Saturday, September 3, 2011

Chizik talks post-game about Tigers' narrow escape

Here are coach Gene Chizik's comments to the media following the Tigers' 42-38 victory over Utah State on Saturday.


“Obviously, any time you can get a win no matter how you can get it you have to be pleased with that. I was pleased with a very young team being able to fight through a lot of adversity and persevere through times that didn’t look very good to be honest, but our kids as they have done so many times since we’ve been here they have found a way to come back and win. That is really good to see in our young guys. I think again that has kind of been instilled in this group that you never look at the clock and the scoreboard until it says 0:00. So in that regard we are thrilled that we came out with the win today. No question about it, I think it is obvious that everybody that saw the game realizes that we did not play well as a football team. There are no excuses for that. We just didn’t play well. I think it was very evident that our most experienced part of our football team is our special teams. I don’t think there is any question that offensively and defensively we are a long way off from being able to win very many games right now. Special teams-wise we have a lot of confidence and they played with a little bit of a swagger and rightly so. I think it was evident today in our kickoff return team even though it was Tre Mason back there, a young guy. We have a lot of guys on there that have done it before and we have some good yards on our kickoff returns. Our punt team was excellent. Cody Parkey was outstanding. The best that I have seen in a long time in kickoffs which is a field position issue that you can’t get enough of those. So, that is a great situation with our kickoff team plus our coverage was great on our kickoff team. We are still a little ways off on our punt returns but as you can see as I said before to win the game with the game on the line, we do an onside kick which we work routinely, and it pretty much unfolded exactly the way you would draw it up. So, those are the things that I take from the game that are positive. We spent a lot of time on two minute offense coming down to the end of the game and managing the clock and trying to win the game at the end. We spend a lot of time on that. I thought that was evident today but if you remove those things from the game, if you look at us defensively, we looked like a defense that was extremely young against an offense that had a lot of people back. We didn’t play well period. No excuses. I thought it was a very poor defensive effort. That’s not acceptable here at Auburn so I fully expect us to rectify that next week. Offensively, I thought the same for much of the game. I think finally in the last quarter or so we actually looked like an offense that is a college offense. Other than that I did not, and that is how I feel about it. So, we have a lot of work to do. I’m thrilled to have a win. I’m thrilled to come out on top. That was a good football team. They did a great job. They played probably a perfect game. Their game plan they executed to a ‘T.’ But again, my hat’s off to my players and coaches for finding a way to come back and win at the end. That’s what matters so we’ve got a lot of improvement to do as everybody that saw the game knows, and that’s what our aim is going to be before we start out in conference play next week.”

On Barrett Trotter’s first start

“Well, the fourth quarter was really good to see. The game was on the line, and we had to take two scores down there with one time out on the board. We squandered two time outs earlier in the half. We went down with one time out and were very cognizant of making sure we were going to manage the clock. He made some clutch throws. Some guys made some clutch catches and did some things with the ball in their hands after the catch mainly Travante Stallworth and Onterio McCalebb when the game was on the line which does not surprise me that it was those two. But, Barrett, I thought had his moments. He is certainly going to see the film and know that he can play much better. I thought there were some receivers open that we could have hit and there were times where he had some undo pressure and that is an offensive line slash back in protection issue. So, overall we won the game. I’m definitely not pleased with a lot of areas of our offense or our defense.”

Is that something you can fix or do they just have to grow into it?

“I think they have to grow up. I think that there are a lot of moving parts in your first game for young guys and we will get better and again, it is going to be a journey for these guys. I think today in one point in the game, we had counted somewhere between 20 and 22 new guys that were playing a pretty significant role on the field, which is a lot of people. But again, it is not an excuse.”

On Chris Brooks’ onside kick that Emory Blake recovered

“On our onside kicks, we always have two designated catchers with him (Emory Blake) being one of them. We don’t know exactly where the ball is going to land, but we have kickers that work it relentlessly in practice. We work it several times a week. Work it all the way through two-a-days. We’ve been doing the same one for three years, and I don’t know off the top of my head our onside kick track record right now, but it is pretty good.”

On Travante Stallworth’s first start

“I’m really proud of Travante. Again, I said earlier in the week, he’s a savvy player. He finds ways to find holes in the defense. Today it was really good to see him do something with the ball in his hands after the catch. I think again he’s had to overcome a lot of things injury-wise, and I couldn’t be more proud of the way he’s come on and again, I thought he was a significant part in helping us win today.”

Were you surprised today at how far off you looked from being able to win a lot of games?

“Obviously, there were times when I really felt like we could have played better as a whole. I’m not going to measure the magnitude of how far off we are. I just know that performance today on offense and defense won’t win us many games. So again as I just told our team, our biggest improvement has got to be between week one and two and two and three. So again, if we are going to win football games in this league, there is going to have to be significant improvement by this time next week.”

How much do you think the defense missed Eltoro Freeman today?

“Without a doubt we are going to be happy to get Eltoro back next week, but that was not the issue.”

Was the problem on defense getting people lined up correctly?

“Well, they were doing a lot of moving and shifting and trading which we felt like they would do that. So, some of it was that. Some of it is we probably weren’t as physical at the point of attack that we needed to be and again, that’s going to be young guys learning how to play out there, and it is going to have to be the older guys getting us lined up. So, it is probably a multitude of issues for as poor of a defensive performance as that was.”

On Michael Dyer coming off the bench and providing a spark

“Again, we feel like running back situation-wise right now, we have the majority of our carries right now will be between Onterio (McCalebb), Michael Dyer and Tre Mason. So, we are going to use them as we see fit and as we need. Don’t read into who is the starter, who’s not. That’s not the deal. Those are the guys that are going to get the carries when we see what the defense is giving us, and we will use those guys and utilize them at the right spots and the right times to do whatever we need to get accomplished. Today, Michael came in and gave us a spark. I think he had a couple of touchdowns in there, but I thought he was trying to run the ball physical and downhill.”

On Tre Mason’s kickoff return

“There is no question about it. Again, going back to one of the strengths of our team is our special teams. Tre has shown an incredible amount of savvy on kickoff returns in the preseason. He was really good at it in high school. He has a lot of courage back there. He doesn’t get rattled with a lot of different things. We felt like he would have a chance to break one. Again, he has a knack for that. A lot of times at that position, that is what it takes.”

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