Auburn 34, Alabama 28: Postgame quotes

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

How anyone spoke real words about this, we'll never know.

Auburn

Head coach Gus Malzahn

Opening Statement...
"First of all I'm very proud of our team. We talked about that we wanted to keep it close, and if we could get it to the fourth quarter playing at home with our crowd we would find a way to win. Second week in a row that we won on a last play sort of thing. Real proud of our team. They've gotten better each week. I think we are playing our best, and we beat a very good football team tonight. Very good defensively, very good offensively, very good on special teams and our guys found a way to win. I'm very proud of our team."

On final play...
"I didn't actually see the clocks go down, you know we haven't had a whole lot of luck with reviews anyway and there was one second on the clock. We thought about going with the block, but I knew I was going to call a timeout anyway. The wind was going in that direction and their kicker has a good leg. We just made the decision to put Chris (Davis) back there. We got some very good blocks, and made an unbelievable play at the end to win it.

On Chris Davis' field goal return for touchdown to win the game...
"The first thing I'm looking at is does it have enough distance. I saw it didn't have enough distance, and my eyes kind of got on Chris (Davis). They had their field goal team out there and it had some big guys on it. I thought he made a couple of guys who could tackle miss and made some good blocks and went down our sideline to score the touchdown."

On preparing for situations like that in practice...
"You talk through situations. During fall camp you go through every situation imaginable. You know that was real something." On ever having a field goal return in a game during coaching career...
"No it was the first; there were a lot of firsts this year."

On team's resilience in the fourth quarter...
"You know the way we won the last two weeks is really unbelievable. Our guys believed and they weathered the storm. They backed us up and I think they missed a field goal and we held them on fourth down. Then the offense steps up, the defense steps up, special teams stepped up and it's been a special year so far. It's not over with yet, but it's a huge win. Our program is going in the right direction and I really like coaching our kids."

On Nick Marshall's 39-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Coates to tie the game...
"It was getting close. I know it was under a minute and we had a read option right there. It was one of those things like 'do we throw the football,' but I felt like we were getting a rhythm and a cheap one from their corner. He kind of came off and Nick looked back and said 'Let's run the same play.' He knew what we were thinking and made a great throw. "

On special teams play...
"Real proud of our special teams. They've got very good special teams and I thought our guys did really well tonight."

On playing in the SEC Championship Game next Saturday...

"I really didn't let my mind go there until I shook the coach's hand, and I was thinking you know that we are going to the SEC Championship Game. It was a lot of fun. It's what you coach for. It's what these kids play for, to get a chance to win the SEC Championship."

On Alabama going for it on fourth down...
"They were trying to win the game, you know this is the Iron Bowl. We went for it on fourth-down and 1 and didn't get it. They went for it and we stopped it, but that's just part of it. You know both of us are trying to win the game and it's a big game with a lot on the line."

On senior cornerback Chris Davis...
"Chris (Davis) is a champion. He's one of our seniors, and he's had his ups and downs. I'm very proud of our seniors overall. Senior day, it's a memory they will have for the rest of their lives, and they have bought in to what we are asking our players to do. We've come a long way in 365 days, and those guys are the ones."

On rushing yardage that Auburn recorded against Alabama's defense...
"First of all they are a great run-defense, but we felt like for us to win we had to run it. Our mindset was to run the football. I didn't want to change anything. I wanted to do what got us here. If they were good enough to stop it, so be it, but that's what we are good at. We were able to run the football effectively and once we got the pace going and kind of wore them down, but they are very good run defense."

On offense picking up tempo and running the football effectively...
"Well we got the pace going. We got that initial first down, and we got the pace going. We're a rhythm offense, and we're clicking. You know we can run the football effectively."

On talking to Chris Davis during post-game...
"You know I didn't see Chris. It was hysteria out there, and I was just trying to get to the dressing room."

On Auburn fans...
"We've got the best fans in college football, and they are in it with us. We're all in this thing together. That's the great thing about Auburn, and I'm just happy for them, our players and our program."

On Chris Davis becoming a part of the return game...
"He did, and I said no just worry about playing defensive back and then he went to the special teams coach, Coach Horton, and they talked me into it. It was a really good decision."

