MARK STOOPS: OK, as you can imagine, a very difficult loss for our team. I felt like our players played extremely hard. But like I just told them, when you have a bunch of tough games it comes down to making some plays and give (Auburn) credit, they made the plays to win the game and we did not.
We made a lot of good plays and some plays and some things we need to do better. Very proud of our team’s effort. I felt like we knew it would be a another tough, hard-fought, close game. And it was. Our players were prepared for that. They practiced hard and had good preparation and we came up short. Need to make a few more plays in critical situations and start a little better. They kept us off balance in the first half and I don’t feel like we weren’t quite physical enough early in the game. We made some adjustments, played much better in the second half and had plenty of opportunities to gets the game tied or go up. We never could do that and get that momentum. But, again, it comes down to the end. I thought we had a good chance to complete that pass right down to the on the third down to Jeff Badet down the boundary and Jeff went up and was fighting to make a heck of a play and their DB made a heck of a play as well to strip it. I think right at the very end at the bottom of that route as they were coming down to the ground he got it out. That’s how close it gets.
So, like I said, I’m proud of this team. They worked hard and played hard and there’s plenty of things we can do better and we will. We’re excited to go back to work. I think this team knows that we prepare and play to win each and every week and we’ll go back to work on Monday.
Q. What kind of adjustments did you make on defense there in the second half?
MARK STOOPS: We got lined up better and had some adjustments to where we were moving the front to what they were doing and had some success. It was in our plan all along, a couple things happened, and they go so fast they get you — that’s the thing that early. Things go fast and there are things we can do better. But, basically, getting lined up and adjusting our front to something they were doing.
Q. On the final play calling sequence:
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, since it didn’t work. So, yeah, I would definitely do that over. Yeah.
Q. The status of defensive lineman Melvin Lewis:
MARK STOOPS: Melvin looks like he has a fractured fibula, so he will be out for some time.
Q. Was there an effort at halftime to get moving the ball more and after that first drive, when he was so good, he kind of went away in the first half. It seemed like y’all got him the ball a lot in the second half?
MARK STOOPS: I’m not sure. You can talk to Shannon (Dawson) when he gets in here.
One thing about the first half is, there wasn’t a lot of possessions. They were moving the ball on us, and we were moving it on them. Again, a critical play is the interception because we were moving the ball, had a chance to tie it at 14, and I can’t fault Patrick (TowleS) for that. I think the DB made a heck of a play. I would like to see it a little higher and back of the end zone, but I thought that their DB made a nice football play.
Q. On getting Boom Williams the ball more in the second half:
MARK STOOPS: Of course, we have known that. We think that we have known that for some time. He’s very important. But it’s also important that we do a lot of things right.
Q. Have you ever been in a game where it seemed like there were so many missed opportunities and does that give you hope going forward?
MARK STOOPS: I can think of a couple games in particular that stick out to me that were missed opportunities. Several in the last two years. That’s what I told the team is that is the glass half full or is it half empty? We know we can make those plays, and I don’t fault our team. They’re prepared, they believe they can make them, they know they can make them, and it comes down to a few plays here and there. We’ll continue to work to make those plays to make a difference to win some games. We have and as the competition gets better with certain people, we got to step it up as well.
Q. On the effort of the wide receivers:
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, phenomenal. Really they’re playing really good football. Garrett (Johnson) is a special player. He’s stepping up, making some good plays and so is Dorian (Baker). I know he slipped out of his route once and had a tough catch and in a critical moment and thought he had a chance in the end zone again on one of those ones where we went for the field goal, he almost came down with it. But, again, they were fighting and scraping and clawing. Both teams were. They were competitive plays. We made some and they made some and they made one more than us to win the game.
Q. What’s your biggest regret or frustration about what happened tonight?
MARK STOOPS: We didn’t win. I don’t know how to answer that. Regret or frustration? I don’t know. Right now, I don’t know what I would do different or anything like that. Is that what you’re asking?
Q. A specific thing maybe that got under your skin that you thought you would do better or expected to do better?
MARK STOOPS: No, yeah, there’s a lot of things we can do better and will do better. I think that I was frustrated because we didn’t get off to the start that we wanted to.
Q. On the struggles in the kicking game:
MARK STOOPS: A big difference. It makes a big difference. We’re behind the eight ball because they’re getting too good a field position because we’re not kicking the ball very good. Punts or kickoffs. In games like this, it’s huge.
Q. On his assessment of Patrick Towles’ performance:
MARK STOOPS: There was some moments where we were not good enough and there was some things he did very well. But there were some head scratchers in there. That’s going to happen against a good defense, a good team, mixing up their coverages and doing some things. But I thought that, again, he gave us a chance to win. I we pull down that ball on third down on the two or three, whatever it was, then we’re all sitting here talking about how great he was to lead us back again. So, it’s a fine line.
