Here’s what Bret Bielema had to say after the Auburn game, as close to word-for-word as we could get it. Sometimes Coach Bielema changes his thoughts or words in mid-sentence. Those changes in direction are not changed.
Obviously I am disappointed in the results. I thought our guys in the opening two quarters survive some things that we had to persevere through and weather through offensively, defensively, and in the kicking game. I thought at halftime coming in, if we could just go out and match that effort in the second half. Give Auburn credit, they were able to do it and we weren’t. I thought we got off rhythm a little bit offensively in not being able to convert a a first down in the third quarter and when you are playing a team like Auburn, obviously, they can come up on you in a heartbeat. I think the big swing was obviously when BA [Brandon Allen] got hit. He was throwing the ball there. I thought he really played a pretty clean game. He was on his reads and on his routes. I wish we could have caught the ball on that big play in the first half. Those are big plays that we have got to have, especially playing a team like Auburn. Defensively, you know that the pace of play and all that was going into it, our guys were locked in but on the same account as soon as we got them off rhythm there at the end of the half with the two stops that I thought that we would be able to play that way in the second half. The big play was a killer. We call a big play anything over 20 yards in the run game and 25 yards in the passing game. Those… we are just going to have to eliminate and tackle better defensively. In the kicking game, I thought that Sam [Irwin-Hill] was really good. He did a nice job of both punting and kicking. We did some pooch punts getting the ball inside the 10 I was happy with. Over all obviously two quarters of football that we can live with but other two that we can’t. That’s about it.
Q: How big of a momentum swing was that pick six?
A: it was a big, big, big momentum swing I think obviously offensively we knew we were going to have to score some points with the explosive offense that they had. Obviously that’s a huge swing not only in the points, it really hits you in the stomach and takes a lot of energy out of you on the sidelines.
Q: What do you feel like happened in the second half you know where you were not able to run as effectively?
A: you know, I think a couple things. They obviously made some adjustments. Our guys did as well. I think began to press a little bit when we were down by two scores. Whether it’s the coaches or players we had a plan that was working we had to run the football effectively we just didn’t go much to it in the third quarter. It’s something definitely take a look at.
Q: What are the positives is to take away from this?
A: Positives. We played some young guys. We played a lot of true freshman, redshirt freshman that hadn’t played before. Obviously there was some adverse weather there after we came back out but I think our guys left that locker room and they wanted to play the best 10 minutes of football that they had. We got that sack. That was another one in we were going to go four downs but the fourth and ten plus, we just didn’t want to try and convert that. Like you said, I think we ran the ball effectively in the first half and that there are some positives there. Overall, up front, we’ve got some added depth that we’ve got to be able to take advantage of, but we’ve got to be able to capitalize on big play opportunities.
Q: What was the difference in tackling in the second half?
A: You know I think again, we talked a little bit especially when we were in here during the weather break such an emphasis on ball disruption. Some of the guys should have been trying to solidify the tackle a little bit more rather than trying to strip the ball out. We got some balls out and all that jazz but too many yards after contact overall. Give credit to Auburn, but obviously something that we’ll work on a great deal.
Q: How do you think Brandon played overall, especially considering how his week’s been?
A: You know i haven’t seen his numbers, but you know I thought he was engaged in the game. I thought he came out, just overall preparation this week, there wasn’t any noticeable difference in anything. We all know what’s happened away from the stadium, but there are guys that believed in him. It’s a positive step in the right direction for him.
Q: What was the locker room like at halftime?
A: At halftime? Like it would be. Well, we ran into a little glitch our coaches never made it down from half. They were stuck in the elevator. That was a little audible that we had to deal with. So had to get that connection worked out, but I think that the great thing was though that the kids had big eyes, ears. They were locked into it and what was going on. Took the field and again when we were just not able to get into rhythm offensively create a first down in the early mid third-quarter that was a big part of it.
Q: Did not being able to make it down, did that cause any problems or anything?
A: It is what it is. We had to roll with the flow. Obviously I have coaches in the booth and we look forward to coming down here and meeting as a staff and kind of getting all on the same page. We were able to communicate by phone. I am not trying to make a bigger deal out of it than it was. They were just not able to get down here.
Q: Were they actually stuck in an elevator or was there too many people?
A: No they were stuck in the elevator. I haven’t actually gotten the full story on it but I know they were actually stuck.