On team's performance against Alabama after last season's loss...
"Especially against the no. 1 team in the country. They beat us for 49-0 last year. It says a lost about our kids."

On this season's turn-around and becoming a part of the BCS Championship discussion...
"You know all I know is that we beat the no. 1 team in the country, and we are going to the SEC Championship Game. We're going to focus on that game, and let everyone focus on the other stuff."

On Tre Mason's fumble in the first half...
"I wasn't really happy with him (Tre Mason). We talked about protecting the football, and we didn't get it done. He's one of our guys, I mean he helped us get here. We were disappointed, he was disappointed and we jumped on his tail and he got back in there and made up for it."

On Alabama's decision to kick the field goal with a second left in the game...
"You know not really. The wind was really gusting down there. They were trying to win the game and no, I wasn't surprised."

On safety Ryan Smith...
"Another senior that had a lot of ups and downs. He played his tail off. I knew our kids were going to play hard, and we played our guts out."

On putting pressure on Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron....
"You talking about one of the better quarterbacks in the country on the other side, and we felt like we had to make him uncomfortable. We felt like we put enough pressure on him."

On Alabama's 99-yard passing touchdown in the fourth quarter...
"You're disappointed when they score, but you just look your guys in the eye and tell them to find another way to score and get it done. Like I said, all we talked about was getting to the fourth quarter and if we got there we would have a chance to win the game. Our guys completely believed that and nobody was panicking on the sideline. Just moved on. We talk a lot about weathering the storm and we weathered the storm and found a way to win."

On offense's success during second half...
"We had a little success right there and got a little rhythm. I know it was getting close to under a minute and you start to wonder if you should throw it or run it. Nick gave me that look like we needed to run that play again. They gave us a look and their corner kind of cheated up and we ran it and it couldn't have come at a better time."

On where this win stacks up in Malzahn's career...
"I've got a lot of emotion right now. You know it ranks up there right now, and I will probably be able to answer that better tomorrow. Huge win against our rival to go to the SEC Championship playing at home in front of our fans."

On if this a Waffle House night...
"Probably so. I'm going to say probably so."

On Auburn's turn-around...
"Yeah, it's definitely a new day, no doubt."

On Chris Davis and senior class...
"I'm proud of him, and I love him. I'm thankful that he and the seniors bought into what we were trying to do and our vision. I'm just proud of them."

On Auburn's 11-1 record and SEC West Championship...
"It's a tribute to our players. It's hard to find ways to win like that when the pressure is on. There was unbelievable pressure to win and nobody understands that, especially with how much this game means. Our guys found a way."

CB Jonathon Mincy

On Chris Davis' return...
"I knew he had the ability to return it all the way. It was something that he was prepared for. I'm just happy for him."

On team's fourth-quarter strength...
"It really is just us sticking together, and that is something that all our coaches teach and keep in our mindset. It's just us coming out and playing and, like Coach Malzahn said, we will find a way to win."

On SEC Championship game...
"Just me being able to play in the Georgia Dome again, it's a great feeling. I'm happy for it, and I'm happy for this team."

S Jermaine Whitehead

On Chris Davis' return...
"When they took a timeout, we decided that if they missed the kick, what was the worst that could happen? He's a great punt returner. We decided we might as well give it a chance."

On team's mentality...
"Being here my three years, I have seen a lot. I am able to cope with any situation and try to keep the guys' spirit up. It's a game. Either way it goes, we are going to finish and keep putting points on the board. We are going to come out and fight."

On SEC Championship game...
"It feels like the 2010 season. I was at home being recruited, I thought that had to be one of the most amazing experiences. It's like a dream come true. I feel like we are destined to finish very strong. We are going to go to the film room and make sure we are ready to play that week."

RB Corey Grant

On Tre Mason's fumble...
"After he fumbled, I know I didn't have to say anything to him. I knew that after the fumble, it was only going to excite him and make him run harder, and it did."

On offensive keys...
"I think it was just our ability to move the ball and make the plays when we can. Nick threw a great touchdown pass to Sammie. We just make the plays when they need to be made. When we go on our pace offense, no one has been able to stop us yet. We are going to keep doing that."

