AUBURN, Ala. — As promised, here are postgame coaches from both Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn along with assorted players.
Note: These quotes are a collection of quotes from my own interviews as ones sent out by Auburn's media relations department. This isn't everything, but I'm not sure a post of (a guesstimated) 4,000 words would get read all the way through. So consider this an "abridged" compilation.
“First of all I’m very proud of our team, they found a way to win. I’ve been preaching really since we’ve been here how we’re going to handle adversity and we’re going to stick together. I really feel like there was a lot of adversity out there, we made a lot of mistakes, some of them critical, but our guys found a way to overcome them. I’m very proud of our defense. They got us three turnovers and had two fourth down stops late especially after the offense turned the ball over you know late in the game. Special teams I thought played well. We had the big kick return to give us back momentum, but overall I’m very pleased with our team, they found a way to win. We talked about our goals, we’re getting better after each practice and getting better each game, we’ve got a lot of work to do but we’re committed to doing that.”
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On the defense:
“They did a very good job adjusting. Our defensive coaches did a great job adjusting. I’m telling you that’s a pretty good football team, they had most of their guys back from last year. They got their coaching staff back, one of the better offensive coaches in all of college football, so our defense did very good with adjustments.”
On Robenson Therezie:
“He played really good. He played a lot of snaps out there and he was tired but he found a way, especially with that one in the endzone late, it was one of the critical plays of the game.”
On Justin Garrett:
“You know it’s kind of been one of those things where it was a game-time decision. We decided to hold him out, but Therezie came through and played well. “
On Montravius Adams:
“I’ll tell you what, Montravius is a big athlete, but he’ll improve each game and you know freshmen, what usually happens is they’ll improve each game.”
On Nick Marshall:
“You know, there were a couple things communication wise we’ll get better on but overall I liked the way he handled himself; he protected the football and that’s hard to do. They were showing him a lot of different looks and trying to disguise some things but he protected the football.”
On Marshall’s nerves in the first quarter:
“Yeah I would say so, that’s expected. I think a lot of our guys had jitters starting out and he calmed down after the first series or two. I think we had some drops early that probably didn’t help either, but he settled down and I think the game settled down for him.”
On Corey Grant:
“Corey can really run and I think everybody saw that today. He’s got speed that’s comparable to Onterio McCalebb and we just need to find ways to get him the ball.”
On possibly challenging Jonathon Mincy’s interception:
“I thought about that, it was close. You know a challenge —you usually want to make sure that I’m pretty sure and I wasn’t pretty sure, it was a bang bang deal. I know they review everything upstairs, but there was a little bit of talk and I decided not to challenge it.”
On overthrown passes:
“Sometimes it takes a while when you’ve got a quarterback for four weeks trying to get timing with everything; they should get better as we come. I thought there was one that was close —I didn’t really get a great look at but the one in the endzone, it was close. We’ll just keep working.”
On his message at halftime:
“Well you know in the second quarter I think at one point we ran only about four plays. I think there was about four or five minutes left, but we had ideas and, like I said, we didn’t want to put him in a bad situation tonight. We wanted to try and protect him and learn more about him. Just to be completely honest we learned a whole lot about our team. I told our team before ‘hey we want to know where we’re at’ and obviously I think you all saw we made some mistakes, but the good thing is most of them are correctable.”
On defending Washington State’s offense:
“I would say average. I think our execution was average at best. You’ve got to give them credit, they had a good scheme and they’ve got some good players, but our execution was average at best.”
On using the entire playbook:
“We had a plan coming in, a specific plan we tried to stick to it.”
On Tre Mason at the end of the game:
“Yeah, he fumbled the football, but Tre is a veteran guy and I just told him we’re going to give you the ball back and get confidence in you and we gave it to him and he finished the game out.”
On Montravius Adams:
“Yeah, he was in the backfield a lot. He was in the quarterback’s face a lot, there wasn’t a whole lot of that, but he was definitely one of the guys that was.”
On Jeff Whitaker not playing
“Jeff’s going to be out for a while. He had a procedure done last week and so he wasn’t able to play and we’ll see when he gets back.”
“I’m just so proud of our guys. You know they went through a storm last year and they really bought in with what our coaches have asked us to do. This is kind of one of those moments that you’re very happy for them. I’m very happy for our coaches and really our Auburn fans. Our fans deserve to win and we have a chance to get better I mean we’re not there. I think everybody knows that, but we have a chance to get better and I’m really enjoying coaching these guys.”
On the two-point conversion:
“You have certain plays and you run them or you don’t. We just try to put pressure on the defense as much as we can. I thought it was a pretty good momentum builder there, at least early in the game.”
On possibly running an onside kick:
“You know we thought about all kinds of stuff. We didn’t actually call it in the game, but we thought about it and talked about it.
On not going for it on fourth down:
“There was a lot of talk and if I knew more about our guys I may have gone for it. I just felt at that time in the game -- you know we’re learning. I learn about our guys at practice and every game, but you learn more in games and so in the future if there’s a high percentage of us getting it, we’ll do it. I wanted to but didn’t feel like I could pull the trigger right there at that time in the game. It’s very hard but we’ve got a good punter, a very good punter, one of the very best in the country but the timing wasn’t right.”
