Defense Media Day Quotes
Nick Fairley

Jan. 6, 2011

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All-Access Video Defense Media Day: Roof, Bynes, Clayton, Stevens, Etheridge, Fairley

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." (Editor's Note: Etheridge suffered the injury versus Mississippi at home on October 31, 2009.)

On how he viewed Etheridge's return himself from a coach/father perspective:
"That's a good question. You obviously had your concerns. When he first got back out there for the first time, you were like, `Please God, let him be okay.' And then as far as coaching hard from a physical contact thing, at first there are things that run through your head. But after it happened and a little time took off, then we were able to get back to normal."

On having so many practices for one game and having things not get stale:
"Just putting together a really good plan for us has not allowed us to do that, and from an installation standpoint, you give them a little of this, and then the next day a little of this, but you go back and refine things. You can't hit every situation every day, but you get to a point that before we left almost everything was in, and now we're going back and refining the details of the plan. From that standpoint, practices were able to stay fresh. The other part is playing for a national championship, so everybody understands what we're playing for, so getting stale is not an issue."

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 if he is surprised at the progression Nick Fairley has made:
"Surprised, no, not surprised. But like I say, he's come so far and there's so much more left, so much more left for him and so much more left for our football team."

On the importance of the front four generating pressure:
"That's a big deal, because as a coordinator, if you can pressure with four guys and not have to add guys to do that and then be able play some coverage behind them, that's huge. We're going to have to get some pressure with four this game."

On if there is a level of disrespect because most of the talk is about Oregon's offense:
"We have a lot of respect for them, they're very, very talented at what they do and their record and their stats back that up. We just have to go play, and get ready to play a football game."

On the need to stay disciplined on defense against Oregon:
"It's critical. That's where they get people. You can see people take their eyes of them, people missing a gap, and it's a touchdown, it's not a four-yard gain anymore. That's what they've done to teams. That's what happens, on top of being really, really talented, they have a great scheme, they're well coached and they're very disciplined."

On youth and injuries in the secondary:
"We've made some strides. We've got to continue to make strides. I'll tell you, these practices have really helped some of these young guys. As the season goes, you're in a grind. You've got a Tuesday, and then there's a Wednesday to put another situation in, and then on Thursday you going back to refine everything. So be able to take a step back and be able to work on the fundamentals of what we're doing, just to kind of horn in of why we do what we do, how we do what we do. It makes sense now. The extra time has been really, really great, not only to have some time scheme Oregon but at the same for our younger players to get better."

On if it's gratifying to see the team get better:
"What you want to see as a coach is you want to see guys get better and you want to see the unit get better, the team get better as the season progresses, and I think we've done that."

On how Gene Chizik is different from other football coaches:
"I'll tell you what, he is a football coach. He's involved in every aspect of our program, and he's a great resource for me because of his background and the things he's done. As a head coach, he has a different perspective than the assistants do sometimes, which is really, really good. It's something I really enjoy and I really value. He's a great resource, has great ideas and it's really, really good."

On dealing with Oregon's offensive pace:
"What you see with the pace, because defense is so much formation recognition and awareness, their pace cuts down the time you have to do that. As a result of that, you have got to process those things faster. Our offense is really fast, and theirs is fast, too. Warp speed is warp speed."

On how he thinks Oregon's offensive line handles the fast pace without a lot of time:
"I think that you don't get a whole bunch of different protections, but their very, very sound, and they have got answers for everything. They're very well coached and they know what they're doing."

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."

On what he thinks of the BCS or would he want a playoff:
"You know what? I'm not worried about that, I have no control over that. I spend all my time watching Oregon tape. What do I think, I don't have a strong opinion either way, it's worked out, but at the same time to add another game, I don't know."

On the challenge of competing in the BCS Championship game:
"As a competitor, you relish this opportunity. Some of the guys coach their whole lifetime and most players play their whole lifetime and don't get an opportunity to do this. As a competitor, it's the biggest stage in college football. You enjoy that, you've got to embrace it. It's obviously going to be a heckuva challenge because they've won all their games, too You get to this point, what do you expect."

On if he is worried about Oregon's explosion plays:
"Quiet moments? I don't have a lot of quiet moments (laughs). I've got twin boys who are 12-years old, okay, so when I'm not at the office, I don't have quiet moments at home."

On if he is worried about Oregon's explosion plays:
"Our job is trying to slow them down, get the ball back to the offense and win the football game."

