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Coach Chizik Press Conference Quotes


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Opening statement…

“We’re excited. It’s obviously game week, it’s finally here and

I know our players are excited, our coaches are very excited. It’s

been a good camp. The last week we’ve had some really good upbeat,

high-energy practices. I think that they could kind of feel that game

week was rolling around. Now that it’s here, we’ll start again today

and truly go into our game week prep that we do every Tuesday and get

ready to play Arkansas State, a good football team. It’ll be fun and

we’re all looking forward to it.”

On Daren Bates winning the starting job at linebacker on the weak

side…

“I think everybody knows Daren was a good football player for us last

year at a different position. Whenever we can try to increase the speed

of our defense, we’ll do that. Moving him to linebacker was a little

bit of a challenge simply because he’d never done that before, but we

knew he is a very good football player. He really learned everything at

a pretty rapid pace, in my opinion. We know he’s a very physical

football player, so that’s kind of suited for him. He did a really

nice job of studying that position and studying the game from that

position. I think overall, it was really a pretty smooth transition for

him. He outright won the job and we’re proud of him for that.”

On having options in Eric Smith, Trovon Reed and Shaun Kitchens at the

H-back position…

“They’re all kind of different in their own right, but at that

position when they’re in the game, they could all be at very different

places, and I think that’s where it gets interesting. They have

different body types and we’ll be asking them to do different things

at times, but again, that’s a position where you can get really

creative with what you’re trying to do offensively. That’s why it

looks like different types of guys.”

On having Zac Etheridge and Aairon Savage returning from injury to win

starting jobs…

“We’re extremely excited about having both of those guys back on

the field for all that they bring to the table as people first.

They’re great kids, they’re great leaders. That’s not even to

mention the experience that they bring to the table, which is huge. In

this regard, it’s really good in especially this football game.

This is going to be a high-tempo game for Arkansas State’s offense;

they’re very similar to ours. We’re going to see how many plays we

can get, how fast we can go, which is where you really need two captains

back there to direct traffic. I think having those two guys back there

is going to be big in that regard. They just bring a lot to the table.

Stability obviously is one thing, but the experience they give and they

bring to our defense is huge.”

On the differences between the first year and the second year…

“It is probably just the comfort level from everybody. If you look at

it from 10,000 feet, players and coaches, just more of a comfort level

for everybody in what we’re trying to do. There are some position guys

that are new, but for the most part, a lot of our football team has

heard it two years in a row now. I just think from a comfort level,

it’s a little bit different if you date back to a year ago now.”

On quantifying being “better” this year…

“I don’t know that I can put a tag on what is going to make us

better. The point that I’ve been trying to bring home to our football

team every week is consistency on what we’re trying to do. That’s

everywhere. Again, going back to last year, too many highs and too many

lows. If you were going to ask me what would make us a better football

team or what the expectation is of better, that’s what I would tell

you. For us to be better, it’s more along the level of when we were

playing at a high level. Are we maintaining that more often than we did

last year? That’s really what it is. There were times last year when I

felt like at all phases, we played at a high level. Looking back on it,

I just don’t feel like we were consistent enough at that. That would

make us a better football team. Those are the things that we’ve been

stressing since day one and those are the things we’re trying to get

started this Saturday.”

On having a better offensive line to help ease Cameron Newton’s job

at quarterback…

“I don’t know how Cameron’s going to feel that first time. Our

offensive line has been very solid. If you just take the four guys that

are returning, you have a lot of experience in there. That has to make

anyone feel a certain level of confidence. But again, we’re starting

all over and they have to produce. They have to take off where the ended

last year and be more productive and more consistent . It’s good to

have four returning starters back anywhere on any one of your lines.

They’re lumped into the same category as anybody else, they have to go

out there and be better than they were last year.”

On Newton’s decision-making…     

“I think he’s responded really well. We keep talking to our

quarterbacks, certainly Cameron, about being able to make adjustments on

the run, being able to weather the storm that may happen to come.

That’s the most important thing.  The most important thing for Cam

is, to be in this venue, there’s going to be some good things that

happen during the game, some bad things that happen during the game.

