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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuberville notes from Tuesday

Opening statement…
“It’s good that we’re getting in a routine now and we’re ready to play another game. It’s been fun watching practice for the last couple of days. Of course, it’s always fun when everybody is disappointed in winning 34-0, but we’re not, as coaches or players, the least bit disappointed in how we played in a couple of areas.
We’ll win plenty of games if we keep improving and understanding what we’re trying to do. I think the big thing in anything that you’re trying to do is trying to get better and understand where you’re going.

About the offense
“Everybody looks at this offense and thinks that we are going to throw for 500 yards each game. And we look up going into the fourth quarter and I think we had about 30 yards. The great thing about that is how right under it, we had rushed for about 300 yards. That’s what is going to win games for you in the long run. Looking at our offense and the reaction of our players, they’re disappointed that we didn’t put more yards up, but as I told them, the biggest thing is execution and fulfilling a purpose. Don’t turn the ball over and give your defense a chance to survive, especially early in the season.

“It all starts with the approach you take. We took a very different approach last week and we were going to alternate quarterbacks and do those things. Obviously you can’t do that and get any kind of rhythm.
In the future, we are going to find a quarterback and someone who is going to get the job done on a long leash. Of course, we will have someone standing by who can go in and play some plays. We haven’t come up with that person yet.

“This week, Chris Todd will start and we’ll have the same game plan as last week. The thing that we want to do is coach better and get us in the right frame of mind in terms of what we want to do; try to be a little more balanced and if we can do that, then we’ll be successful.

About the defense

“We’re off to an excellent start. Anytime you’ve got a shutout, you’ve done a pretty good job. They missed a few field goals and they did move the ball on us a couple of times. We’re a little bit disappointed that we missed some tackles and we were lined up wrong, but our guys attacked the ball well. We played a lot of players.
The second half, we played basically the second team defense and I thought that they competed well.

“It was a good game for us. Louisiana Monroe will win some games this year. They’ve got some good players and a defensive unit that runs well. I thought it was a good game for us to start out with. When you open up the game on defense and cause a sack, a fumble, and a touchdown, it gives you a shot in the arm. But we’ve got to put it all together in a group. This is not an individual sport, a defensive team or an offensive team, or a kicking team. We need to get everybody together and
I told them that going into this game. We’ve got to play better as a team and we’ve got to start understanding more about what each group is trying to get done. It was a good first game and we hope to perform better this week and we’ll need to.

“Southern Miss is coming in off of a very big win for their coach, first game as the head coach. They’re excited and they scored 51 points. It looked like a track meet. They’re a little similar to us; they run a fast-paced, no huddle offense. They take the ball from underneath the center more than we do. They’ve got two good running backs, one rushes for more than 200 yards. You’ve got to give that a lot of respect. They’ve got a red-shirt freshman quarterback who threw some very good passes in his first college football game and they’ll have some of the better receivers that we’ll see this year. Some very good receivers at tight end, wide receivers who will be hard to cover and they’re very physical. It’s going to be a challenge.

“Their defense is impressive. They’ve got a four-man front. They look like us speed-wise. Southern Miss has always played well against
SEC teams. This is going to be a good challenge for us. It’s an 11:30 start so it’s going to be pretty humid, and it’s going to be one of those where we’ll have a lot of people prepared to play. We’re looking forward to it.

“I will say something about special teams. That’s probably the best overall effort that we’ve had over the past few years and we had a lot of young guys making plays. We will need to improve a little bit more.
Clinton Durst will be our starter (at punter) with Ryan Shoemaker still working very hard and the competition there will make them both better.
I’m disappointed that Wes Byrum missed a short field goal. We let Morgan Hull do most of the kicking and I thought that he did a great job on kickoffs.”

Talk about what we’re doing offensively and how Auburn’s defensewill play against Southern Miss’ offense?
“We’ve gone against ourselves now for spring practice and thirty fall practices, and it’s pretty difficult to mentally get prepared for the next play. You have to get back and get set and you don’t have time to rest. Mentally you get gassed as much as you do physically. We ran 79 plays on Saturday and that’s a lot of plays and I know we got tired on offense. It’s not just your defense that gets tired, it the guys running all the plays that get tired and we’re expecting a lot of guys to play this week, offensively and defensively. An 11:30 game is brutal and hopefully the hurricane will turn and go the other way and we don’t have a wet day, but there could be possibilities there so we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Was it a good practice today?
“Yes, good practice. It was a quick turnaround because yesterday we practiced till about six and we don’t usually practice on Monday because of Labor Day, but we gave them Sunday off. They were a little tired this morning and we got their attention fairly quick. The breeze was blowing very well from the hurricane and so we’re very lucky for that because it was awfully humid. We got their attention, though, because the guys want to get better. They understand how much better they’ve got to get to going into these next couple of games, so there’s a sense of urgency with everybody on downs. We’ve got to get ready to go and play the downs.”

