Transcript: Auburn looks ahead to Arkansas game

Opening statement…"We have another big game on the road against the Arkansas Razorbacks. They are a team that the last five times we have played them, we have only won one game; that was the year we had Cam Newton and it was an offensive slugfest. It is a tough place to play and they have had a week off. I know the extra week will help prepare them. I know our week off a few weeks back was real pivotal for us, especially being a first year coach at a program. We know we have our hands full and we know we are going to get their best effort.

"Regarding the film exchange issue that was brought to my attention yesterday, I will say this: we will always operate with the utmost integrity in everything we do. If there is ever anything that I don't know about that is brought to my attention, we will deal with it in a prompt manner. The SEC office is aware of all the details on both sides. That is all I am going to say regarding that." Has any other team has raised any issues with the SEC…"No. That is all I am going to say. I have already addressed it."

On the progression the offense has made…"Each week we have improved in our execution of the run game. The fact that we have had three different running backs all do a solid job, our offensive line has done a solid job and the fact that our quarterbacks have been able to run has been the biggest factor."

Status of Nick Marshall…"He practiced Sunday. He will practice today. It is day-to-day. That is really all I know right now." Will Marshall practice today…"We hope so. It is day-to-day right now. The fact that he was out there practicing on Sunday, I thought was a positive. We will know more each day."

Was he aware of Nick's injury in the first quarter…"I was not aware of that. After the game obviously things were brought to my attention that he tried to run the guy over. We have to do a better job of educating him on when to get down or get out of bounds."

Is he is anxious to coach in his home state of Arkansas…"This will be the fourth time that I've done that.  The first time or two it was definitely different, but I don't expect it to be any different than a normal game on the road." Does he feel added pressure going back to Arkansas…"Right now with where we are going each week, we're trying to do everything in our power to win and it doesn't make any difference if we are going to Arkansas or going to (Texas) A&M or anywhere else. There's enough to it without anything else added to it."

On the difficulty of teaching a quarterback to avoid unnecessary contact…"Any time, like I said before, you have a quarterback that didn't go through spring and you're still learning about him. Cam was the same way. There were times we had to tell him to get down and stuff like that. There's no doubt in mind that Nick (Marshall) will learn from it and be better for it next time."

On developing a balance between a QB avoiding unnecessary contact while still producing in the run game…"He's a great competitor. There's no doubt. You'd rather have to pull him back than have to prod him on. He's a great competitor, he's a tough guy and we've just got to be a little bit smarter next time we are in that same situation."

How will the practice reps be split between Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson…"We are going to go about it the normal way, and we'll see what happens."

On his relationship with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema…"Just to be completely honest, when I was standing up for our no-huddle (offense), it wasn't directed at any one person. As a matter of fact, at the time, there were a lot of people that were coming out and saying stuff regarding that, and I was just standing up for our philosophy and what we believe in on that. As far as he is concerned, he is an excellent coach. Look at his track record. I've got a lot of respect for him. He's won everywhere he's been, and I know they are going to be prepared. He's also got a very strong staff with him."

Is he excited to play in his home state…"Yeah, I think if you ask our players and our coaches, I get excited no matter who we're playing. I try to be very consistent. This is a big game. We are going on the road; another road test for us. They've had an extra week to prepare; and that definitely concerns me. So we expect it to be a tough one."

Is more family coming to the Arkansas game…"There's no doubt. My parents, my wife's parent, a lot of friends…That's where we grew up."

On Arkansas's defense…"I'll tell you what concerns me. They're one of the best, if not the best, in the conference getting after the quarterback. They're very explosive on the ends. They're very long. They do a good job with their pass rush. They got a very solid defensive front."

On the biggest turnaround on the Auburn offense…"We say every week about getting better at executing, and I feel like we have, as far as the little things as execution. We still haven't got there yet, but we have improved. Any time you can run the football, that opens other things up. So far we've been effective running the football. "

Adjusting as a new head coach…"I've been fortunate enough to have a lot of good players to coach in new situations. This situation is no different. Our players have bought into what we're trying to establish. We've got very good coaches that are teachers, and the players have responded to them."

What challenges does the offense face..."We've faced some good defensive fronts, but getting after the passer, this may be the best defense we've faced. They can flat-out rush the passer. They have harassed just about every quarterback they have played."

Who is the starter at right tackle..."
We'll know by the end of the week."

Will Patrick Miller practice with the first team..."Yes, he will practice. We will mix and match like we've done before on first team."

Does his team's confidence override the increasing pressure of the season..."I would say this, they are getting more confident each week, but each week presents its own challenges, especially in this league. You've got to be prepared each week. You've got to improve. That's been our message. I know I sound like a broken record, but our only focus is Arkansas. We've got our hands full with them, and we are going to have to improve from our last game."

On Kiehl Frazier playing in his home state..."He's been back one previous time, but I think that goes for all players from a certain state. Any time they go back home, it's a special deal."

On the appeal of his offense to recruits..."I think recruits are looking for an offense that will showcase their skills. They get more touches. If you look at different stats from different position, there's been success in each one."

On Tre Mason..."He's a veteran guy. He understands blocking schemes. Probably the biggest thing that has impressed me this year is his ability to make the first guy miss and his yards after first contact. He's stronger. He's very durable. He's made a lot of tough yards for us this year."

His comfort level of Jeremy Johnson playing on the road if Marshall can't..."The good thing is Jeremy has gotten two games of experience. The big challenge will be on the road, but he has got a lot of reps. Even when we played on the road at LSU and Texas A&M, when you throw the sound in and everything like that, he has gotten a lot of reps during that time. I have to believe that will help. He is a pretty calm guy, too. I know our offensive players have a lot of confidence in him and I know that is very important."

On his timetable for making a quarterback decision..."You would like to as early as possible, but any time a guy is day-to-day, you get out there on the practice field and see what he can and cannot do. So the sooner the better, but at the same time it is hard to say right now."

On the receivers..."Our receivers have gotten better each week, specifically in the blocking area and that is very important to what we do. They have gotten more consistent with catching the football, too, and I think that is very important. That is a group just improving. We are going to need them to keep improving."

On Brandon Fulse playing this weekend…"It is possible."

What did he do to celebrate his birthday..."Not much, same routine really."

On coaching at Arkansas under Houston Nutt..."I will say this -- I will be forever grateful for Houston Nutt for giving me the opportunity to get into college football, especially being a high school coach. High school coaches are looking for opportunities, so I will be forever grateful for that."

INFORMATION SOURCE: Auburn Athletics Dept.