On what SEC team Oregon reminds him of the most and any similarities:
"Auburn. Speed, they make you play defense the entire width of the field. That's what spread offenses have done. People talk about poor tackling in college football, but if you go back to 15 years ago, there were 20 people within seven yards of the ball. If somebody missed a tackle, it went for six yards and nobody really noticed that. Now, because they make you defend the entire width of the field and isolate you in space with great athletes, if you miss a tackle, now it's a house call."

On Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas:
"He can move the sticks with his feet, makes some big plays when he pulls it down. But at the same time, He is an efficient passer, he can make all the throws. He can avoid the first rusher and then as their receivers come open, can deliver the ball. He's really efficient, we have a lot of respect for him."

LB Josh Bynes

On if he saw the Cal-Oregon game tape and impressions on what Cal:
"Yes I did. Basically Cal just played fast and everybody was running to the ball. Oregon's offense didn't get worn down in the second half. They were still playing full speed just as they were in the first half, and I think that was key for the game. They were efficient on downs in getting on and off the field. They made key stops or keys plays in the back field, getting pressure, things like that to get their defense off the field and the offense back on. I think their defense was flying around pretty well during that game, and there were some other key things in there."

On if Oregon might remind him of any other team:
"Offensively, no one at all to be honest with you. Their fast, their pace is unmatched by anybody in the nation. I've haven't seen a pace like that against any opponent this year. They go ten seconds to thirteen seconds between each play. It's insane for one, and their speed is outrageous. If they see things offensively that's working for them, they're going to come back to that play and make sure they execute it and get that play done. Those times where you don't make those adjustments, they're going to make sure they get it before they make those adjustments. It could be a big play, it could be a touchdown play. They'll go back after it within that same drive so you don't have time to many any adjustments to what they are running."

On if he anticipates Auburn substituting more than it usually has:
"We make sure we keep our defensive linemen fresh every game. You see all kind of guys on the defensive line. The defensive backs, they get subbed for every once in a while, and of course I stay out there as much as I can (laughs)."

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 ... 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 Oregon's offensive line blocks and protects:
"They do a lot of zone blocking, and they just find a crease and they exploit it. That's one of the things we're going to have to do is fill our gaps very well."

On if teams who have played Oregon try to remain in a base defense:
"It looks like of the some teams just tried to get lined up and stay in a base defense the whole time. That has its advantages but can also catch you off guard with their schemes. It's kind of a doubled-edged sword, you kind of have to prepare for everything and definitely you have to have that mental aspect has to be there completely before the game starts. The physical side will get down, that's when you have to be strong mentally to overcome that."

On what the scout team is doing to prepare them for Oregon's offense:
"We have a couple of periods where we run pace, where we try to get a snap off every nine or 10 seconds. That's what we've been doing and that's helped out a lot. I think we've timed their offense when their running pace at around 13, 14 seconds. So we're trying to get that physical side taken care of."

On how he thinks the defense is perceived by outsiders:
"Probably that we have one player who gets it done, but that's just one part of the equation. I think Nick (Fairley) would probably agree with that. We have a lot of players who work real hard. I think as a total defense, we're a little but under the radar, but that's fine."

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."

On how he would contain Cam Newton:
"Probably throw as many in the box as I could and try to adjust for the pass. 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."

On what he's noticed the most on video about LaMichael James:
"The ability to make defenders miss. That's the biggest thing that we've seen on film, that if he finds a crease in the defense, he's going to exploit it and he does a very good job of eluding tacklers."

On how you can stop James:
"Staying in our gaps as a defense and not allowing those creases to form."

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 Oregon RB LaMichael James and how to tackle a player like him:
"Just a little bit different. We all have to get there with him because he's so shifty and he can break a lot of tackles for him to be so little. We just have to swarm him and be ready to make the plays on him."

On if there is any pressure on Auburn:
"There's really no pressure. We just go out there and do what we do. We go to work every day, we go out there and prepare and focus on ourselves and try to bring back that crystal to Auburn."

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."

On if he is worried about Oregon's offense grinding down the Auburn defense
"No, we're not worried about that. We've had a month to prepare for it, and really all season, I think we can handle the physical part of that very well. We're not worried about them wearing us down."

On Oregon WR Jeff Maehl
"He's pretty good. He runs good routes, obviously he' got great hands and he's their go-to guy."

On how the stats might conclude that the secondary is Auburn's weak spot:
"It's a lot of things that goes on with our pass defense. But when it's time for us to make plays on the ball, or make the big play, or stopping a team from scoring, obviously we get the job done. The defense has been in position to win a lot of games, and we have done that. We're going to be ready to play and I think our pass defense is going to impress a lot of people."

