Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik Press Conference - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik Press Conference

Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik

 

Opening Statement…

"We are looking forward to another opportunity to play, and we're going to start back today to become a better football team. I've had a lot of opportunities here in the last two days to really evaluate and assess some of our deficiencies. Again, I feel really good in moving in the direction of trying to get better and we're looking forward to this week."

 

 

On fixing the deficiencies on defense…

"Well, again we spent a lot of time, night and day basically assessing what the deficiencies are and how to get better, and we're going to stay on track with how to improve. There are a lot of different things I feel like we can improve on, starting with tackling, as we all saw Saturday, but also a little technique issues and some different things that we just obviously have to improve on and I don't think that's any secret, I think the whole world knows it. We're going to continue on that track, and we're looking forward to today and starting with different things that are going to help us improve."

 

On fixing the tackling issues…

"We just have to work at it, showing them different approach angles, and we're leaving our feet too much, things that are really fixable, without question. They see it and they know it. That's coaching and that's getting them in the right spots, and approaching the ball correctly and things of that nature. So, it's not just one thing. You can work on it a lot of different ways. We're going to continue to do that this week."

 

On frustrations as a former defensive coordinator…

"Obviously we would love to be playing better on defense right now. Again, we're going to continue to work in that direction. It's not about frustration, it's not about any of that. We need to play better defensively , I don't think there's any question in anybody's mind about  that. We don't take that lightly. We're spending every waking moment right now assessing defense from top to bottom and figuring out a way to play better."

 

On taking a more active role on defense…

"Well, I've been assessing every part of our football team. Throughout the first three weeks, offense, defense and special teams, and this is a good week to go back and looks at us and study us. This is about Auburn this week. I've been extremely involved in all three phases."

 

On using the FAU game to improve before SEC play…

"It's not really about Florida Atlantic, really and truly. This is a game where we've got to improve some things in practice, and go out on game day and execute the things that we feel like we need to improve on. So, it really wouldn't matter who we're playing. It's very obvious that we need to play better all the way around as a football team. Florida Atlantic just happens to be the next opponent. Again, it's all about what we practice, how we practice, what we're emphasizing in terms of having to improve on and going out on Saturday and doing it. Again, that's the beauty of football. We get a chance to go out and practice starting today. It's not about Florida Atlantic or anybody else. It's about Auburn and we have a lot of improvement to do."

 

On quarterback Barrett Trotter's progress…

"Well, again, I think Barrett has had some really bright moments that we can really, really build on, no question about it. I think that there's also a great deal in terms of room for improvement. He's been the starter for three games, so I think the experience gotten in those three games are invaluable. He was under a lot of duress in parts of the game on Saturday. He was hit a lot. So again, that goes back to challenging everyone on the offensive line and protection and things of that nature, and the receivers getting open. It all ties in, but overall I think Barrett's getting better and, week by week, the more experience he gets, I think that he'll continue to improve."

 

On FAU Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger…

"Through the years I've probably met him once or twice. He's been a tremendous football coach over the years and has had a lot of success and really started that program from the ground –up and has done a tremendous job with that. I don't really know him very well, but I have met him a couple of times and I am very aware of the great job he has done over the years coaching."

 

On if there will be any personnel changes this week…

"Not necessarily. The personnel changes that are happening with us right now are really due to guys getting beat up or banged up. Again, it doesn't mean that younger guys won't play a little bit more because we have really gone back and assessed pretty much every position, personnel wise. I think there are some young guys who really have more opportunities to see the field, but as far as any personnel changes anywhere, no."

 

On Jonathon Evans status…

"He is day-by-day. We just don't know with him. It's going to be probably near the end of the week before we really know more."

 

On Jonathan Rose or Ladarious Phillips…

"We are going to meet with them later today and if anything changes with their status we will let you

know."

 

On recruiting in south Florida…

"There is a lot of talent down there. If you just take Auburn alone, over the years, so many good players have come from south Florida. It's always been that way and football is a big part of what they do down there. They start at six or seven years old and they grow up, so there is just a lot of talent down there. There is enough talent to go around and again, that's why everybody recruits down there. It's only getting better, too. There are some really great programs down there and some programs that are really on the up-and-up, and programs that are on a national level, year in and year out, that are always in the mix as well. It's not just great talent. They've got great coaches and a lot of great programs so you are going to continue to see a lot of guys at a lot of different places come from down there in that area."

 

On players who haven't played yet that might see action this week…

"Off the top of my head, no. Again, that's not to say that some of the younger guys who haven't played much won't see playing time. Their roles can certainly be expanded this upcoming week, but for the most part you'll see the same faces and names."

