Coach Gene Chizik's statements 10/18/11 - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Coach Gene Chizik's statements 10/18/11

Opening statement…

"Great opportunity for us this week. Obviously, we have a huge, tall order in front of us going to Baton Rouge, but we're going to embrace it. It's going to be a lot of fun. We'll have to play a great football game to have a chance to win; the best we've played all year. That's what you have to do to have any chance whatsoever to beat the No. 1 team in the country. They are a great football team. They are solid everywhere. There are really no weaknesses to their football team. So, you have to play your best game, offense, defense and special teams, to have a chance to win. We're going to start back today, and we're going to go back to work and try to improve in some areas we know we need to improve in and go down to Baton Rouge and try to play our best game." 

On who the starting quarterback will be at LSU…

"We spent the last 48 hours really evaluating and looking again at what we think is the best for Auburn, and we're going to start Clint Moseley. It doesn't mean Barrett Trotter doesn't get his chance to win, it just means that we've been struggling offensively the last few weeks. I don't think that's a secret. I feel like we need a spark there. I feel like in the second half of the Florida game, Clint came in and gave us somewhat of a spark when we needed it. I think he's earned the right for the opportunity to start, so he'll be starting in Baton Rouge Saturday." 

On what Moseley did to earn the starting job…

"I think he's really stayed focused along the way. Certainly, in the last couple of weeks, I think he's really tried to elevate his level of game in terms of really preparing like a starter. I feel like he's come a long way in the last two or three weeks in that regard. Then again, I think he made some throws in the game on Saturday that were good throws. They came at the right time, one coming out of our end zone when we needed that for field position issues, another one on a big 2nd-and-21. Again, I feel like putting it all together and looking at where we are offensively and the spark that we need, we feel like this is the best decision." 

On Moseley coming to Chizik for advice…

"We had a great talk. We probably talked for an hour and a half. It wasn't necessarily all football related, it was just about how to deal with different things in life. I thought it was very productive. I felt like when he left my office that day, I felt like he was a little more comfortable with where he was at; a little more comfortable in his own skin. I felt like it was a productive meeting, and again, I've seen him over the last couple of weeks improve. I think just kind of altogether coming to grips with everything; being the quarterback at Auburn, or the backup, or the starter, whatever it may be. Just the challenges that come with it, so I think he's come a long way."

On the difficulties of being a leader as a backup quarterback…

"I think to a small degree that's probably true. I think when you have quarterback races that were close, one of the reasons they're quarterbacks at the college level is because they have confidence in themselves. All of a sudden, it doesn't unfold exactly the way they had anticipated it, and I think you have to navigate those waters and sometimes those waters are really deep and hard to get through. I think he's done a great job. This is going to be a great opportunity for him." 

On if Barrett Trotter has had any problems due to injury…

"No, Barrett's been a warrior. He's taken hits, he's gotten back up. I'm not going to say he's not beat up; I think our whole football team is. Physically, he's fine." 

On the importance of the offensive line to play well against a challenging LSU defense…

"As we all know, LSU's defense is fast, it's physical. They're one of the best in the country. The challenge is certainly going to start with our offensive line. There's no question about it. There's no way we're going to be able to win the football game if we don't improve everywhere offensively starting with the offensive line first. There's just a level of improvement that's going to have to happen this week for us to have a chance to go in there and win, and it's going to all start there." 

On offensive lineman Jared Cooper and wide receiver Emory Blake…

"Jared Cooper just had surgery yesterday so he's out for the year. Chad Slade played last week, and Chad's improving. I don't know the status on Emory right now. Really and truly, that's probably 50-50. We were hoping it would be more in favor of him playing, but right now I can't say that that's true. So again, we'll continue to monitor that as we go." 

On wide receiver Trovon Reed…

"I think it's going to be 50-50 with him, as well. We'll know more probably by tomorrow. We'll see what they can do today. I'm not overly optimistic with either one of them, but we'll see where they are at." 

On having to modify the offense at LSU for Moseley…

"I don't think so. No. 1, he's been around here a long time so certainly that helps. No. 2, he's followed right along with the game plan, and he's been right in there. Again, I think preparing as if he were going to be the starter. As far as a limited play book for him, that's really not going to be an issue." 