On the win...
"After coming from Alabama and playing in the Iron Bowl with Auburn, with the winner going to the SEC Championship, it means a lot. It was just a great feeling."

About the success of the running game...
"That's just what we do. We're going to stick to what we do and that's what we did. It worked out to our favorite."

S Ryan Smith

About the game...
"It was just a hard-fought game. We said from the beginning that we just want to play 60 minutes and that's what we did tonight."

About his thought when Chris Davis caught the ball nine yards deep in the end zone...
"We were planning on scoring and setting up blocks. Chris set the return up perfectly and we made the blocks that made it possible for him to take it the whole way."

About the dog pile at the end...
"It was unexplainable. It was a great win for our university and our state's fan base."

About how big this win is for you since you are from the state...
"It means everything. Growing up I was an Auburn fan and I never liked Alabama. Now it's our state for the next 365."

CB Chris Davis

About winning a game in that fashion...
"God is good. That's all I've got to say about that."

About Auburn being a team of destiny...
"It's a team that's determined. We won't take no for an answer and we stuck together."

About the return...
"At first I had no idea that we had anyone back there, then coach called the timeout and we made the switch and I went back to receive. I knew when I caught the ball I would have room to run and I knew we had bigger guys on the field to protect and that was all after that."

About what's going through his mind when running down the sidelines...
"When I looked back I said I couldn't believe this. When I was running I said God is good."

About being a part of Iron Bowl history...
"It really hasn't sunk in yet, but as a team it feels great for all the players. We stuck together through whatever and to overcome from what we went through last year, it feels unbelievable."

DE Dee Ford

About how does the team keep winning games like this...
"Faith. Believing in what the coaches say and what we tell each other. That's something we've built up all year and we keep finding ways to win."

About if there was any doubt...
"No Doubt. No Doubt. We just keep fighting."

About how they bounced back from the 99-yard pass...
"We put it behind us. Even early on I had a crucial penalty on myself, but we just put it behind us. We don't point fingers. We don't argue. We just keep moving on."

About the play call on 4th down...
"It was a great play. It's just what we do and we knew that's what we had to do."

RB Tre Mason

About coming back from the fumble...
"Made a touchdown the next drive. I was angry and we scored the touchdown."

About playing in the SEC championship game...
"Man we worked hard for this and we can't wait to get there."

Alabama

Head coach Nick Saban

Opening statement...
"First of all, this is a tremendous rivalry. Great tradition. A lot of great fans. It was a great atmosphere for our team to play in today. For the seniors we have on our team I feel really badly because they have had a great career here. Our fans have done a fantastic job. I am really proud of how this team came along and improved throughout this season and created the opportunity that we have for ourselves here today. We told our team that this is like March Madness. Coming into this game that if you want to keep playing in the tournament you have to keep winning. I was really proud of the way our guys competed out there today, but the fact of the matter is that we did not make plays when we needed to. Whether it was a made field goal with a penalty or a missed field goal after that. Going for it on fourth and less than a yard and not being able to make it. Making the decision to do what we did at the end of the game. Not being able to cover the kick. We knew they had a guy back there and that we had to fan and cover it. That was not a great way to lose the game, especially for a team that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. It is my responsibility. I think our coaches did a great job this year with this team. We just did not make the plays when we needed to make them on third and fourth down today to get this chance to win. I think you have to give Auburn's players a lot of credit. They have had a great season. They played a great game. They made the plays they needed to make today and that is probably the difference in this ballgame."

On the coverage of the final play kick...
"It just looked like we did not have anybody down on the right side. The right wing and the right tight end, everybody is supposed to fan the field. We covered to the left; that is why he went to the right. I could not see it that well down their sidelines. First time I have ever lost a game that way, first time I have ever seen a game lost that way. We had the wind behind us, but he still should have covered it. The game should not have ended that way."

On the short field goal...
"Well we missed a couple field goals. We had fourth down and less than a yard. I do not ever like to say I do not have confidence in our players but we have been a very good short yardage team all year. It did not work out that way. So myself and a lot of other people will probably say that we should have kicked a field goal there, but we had a field goal from that same spot that we missed. You cannot take it for granted that we could have made it. That is the game. But it goes back to being able to make plays and execute them in critical situations of the game. We have been a really good short yardage team but it just did not work out properly this time."

