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Coach Tommy Tuberville Press Conference Quotes-November 24, 2008


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Opening statements…

“Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. It’s Iron Bowl week and it’s a

week that we all look forward to – most people for 365 days. We all

have, as coaches and players, a lot of work to do before we get to this

game every year, but it’s always a fun week. This year it is going to

be a fun two weeks of analyzing, talking about it, looking at it, and

going over things. For us, we needed these two weeks for a lot of

reasons. We’ve had a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball and

also needed to get some people healthy.

“We have had good practices. Everything has been going well, and

we’ve had a few more guys practicing every day and by the time we

get to the end of the week, we should be in pretty good shape. We’ve

been barring injuries at practice every day, but so far, things are

going pretty good. They’re all intense. The players have different

looks on their faces and they’re into it. They’re into every snap

and every practice.

“We’re looking forward to getting ready to play a very good

football team in Alabama. They’re the number one team in the country

and we’ll probably be a huge underdog. We’ve got a lot of work we

need to do to try to get into this game, in terms of having a chance to

win. Our players know that and our coaches know that. We’re playing on

the road, but again, it’s only one game and we might as well give it a

three-hour shot. We’ve had great preparation for it and we’ll see

what happens.

“They are much improved. I think that their offensive coordinator has

done an outstanding job of taking the talent that he has and molding it

into an offense. Obviously, with a fifth year senior in John Parker

Wilson, it helps. He’s a guy that’s been there, been in a lot of big

games, made plays, won a lot of games and been in some tough situations.

You can tell that he’s grown up a little bit more each year and

obviously this season. It all starts with the offensive line. They’re

big, they’re physical and they come off the ball and do a good job for

their running backs. They don’t live off the pass, they live off the

run and look a lot like we used to look in the past. Again, they do a

good job of moving the football, controlling it and keeping time of

possession in order to give their defense a chance to watch from the

sidelines in most games this year.

“Defensively, they’ve got speed. They’re all over the field. They

play a lot of man coverage. They blitz a lot. They pressure you and try

to give you bad plays in order to get the ball back for an offense

that’s going to hold possession of the ball. They’ve played very

good team football all year long. They don’t make a lot of mistakes

and they don’t beat themselves because they’re very disciplined. By

watching them on film, you can tell that they’ve got a lot of

confidence. Their special teams are an added addition to a good offense

and defense and they make a lot of plays and they do a good job with

field position for their team. They make their field goals and extra

points. They do a good job with punt returns. They’re a good football

team and that’s the reason why they’re the number one-ranked

football team in the nation, at least by most.

“It’ll be a tough assignment for us, but our guys have looked at

film and they’ve studied them and we feel like we’ve got a good game

plan. We’ve got to put it in now and have to build confidence as the

week goes on and see what happens. Again, it’s a rival game like no

other. I’ve been in a lot of them and I’ve said it before – it

means so much to the fans on both sides. Obviously, there’s a lot

riding on the game this week. For Alabama, they’re the number one team

in the country. We’ve been there and we understand that. It’s hard

and it gets harder every day during the year when you keep winning. But

good teams overcome it by making plays and they get it done. This year,

they’ve done that.

“We’ve got a tough assignment. We know that. We haven’t been a

great football team this year. Not one time this year do I think that

we’ve played up to our potential for several reasons, but our coaches

and players have worked very hard. We competed in the last game, the

best that I think we’ve competed all year long, against a very good

Georgia team, but we’ve got to continue to get better and we know

that. This team coming in this week, is a much more physical football

team than Georgia. They’ve got a lot of good players and you just look

at what they did to Georgia in the first half on their home field back

about two months ago. It goes to show you what kind of football team

they have.

“It’s a very important game in this state, in this conference, and

nationally. I think that a lot of people will be watching, obviously,

for the simple reason that is the ranking of Alabama and where they’re

at. There’s a lot of focus on the BCS as there always is. Someone is

going to get left out as they always do. Sooner or later, we’re going

to figure this thing out, but for now, this is the only opportunity that

we have to get number one and two to play at the end of the year. So,

there will be a lot of talk as we go through the next two weeks. It’s

always interesting to hear things for the last few weeks and to hear

different people complaining about when they get their foot into the

ring and feel like they might have a chance to get in, but it might look

like they get left out.

“Again, this is a very interesting week for us. This is Thanksgiving.

Our players have a lot of opportunity to watch film, practice, lift

weights and get their minds focused, and I know that both sets of fans

are looking forward to it. It’s always an interesting game no matter

what happens.”

On preparing for Terrence Cody…

“Well, we thought about dressing Coach Dunn and putting him out there

(laughs) and blocking him, but we actually brought that up in practice

today. But it’s hard. Cody is a big guy that can move and gets a lot

of penetration. He bull-rushes one on one and gets a lot of pass

penetration. It’s hard to stage that in practice, but you challenge

your offensive linemen, your center and your two guards – whoever

he’s going to be over – and you go from there. Of course, you try

to game-plan things to try to confuse him or try to get double teams,

but everybody you play has big guys in the middle. It’s very unusual

that you have a big guy that’s this talented. He has great agility,

good movement, quick lateral feet, terrific explosion and it’s one of

the reasons why they’re sitting where they’re sitting right now in

the polls - because he has been a force so far with everybody to block

and it won’t be any different for us.”