On Cam Newton and if the attention he gets and if it bothers anyone:
"It doesn't bother us at all. He deserves every bit of it. What he's been through and all the work he's put in to be in this position, he deserves it. Everybody recognizes him as the Heisman winner, but there's a lot of love just seeing what their showing him and our team."

On if both defenses are coming in with a chip on their shoulder:
"I think both defenses will have a chip on their shoulder, just knowing that everyone is saying it's going to be a high scoring. But at some point, the defense has to make a big stop for the offense to do what they do. So it does give us a chip on our shoulder."

On the journey the team has been on:
"A lot goes through my mind. Going through the coaching change, a lot of different things, all the distractions. We all overcame adversity and we all stuck together and we just played this season together and for each other, and went out and played hard each Saturday."

On how the team has managed to overcome the adversity its faced:
"I think the brotherhood of this team, a lot of guys just leaning on each other. We're not getting distracted, we're not worried about the outside, just playing for each other every game."

On if Coach Chizik is doing anything different since he's been in this game before:
"He's been in this situation and knows what the players need and how to practice. He knows what to expect. We just go out and do what he does because he's been here before."

LB Craig Stevens

On the SEC being in the BCS title game five years in a row and if it's expected:
"I wouldn't put it like that. The competition is tough in the SEC as well as in the Pac-10, so I feel like that if you can go undefeated in leagues that tough, then guys want to see you play each other, and that's pretty much how this game turned out."

On how the senior class has held together through many ups and downs:
"We've been through so much, coaching changes, ups and downs in different seasons. You just have to continue to move ahead and can't think about the past. The new staff came in and continued to hold us together as a team and continued to build the program."

An interview with Nick Fairley:

Q. The Oregon offense is known as "The Blur" because they operate so fast. How do you unblur the blur?
Nick Fairley: We are going to go out there and play our game plan and hopefully things work out in our favor and we come out with a good one. That's all I can say about that for real.

Q. How sweet is this being on the big stage?
Nick Fairley: It is very sweet, especially the team effort. We have been working hard all summer, all spring, and now we are ready for the big dance, ready to get it on.

Q. As far as preparations, are you on target where you want to be with preparations, mentally and everything else?
Nick Fairley: We are exactly where we want to be coming in, fine-tuning our game plan and get things ready for Monday. I think we are exactly in line.

Q. What do you look at when you see the Oregon offensive line? What do you see as your challenges?
Nick Fairley: They are very athletic. People say they are small, but they can move. I think it will work out to their advantage, especially the kind of offense they are running.

Q. For a kid that came from junior college, there is sometimes a stigma attached to that, that you weren't quite good enough to get in the first time. Do you sort of feel like you have something to overcome? Do you have to sort of prove yourself to sort of get rid of that stigma that you deserve to be here?
Nick Fairley: Actually I got over junior college a year ago when I got to Auburn. So really junior college is on the back burner. I'm here now; that's all I have been thinking about.

Q. How is that good for you, those couple years that you were in junior college?
Nick Fairley: Junior college was good for me. I always tell folks that junior college was an eyeopener. When I went there, things weren't like they are here. We took buses everywhere. Junior college was an eyeopener for me.

Q. Can you talk about your high school experience coming from high school to JaMarcus Russell, Antonio Coleman, the names go on?
Nick Fairley: We always produce good athletes, like you just said, JaMarcus Russell and Antonio Coleman. Like I said, we are just trying to produce the best athletes.

Q. Some people might be surprised at your athleticism; that you were a basketball scorer at Williamson and part of a state championship team. How much has that helped in your footwork, speed and agility?
Nick Fairley: It worked really good. I have a friend back home that says I have been using basketball moves out there when I'm on the field. So it worked out good.

Q. You looked extremely loose in practice, very high spirited. Tell us what's going through your mind as far as getting mentally prepared as well as physically for Oregon.
Nick Fairley: It is getting closer and closer. When I was at practice yesterday, practice was very good, high tempo. It was a great practice for us, probably one of our best as far as preparation-wise. Like I said, we will get ready for Monday.

Q. At what point during the season did you see that this was a possibility? Was it the beginning? Was there a specific game that you can point to?
Nick Fairley: Spring. Spring practices, coming off season. The seniors stood up from the get-go. We knew what we had. Folks said we looked good on paper. We knew what we had out there on the field. Our season was great leadership this year.