Q: Jonhson’s thowing in the first half kind of got down your middle a little bit. Is that something that y’all thought might happen?
A: You know there was a play option, a play action and a play action read off of it and there was two that came off from the front side of it but I think we’ve got to make sure that we are looking at the right things. At safety position to make sure our eyes… one of the things that we really talked about playing this offense is that your eye have to have great discipline. They are going to take you to your reads and your reactions. Guys are right there. They are catching them and we’re hitting them. We just got to pull that trigger a hair earlier.
Q: On the second play of the first series of the second half. Was that going to be a run play or was that supposed to be a pass play?
A: I’m losing track of you. At the very start of the second half. I was on the defensive headset and came down on the third down.
Q: What about your receivers? How do you feel that they are playing?
A: I was excited to come into the game. I really still think that we have got some guys that are growing a little bit. You would like to see them come up with some of those bigger catches but I cannot fault their effort. We are just going to continue to work at that. I think BA has a lot of confidence with a number of those guys but we have just got to play claim. When that ball is on time when that ball’s on rhythm, we have just got to come up with it. We have got to protected better.
Q: Bret you knew that they had added Duke Williams to wide receiver. He had a big first three quarters. What did he do to their game?
A: he is a very good player. Obviously we were able to get some things open on the backend, but our guys the speed of the game and the pure reading and keys and reaction, it looked like we were a little bit slow at the pass defense at times. We were just a little a hair behind the play.
A: Korliss? He took a shot right there to it. I was afraid that it was fractured or broke. All negative there, but that was it.
Q: How happy were you to see that run game working so well in the first half? The holes were huge.
A: You know I think that we should be able to run the football. We should be able to run it with some authority. We have a number of tailbacks that I think can change the game. We’ve just got to be able to stick to our plan in that regards and hit some play action passes off of it, but we need it in the third and fourth quarter as much as we need it in that first half.
Q: Did they change something? Did they change their front a bit?
A: There were some modifications even in the second quarter. Going into the third quarter we knew that they had gone to. In particular, the rythym that we got off, I think when that pass and that interception, we started pressing a little bit. I think the players felt it too. We just got to calm down and relax, and let them know that a two score game is totally in reach with us.
Q: How did that game plan change when Nick Marshall came into the game?
A: No it didn’t. Happy for him that he got to play.
A: I think in particular, one of the reasons you play this type of offense that we play… monopolize the clock and be able to move the ball down the field and keep their offense on the sidelines but also it’s a little bit frustration. I’ve seen it work and you know for a half we were doing some things very, very well, but we’ve got to be able to hold up in all three phases, offense, defense and special teams.
Q: What’s your message to the team moving forward? Your positive message.
A: You know I think that the big thing for us is that we stayed relatively healthy. I haven’t gotten the injury report yet but we played through some pain, some guys were banged up out there. On the same account there are some positives that we’ve got to take. We can’t let Auburn get us twice. Obviously, we got to take this weekend, and obviously because we don’t have school on Monday so that it’s a little bit different schedule for them overall, get ourselves into a normal game week preparation. We can’t let one game define us or our season. We’ve got an opportunity to bounce back against Nicholls St. and the rest of the season.
Q: You said you were going to play a lot of offensive linemen. Did Sebastian play? I didn’t see him.
A: Sebastian [Tretola] played. I think he was in on our first two scoring drives. Cameron Jefferson popped in there. Really with the conditions the way they were in that second half when we came back from that weather delay and just didn’t want to break Frank into that specific senario and then I think Bryan Wallace in particular where he’s at, especially with Cam who could play tackle, you like the idea of Bryan Wallace playing but you really like the idea of what he’s going to be in two years. I think we played as many as six or seven true freshmen on defense. I know Randy Ramsey played. I know Dwayne Eugene played. I know Bijon [Jackson] played. I know Josh Liddell, Henre’ Tolliver, and on offense I know Kendrick [Edwards] played. I don’t know if JoJo [Robinson] did, and then a number of redshirt freshmen played as well.
Q: Conditioning-wise, how do you feel like they were out there today?
A: Obviously when their offense is able to score a big play and their whole premise to get back on the line of scrimmage and play, but I didn’t see anything from our guys being out of condition, out of effect (?). I think our guys overall handled the pace. It was muggy out there. We were hot in that first half so overall happy with that.