Q. On if he considered going for the first down at the beginning of the 4th quarter:
MARK STOOPS: I don’t. I don’t remember. No. There were a couple moments — I don’t remember exactly what you’re talking about there at the end of the third (quarter). I thought there was always enough time. There was one time before that I was going to go for it, and we had it down to the 43, but we didn’t get any more yards, 44 or whatever it was, and we punted it and punted it into the end zone. We had an opportunity to pin them, but we missed that one and got it in the end zone. That was one that is I was wanting to go for it on fourth down, but we didn’t make any yards on the second or third.
Q. On Austin MacGinnis’ range with his groin injury in the late-game situation:
MARK STOOPS: He would have been good. We had tried it from 50. He was definitely good from 45. So, I don’t know what situation you were in, but we played it right as it turns out. There was nothing I could have done differently and that — I wouldn’t — let’s put it this way — I wouldn’t do anything different. We had the ball at the end of the game with plenty of time to win the game, or tie it.
Q. Was everybody aware that you didn’t have any timeouts at the end with that running play? Was there no confusion?
MARK STOOPS: No, no, no. We knew absolutely. You’ve seen us before run the ball on third down and 15 and get the first down and you praised them. Right? Didn’t work. So it’s real easy to second guess him (Shannon Dawson). I don’t. We were playing too high, and we thought we could split them. If we split them for 12 yards, then we’re sitting in here saying, well, that’s a genius call, so, it didn’t work. We still had two more opportunities to get the first down.
Q. On the Thursday Night Atmosphere:
MARK STOOPS: I thought it was great. It was great. Really special night, fans were up, I saw them standing. And again, we just were so close. We just could never get that momentum and get on top and that’s probably what’s going to bother you. We have had opportunities to get the game tied or get ahead and just couldn’t do it. Couldn’t get the fans really juiced up and really into it. But they were. We could have really done our part, but really appreciate the atmosphere and the effort. It was a fantastic environment.
Q. On the play of Matt Elam:
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, Matt will step up and play well.
#18 Boom Williams, RB
On the difficulty of the loss …
“It was very tough to know that you had a chance to win the game, and that you had a lot of opportunities to win the game, and we came up short. It was a good SEC opponent and you have to make those plays if you expect to win the game.”
On what Auburn did to get the team off balance during the game …
“We just didn’t make enough plays and we know that we can play with anyone and we came ready to play and play our best. You just have to make those plays to get the chance to win the game.”
On how it felt to be back out on the field after sitting out the EKU game …
“It felt really good to be back out there with my team and to be able to go out there and make some plays that put us in the best position to score some points. So it felt good to be back out there even though we came up short. I’d give all my stats and everything away just to get the win.”
On what halftime was like…
“We went in at halftime and made some adjustments and we realized that we can play with them and we had a true chance to win this game. All we had to do was go out there and make plays and do the things that we have been coached to do. At the end of the day it just came down to we didn’t make enough plays. We came up a little short and we can’t dwell on this. We have a long season ahead of us and we have a couple days off. We’re going to get ready for Mississippi State.”
#45 Josh Forrest, LB
On what coach said to the team after the game …
“He was proud of us. It’s time to give credit to a good team and now it’s time to get back to work.”
On Auburn surprising them offensively …
“No we were prepared for it. We prepared for a lot of runs.”
#6 Jason Hatcher, DE
On his thoughts about the game …
“It’s bitter sweet in a way just because we weren’t too far off. We needed a little more time or a time out or two and the outcome of the game would have been different. It’s just a bitter sweet moment and we have to get back to film.”
On what Stoops said to the team after the game …
“He talked about our resilience and our fight and to continue to go out there and make plays. Don’t give up and give it our all.”
On Auburn surprising them …
“No we knew they were going to try and run the ball and make it a smash mouth game. They had a couple of trick plays here and there, but they put that on film before so we were really prepared. We just didn’t have guys in the right spot at the right time.”
On the end of the game …
“Throughout the whole game we knew we had a chance to win. It was about making the plays and being in the right spot. It was another hard lesson, but we have another great game next week against Mississippi State. We have another chance to redeem ourselves.”
#1 A.J. Stamps, S
On the loss of Melvin Lewis …
“It’s a big loss. Melvin is a big asset to the defense, but we can’t have any excuses. It’s next man up and Matt Elam did a pretty good job.”
On Matt Elam’s play …
“He practices well. He’s with us every day at practice, he practices well, we put pressure on him at practice and he exceeds the limits. He knows the play calls and he knows the plays and he knows what is expected of him and he’s doing a good job.”