Q. Does that fuel it for you?
Nick Fairley: That adds to the fire.

Q. How do you feel about the defense week after week, continuing to improve week after week?
Nick Fairley: As far as our defense, we always prep but never break throughout the year. Coming into this game, just getting it on. Our seniors this year, the leadership was amazing. They never let us get down no matter what. They always said the score is 0-0. We were down by 24, the seniors stepped up, they led us to a victory. I just commend our seniors for the leadership.

Q. When you watch film, do you watch yourself and realize that you are a key at the line of scrimmage to get pressure and penetrate the line of scrimmage against Oregon?
Nick Fairley: Our front forward, that's one thing that we are going to harp on. We have to create a new line of scrimmage for the offense. Hopefully they can run it back, don't get down there too fast and the linebackers come in and we can make a lot of plays.

Q. Have you been impressed with the guys around you?
Nick Fairley: Yeah, especially like I see Corey Lemonier, they were going to have to come in and play, they were going to be a big part of the game for us. Hopefully come in and ready to go.

Q. What's your impression of the Oregon offense? Can you compare them to anybody that you played against this year in the SEC?
Nick Fairley: Yeah, our offensive practice (laughter). We go against the offense, that's the type of thing they do when they are out there on the field. I think we are very prepared for them and ready to go.

Q. Some people think you are a dirty player, some commentators and coaches say that. What's your response to that?
Nick Fairley: I'm a hard worker. I'm ready to go. The motor is always running.

Q. Auburn's defensive line overmatches Oregon's in terms of Oregon's offensive line in terms of size. What are you going to be able to exploit and take advantage of with that size advantage?
Nick Fairley: Really, the size advantage is not a disadvantage for us. It is an advantage. Like I said, they are able to move. They are able to see a block here and there. This is going to be a big part for our defensive line to get vertically and hopefully play back.

Q. At any point last year did you think you individually would -- could or would be this dominant this season?
Nick Fairley: I always knew I had talent. I just had to wait my turn to showcase it. Like I said, last year I was playing behind Jake Ricks, a senior. This year I was able to step up and make plays for my team.

Q. What improved the most? Your work ethic? Understanding of the defense? Anything in particular to sort of help you?
Nick Fairley: Actually, I was consistent every play. That's one thing I worked on throughout the summer, being consistent.

Q. Was there a certain light that came on during summer camp that made you know that you could be dominant?
Nick Fairley: Not really. Like I said, I always knew I had talent. I said to Coach Rocker over the summer, if you want to be one of those big-time guys, consistency, he wanted me to work on that throughout the summer and spring. He worked with me in the summer and spring in hands and feet work. I think Rocky is a great mentor.

Q. What is the biggest challenge in you facing this type of offense?
Nick Fairley: Don't get tired. Know they are going to run east and west on us.

Q. You built a reputation of knocking quarterbacks out of the game. If you were going up against Cam Newton, do you think you could do that same thing?
Nick Fairley: Of course. I always talk about him. We always joke around. He is glad to be on my team. I'm glad to be on his team.

Q. Has there been close practice over the last three or four months as you put one on him?
Nick Fairley: I touch him, just let him know I wouldn't dare hit him.

Q. Is there another guy that plays your position, a guy who started in college recently or maybe in the NFL now that you look up to, that you model yourself after?
Nick Fairley: When I was in high school, I always watched Glenn Dorsey at LSU. That guy has made a lot of plays and watching things that he's doing and trying to incorporate it in my game. So Glenn Dorsey.

Q. There is so much talk about the offense in this game, the guys on offense. The level of disrespect because of that or motivation?
Nick Fairley: No disrespect because of the offense. You can't complain. Both of them are high-powered offense. The defense is the same way.

Basically the game is going to fall on which defense makes the most mistakes.

Q. When you are at that line of scrimmage and the ball is about to be snapped, what's going through your mind?
Nick Fairley: I hope the quarterback keeps the ball so I can hit him. Just joking


Just falling on the ball and beating him and find the ball carrier.

Q. You and Cam Newton both went to juco. Did it make you hungry as a football player? What does it mean to make that sacrifice?
Nick Fairley: Before juco, it kept me humble. Coming out of high school, everybody is going to the D-I school with a big guy, so everybody knows you. They are going into the big time D-I.

Like I said, juco was a great eyeopener and got me level headed and ready to go. So when I got to Auburn, I was ready.

Q. You talked about Oregon's offensive line undersize, not necessarily be a disadvantage. You think that you are as quick as the Oregon offensive linemen that are smaller than you, though?
Nick Fairley: Yeah, you know, our front forward, we are very athletic, especially guys like Carter, Mike Blanc, Zach Clayton, very athletic big guys. They have good feet work. I just can't wait to see what type of matchup we will be in.