Talk about some of the changes that we’ll see at receiver?
“The first couple of plays of the season threw us into a tailspin, but we don’t make any excuses on offense. We didn’t get it done throwing the ball we got it done running the ball. We’re going to go in this week and move some guys around to where they can play. Mario
Fannin will be at a set position. We’ve got to get more consistency from guys in set positions instead of moving them around. I think that’s going to be a key for us going into this week. When you get into the game, you’ve got to execute. When you throw the ball, it’s not just throwing, but you’ve got to catch it and we’ve been working very hard on that as we always do in crucial situations.

Has Tony Franklin come up with any ideas of how he’ll rotate the quarterbacks?

“Chris Todd will be our starter this week and he may play the whole game. We’re not going to alternate them every series and if we think we need somebody else to go in and give us a shot in the arm, then that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve still got two quarterbacks and until we get into the conference, we’ll keep it like that. Kodi
Burns started last week and Chris Todd will start this week and we’ll look for the right combination. But you’ve got to have a guy who you know can go out there and be your starter and I’ve said that all along, someone who the players can look up to. There’s going to be a battle all year long and hopefully they’ll stay close because it’ll make them and the team better.”

Is Chris Todd starting this week because of his performance last week?
“We were going to give Kodi (Burns) the start last week and Chris (Todd) the start this week going in because they’ve both done pretty well. There wasn’t a lot of separation between them during two-a-days.
You give one of them the chance to think that they’ll be the starter and have them figure out what they’re going to do, but then you’ve got Chris on the other side thinking that he’s going to be the starter.”

What do you watch when Chris Todd is on the field?
“Both the quarterbacks are running the offense and they’re going to be a little different, but you’ve got to have a sense of urgency in this offense. If there’s one thing that we did last week, we held the ball too long. You’ve got to get rid of the ball. I think that comes from knowing that you’ve got to take your reps and you’ve got to do it precisely and not make mistakes. Quarterbacks have to have the freedom like any other player; if they go out there and make a mistake, they get back in the huddle and get a chance to redeem themselves. We don’t want quarterbacks always looking over their shoulders because that’s the worst thing you can do. Two non-conference games gives you an opportunity to let them go out and compete and see how much more they can improve, but when we get into the long run, we’re going to have a guy who will be out there with some relief help.”

On running the ball out of the shotgun…
“We went back and looked at the running game the last couple of years and our best running game have come out of one-back; whether it’s underneath the center or in shotgun. So, really the best thing that we do with our offensive line is that we’re very athletic. We run laterally, which is zone-blocking. We have not ever been a power team where everybody blocks down and one guy kicks out. We do have a few power plays and we run them and we ran them last week. We have been a more finesse running team; creating running lanes with zone blocking, handing off and let the running back use his ability in the running lane. That’s what we did Saturday and after going back and evaluating what we’ve done in our running game for the past four or five years, that’s been our bread and butter. Last week was fun to watch. We looked like a heck of a running team. That was about as good as we run the ball and against a team that really had an idea of what we were doing. Louisiana-Monroe slanted, blitzed, and stunted and we were still able to make a lot of plays.”

On studying LSU’s defense vs. Troy’s spread offense…
“I’d rather someone have played against an offense like we run before we play them. We will have some kind of idea to see what their first thoughts were; did it work, did it not work. It just gives you an idea. If we’re going to play a team in the future that doesn’t play anything we run, it doesn’t give you a lot to work on.”

On Tez Doolittle’s first game back…
“You know what I liked about Tez, is that he had fun. The young man hasn’t had a lot of fun in the past 12 months. He had fun and attacked the line of scrimmage. He hasn’t been a surprise in terms of using his hands well; however, he has been a surprise in the fact that he has come back so quickly with that type of an injury. Four weeks ago, I’d never thought he would have played in the first game at the start of two-a-days. His leg wasn’t strong enough to push off and we were a little afraid of putting him in harms way. He worked hard and got better and he is one of our leaders. It’s great to see guys turn a positive in a negative as he has.”

On reassuring Coach Franklin…
“We had a full stadium that came out to look at our offense and everyone was expecting us to throw for 500 yards and run for 75. It didn’t work like that. There are going to be games that we are going to have to struggle on offense. If you play against a defense no matter what level, the team still has to execute. Tony has been in this long enough, he knows that there were some good plays called in terms of the passing game that we didn’t execute and then there were some bad plays called that had no chance of execution. We all have got to back and look over it numerous times and make adjustments to the play called. He knows that running the football in major college football is very important.

“We knew that we could have run in the first half, we just wanted to throw the football to see how these guys react. We went into the second half telling the running backs and offensive line, it’s your turn. They just took the game over in terms of running it. There will be a lot of adjustments with the game plan. It is going to be fun to watch. This offense is going to get better. Each week we play, the defense is also going to get better. It may not look like we’re improving a lot, but we are going to improve. These guys on offense want to make it work.
They’re having fun and they’re working hard, so it’s going to pay off in the long run.”

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