 

On what Auburn needs to do on defense…

"We certainly need to simplify some things. There is no question about that. I want to go back to the big picture. Part of the reason tackling can become challenging is when you have played so many plays with the same guys. Now, that is two-fold if we can't get off the field on third down. We've done a very poor job of that, getting third downs and keeping the ball in time of possession. It's really kind of a cumulative effect in terms of us being able to function better on defense."

 

On whether or not he is concerned about the defense becoming too simplified…

"It's not necessarily simplifying meaning you sit in one front and one coverage.  It's simplifying some different things where maybe we are trying to play with too much detail particularly in these first three games where it got a little hairy because of the pace of the offenses and things of that nature.  It was no huddle and it was fast-paced and all that.  We are going to see it again, so that's certainly not an excuse.  The bottom line is that we have got to simplify some things where we know those are the challenges that we face.  Again, we've got to do a better job coaching.  No question about it."

 

On whether or not there was some way Auburn could have avoided the defensive struggles against
Clemson…

"You look back and, again, I'm going to say it again we can simplify it and we can, again, as a cumulative effect with our whole football team we can play better by getting off the field on third downs and converting on third downs, which is not happening on a regular basis in either way."

 

On what can be done to improve the offense's struggles on third down…

"We can run the ball better or we can throw the ball better, whatever one we choose to do.  Again, it's all the same and I keep answering the same question over and over again. We've got to execute better and we have spent a lot of time looking at it. Usually when you go back and you look at a third down that has either been unsuccessful defensively or offensively it's usually one guy here or one guy there, a missed block here or too much pressure here, and that is the encouraging part. The encouraging part is it's not nine or ten guys out of 11 failing to do their job. It's a guy here, it's a guy there. Again, that one guy can disrupt a lot of different things, so that's glaring that it has happened on both sides of the ball.  Not just on third down, but when we are not effective, period, it's usually a guy here or a guy there and that is really what we are seeing."

 

On Chris Davis…

"I think Chris has really come on as a football player. He's very aggressive in the run game. I think he has done a really good job in the pass game. He's got a great comfort level, he's a smart player and he's got a great comfort level of where he's at within the defense. He knows his job, he knows his responsibility and he plays fast. I'm just really, really proud of how far he's come playing from last year. He was more of a spot guy last year and played more special teams, but he's improved every week."

 

On the importance of improving this week heading into a tough month of October…

"This is just a week where we have to get much better, there's no question about it. We're not entertaining the month of October yet. We know in this league what lies ahead and that's never going to change, so again, this week will be about us and it will be about us fixing and improving in areas that we need to fix and improve in, and I feel sure we are going to do that."

 

On figuring out a defensive rotation…

"As the weeks go on, you can really see improvement in some of our younger guys. But again, who's going to get more reps offensively and defensively really and so I think there is no question right now that after three games and we evaluate and we have evaluated each player I don't think there's any questions that right now we are getting a better feeling on who is going to play and how much really on all sides of the ball and special teams."

 

On younger guys who look to have bigger roles…

"I think Quan Bray is a guy that we've really got to look at to get back on the field some more. I don't think there is any question that in practice he's really come on. He hasn't had a lot of opportunities in games but we feel good about him being out there and being more active, without question. Tre Mason, right now, we got him a little more involved in the game on the offensive side the other day we've got to continue to bring him along. You know he dropped a screen out there but we've got to bring him along. He is a guy that can make plays and he's got to continue to play more. Defensively, Jermaine Whitehead is a young man that has really, really come on in special teams. He's played our nickel spot for us and he played a lot on Saturday. He's really done a good job. Angelo Blackson is another really young guy and I think he's starting to figure it out down there. It is moving fast for him but there's no question in my mind that he has gotten better as the past three weeks have moved on. So, we've got some young guys right now that are starting to improve and you'll continue to see them play a little bit more as time goes on."

 

On Onterio McCalebb's role…

"Onterio is a team guy, so he does a lot for our football team. He's obviously carried the ball around 40 times and he has really been productive in the different ways that we use him. What I like about Onterio is that he's willing to do some dirty work, too. He wants to be a kickoff returner, he covers punts for us, and he does some other things that the general public doesn't see. But he's willing to play special teams and things of that nature, as well as carry the football and he's getting better at his pass protection. He's certainly like the rest of our team in that he can improve, no question about it. He embraces the role that we give him and again he's a team guy."

 

On the defense being Chizik's personality…

"As I've said before, I've got great coaches and, like I said, I've got input on every area of our team. But, I've got great coaches and they do a great job coaching. You know, the ideas on defense are not revolutionary, everybody basically does the same thing you know and Ted does a good job of running our defense. We understand we have deficiencies, obviously I'm involved there just like I'm involved with the offense and the special teams as well. But again, I've got great coaches, there's no question in my mind with the deficiencies that we have, we have evaluated it really close and we're going to work every day to get it fixed."

 

On if the problems will be fixed this week…

"I think I'll be able to tell you more Saturday, but again, that's the plan."                 

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