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November 13, 2011

Late-night notes: Auburn trying to bounce back from a loss that left the Tigers shell-shocked

Photo by Todd Van Emst

Getting blown out by Georgia left more than a few of Auburn’s players searching for answers on Sunday. Going into the game, the Tigers felt like they were prepared, but then the Bulldogs raced out to a 35-7 halftime lead.

And Auburn didn’t respond the way it would have liked.

“We needed to keep believing, and I think a couple guys shut it down,” wide receiver Emory Blake said.

Auburn has struggled in the face of scoring outbursts this season. Against Clemson, LSU, and now Georgia, a quick-strike barrage of points left the Tigers in the rearview mirror, and Auburn failed to find a way to come back.

“A couple of bad plays, then we let it turn into… it kind of snowballed, and we couldn’t get out of the hole,” tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen said.

Understandably, a heavy dose of the questions at Sunday night’s media availability centered around whether or not Auburn would be able to bounce back from Saturday’s loss with Alabama and its top-ranked defense looming in two weeks.

“This week is really big because of going through that situation,” quarterback Clint Moseley said. “It was tough for our team… The biggest thing for us, and the thing I really stressed to the guys in the locker room, was just owning up to your mistakes.”

Auburn will try to bounce back this weekend with a solid showing against Samford at 1 p.m. ET at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

More from tonight’s media availability is below, and don’t forget to follow the blog on Twitter.

  • Listed as a co-starter at free safety by Gene Chizik earlier in the day, Demetruce McNeal said he expects to start the rest of the season at the position after Ryan Smith made the start against Georgia. “In my eyes, I had the better game,” McNeal said. “Hopefully, I’ll be back in the starting lineup this week.” McNeal had seven tackles, Smith finished with five.
  • McNeal said the coaches were trying to send a message by holding him out of the starting lineup. “I know they have high expectations for me, and they want me to do better than I’ve been doing all year, even though I’ve made good plays here and there.”
  • McNeal also mentioned that the loss was pretty hard to take for Auburn’s 17 players from Georgia. When they go home, McNeal said, they’ll hear about it.
  • Smith, on the other hand, had less to say about the start: “It was just the coach’s call. That’s all I needed to hear.”
  • Smith also echoed Chizik’s statement by saying the coaches had not named a starter.
  • Defensive coordinator Ted Roof pretty much said the defense had a total breakdown in all phases of the game against Georgia: “We didn’t do a good job of disengaging from blocks, didn’t pressure the passer, had some missed fits (in the running game), didn’t make some plays on some deep balls, which is a recipe for what happened yesterday.”
  • In terms of replacing Bell, Roof was clear: “We’ve got a handful of guys that are going to have to step up.”
  • Roof reiterated that Murray’s back-shoulder throws took advantage of good coverage from Auburn. On most of those throws, Roof said, the corners were in phase, on their hip, and they failed to make a play on the ball.
  • Asked about spreading the ball around, Emory Blake, who has 11 catches in Clint Moseley’s last 23 completions, said he wants to do what’s best for the offense, but he’s also looking to make plays. “I like it when the ball comes my way,” Blake said. “But I think, with the ball being spread around more, it could help.”
  • Blake said it’s up to Auburn’s spare stable of older players to help lead the younger guys out of the loss to Georgia.
  • On film, Moseley said, the game looked just as bad it looked to fans sitting at home. “The way I felt at the game, I thought it was going to look worse, but it was still awful,” Moseley said.
  • On his own play, Moseley took responsibility. “People will say bad things about me. People will make excuses for me. That doesn’t help me at all. I should have played a lot better.”

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