On watching Rod Smith go from a walk-on to leading the team as a


“It’s one of those things that you like to talk about. Over the

years from now, we’ll get together and talk about guys who walked on

at our program, laid it on the line, and earned scholarships. Over our

past ten years, I’d say that probably 15 guys have earned scholarships

and they’ve gone on to the NFL: Kevin Hobbs, Roderick Hood, and Rod

Smith will be another guy who will have that chance. Young guys mature a

lot mentally and physically when they get to college and that’s why

it’s so tough to predict the future when you’re recruiting out of

high school. There are a lot of players who are overlooked and continue

to grow. Like Dewayne Curry, who went to Auburn High School, went to

Troy and went on to be one of the best players in the NFL. It’s hard,

but guys like Rod Smith have a soft spot in my heart because I was a


On approaching this week’s game plan…

“We haven’t brought up bowl game or streaks this week.  This is a

different team, different year, and different group of seniors that sit

on the front row.  This is what we have talked about, sending our

seniors out on a positive note. Nobody in our groups has lost to our

instate rival for several years, but it really means nothing until you

get over it, see what happens, see if it goes on, or stops. Everybody

wants to go on streaks, but it is so hard in this business. The one

thing that we have talked about all week long is poise and for our team

to enjoy the week.  They’ll go back when they’re 50-60 years old and

tell their kids and grandkids about the week that they played in the

Iron Bowl and what happened that week.

“There is a lot of camaraderie built. Our players go to their dorm

room and have nothing to do in terms of studying, so it is all football.

I was down in the training room earlier this morning listening to guys

tell past stories about other Iron Bowls, what they did and how they

prepared. So it is always a memorable week for everybody – coaches,

players, and trainers. One reason that a lot of these guys decided to

come to Auburn, and I’m sure the same thing at Alabama, is that they

want to get a good education at a good SEC school and to play in this

game. You don’t want to waste that opportunity, no matter how the

season has gone, this is an opportunity to play and be a part of history

in this game and that is how we approach it every year.”


On Auburn’s six-year winning streak…

“It is satisfying obviously, because when I was hired I was told, and

I’m sure Nick Saban and everybody that coaches at Alabama have been

told, that you have to win the Iron Bowl matchup. In this game, winning

is for bragging rights. You want to give your fans the opportunity to

walk in to a restaurant, Wal-Mart, or business and be able to brag about

the game. And, it is only a game; it is not life or death. If there is

anything close to that, then it would probably be the emotions of this

game in terms of fans. Most players will have the opportunity to come

back and play in it next year, so it is not the end of the world, but

the fans really enjoy it; probably even more than the coaches or


On a late season win…

“We look at this season as one that didn’t go our way and is not

near what we would have wanted it to be when we started out, but when

you get to the last game of the year you really forget about everything

else that has happened. For the first time in a while I have seen smiles

on guys’ faces, out in practice running around with an extra step and

a lot more jump. It’s good to see them start to relax a little bit. A

lot of that probably is because the season might be coming close to an

end. It’s hard to play college football. It is a full-time job and the

academic part is also full-time. I want them to relax and enjoy this

week no matter what has happened. Most of these guys have been on the

other side, where we were riding on this game to determine a lot. For

us, this year pride is what we are playing for. We want to go into this

game understanding that no matter what has happened, the only thing we

can control is this game.”

On Wes Byrum’s struggle…

“Being a sophomore, last year he kicked in 13 games, and sometimes

you come back with a little bit of confidence and when you lose it, it

is hard to regain it. It is hard to put yourself in a kicker’s frame

of mind in this conference because there is so much pressure, especially

for us this year with our games being on the line, as it was the last

few years. The kick could have meant being successful or not successful,

which sometimes plays a role in a young man’s head in terms of

confidence. Wes Byrum has done very well for us in the past, it just

hasn’t been a great year for him or anybody, me included,

quarterbacks. We’re not blaming anything on Wes Byrum, he has just

struggled. Hopefully he can get back. He’s started to kick a little

bit more after taking a week off. We will decide at game time who will

be kicking for us.”

On taking down an undefeated Alabama team…

“They have good coaches.  Nick Saban is a good coach; he has won a

National Championship. It’s the old cliché, play each game one at a

time. If you look to tomorrow, it could be the end of you. In our

business it is a 13-game playoff and Alabama is in a situation where

they have a great opportunity in this conference. If you go undefeated

in this league, you have accomplished a huge feat.  I’m not putting

other conferences down, but in this league it is so hard. Just take it

one day at a time and see what happens. We have had an opportunity this

week to look at every game that Alabama has played in this season. They

are much improved. They’ve had their bad moments, but have been able

to overcome those.  They are well coached and well prepared each week.

You can tell they are focused on what they are doing. We will give it

our best shot this week. Alabama will come to play and they want to

enjoy this game also. This is not a game where they are just going to

walk out there and think that they are going to win the game. They know

and understand that each game no matter who you are playing, you have to

get ready to play.”

On John Parker Wilson’s progression…

“He is a fifth-year senior quarterback and looks a lot like Brandon

Cox. The biggest thing about quarterbacks and experience is making

decisions. He has a lot more confidence in the people around him.  Just

by looking at Alabama from the outside, last year there was some

hesitation. He was holding the ball a little bit too long. The new

coordinator has gotten the ball out of his hands much quicker. They do a

good job of that.  The running game has helped; yet again it all starts

with the 5 offensive linemen. Their linemen are much, much improved over

the years. They have made a huge difference in their football team.”


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