Q. If you guys win Monday night, can you put into words what it means to the state of Alabama to have back-to-back championships with two schools, a small state that's not known for much else but college football?
Nick Fairley: It would mean a lot, especially, like I said, for Alabama Nation playing down there. It would mean a lot for the Auburn fans, the Auburn Nation, for us to bring home a trophy.

Q. You have been resilient and down late in games. What has been the key to some of you -- I know your defense, but your guy's storybook comebacks late in the game?
Nick Fairley: Our seniors. Like I have been telling everybody all year, our seniors this year have great leadership. Josh Bynes and Antoine Carter defensive-wise, those guys never let anyone get down. No matter how far we get down, they keep saying the score is 0-0. Basically just our seniors for the leadership.

Q. How does going against Cam Newton in practice, how has that prepared you for a guy like Darron Thomas who has the running and passing abilities?
Nick Fairley: I was running against the offense all year in practice. The Oregon offense is very good. But it has prepared me real well, especially going through with Cam and the plays they made. And practice has got us prepared.

Q. In what way does your defense work better: If Oregon has to pass the ball or if they are running the ball with LaMichael James and Darron Thomas?
Nick Fairley: Really, it doesn't matter. We are just going to come in and play our game plan. Hopefully we can keep them to miss and run the ball or just passing. It really doesn't matter to us; we are just going to come in and play our game plan.

Q. You have to watch your defense play in the second half to appreciate them, if you looked at your numbers across the board, you might not be real impressed. To watch your guys make all the clutch stops you did, key plays you did in the second half, is that sort of necessary to really fully appreciate what you guys did defensively this year?
Nick Fairley: Yeah, actually, defense all year, in the first half, there is no reason we got coming up playing our game. Second half it seemed like we calmed down, did things right. We would go into halftime and make adjustments and we would come out ready to roll. Our defense doesn't break.

Q. Are you worried at all if that kind of plays out on Monday and maybe Oregon gets some points on you?
Nick Fairley: Not really. We are not worried at all. Of course, it is going to be adversity in the game, we might get down or we might go up 14, who knows. Whatever the score is, we just have to keep a level head and go out there and keep playing.

Q. How do you explain the discrepancy between how many points the defense has allowed in the first half versus the second half or particularly the fourth quarter? How do you explain that?
Nick Fairley: I don't know. Probably something we have been doing all year, man. We have been bending, like I said, first half. But the second half we have been coming out, stopping three and getting the offense to get the ball so they can go to work.

The second half finally things click for us.

Q. Was there an adjustment in particular that's made it? How would you describe the adjustments made at halftime that allow that?
Nick Fairley: We have great coaches, especially as a defense coaching staff, that come in at halftime. They go in and make the adjustments. They come out and tell us we are going to do that, do that. This play, we were right here. So this is why we did that.

We just make adjustments, come back out and go and don't try to make the same mistakes the first half.

Q. How has your scout team tried to simulate Oregon's pace?
Nick Fairley: We have a couple of peers that we are goes to pace peer and try to run a play for five to eight seconds, just run it down the field, mark the field, mark the ball here, run the play. That's how we are going to get ready for the fast-paced offense.

Q. What's that like?
Nick Fairley: Crazy. You got to get in shape. I think defense, we are in shape. I know they are in shape. We had a long layoff. So I think this will be a great game.

Q. Are you in better shape right now than you were during the season?
Nick Fairley: Of course. We had that long layoff. Our coaches got us ready. I think we are ready to go.

Q. When you first looked at film of Oregon's offense, what length off the screen?
Nick Fairley: Watching them all year on ESPN. It was just basically fast-paced offense they run, the things that they do. They try to run the plays, I think it is like 13 seconds. So it is just the fast-paced offense.

Q. It is one thing to do the scout team in practice and say our offense is kind of the same thing? But it really is not. You can't match that, can you?
Nick Fairley: You really can't compare -- like I said, you really just have top -- basically prepare for an offense like this, being high tempo like that. You got to find the right guys that fit the player descriptions that we are going to go against and put them in the scout team. Hopefully things will work out for us preparation-wise.

Q. Anything in SEC compared to Auburn's offense at all?
Nick Fairley: Because our offense? No.

Q. When you think about Darron Thomas, what stands out?
Nick Fairley: Great athlete, great guy. Got to sit down and talk to him. He seems like a great guy, a great athlete.

