SCOTTSDALE, AZ (WBRC) - Here are select quotes from Auburn's news conference Thursday in Scottsdale, Arizona:
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Ted Roof
On Zac Etheridge's return from a season-ending neck injury in 2009: "That was really special because i'll never forget seeing him lying on the field as a father and a coach. That was a scary, scary feeling. To see him, the work he's put in, and just the resiliency, there was never any doubt in his mind. That was really, really special. it was special to our whole football team."
On Nick Fairley: "We had several conversations throughout the year, he plays hard, he plays physical, and we don't apologize for that. And at the same time, we play within the rules of the game. That's what we talked about. He's just very, very physical. What is interesting is that he hasn't played a lot of football. He's very young in the game still. Tracy Rocker, his position coach, has done a wonderful job with him. i think that was pretty neat, Tracy winning that award (Lombardi) and then Nick following that up. i think that's the first time in the history of that award that that has happened. i think Tracy's done a wonderful job with him and Nick's done a great job of buying in. He's not only grown as a football player but as a young man, too, so we're very, very proud of him."
On explaining the points Auburn's allowed in the first half and the difference in the second half: "We put a lot of thought into that, because we'd like to get that corrected before we run out of the tunnel to start the game. And i even thought about blindfolding them before the game started and telling them it was the start of the second half and not letting them look at the scoreboard as we ran out there (laughs). i think what has happened is we've seen several team doing things we haven't seen before in the first halves, but our guys have adjusted and have done a good job with it, and there's a discrepancy there. We can't afford to do that in this game against this bunch."
LB Josh Bynes
On Oregon running back LaMichael James: "I think he's a great back. He was up at the Heisman for a reason because he does a great job finding holes and breaking tackles. When he sees a hole, he runs through it, that's what he's done all year. He sees a hole, or a little small seam, and he just ran as fast as he could through it and it ends up turning into a touchdown, or two, or three Ö twenty of them he got this year (editor's note: James had 21). He's a great back, and that's going to be the key thing for this game. Their running is outrageous, they run the ball for something like 300 yards a game (303.8) and we've got to stop the run. We've been efficient at stopping the run this year, but we know we need to do that this game, because the pace cannot get to us, and we have to be efficient on first and second down to make this a good game. I really think a lot of teams miss him because the pace gets to them. i'm not saying he (James) is not doing a great job, there have been times when he just shoots on through there. But i think with a lot of teams, the pace gets to them, and eventually they get weak and make mistakes. With an offense like theirs, gaps are definitely important, you have to maintain your gap, keep your gap, and when the running back comes through, make the tackle. You can't be a step slow, it turns into a touchdown. You can't let the emotion of the game, the flow of the game, the speed of the game to get to you. in regards to those thirteen seconds, it's still enough to get focused, know what you assignment is and to execute the play."
On if Oregon is more than LaMichael James "Oh yeah. They have LaMichael James, they have number 24 (RB Kenjon Barner), their quarterback, Thomas, is definitely a great quarterback and leads their offense more than a lot of people think. That's going to be a key factor in this game, is how they're quarterback is efficient when he needs to be able to throw the ball and when they give him the chance to besides from LaMichael James running the ball. He's the type of guy who's going to find holes, and if he can't find the holes, he's going to get around outside or play catch me if you can in the backfield and try to find a seam and hit it for a touchdown. Darron Thomas is going to be a guy we definitely need to keep our eyes on because he can change this game at any moment."
DL Zach Clayton
On how his relationship on the field with Nick Fairley: "We feed off each other. Nick will make a huge play, and that just makes the rest of the team want to step up their game that much more. i take on double-teams when i can, and whenever i have the ability to make a play, i just have to make that play.î
On how he would contain Cam Newton: iProbably throw as many in the box as i could and try to adjust for the past. But i really think you can hope just to contain him, really."
On comparing Newton to Oregon QB Darron Thomas: "Very similar, very good runner, you have that threat that as a defensive lineman, you have to be able keep him in the pocket in a passing situation and then just the weapons that he has on offense."
SS Zac Etheridge
On what it will be the tunnel be like, especially considering what he's been through: "It'll be outstanding. Actually coming back and being able to play in 13 games and now finishing my senior year with a chance to win the BCS national championship is outstanding and it's doesn't get any better than that."
On if Oregon is a better passing team than people give them credit for: "Most definitely. A lot of teams like to focus in on the run a lot, and you can see the deep balls being thrown over people's head. So we just have to line up and play great with our eyes and keep the receivers in front of us."
On how much this is playing for Auburn and how much for the SEC against the Pac-10: "There's a lot of pressure in the SEC and it's a tough conference, but their conference is tough, too. They're 2-0 right now in the bowl series, so we have to be ready on Monday."
On if this is a chance to get out of Alabama's shadow: "Most definitely. There's two great teams in the great state of Alabama. Us being in the shadow of them is definitely something and being at Auburn, you don't like that, and this is a chance to get on top."
Oregon plays Auburn Monday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The game begins at 7:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on ESPN.
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