Anybody can be good when it’s good. We want to know how everybody’s

going to respond, particularly the quarterback, when things aren’t

good. And that’s been a huge point of emphasis for us as we’ve

prepared over the past month. That’s what we want to see our

quarterback do, we want to see him when things aren’t good, see him

handle that, and be the leader of our team.”

On Quindarius Carr at the second wide receiver spot…

“Q has done some good things. Again, I think he’s got a ways to go

in terms of developing his game, but he did some good things in the bowl

game and in spring practice and we saw signs of him coming on.  He’s

got to continue to do that for us during the season. He has definitely

made some strides. He’s not there yet, but he’s a guy we can count

on and we will throw the football to. There’s no question we have

confidence that we can do that, but he’s got to keep growing and

maturing as a football player. I think he’s done that up to this

point. I think he’s done that in the last year a good bit, in terms of

progression.”

On ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit picking Auburn to win the SEC West…

“It’s flattering that people think we have a chance to be a good

football team, and I don’t think anybody’s expectations should be

higher than what ours are. Individually for each guy on our team, we

don’t control any of these things. We’ve got to take every practice

one day at a time and I know that’s coaching cliché, but the bottom

line is our expectations of ourselves should be really high. I didn’t

know he was going to pick us to win the West, but again, our football

team hears those things, and we know at the end of the day that

doesn’t mean anything. You have to earn it on the field every week.

At the same time, they need to know that the expectation level out there

for other people as they look on is high as well. I think that that’s

a healthy thing.”

On having four walk-ons on the depth chart…

“Every one of those guys are guys that we have identified before they

got here as guys that could upgrade our football program, in terms of

walk-ons. I don’t think there’s any question that all four of those

guys could do the things we asked them to do and really earned that

spot. But in the same sense right now, it’s a balance of both guys

that have worked really hard and done everything that we asked them to

do, that are really talented guys, combined with the fact that we’ve

got some places on our roster right now that either have young guys

stepping in there or some walk-ons have to fill that role. We’re

really proud of those four guys. Like we’ve said since day one, the

best guy’s going to play. If that’s a walk-on or scholarship guy, it

doesn’t mean anything to us. If it’s the best guy or next best guy,

they will be in there because they’ve earned it.”

On A.J. Greene winning the starting job at right tackle…

“That could get exciting. We’re proud of A.J. because he’s won

the job outright. He has put in a lot of hard work to get to that point.

In my opinion, he’s kind of like everybody else that’s going to be

new on the field for the first time, and really that have never really

played in any games. They’re going to have to go out and do it and

prove it on gameday. We feel really confident that he’s the best guy

for the job, and he’s going to have to go out there and produce. Again

it’ll be new for him. The good thing about A.J. is at least he’s

been here and he understands game day and what this is all about. He’s

got to go out there, and he’s got to get better every week.”

On the competition at punter between Ryan Shoemaker and Steven Clark…

“We’re going to go with Ryan Shoemaker. We talked about that again

today because today is the first day that is legitimately game week for

us, and we wanted to have all our guys in place. Ryan’s the guy

we’re going to start with, he’s got experience. Steven certainly

is a good hand and we’re confident with him as well, but we’re going

to go with Ryan and start that today.”

On having freshmen at linebacker and LaDarius Owens not on the depth

chart…

“We’re excited about LaDarius and he’s going to be a great

football player here. We feel great about his development for down the

road. The transition is tough for a young guy that’s used to putting

his hand on the ground and being a pass rusher, and all of a sudden has

moved back now and trying to take in and comprehend all this stuff now

that he can see what he couldn’t see when he was down there. That’s

a transition period for a guy. He’s been great, he’s working hard,

he loves the game, and we’re really excited about him down the road

for the future. Right now, it’s just kind of a learning curve that

he’s still in and he’s got to continue to learn that position.

It’s been a little bit of a transition, but we feel great about

him.”

On having nine players on the depth chart at the linebacker position…

“It’s the first time in a while.  The thing you get out of that is

those guys that can help you on special teams as well.  It’s good to

be able to have some numbers there to choose from.  That’s not the

only position; there are other ones that we feel the same way about.