Q. When you talk about simulating the offense and how quickly they play, they have worn down so many teams in the second half. The guys are just pooped and faking injuries. Have you thought about faking an injury to try to slow them down?
Nick Fairley: No, I'm not faking anything. If I'm tired, I'm just going to go tell the coach take me out for a couple plays and go back out there. I will not fake anything.

Q. LaMichael James talked about him being as small as he was that it would be harder for a guy like you to get a big hit on him. Is that still the case or can you get a big hit on a small back?
Nick Fairley: It is very hard to hit a small. They are low to the ground, especially like Darron Thomas. It will be hard to get a shot on him. It is going to be hard for me, but I'm up to the challenge. I'm ready to go out here and get a big hit on him.

Q. Are you guys worried at all about that second half and maybe getting tired in the second half?
Nick Fairley: Not really. Like I said, I know we are in shape. They are in shape. We had a long layoff. We are in the top shape we have been in all season. We are ready to go.

Q. It seems like you become more comfortable in situations like this, talking to media in the spotlight and stuff like that. How has that metamorphosis been for you?
Nick Fairley: It has been crazy. I would probably be up here studying my butt off if I wasn't here. I have been enjoying this long ride, especially with the media guys coming out and here asking questions. I don't mind.

Q. Is it something you have kind of had to get used to as well as you have been playing and as much as people have been demanding you?
Nick Fairley: I have to get used to this. Coaches tell us we can say no to interviews, but I have been wanting to do it to build character. The personality I have, just put it out there. It don't matter to me.

Q. Is that part of why you started the Twitter account?
Nick Fairley: No, it is just something I wanted to do.

Q. Michael Dyer said yesterday you talk on Twitter all the time that you are a good basketball player, but he says you have no game.
Nick Fairley: Actually, when Mike got to Auburn it was in the summer. We went out there and we had went on the court and shot hoops. He said I had no game, but I shot him out.

Q. Obviously you're projected to be a real high draft pick right now. I know you are trying to win this game, but do you look at it at all as a showcase to you?
Nick Fairley: Not really. That's on the back burner right now in my mind. Like I said, I'm trying to get this next chapter at Auburn. I haven't even thought about it.

It is something that's going to have to come up later on after the game. So I will just wait until that time comes.

Q. When they are running their fast pace, you got like 13 seconds. What do you have to process between when you get up off the ground for the last play and when they snap the ball for the next play?
Nick Fairley: Catch your breath (laughter).

No, basically just look to the sideline, get the call, get lined up and basically get ready for that next play.

Q. How much adjustment can you make, even if it is just in your mind, about what move you are going to put on the lineman in front of you?
Nick Fairley: Probably five to six seconds of that you are looking to the sideline to get the next play. Then you got to get to the line. Amazingly it is probably going to come when I'm down in the stands looking at the guy next to me.

Q. Does that have to be a lot more instinct?
Nick Fairley: Yeah, it is way more like instinct.

Q. In the telecast of a lot of games as the year went on the announcers were talking about you driving quarterbacks into the ground and being dirty. When you first hear that, how do you respond to it? Was it something you had heard before?
Nick Fairley: It wasn't something I heard before. That's the first time I ever heard that.

Me responding to it, I just go out there and give it 110. I will try to go out there and make plays for my team. If it is me playing dirty, if that's what they call it, that's what it is.

Q. Do you feel like in the Alabama game they flag you, you are kind of a marked man, that they are watching you?
Nick Fairley: Actually, Coach said before the game, Their eyes will be on you. You can't worry about that. Don't make mistakes. Officials will always be right. Never argue back. That's what I can say off to the sidelines.

Q. Same thing for this game, have you that in your mind?
Nick Fairley: Yeah.

Q. How hard is that as a pass rusher to know when you are supposed to back off? When a guy releases the ball and you are close to him, do you hit him or not?
Nick Fairley: It is the instinct. Really, you just got to hit him. You are going to get flagged or you are not.

Q. You have been going to town on Twitter every night. What's up with that?
Nick Fairley: Just entertainment for me, just to have something to do throughout the night.

Q. Coaches know?
Nick Fairley: Yeah.

Q. From the Gulf Coast, what do you want to say back to people in Mobile?
Nick Fairley: Hello Mobile. How y'all doing?

Q. How many followers do you got?
Nick Fairley: I don't know. Like 6,000.

Q. You are going after 10,000 last night I saw.
Nick Fairley: Trying to get it up.

Q. Is Zac jealous?
Nick Fairley: No. He pushed me this morning. He said, You have 100 followers. Just something we're doing.