On lack of defending the last touchdown pass...
"We were playing man to man coverage on the X. The quarterback runs his own pull. We actually had bracket coverage on the guy, but the safety is supposed to come out of the top on an outside release and the corner is supposed to stay with the guy. The corner did not stay with the guy. You have to have tremendous discipline to play against this offense. You have the zone, you have a quarterback that can run the ball, and they have a pass off of it most of the time. We made a mental error in coverage that cost us a touchdown."

On addressing the team after the loss...
"I told the team that I was proud of the way they played all season long and the way they have improved as a team. We are very proud of our football team to win eleven games. I still think we have one of the best teams in the country. I do not think we played our best game today. Everyone knew what was at stake and we did not make the plays when we needed to make them. That responsibility starts with me and every player on the team and every coach in terms of how we contributed to what we did today. The ultimate responsibility is mine. I am very, very proud of this team, the improvements they made, the way they competed and played all year, and the way they competed today. We just did not make the plays when we needed to make them. This team will have another opportunity to play a game and we are going to try and do it the right way."

On Auburn's running game...
"Their running game has had a lot of success against everybody all year long. They are a very difficult offense to defend. Like I said, it takes a lot of discipline. There were times when we did not play the plays properly, especially on their second drive to score fourteen points in the second quarter. We did not close and do the things we were supposed to do and they hit us for a couple of big runs. We had some big stops and have every opportunity to win the game, we just came up a little short. You certainly have the stop the run a little better than we did today to have a chance to beat a team like this because that is what they do extremely well.

LB C. J. Mosley

On the realization that there is no SEC Championship...
"That's the main reason I came back, but we have to stick together and move on."

On the finish...
"I just can't believe it happened. Nobody ever expected that. We gave it all we got, and we tried to go for the field goal."

On Auburn's running game...
"As far as getting our edges, that's mainly what hurt us. They did a good job with their run scheme and they ran the ball up the middle. When they started cutting out our edges was when they made big plays on us."

On Nick Marshall running...
"On some plays we messed up on our technique and he made us pay, and some plays he made on his own. He's a good player. They've been doing that all year."

DL Jeoffrey Pagan

On initial reaction...
"After a loss it's never good. A lot of guys are reflecting on how the game went. Guys feel like we could have done things differently, and the outcome could have been different."

On final play...
"I was just shocked. I didn't think that big of a play would have been caused by that, but everything happens for a reason."

On moment after Auburn scored final TD...
"I felt like we lost as a team, and we just have to continue to get better and learn from our mistakes and fix them."

On Auburn's running game...
"They run the ball well. They ran it up on us, and we really just have to continue to get better. We have to come back. They did a good job. We practiced everything that they did, and really they just stuffed it up in there. We tried to get the calls as quick as we could, but they did a really good job with play action and faking and things like that."

On failure to force passing situations...
"That just showed us where we were. We let our guard down. All the big plays they got were from mistakes we made, and we just have to fix them."

On confusion with the no huddle offense...
"They didn't have us confused. We knew exactly what they were going to do. It was just lining up and executing where we messed up."

On whether Auburn was more physical...
"I feel like we did a good job as far as the physicality. They just got the better of us. A couple of times we just beat ourselves."

On Auburn's final offensive touchdown...
"I wasn't thinking too much of it. I was thinking we have to come back out and stop it again."

On this game affecting national title hopes...
"Well, we still have hope. We've been in this situation twice before, and we have still gotten national championships out of it. Our hopes are still alive, and we will continue to get better."

WR Kevin Norwood

On the game...
"Stuff happens. You have got to move on. Life moves on."

On the last play...
"The chances of that happening in college football are rare, and it happened tonight. We've got to move on to the next team."

QB A.J. McCarron

On the game...
"It was going back and forth. It was a great game. We definitely didn't play our best game. But like I told our guys, hold your head high and be thankful for everything that you've got. Football is just a game. It's not life."

On the last play...
"It was emotional. It is one of those crazy plays. It is almost like a video game."

Transcript via Auburn Athletics

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