On being disappointed for Cooper after coming as far as he has…

"I hate it. You talk about a guy who's paid his dues and been through a lot, he's one of maybe two or three fifth-year guys we have left here that came five years ago. Here he is finally getting enough playing time where he can have a comfort level. His and my conversation two days ago, he was just starting to feel like ‘Man, I get this.' Because you can practice all you want, and you can be around it all you want, but until you get in the games and you play against the opponents we play against, you don't really get it until you've done it. He was just at that point where he was really starting to feel good, feel confident, and unfortunately this happens. We're going to see if he can rehab fast enough to maybe get back for the bowl game or whatnot, but we'll see."  

On tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen making clutch plays…

"He's been that way since he was a freshman. One thing we know, we know that in those clutch times when you have to have a play, we know if we get the ball anywhere near him, he's probably going to catch it. He's just always been that way. He's just a very good football player. He's one of the guys that we can rely on. We don't have a bunch of them right now, but he's one of the guys that we can rely on that can catch that football when we need a big play, and he did again on Saturday night on a couple different occasions. So it's just kind of one of those things probably where you got it or you don't got it. He's got it." 

On throwing to Lutzenkirchen more…

"He's not always open. And again, we throw to guys based on coverages and availability in that regard. Everything we do offensively is going to be based on what they give us." 

On how tough it is to play at LSU…

"Obviously it's a huge challenge, but I think there are a lot of schools that are exactly like LSU in terms of being a big challenge and going on the road in a very tough environment and winning. So, I mean, is it a difficult place to play? No question about it. But there are a bunch of difficult places to play in this league." 

On capitalizing on other teams' mistakes…

"Well, for us it's huge. Our margin for error within our football team right now is so slim that any time we can capitalize on something that the other team does, we have to be able to be in the position to do that. That's one of the things that I'm really proud of with our special teams is because guys can muff punts and you don't have anybody there to recover them. What we've done is we've protected our punter and we've gotten guys down the field in position to make those plays. When and if they happen, we're in the position to capitalize on it. That's been kind of what we've been hanging our hat on is we've been talking about special teams all year. Whether it's those types of issues, whether it's downing guys inside the 10, or the field position battles, we have to continue to try to win. Our team knows that. Our football team understands the importance of our special teams guys being in the right places to give us a chance to win whether it is field position issues, or things that happened Saturday night against Florida with us getting some turnovers. We have to be able to create some of those, and we have to capitalize on those for us to win." 

On preparing for both LSU quarterbacks, Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee…

"It's difficult, there's no question. Jordan can get in there and we know he can throw it, but they also have good run game with him, and it's not just the zone-read stuff, it's quarterback powers and  quarterback sweep run game that they spread you out and they basically get you a man down in terms of run fit. He's physical, he's big, he runs the ball really well. They've increased his number of snaps on the last couple of games, so I'm sure we'll see a good number of his snaps. The question is how much do you prepare for him and how much do you not? Obviously we'll have a plan for both, but it becomes challenging." 

On Jarrett Lee…

"Well I think that you can look at pretty much two categories offensively there. If you look down the list of rushing offense, passing offense, all this stuff won't just jump off the page at you. Now their scoring offense will, but if you look at two categories, to me it tells a great story about the quarterback. One is time of possession and turnover margin. I mean, that's it. So, they lead the league in time of possession, so they're not giving the ball up. That means that he's managing the offense and controlling the offense. He has so many great players around him right now that he doesn't have to win every game by himself. So what does he have to do? He has to manage the offense and not turn the ball over. He has thrown one interception. There's nobody in the league that's done that. He's thrown one interception. They're protecting the football. They're getting the ball back defensively. Their turnover margin is off the chart. Usually when your turnover margin is that heads-and-tails above everybody else, you can usually go back to the quarterback and see that he's managing the offense really well and not turning the ball over which is what he's doing. That's why they're No. 1 in the country. They're operating in a way to win football games. They're playing great defense. They're winning the time of possession. They're not turning the ball over. That pretty much sums it up."

