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January 1, 2007

Stewart Bradley

Bill Callahan

Adam Carriker

Zac Taylor


THE MODERATOR: We're being joined by Coach Callahan. Coach, if you'll give us thoughts on the game and anything else would you like to do.
COACH CALLAHAN: We're disappointed in this game today, but we have got to give credit to Auburn. They were tremendous offensively and defense. Stalwart, they stiffened up it at the crucial time to shut us down. So you got to credit their defense. I thought that all the teams that he we played this year, that was the fastest defense, most speed we have seen.
Like we ever talked about all week, the speed in the SEC is just unbelievable. Just unbelievable. And I thought that our guys on defense played their hearts out. Gave a great effort. We just came up on the short end of the stick. But all in all it was a terrific football game. Glad to be part of the Cotton Bowl classic. Our players poured their hearts out today and we just came up a little bit short.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions. If you put your hand up.

Q. Why don't why didn't you try the field goal there at the end of the game?
COACH CALLAHAN: We felt it was out of his range. We come out of the -- what we do is we come out in the pregame and we check the distances and with and against the wind and the cutoffs. And where we feel we can make it and not make it.
It was beyond our cut off point. So we made a decision to go for it on fourth down. Instead of attempt a field goal.

Q. Can you talk about the punt early in the first, you gave them a short field a couple of times. How much did that --

Q. The fake?
COACH CALLAHAN: Oh, the fake punt.

Q. First of all did that come from the side line, the call?
COACH CALLAHAN: It was my call. Didn't work, obviously, but nonetheless, it was still early enough in the ball game that if it didn't work and if it faltered, we were still in a good position we felt to comeback. But things got discombobulated there. We fumbled the exchange, then of course lost some critical yardage. So that hurt us. We got behind the eight ball on the short field.

Q. What was that range on field goal that you felt you needed to be in?
COACH CALLAHAN: I just keep that between me and the team and I'm just telling you that it was out of range and that's what we decided as staff and he knew exactly what the cut off was, the staff knew. Everybody was on the same page. And that's a decision that we live with as we went into that decision.

Q. What did Auburn's defense do to contain Marlon so great in the second half?
COACH CALLAHAN: I don't know if they did anything, I don't know if they reinvented defense by any stretch. They just played hard. They just played hard of the got off block, came down hill and made some real physical plays.

Q. You guys seemed to be dominating the game pretty well early in the game. And yet you went in at half time 14-all. Did you feel like you missed some opportunities to put some more points on the board there?
COACH CALLAHAN: In the second half we did. I just felt coming out of the half that we owned the time of possession, we did really well in terms of controlling the clock. Preventing negative plays. With the exception of the fake punt. Which is my fault. I take total responsibility for that.
But aside from that, I felt that we were in pretty good position to come out in the second half and put some points on the board.

Q. Zac was unable to hit guys down the field. You went to your backs a lot. What was it about their coverage in the secondary that prevented Zac from being able to hit receivers down the field?
COACH CALLAHAN: I don't know if it was the Auburn coverage down field, as much as I just think that there are times where if you are playing against a zone defense or your guys are covered, you're covered. You got to check the ball down. And I think he does a great job of checking the ball down and putting the ball in position for players to make plays.
He's intelligent with the ball, he's not going to take a lot of risk and so he's been a great manager for us all year. So to go up against the, I don't know whatever you guys call the number of eight, nine or ten team in the country out there, I felt we competed pretty well today. We still have a ways to go. We said that as we came in here. We weren't ready to be a Top Ten team just yet. But this competitive schedule that we have played has really helped our team to a huge degree. I just think that we're getting better. We have closed the gap on a lot of people.
I'm really proud of our seniors the way that they performed. They played their guts out. Their leadership throughout the year has just been so impressive. And to come in here and play this team a three point game. I just got to commend our kids. They did play an excellent game.
And I got to credit Auburn as well. But to close the gap against Texas, close the gap against Oklahoma, close the gap against Auburn, we're getting there. And I got a lot of confidence in this team as it grows and matures going into next season. I'm awfully confident that we'll get better and we'll break through at some point. There's no question in my mind about that.

Q. You were very critical of yourself after the Oklahoma game?
COACH CALLAHAN: This is another game. This is the Cotton Bowl. I don't know if you've realized it or not. We're in the Cotton Bowl. It's another game, another opportunity and we're doing the best we can. We can all get better. We can improve, and we will. We'll work extremely hard this off season trying to improve and rectify some of the errors in our game and then grow on a lot of the positive things we did. Because we have done quite a bit of few positive things.
And I'm just telling you our team is getting better. And these kids love ball and they're -- and you can see it on the field. You can see it in the performance. We came up a little short today, but we got to be really proud of our team, proud of our seniors and the way that they played together and hung in there and stuck in there against the top rated team. We're getting there and it won't be long.

Q. I guess where I was going with that question was, have you had time to assess your play calling today and how happy or not happy are you with yourself and the coaching staff?
COACH CALLAHAN: We'll look at that. We'll look at that.

Q. I know you touched briefly in your opening statement about Auburn's speed. I know you talked about it early in the week. Can you expound on that a little?
COACH CALLAHAN: I think I already expounded on it. I don't know how much more I could expound on it. They got speed. They play fast with pretty good players and to their credit again they're a good team. And I just, we're stating the obvious here. And they played to their strength and we did some things to neutralize them early, but in the end it kind of caught up with us a little bit. But to their credit they're a good football team. That's why they're here today. That's why they won 11 games.

