves the game. It doesn't matter what you ask him to do. You could put him down at offensive guard, and he just loves playing the game. So, I am very happy for him, and I love to watch him play the game. It was really good to see Trovon do that. We were working the MIKE linebacker over on a little route we thought we could get him open on. It was really good to see what he did with the ball in his hands after the catch, and we have been waiting on that from Trovon. We have been waiting on that. So hopefully he gets some confidence in that. He was very adamant about wearing (Ladarious Phillips jersey #37) tonight. So, I thought that was really cool, but I was very proud to see him step up to the plate and do something and have a lot of fun doing it."
RB Tre Mason
On rushing for 152 yards...
"Wow, it is a great feeling. I owe everything to my offensive line. I always say `without them, nothing would be possible'. The receivers also did a good job blocking on the edge. It is good to win this game, and it isn't a one man team."
On getting 22 rushing attempts...
"I wanted the carries. I had to do something with them so I could prove that I can handle 22 carries."
On getting over 300 yards rushing...
"The offensive line played great. You can't just pick out one guy. They all played their hearts out. They did everything they were supposed to, and we were able to execute."
RB Onterio McCalebb
On today's game...
"We knew that we had to run the ball to be successful. All of the offensive line did a great job today. If it wasn't for them, Tre (Mason) and I wouldn't have been able to get all those yards."
On being able to score 42 points...
"We aren't having the best year this year, but we can't give up. We work hard every day in practice, and it showed today. We aren't going to take anybody lightly."
On using the momentum heading into next weekend's game...
"It is always huge to head into next week's game coming off a win. We got a big win today, but we are ready for next week's night game. All of our guys are feeding off this momentum. Hopefully, we can come out and win the game."
LB Jake Holland
"I thought we had the right mindset this week. We got embarrassed against Texas A&M last week, so we had to come out here and turn it around. I thought we played fast and physical today. I thought we accomplished a lot as far as taking the next step and getting better."
On Defensive performance...
"Today everyone was doing their job, and when that happens, the whole defense works together as a unit and has success."
On what to take going forward...
"We have to get better, take the same passion we had this week to next week in practice and then execute when it's time for the game."
LB Daren Bates
"It's not just me, but it was everyone on defense. Coach [VanGorder] called a great play. Demetruce McNeal made a great play on the quarterback and forced the ball out and I was able to get the ball and let my ability take over and get to the end zone, especially with the great blocks from my teammates."
On stiff arm...
"It was going back to my high school days of running the ball at running back and trying to make a play, and I was able to."
"This was a game we have been waiting to have, a game like this is something to build off of for next week, especially with Georgia and the running backs they have and how they run the ball. It was a big building opportunity and we finally came together as a defense. We finally got the feeling back of how to win. Hopefully, next week we have the same tenacity, same effort, and same attitude to go out there and make the same plays we made tonight."
On Georgia next week...
"It's a game you don't even need a speech for. This is Georgia. They feel the same way about us as we feel about them, so we just have to go out there and play."
DB Demetruce McNeal
On the game...
"It was a great performance on offense and defense overall. We were just out there having a lot of fun. Last week, we got embarrassed, and it was about trying to come back and show the Auburn family that last week wasn't the Auburn way. We just came together as a team today. We just put everything together. Overall, it was a good defensive effort on our part and a great offensive effort on their part. We got better today."
On being in the NMSU backfield a lot throughout the game...
"It was basically a game plan for me. They wanted me to be more aggressive in the run game and things like that. I haven't been that aggressive in past weeks, because the game plan didn't have me blitzing that much, but today was I was trying to get in the backfield. We had to get pressure on this quarterback, because they're a concept team."
On his forced fumble...
"It felt good. It's good to get a forced fumble every now and then. We lead the offense to a touchdown. If I see a teammate running, we go running to help him out and get in the end zone."
QB Jonathan Wallace
On the game...
"It was pretty good. It was exciting of course. The guys really rallied together today. We didn't start off too good, but it's something we have to continue to work on, to come out on fire. That'll be something that we need to do next week."
On his first start...
"It was good, but it doesn't matter whether you start or not. It's about going out there and executing the plays. The plays present themselves, and you have to make plays. I just thank God we were able to go out there and be able to play ball."
On preparing for the Georgia game next week...
"We need to just take all the motivation from this win. We need to take this motivation to practice. That's the only way to prepare for Georgia. We have to do that."