On whether anything surprised him:
“No not really, my big deal was adversity and my head was on a swivel. I wanted to see how we handled it, that was my big question but I didn’t see heads down and all that pouting. I saw some bright eyes, I saw our guys hustling on and off the field no matter what the score was and I’m proud of our guys for that.”
On freshman defensive linemen:
“I think they gave us some energy, I think you saw we were rotating a lot of defensive linemen in, and all of them played and all of them played significantly. I mean they are good protecting and that quarterback is a very solid guy.”
On defensive interceptions:
“Well they found a way to win. You know I felt like our defensive players, secondary made some really good plays at critical times and I think offense was a little bit hit and miss, but we made some plays when we had to and there’s a couple we’d like to have back. I mean the reverse pass and some thinks like that, pass protection broke down, but you know I think we’ll have a chance to be solid in both areas if we keep improving.”
On Marshall at halftime:
“Nick’s a calm guy; he didn’t say much. He’s just real calm and he was wanting to know where the adjustments were and you know he really handled himself well.”
On this game benefiting team film
“Oh there’s no doubt. You could take the first half and there’s all kinds of things we can teach -- the second half too, at the end of the game, and everything that went down to the end.”
On celebrating his first win:
“I think you can be very proud of our team. I hope our team really is able to enjoy their night, they’ve earned it, but then we move on to next week. The challenge is getting better and correcting the mistakes, getting better in all phases.”
On Arkansas State's offense:
“You know they’re a very good team; we’ll have to play better than we did tonight. They’re a very good team and I know they will be very well prepared.”
On his nerves:
"I was kind of nervous on the first drive. But then after the first drive I started getting comfortable."
On halftime adjustments
"We had a game plan coming into the game, so at halftime we didn’t really make that many adjustments. We just stuck to our game plan."
On his overthrown passes:
"They were) mistakes. but they can be corrected."
On whether it was timing issues:
It wasn’t timing. I just put too much on them.
On his second half performance:
"I did well. I did protect the ball, and that’s really what the game is about – protecting the ball and (commit) no turnovers. So I thought I did great in the second half."
On what Malzahn said to the team at halftime:
"He really just told us to keep doing what we’re doing and stick to our game plan. We weren’t really worried about throwing the ball much. Just stick to the game plan and try to get the victory."
On whether anything WSU's defense did surprised him:
"Yeah, Washington State is a good team. They were flying around the ball. They made plays, so it was great to come out with a win."
On whether the game slowed down for him:
"It has slowed down for everybody. I think (after) halftime it slowed down and I felt more comfortable after that."
On things to improve upon next week:
"Not too much. Just get better. Me and my team just go out there and get better."
On returning to the SEC:
"It means a lot. The SEC is the highest competition level, and that’s what I (consider) myself. I just like being in the SEC."
On Corey Grant's speed:
"Yeah, he showed (his speed) off. He came in with his head on straight and ready to play. He made plays on his feet, too. He can run."
On the defense:
"The defense stepped up big for us tonight and we didn’t have any turnovers, but the defense went out there and balled out today and got us turnovers. It allowed (the offense) to execute."
On committing no turnovers:
"Coach Malzahn told me before the game started just to protect the ball and I did that to (the) best (of my ability)."
On which overthrow hurt the most:
"The one I threw to Ricardo. I overthrew him just a little bit."
On what grade he would give himself: "I’d say like a B-minus. I did good, but I know I can get better each day."
Cornerback Chris Davis
On the importance of getting a hand on the ball:
"It’s very, very important. Everybody knows last year in the secondary we only had one interception and we started out this game with three. That’s huge and hopefully they’ll keep coming."
On his pass breakup in the fourth quarter
"That was a good play. I think it was a momentum-builder to put the game away and let our offense milk the clock some."
On returning punts:
"That’s what I’ve been waiting on."
On what he thinks about punt returns thus far:
"I’m enjoying it pretty well. I’m trying to do whatever to help the team win."
On him being ‘fearless’ when returning the ball:
"You’ve got to be."
On whether he wished he had returned punts earlier in his Auburn career:
"In high school, I was an athlete, and coming here that was one thing I wanted to do: I wanted to return punts and kicks. I just thank Coach (Malzahn) for giving me the opportunity to do that."
On his mind-set on punt returns:
"When the ball is punted, I just look down the field at the coverage and see if anybody left their man free and see how much room I’ve got if I catch the ball or if I need to fair catch it. And Quan (Bray) actually told me, ‘Be aggressive with the punt returns’ and that’s what I went out and did."
On the difference between the first and second half for the defense:
"We just stayed together as a defense. Coach Malzahn always says, ‘Take it one play at a time’ and that’s what we tried to do. He tells us how we’re going to act when adversity kicks in. Me being the senior, I just tried to walk up and down the sideline to motivate the team."
On what he attributes his personal improvements to:
"I’m having fun. I’m having fun again playing football."
On whether it’s frustrating to face an offense like Washington State:
"It’s not, because going into the game, Coach (Malzahn) told us they were going to complete a couple of passes. You’ve just got to have a ‘next play’ mentality and that’s what we did."