Q. Was Brandon in the situation just where he couldn't go that much? You went with a lot of Marlon today and you used --
COACH CALLAHAN: Marlon has played in practice the majority of the entire Bowl preparation and in all fairness, you know, to how we utilized our backs up, we did use Brandon sparingly as a change-up, but Marlon has been the workhorse. You've been there several times and watched us practice. Marlon has been the workhorse. He's gotten the load and we have had three backs that were out throughout the duration of the Bowl practice and we had Marlon and we had Lawson and also Culbert, guys that we were trying to bring up just to get reps for legs. So we were in a little bit of dire straits there.
And to Marlon's credit he did a great job. And you can see what a good player he is. He's a fine player. He'll only get better. He's only a sophomore. Hasn't even red-shirted yet. But he continues to grow and made a lot of good plays today on the field.

Q. You talked about being able to, on your defensive side of the ball, contain for the most part Auburn's speed when you were looking at what Ken Irons said he was going to do, you were able to contain, and talk about your defensive side of the ball.
COACH CALLAHAN: I thought our defensive line, our linebackers and secondary did a good job containing him. I think they pounded him pretty good today. I don't know what his yardage totals were today, but I didn't see any real long breakout runs or anything of that nature. I thought that we were real consistent. Efficient. Productive in our run defense. And that's a good sign.
Anytime that you can take a top rushing team like Auburn who is one of the best rushing teams in the entire country and shut them down, consistently, force them into passing situations, that's a credit to Coach Cosgrove and the black shirt defense.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take players for the questions.

Q. Zac, when you guys decided to go for it on fourth down there what were you looking for and what did you see happen?
ZAC TAYLOR: We had a call with Francis running and I thought the linebackers played pretty well. He came up field and kind of come off there and I just, I didn't get a feel for the ball, didn't throw it very well. And I think it sailed on him. That was a throw I think that I can make. I just didn't get it to him in that crucial situation.

Q. Zac, were you checking down more to backs than you have been and it seemed like you had a hard time finding receivers down field?
ZAC TAYLOR: That was probably honestly the least of my check downs. A lot of them were screens that might have look like check downs. But from what I can remember I think we checked down ones today, so.

Q. Adam, you guys had to fight out from the whole outset. Was that -- going into half was that a little frustrating that you guys had to fight about everything, the special teams' miscue and the short field that they were getting?
ADAM CARRIKER: You got to play with what you're dealt. Our team was playing well, defense, playing well. We felt like we outplayed them even though the score was tied. But that's football. You just got to play as hard as you can on every play and that's what we did.

Q. Stu and Adam both, could you talk about shutting down Auburn's run. I think they had less than 50 yards total in the first half and being able to keep that up the whole game.
STEWART BRADLEY: Well, obviously our goal coming into the game was stopping the run and making Cox beat us with his arm. I thought we did a great job of that. Actually most of the game we did it. He made some good throws and some good plays. That's the way you play the game. It didn't pan out for us today. But we didn't quite get -- we should have got some field goals in the short fields, that could have changed the game. So we could have played better.
ADAM CARRIKER: They were -- they're a running team. They like to run the ball. Got a big line. We knew they were going to do that. We were going to try to make them throw the ball a little bit and for the most part we were pretty successful.

Q. Zac, could you just please talk about the mindset that the defense gets a turnover and you kind of got a short field and just talk about the mindset there. I'm sure the team was excited at that point?
ZAC TAYLOR: Yeah, we completely expected to score there. It was -- that was our mindset. We were fired up. Our defense made plays all game. They gave us perfect field position. We just had to make something happen and we just couldn't get it done. And it was frustrating.

Q. Stu, could you talk about that play where you forced the fumble and recovered it. What happened exactly on that play?
STEWART BRADLEY: We put in a 30 package, three down linemen and four linebackers. It's a nickel, so, I'm kind of -- we have three down linemen, three backers and five DB's. And we have been -- had like a money blitz where I'm like -- I rush like a lineman from a backer position. And we had not done that all game. That was the first one and the back flared out and left me open on the edge and he didn't get the ball off in time, I guess.

Q. Stu, Zac, Adam, can you all address the issue that some guys were saying this was a home game, getting over the hump especially over that win against Michigan, you lost a very difficult game. What does this mean as far as the program's concerned? Where is it heading?
ZAC TAYLOR: It hurts the program, obviously it would have been huge for spring ball and things like that to win the game. We lost to a good team tonight. We practiced as hard as we could. We were prepared for this game. And everybody was fired up. Just our defense did what they had to do to win the game and the offense just didn't step up.
But I don't think it sets back our program at all. I think we're headed in the right direction. We got a lot of great young players. We'll be back next year and I know all three of us will be excited to see what those guys can do next year.
STEWART BRADLEY: We're a very resilient group. Knowing these seniors but even the guys that are coming back next year. So I think this will drive the guys in the off season to work even harder and come in next year and win these crucial games.
ADAM CARRIKER: I don't think it sets us back. Obviously it would have been nice to win, beat a Top Ten team. We definitely closed the gap this year against a lot of the Top Tens. I think, like he said, it will just drive the guys to lift harder, run faster, just get better, get more ready for next year.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you. Have a great rest of the year.

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