Jan. 8, 2011
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - The No. 1-ranked Auburn football team held its final full practice of the season Saturday afternoon at Scottsdale Community College, working out in helmets and shorts for an hour and a half.
The Tigers will now focus on the mental aspect of the game, with just meetings and walk-throughs on the schedule prior to Monday's Tostitos BCS National Championship Game against No. 2 Oregon.
Saturday's practice began with special teams drills before the squad moved on to individual and position drills. The offense and defense spent much of the workout practicing against the scout team units to put the finishing touches on preparations for the Ducks.
After practice, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and defensive coordinator Ted Roof met with the media. Roof stated that the team had another solid practice today but they squad must take advantage of the time remaining prior to Monday's game.
"They were really sharp today," said Roof. "The communication was excellent and they had great focus, as you would expect when you're getting ready to play for a national championship.
"There are still a lot of hours before the game so there are a lot of things we can still do to continue to get mentally sharp and get a mental edge, and that's what we have to do. But so far they've done everything we've asked of them and I'm very proud of them."
Malzahn said the offense is prepared and ready to go, but how the team will perform after such a long layoff following the SEC Championship Game victory over South Carolina Dec. 4 remains to be seen.
"We have our plan in and we feel good about it," said Malzahn. "I think our guys are confident in the plan.
"We haven't played in 35 days and we were playing really good football then, and the anxiety I have is just seeing how we perform with the layoff. We've practiced, but when you don't play a game in that period of time, that's the big unknown."
On Sunday, the Tigers will visit University of Phoenix Stadium, site of the BCS National Championship Game, for team photos and will also hold one final walk-through at Scottsdale Community College.
Auburn (13-0) will play Oregon (12-0) in the BCS National Championship Game on Monday, Jan. 10, at 7:30 p.m. CT. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN and ESPN3D.
In meetings between the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in The Associated Press' college football poll, the No. 1 team is 25-17-2.
Q&A With Senior OG Byron Isom
Q: Today was your last full scale practice and you're a few days away from playing your last game as an Auburn Tiger. What's going through your mind?
BI: "It's a bitter sweet feeling. It's like I'm happy and sad at the same time. You know it's going to come to an end at some point and there's no better position to be in than playing for the national championship. I'm just taking it all in stride."
Q: When you think back to your first year at Auburn, what comes to mind?
BI: "It was whole new experience. I was out of my element. I think I reported to campus the day after my 18th birthday. I was a little timid, but I went into it with an open mind. It was an exciting point in my life."
Q: How long is your hair?
BI: "I'm not sure exactly but it's about a foot long right now. I said I was going to cut it when I graduated, but I changed my mind. Maybe I'll cut if I get drafted."