On the LSU offense being challenging for the front four defensively…

"Huge amount. This has to be the best defensive game we've played all year for us to have a chance to win. Their running game is extremely physical. They don't try to trick you. There's not a bunch of tricks. They're going to line up, and they're going to run their plays. They're going to out-physical you. They're going to run the ball downhill. They're going to play-action pass and hit you over the top. Case-in-point, in the Florida game where they did that a couple of different times with some huge plays over the top when they get your corners isolated because they have the speed out there to do it. Nothing fancy, just really good physical football and good one-on-one match ups. There are no secrets to it." 

On the Auburn defense feeling like it has to match the LSU defense…

"I don't know if it is or not. We don't really talk in those terms. They have to look at themselves and figure out how to improve themselves every day. Arguably, LSU's defense is getting a lot of attention, and they should." 

On LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu….

"He's a play maker. A guy that can do what he does, there's a knack in there somewhere. Guys don't just blitz and strip balls out and pick them up and make picks and return punts, and he's just a really good football player. He's got a knack for being around the ball, and he's got a knack for when he's around the ball, making some kind of play that can change the game. Really and truly, that's what he is." 

On the impact of hearing about how good LSU is and that Auburn is a three touchdown underdog on the Auburn players…

"I don't really know. It's not what we really talk about. As I tell them all of the time, the only people who really know what we are doing and what we are about are the people that are around it every day and preparing and practicing every day. I'm sure they hear it and read it about others in our league or others they are playing or what not. That's all well and good, but the reality of it is the only thing we can control is what we are doing. Does that motivate them? I don't know. I didn't know we were a three touchdown underdog. It's really immaterial, but our guys probably hear it." 

On Clint Moseley being an emotional person and the impact it has on him as a quarterback…

"I don't know that that matters. Everybody has their distinct personalities. What does matter is, at the quarterback position as we've talked so many times, what does matter is how you handle the negative things, and Clint hasn't really had to deal with that yet. There are going to be some negative things that happen Saturday, and we have to be able to weather that storm. Clint is very confident. Again, we've talked in-depth about his confidence level and what he feels like he can get accomplished, and he's going to get a chance to do it Saturday. He is going to get a chance to overcome any negatives, and he's going to get a chance to build on the positives.  It ought to be a lot of fun." 

On the importance of his relationship with his players…

"It's really important for me because I take that to heart. That's part of my job. On the flip side of that, it's important to me that we handle it right with the guys who aren't going to play. It's like I've said, ‘If that were my son, how would I want it handled?' I told Barrett (Trotter) that last night. I said this is the part of the business I don't like because you have to tell one guy one thing and see him and how they react to it, and you have to tell another guy another thing, but that's the business. That's the business part of it that you can't get around, and I have to make very tough decisions. I care about every one of them and what they think and how they handle things and how they react. It's great to see a guy get a great opportunity and on the flip side of that, it's really hard to see a guy that is having to take a back seat. That's not an easy deal, especially when everybody is wanting to know what's going on. Again, you're happy for the ones who get opportunities and you hurt for the ones that don't. I don't know if that's everybody, but that's me." 

On linebacker LaDarius Owens…

"LaDarius Owens is going to be out for a good long time. He's certainly not going to play in the next couple of weeks for sure. We'll keep you posted on it, but he's out for a pretty good while." 

On what Auburn can do at defensive end with the injuries that occurred at the position…

"It's been very challenging.  Our plan this week is to take Devaunte Sigler and work him some at one of the ends. Craig Sanders is the iron man, he's played both sides and Craig is a guy that can do that. We rely on Craig Sanders a good bit. I think in the game Saturday night he played inside defensive line and he played both defensive end spots, so when we had to get to some pass rush situations there later in the game, he played inside. That's our plan. It is what it is with the injury situation and we will keep continuing to figure out ways to deal with it, but one of the ways is to take Devaunte Sigler and help him lighten the load on the outside. Again, Gabe Wright will get a good amount of reps on the inside with Kenneth Carter, and we'll keep pressing on." 

On if he projects Devaunte Sigler to be a defensive end later in his Auburn career…

"I don't think so, no."         

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