On Auburn’s final touchdown …
“On that play, it was as motion going on in that play and just bad eyes, a player saw something that wasn’t really happening. He attacked it the wrong way, but it happens.”
#14, Patrick Towles, QB
On the play before halftime that was supposed to go to Dorian Baker …
“Yeah, just a bad read. I had Dorian, I had a really good match up, and I missed it. We got them an extra three points. So again, that was on me.”
On having motivation coming out of halftime …
“Yeah, no doubt. We just need to make plays. I think that we didn’t necessarily execute the way that we wanted in the first half, so we have to get more stuff done in the second half. Kind of heighten the sense of urgency.”
#9, Garrett Johnson, WR
On the importance of Boom Williams …
“I feel like everybody can make plays. But with Boom, all of us know he’s very explosive. So I guess I wouldn’t put him above any other guy on the team, like I said, but I know he can make plays and so can everybody else.”
On if he thought the team was going to win every during the final drive …
“I definitely thought we were going to win. Like I told them, we just came up a little short.”
On timely defensive plays …
“I think what really stands out to me is when the game is on the line and you need your defense to respond, they did. They won the game for us on that last drive. They had the interception in the end zone. That was big too, so we’re happy to get out of here with a victory.”
On offensive mindset entering the game…
“We wanted to be more aggressive. We’re starting to settle in, starting to get some rhythm in practice. The week off was big for us and we wanted to come out with an aggressive mindset and he (Sean White) did a good job. He made some plays through the air and like I said, I thought the big thing was the third downs in the first half and keeping drives alive. We had a stale third quarter offensively. They had something to do with it, but then we had the big drive at the very end for the touchdown. “
On importance of tonight’s win …
“I’ll say this, it was a big win for us. We needed this win. I think that’s kind of a common sense deal. It gives us momentum. We’re 2-0 in October. So, we’re going in the right direction. That’s the positive message.”
#5 Ricardo Louis, WR
On his big night …
“Coach Miles told me when you have a chance to make a play, make a play. That is the only thing that was on my mind.”
On the rhythm the offense had in the first half …
“That’s our offense right there, big plays and being able to run the ball. When we do that we have great success.”
On how much did the bye week help the team …
“The bye week helped us a lot. We had to reevaluate ourselves, look back at things we need to work on, everyone that who was hurt went to treatment. I was glad we got that bye week before this game it really helped.”
#26 Justin Garrett, LB
On the defense finishing off the win …
“Coach said that it would come down to us (the defense) in the very end, we didn’t play too well the first three quarters, but we knew we had to seal the game. That’s the only thing that matters winning an SEC game on the road.”
On how do you evaluate the defense as a whole …
“We need to get off of the field on third downs, cut down our penalties and just have everyone do their job. We got the win, but there are some things we can do better.”
#13 Sean White, QB
On do you feel you guys are really getting into a rhythm offensively …
“Yes sir. We left a couple plays out there I think, but you can tell our offense is rolling pretty well. We have to keep that up”
On what lead to the team’s offensive rhythm …
“It might have been the bye week. We definitely grew closer as a team over the week. We also played physical, aggressive, and were attacking. I was also really proud of the offensive line there was very few times where I had pressure.”
#8 Cassanova McKinzy, LB
On defense having to win the game in the fourth quarter …
“As a defense we knew we had played kind of average throughout the game. We knew the offense trusted us enough to punt the ball off instead of going for it. By them putting their trust in us it gave us a lot of monument. For that one down we knew we had to find a way to get off the field and win the game. So basically we had to step it up and go for it.”
On how does it feel to go out and win a game like that …
“It just shows how much the coaching staff trusts us offensively and defensively. It’s all about a matter of trust. If Coach didn’t trust our defense he never would have punted the ball he would’ve tried to go for it. Just being out there and being in that situation to win the game for the team it means a lot.”
#38 Daniel Carlson, K
On warm up and kicking the ball well …
“Yeah it felt good. I had an off week to work on some things so that was nice.”
On deep kickoffs in endzone except for one if that one was on purpose …
“No I didn’t. I just mishit it, but luckily it kind of rolled. They only recovered it out to the 22 so that’s great for our cover team. Other than that one the other ones were good.”
#21 Kerryon Johnson, RB
On scoring first touchdown in college …
“Yes it was huge. With it being that early in the game they were like, ‘Hey we still have more possessions left in the game and I was trying to get another one.’ It’s kind of surreal because a couple months ago I was still in high school and now I’m scoring my first college touchdown.”
On getting used to the wildcat formation …
“It’s still a work in progress. That’s a formation you just have to get used to. It takes a lot of time and a lot of practice. It’s still a work in progress but for now we have a lot of different elements to keep defenses on their feet. Just the line I have in front me is a hard line to stay in front of and stay competitive. I think I’m getting really good at it.”