Q. Can you get Cam Newton on Twitter?
Nick Fairley: I asked him; he says he is not that kind of guy.

Q. You guys have had so many games this year, in particular at the Iron Bowl, where it seems like a complete transformation from the first half to the second half. What's the secret? What happens at halftime?
Nick Fairley: Leadership from our seniors. They have great leadership. Our seniors come in at halftime, the coaches go back in the locker room to make adjustments. It seems like every senior stands up and says something and by the time the coach came out, he didn't have to say anything. We were ready to make the adjustment and go back out.

Every adjustment we made, it was the right ones. Came out with a W.

Q. What's an example of a particular adjustment that made such a big difference in the game?
Nick Fairley: Basically it was the big plays like when we got behind our coverage. They said what we did wrong here, this is what we need to do next time. You know what I'm saying?

Q. Did you ever waver when you didn't get to Auburn the first time at junior college at any point thinking I may end up some place else? Obviously it is different coaching stuff going on.
Nick Fairley: Not really. I always loved Auburn, especially coming out of high school. When I came out of high school, Auburn was a family thing. When I went on a visit, there was a barbecue and every player was there. It wasn't something the coaches put together. It was for the players.

That's just a family bond that I wanted to have for the next four years of my life. I was so happy that I had to go to juco. Coming out of juco, I went back to Auburn, it was the same thing. I said why not spend the next two years of my life.

Q. This Twitter contest, is that kind of a sign of the fun you guys like to have?
Nick Fairley: Yeah, it is. We like to joke around as a team, but once we get out there between those white lines, that is all.

Q. Did you know much about Coach before?
Nick Fairley: Not really. I didn't know much about him. Once I did, I did some research on him and found out he was a D coordinator and great coach. And basically, like I said, I just researched and found out he was a great guy. He was harping on the family thing, and that's something I liked about Auburn. He stuck with it.

Q. Is he any different as a coach than the one you met as a recruiter?
Nick Fairley: It is always good when talking about the operation. He kept with me through our recruiting and he gave me straightforward about how this is it is going to be, this is what we are looking for. I liked it.

Q. Are you guys confident that your conditioning is going to be up to what you need against Oregon?
Nick Fairley: We are very confident. Like I said, we had a long layoff. The coaches did a great job not letting us get out of shape. I think we are ready.

Q. Have you been doing extra stuff? Because they really up tempo it.
Nick Fairley: Especially as the D line, Coach Rocker has us jump rope and get off on practice. Feet get off, jump rope, just getting our wind up. We have been doing a lot of extra stuff.

Q. Compared to some guys that have been playing football since Pee Wee, you started relatively late. What made you decide it was time to focus on football? At any point did you feel like you had to play catchup?
Nick Fairley: I was in middle school, 7th grade, I thought about playing football. I just look at it like I have a big dream, big body. Let's try football. And football worked out for me. I tried basketball. Basketball worked out for me. High school, I had to make a decision: Basketball, football. One thing, I love to hit people, you know what I'm saying? That's why I went to football.

Q. Can you still dunk?
Nick Fairley: Oh, yeah, of course.

Q. What do you think of all the Oregon crazy uniforms?
Nick Fairley: They're nice.

Q. They're nice?
Nick Fairley: Yeah (smiling).

Q. Are you jealous?
Nick Fairley: Actually I am.

Q. Do you got a favorite?
Nick Fairley: I like the all black one they have with the black helmets.

Q. Would you like to see Auburn do that?
Nick Fairley: I don't know, man. We keep it original.

Q. You got this Twitter thing going. But for the first three months of the season you didn't even like talking to us. What changed? Was it when you went to Houston?
Nick Fairley: I did have to adjust to something. I adjusted to it. Basically I said I had to think about it. Talking to the media is not that bad. It don't bother me.

Q. A lot of the talk has been that you guys played more ranked teams than Oregon has. Does that give you an advantage going into this game?
Nick Fairley: Not really. No. 2 and No. 1. So it is really not an advantage. It is just playing -- they play some high-powered teams, too. It is really not an advantage. We had a long layoff. I'm sure they are ready to go and we are ready to go.

Q. Another part of the talk has been not only conditioning but Oregon is a faster team than you. Do you think they're a faster team than you?
Nick Fairley: I don't know. We would have to wait and see. Those guys are pretty fast on T.V. I know we look pretty fast on T.V., too. We just have to wait to see what we look like.