There’s going to be a lot of depth in places that maybe we didn’t

have last year, but a lot of them are going to be young.”

On when Derrick Lykes will return…

“Not anytime soon probably, but he’s coming along. He’s working

and it’s day-by-day.  He’s still banged up.”

Did he have to have surgery?

“Right now that’s kind of what we are teetering on in terms of is

he or is he not.  We’ll know more today.”

On Zach Clayton…

“It’s been great.  Zach has had a great camp.  He’s probably one

of the guys that has had the best first month of practice.  It might be

the first time since I’ve been here that for one whole month he

hasn’t been dinged up or banged up.  I think that plays a huge part

in how productive he has been, but right now he is healthy and he’s

playing really well.  So it’s good to see him at that point.”

On expectations for Shaun Kitchens…

“I’ve been really proud of him in a lot of ways.  He’s been a guy

that has made a lot of really, really nice catches for us in practice.

He’s working really hard.  He’s big and athletic where he can help

you a lot on special teams units and he’s getting better at blocking.

We need him to be able to block the perimeter and we need to be able to

use him some in the box as a blocker.  He’s a guy who can do a number

of different things.  He can be a blocker on the perimeter, a blocker

inside, you can put him out there at wideout and he can catch the

football. So he brings a lot of dimensions to the table, and it will be

fun watching him in his first game.”

Will Ladarious Phillips be ready for the Arkansas State game?

“No, he will not.”

Do you have a plan for how you want the Arkansas State game to go?

“I think you always have a plan.  Obviously, I don’t want to be

presumptuous enough to feel like we are going to be able to play

second-team guys.  Arkansas State has done some really good things in

the past when it comes to playing the Iowas of the world like they did

last year.  They took Texas down to the wire a couple of years ago.

This head coach, Coach (Steve) Roberts, has been there nine years.

Defensively, they’re always one or two in the league, probably the

last three or four years in their conference.  They’ve got a new

offense that is fast-tempo.  It’s very similar to ours in that regard

with a new offensive coordinator, so we’re going out and trying to

win.  If we ever get to the point where something happens where we’re

able to play young guys, then obviously we’ll have a plan. But let me

backtrack on that because we’ve got a plan right now during the game

to play young guys in the middle of the game no matter what the

situation is because we have to.  We’ve got a good plan on what we

want to do.  I don’t really have any kind of pregame thought on how

it’s going to unfold.  I know how I would like for it to unfold, but

this is going to be a tough football game for us.  It’s going to be

new, we are playing a lot of young guys, and it’s going to be

fast-paced.  Arkansas State is not going to come in here and be wowed by

this.  It’s not like they haven’t played all over the country, so

this is going to be a tough game for us and it’s going to be a good

opening game for a lot of our young guys who have never played before,

but it’s going to be a tough game.”   

On how the freshman class has performed as a whole during preseason

camp…

“I think it was kind of what everybody expected.  It was a camp where

those young guys got opportunities.  Sometimes you get young guys in and

they don’t get a lot of opportunities, but this was a camp of

opportunity for all of our young guys.  I think that was one of the

reasons that attracted them to Auburn.  It was good to see them come in

and be able to have a chance to compete and when they had that

opportunity, they ran with it. That’s why you are seeing that many

people on the depth chart and there are more guys that are going to be

in roles that are maybe just special teams.  There are going to be a lot

of young names out there that you’re just going to have to get used

to.”   

On the quick turnaround between the Arkansas State and Mississippi

State games…

“Two games that fast is a concern and certainly going to Mississippi

State is a concern.  Right now we’re focused on this game and it will

be a fast turnaround.  We know that, we’ve prepared for that.  But

we’re not looking ahead to game two, game four or game six.

We’ve got to go out and win this football game.”

On how Mario Fannin has handled the expectations of following Ben

Tate…

“I think he’s handling it well.  I don’t think he probably really

gives it a whole lot of consideration.  Every day he is out there just

trying to get himself better and trying to make our football team

better, so I don’t know if he pays a whole lot of attention to that.

I know that he’s a very competitive player, so he puts pressure on

himself to be very good. I don’t know how much the other plays into

that.”

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