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September 15, 2012

Tommy Tuberville


COACH TUBERVILLE:  A very good night.  There is not a lot you can't say about tonight other than we were a little sloppy in the kicking game, but we pretty much dominated on both sides of the ball on the offensive and defensive line.  One drive there we didn't tackle very well.  We didn't play fourth down very well, and we gave them that touchdown.  A little bit disappointed with that, but, again, it's a tremendous improvement in the first three games from what we saw last year.
Offensively we pretty much could do what we wanted to, running the ball, running for over 300 yards and throwing it for 400 yards, that's a pretty good night.  Lot of good vibes out of a lot of guys.  We played almost everybody on the bench, which always helps.
But trying to keep people healthy.  Looks like Jeremy Reynolds hurt his knee.  We went speculate.  Doesn't look good.  We'll have to wait to see tomorrow after he has the MRI.  Got a few other guys beat up, nothing serious.  Just proud of the way we played the first three games.  How hard we played.  How focused we were on both sides of the ball.
It's good to see guys have fun, but we know and understand what we've been doing the last three weeks and coming in to an open date what we've got to expect in front of us.
Got a lot of work to do.  We'll use this week as a work week.  Get ready for a lot of fundamentals and techniques in the next three or four days.  Give them a day or so off.  Put together a game plan and get going in nine straight games, which is going to be a tough ride for these guys, but they'll be ready for it.  Questions?

Q.  Does Seth not surprise you anymore with what he's doing because of the efficiency he has?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, they say he's 85% against NewMexico the last two years.  The thing that is exciting about him is everybody thinks you can throw it easy at some of these teams, but you put your back‑up quarterback in and it doesn't work.  It takes going through your reads.  It takes having experience, understanding the routes, understanding and being able to feel the pressure, being able to get the right play.
Seth changes his play a lot at the line of scrimmage, so really proud of how he's played.  He's matured.  He's thrown some good balls.  He's a guy that's taken charge of the offense.  He's a tremendous leader.  Players respect him, and that is the main thing.  They understand he can score points.  They react to Seth.
Very good first three games.  We'll continue on, and we'll try to improve on what we've been doing, but, again, the big thing is to continue to be physical and continue to move the chains.

Q.  Coach, after three games, is this what you expected in terms of play, or is it a little bit better than what you thought you would be?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  No, it couldn't have been much better.  You know, we played well in a lot of areas.  If you look at the offense, we've only punted two times in three games.  And we played good in the red zone.  We've played well in short yardage situations.  We've been able to run the ball on offense.  We haven't turned the ball over that much.
Defensively, we've tackled well, we've played well on third down.  We've played a lot of players.  You can just see us getting better and better on defense.
But we know things are going to get tougher for both offense and defense.  So we've got to continue to get better.  We'll get to a point, as I told the players last week, you get to a point you can be a good team, but the only way to continue to improve is improve your technique.  We play hard, we play fast, and now we've got to continue to work with our hands and be lined up right.  Take the right steps, be able to get off blockers and do the little things right.  It will make us much, much better.

Q.  That first half your defense gave up the block.  Seven drives.  Is that a situation where last year they would have wrecked your confidence?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Oh, yeah.  We struggled last year with confidence.  Going into this game, last week they played Texas and had the ball 20 minutes out of the 30 minutes in the first half.  And we knew that they'd come in and try to play keep away.  And we tried to play very well on first down to get them in long yardage situation and make them throw it.  A good option team can control the ball on you, and they did a good job on that one drive.
The rest of the time we were able to play well on first down, and played well on third down, and were able to make them punt and get off the field.

Q.  So what is your progress in non‑conference, are you ahead of where you'd like to be?  Behind?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  I think we're probably ahead a little bit.  You know, you just in these three games we didn't want to drop our guard.  We didn't want to come out and take one game off and turn it over five or six times and get depressed and be knocked back and have to start over with some of the things.
We've played a lot of young guys.  We played two new guys on the offensive line that we never played before.  Played a lot of receivers that have never played here before.  Defensively we've got a new scheme, new coaches, and 25 guys, and half of those didn't play last year.
So much better than I would have expected to this point.  But we've got a lot of room for improvement.  We're nowhere near ready to play probably some of the teams we're getting ready to play, unless we play well like we did the first half on both sides of the ball.

