Jan. 6, 2011
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Q. What's your impression of the
Oregon offense? Can you compare them to
anybody that you played against this year in
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
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
Nick Fairley: No disrespect because of
the offense. You can't complain. Both of them are
high-powered offense. The defense is the same
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Q. Anything in SEC compared to
Auburn's offense at all?
Nick Fairley: Because our offense?
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
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
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
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
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
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
Nick Fairley: Yeah, it is way more like
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Q. Can you still dunk?
Nick Fairley: Oh, yeah, of course.
Q. What do you think of all the Oregon
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
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
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
Q. How will you get your packages in
and on the field when they snap the ball so
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
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
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
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.