Q. What is it like playing with Coach Rocker and what's your relationship with him?
Nick Fairley: It is great playing with Coach Rocker. I'm glad to have that guy come into my life. He is a great mentor. He played at Auburn in the late '80s. He knows what it takes to be good. He did it on the college level. Like I said, everything that Coach Rocker said to me when I first met him, I took it to heart because I knew what he came through and what he been. He is a great mentor.

Q. Does it take a while to get used to his coaching style? He seems pretty straightforward and doesn't mince words when he talks to you guys.
Nick Fairley: It didn't take long at all. That's the type of coach you want, you want a straightforward one that will give it to you 100 percent, not sugarcoat anything. I think that's why Coach Rocker clicked from the get go.

Q. Did you ever butt heads? Is there any back and forth?
Nick Fairley: Of course, with coaches, you feel like you did it right or you did it wrong and you will jump back and forth. At the end of the day, as long as you come together and help the team win, it is good.

Q. Does he usually win those fights?
Nick Fairley: Oh, of course (laughter). He has got to make me run.

Q. You seem like a real happy, fun guy right now. Did you just flip the switch when you get out on to the field?
Nick Fairley: Oh, yeah. Actually, Jackson, that's what he prepared me with Coach Rocker earlier in the season. Coach Rocker flipped a switch to turn it on. I don't know if it was a pep talk or what. But when he get out there, you turn the light on. I don't know.

Q. Josh Bynes doesn't get a whole lot of attention. How important is he as player and as the captain of the defense making plays?
Nick Fairley: He is a part of our defense. Josh Bynes is a great leader. He is the guy that you want to be behind the scenes. He has led our team in tackles. He is a great linebacker. He comes down here real fast. And, like I said, he is a great guy and a type of guy that works behind the scenes.

Q. For a 300-pounder like you, what is this pace like to stay fresh?
Nick Fairley: It means a lot. Like I said, hopefully my wind can hold up and I will be out there long enough to make a lot of plays for my defense.

Q. How will you get your packages in and on the field when they snap the ball so quickly?
Nick Fairley: Just hopefully we catch one incomplete, you know what I'm saying, something like that. I don't know.

Q. There were opponents against them this year who took their time getting up off the pile. Are you aware of that, and what do you think of that practice to slow them down?
Nick Fairley: That's one thing we are not going to do. The question was earlier if we are going to fake injuries to slow them down. We are not going to fake any injuries. We will play our games.

Q. You don't have to fake your injury; you can take your time getting up off the pile?
Nick Fairley: I won't do that either.

Q. How much have people come out of the woodwork since you got on this roll? You are on Twitter and a lot more accessible to people. Have you noticed a big difference to people just from all over the place kind of reaching out to you because you are a little more of a commodity?
Nick Fairley: Of course, you will get that. I'm sure Cam gets a lot, too, coming from juco. We are the ones that are known here at Auburn, everybody knows us. It used to be: Fairley? Fairley who? I grew up in the city and it worked out well for me.

Q. Is it something you had to be cautious, who is trying to get close to you?
Nick Fairley: You got to always be cautious who is around you. You can't say the wrong thing around the wrong people. You always got to be -- like I said, you got to be cautious of your surroundings.

Q. Was the biggest challenge in the layoff the conditioning factor? It has been over a month. What's the challenge for you?
Nick Fairley: Basically the speed of the game. Like I said, layoff, you have to be ahead of the wind and get into the speed of the game. So basically just going in and hopefully you catch back up to the speed of the game quick.

Q. Coach was talking about the conditioning. Have you done anything different personally?
Nick Fairley: Personally? Not really. Otherwise the defense is forward. Coach Rocker had us doing a lot of hit-offs, jump rope. We would be in the period where we were doing first ten, get off -- go to the sideline, we would probably have 50-foot jump ropes to keep us going.

Q. Are you good at jump roping?
Nick Fairley: Oh, yeah (smiling).

Q. What are get-offs?
Nick Fairley: You get off the ball.

Q. What kind of experience was junior college for you? Was it beneficial or were you frustrated that you weren't playing at Auburn?
Nick Fairley: Actually, it was frustrating at first. And then I went out there and, wow, why did I have to go here. Juco, it was a great eyeopener. I went in there and kept it level-headed, humble. So when I got here to Auburn, things were second nature to me coming out of juco.

Q. Why was it an eyeopener? Was it for better there than you anticipated?
Nick Fairley: Not really. Just not coming to Auburn from the get-go. It was an eyeopener for me.