Q.  Can you talk about the decision to take the red shirt off Michael Starts?  You said you were considering that.  You made that decision and went ahead and played him tonight?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  We needed five defensive linemen.  We've been thinking about it the last couple of weeks, and we needed five down linemen inside.  Somebody that can give us some push, strong guy that they can't double team and move out of the way.  We just got to the point where we were just trying to fool ourselves thinking we've got four guys that we feel like can play in this league.
Well, that's great, but we can't count on four guys making it for nine straight without getting beat up a little bit.  It might not be bad, but it might be hobbling around.  Might not be able to practice.  So we needed one extra guy in there to give us that push up front.
Now that we've taken the red shirt off of him, we'll turn him loose and work him hard in practice.  He did pretty well.  I watched him.  A lot of times he was out there.  He came off the ball well.  He used his hands.  He's a strong kid I think he even got a sack, if I'm not mistaken.  I saw him make the hit on the other side.  I don't know if anybody else had him going down.
He can help us.  He's not going to play 30, 40 snaps a game, but he's going to be a guy that when we go into a game, we don't have to panic if somebody goes down, what are we going to do?  We don't have somebody ready.  So we started tonight preparing for those nine straight games in a lot of areas.

Q.  I know it was kind of a transition from your starters for two and a half quarters and then resting them in the fourth quarter to play?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, you know, we practice hard.  A game is easy for most of our guys on the offense and defense as hard as we push them, and as much as they run, especially on offense.  They can play 150 snaps.
We were fresher in the second half, just noticing the drive‑‑ the first drive of the second half we looked like we started the game.  So we're in great physical shape.  We've just got to keep them in good shape in terms of staying away from getting turned ankles and knocking our depth down.  But we're a lot farther along in that area, also, than we were in this time last year.

Q.  The pickoff in the second quarter.  Trying to get the ball back or was that a freak thing where it just happened to land there?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  No, it was the one right after where they had run it back on us, and we were kicking into the wind.  So we decided to sky kick to the left.  And our guys know that they're going to run down to a certain point, the ball is kicked around the 20‑yard line, and fortunately it hung up a little bit higher.  Two weeks in a row I hadn't seen that happen very often.  Two weeks in a row we were able to get it.  Hopefully we've caught on to something there.

Q.  Could you talk about Eric Ward's play tonight, particularly in the first half after not playing last week?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, I don't know how many he caught, but he played well.  He's, you know, he's a physical guy.  He plays well with the run and the pass.  He's not a guy that if you're going to throw the ball, you're going to put Eric in.  If you're going to run the ball, you take him out.  He likes to play with the run and blocking down field as much as he does catching the ball.  So he's an all-around player.
Got a 15‑yard penalty, which I took him out after that for a quarter, and as I do all of them now, you're going to get a penalty, and you think you can sit out a quarter, that's fine.  We've got plenty of people to put in.  So I think hopefully these guys learned the lesson.  We can't afford to be kicking off from the 20‑yard line against most of these teams we're getting ready to play.

Q.  Talk about NewMexico's game.  Did you see improvement between last week and this week in terms of the option?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, they ran a little bit different option blocking scheme.  They blocked their outside linebackers pretty good on that 7‑minute drive.  We weren't doing a good job looking at the blocker and using our hands.  Looking at the quarterback run and cutting it.  That's what the option is about.
They try to get you, make the tackle and without taking on the blocker first.  But some of our guys, they learn.  It takes a while to learn on the option.  It's totally different.  We won't see much of that the rest of the year.
There are a few things I think our guys can take from these last couple of games in terms of helping them use their hands and playing blockers, and continuing to run the ball at the same time.

Q.  Real quick, what do you think the attitude will be going against Iowa State?  Extra motivation?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  We've got nine games.  They know what they're getting into.  They know it's going to be tough.  We probably won't be favored in any of the nine games we've got coming up.  So back was against the wall last year, same thing this year.
I think we're much better.  We're in a much better frame of mind at this point.  But the thing we've got to do is just keep worrying about ourselves.  Don't worry about who we play.  Just try to get better each week, and I think we'll be just fine.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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