That’s what coach Gene Chizik said in his post-game press conference Saturday. Auburn fans used the same five words to hide their possibly bruised egos and the realization that Auburn’s performance against Utah State failed to meet many peoples’ expectations.
“We didn’t play well, period,” Chizik said. “No excuse, no nothing. I thought it was a very poor defensive performance. That’s not acceptable here at Auburn, so I fully expect us to rectify that next week.
“Offensively, I thought the same for much of the game. I think finally in the last quarter or so, we actually looked like an offense that is a college offense. We have a lot of work to do.”
Granted, the Tigers pulled off a 42–38 victory over the Aggies in the game’s dwindling minutes, but it was by the skin of their teeth and, as some may argue, by sheer luck.
“At the end of the day, it was what it was,” Chizik said. “We’ve got to continue to improve and we’ve got to continue to play until the clock says zero on it. Our team’s always going to do that.”
With that said, the facts beg the question of whether confidence is high or low concerning Saturday’s conference opener against No. 20 Mississippi State.
“Obviously we’ve got a great challenge this week with Mississippi State,” Chizik said. “Really looking at them, this is an extremely talented, very well-coached football team, and we certainly have our challenges with them coming in here for our first SEC game.
“It’ll be another great measuring tool for us to see exactly where we are, obviously when it comes to competing in this conference.”
During last year’s game at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss., Auburn came away with only a three-point victory over the Bulldogs, and not because of well-executed plays.
In the opening quarter, the Tigers were the first to score after Auburn wide receiver Emory Blake caught a 39-yard pass from former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. Former kicker Wes Byrum secured the extra point, putting Auburn ahead by seven.
Mississippi State’s left guard Gabe Jackson scored a touchdown after recovering a fumble in the end zone.
The second quarter was vital to the Tigers’ success, accumulating 10 more points from only two plays. With 8:37 on the clock, former Auburn wide receiver Darvin Adams scored again for the Tigers after catching a 12-yard pass in the end zone from Newton. At 4:29 in the third, Byrum successfully completed a 34-yard field goal, pushing Auburn ahead 17–7.
With 8:55 left in the third quarter, Mississippi State running back Vick Ballard scored a touchdown after a 1-yard run, and kicker Sean Brauchle punched in the extra point.
Arguably, the game ended in the third quarter as both teams failed to acquire any points in the fourth, and despite a close game, the Tigers came out on top 17–14.
Mississippi dominated its season-opener against the University of Memphis last Thursday, winning 59–14 on Memphis’ home turf.
During a post-game press conference, Mississippi State’s football coach, Dan Mullen, addressed the media with his thoughts concerning Saturday’s matchup.
“We have a real tough opponent, a team that has the longest winning streak in the nation,” Mullen said of the Tigers. “I think everybody saw last week they know how to win games. No matter what the situation is, they find a way to win and obviously any time you go on the road in the SEC, it’s going to be a tough challenge.”
The Bulldogs were 9–4 for the 2010 season, beating out conference opponents including Georgia, Florida, Ole Miss and Kentucky.
Although Auburn holds the record for most consecutive victories, several of the Tigers’ 2010 wins were by eight points or fewer.
Auburn’s win over Utah State was secured by a mere four points.
Chizik stressed the importance of a solid week of practice in preparation for the conference opener Saturday.
“We’ve got a lot of improvement to make,” Chizik said. “Usually you see that between your first and second week. We’re hoping that that’s going to be the case. With us, we certainly have a ton of room for improvement, and we fully expect to do that. It’ll be a great SEC opener for us.”
Saturday’s face-off is Auburn’s “True Blue” game, and all fans are encouraged to show their Tiger spirit by wearing blue.
Kickoff is at 11:21 a.m.