Head Coach Gene Chizik's Press Conference Quotes

Dec. 20, 2010


All-Access Video QB C. Newton | DE N. Eguae | DT Z. Clayton | RB M. Dyer | TE P. Lutzenkirchen

Vote Chizik Coach of the Year

Head Coach Gene Chizik

Opening statement...
"We're really getting a good look at Oregon more and more as the days go by. They're an extremely well-coached, very talented football team in every aspect. Special teams are extremely talented. They have a great punt returner who has returned multiple punts for touchdowns. You can tell they spend a lot of time on their special teams units. Their coverage units are really good. They have a lot of speed, as you would imagine. Really, this is a great football team from top to bottom. Offensively, as you know, that's what everybody talks about, and deservedly so, but defensively, as well, they are playing a lot of people. They have basically a three-down lineman scheme, which is tough in terms of trying to run the football. They do a great job with their blitzes which gives you problems pass protection-wise. They play a lot of guys, they rotate a lot of guys, they have a ton of speed, they play really hard, and again, they're very well-coached. Just getting a chance to look at them again more and more as the days go by, it becomes increasingly clear that this is not a good team but a great team. We have our work cut out for us. Today we're going to go out and have a good practice and be much sharper than we were on Saturday. We had great meetings and walk-throughs and focus-ups and we expect to kind of get back closer to where we were in the (SEC) Championship game. We have a lot of practice to do. We're excited about it. We'll be in full pads today, and we'll get after it today and get back to the physical nature of the game and continue our preparation."

On comparing Oregon to another team...
"I think that this is a very unique team all the way around, offensively and defensively. Their team speed is outstanding. Their scheme is very formation-oriented offensively in terms of giving you different looks. They're running basically the same things every week as you could imagine, but they do a great job of scheming and obviously trying to get you to miss big gaps. The tempo of the game certainly helps in that regard for them, but they do a great job of keeping the tempo up and moving around the formations and trying to get you in a position where you aren't lined up correctly. It has pretty much worked every week in every way, really. They can run the ball, they can throw the ball, and again, they have talented people at every position. Again, they're just a great football team. I don't know that I can compare them exactly to anybody that does that day-in and day-out that we've played against."

On changing the defense substitution patterns to match up with Oregon's high-speed offense...
"You have to keep that in mind, there's no question about that. We have to be on the top of our game, and there can't be any hesitation. If you're trying to match exactly their personnel group every time, that can get you into some trouble. Obviously the idea behind matching personnel is when they bring more speed, you bring more speed. That's kind of their base way of playing. It's a situation where if you get your speed personnel on the field and they come in with two tight ends, you have to be able to live with it. You can't trick yourselves. The key is you have to get lined up, and you have to play technique. You have to play very fundamental football against these guys or one guy out of a gap or one guy misses the line can lead to a touchdown."

On Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn and his contributions to the team...
"Obviously Gus brings a great amount to the table. It's very important for us to keep the continuity of our staff to the best of our ability. Gus has done a great job for us here. He loves Auburn, he loves working with this staff, and we're obviously very excited and glad that we could keep him. He has been a big part of what we've done, obviously."

On what makes Malzahn's offense so difficult to defend...
"I just think there are a lot of moving parts. There's a lot of misdirection, there are a lot of formations. It's just challenging in terms of tempo and formations getting lined up."

On defensive lineman Nick Fairley and his development over the past two years...
"I'm really proud of Nick. When he first got to Auburn, I think it was moving very fast, which it usually is for most people when they get here. Young guys either adapt to it fairly quick or sometimes it takes a little bit of time. In his case, it took a little bit of time, but you could see glimpses and glimmers of how special he could be, I thought, at the end of last year. I think he continued to gain confidence, and he has continued to grow, both physically strength-wise and mentally him becoming a really intelligent football player playing down there in the trenches and understanding different blocking schemes and different pass-protections and when he's going to get a one-on-one and when he's not. I think he understands the game and the complexity of the game. I think Coach (Tracy) Rocker has done a great job of teaching him all of those different things instead of just a guy going down there and just playing football. I think it's so much more than that, and I think he has really become a much better student of the game and understands it. I think all of that combined has made him a much better player."

On protecting potential NFL prospects from distractions...
"Education. That's what we have to do. We have to educate them, and they have to have a commitment and an allegiance to the people on their football team, to their university, to their coaches. It's just that simple. We have to educate them, and they have to do what's right and it's no more difficult than that."

On Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas...
"He's a great athlete. You can tell he really has a great grip and feel for this offense. Obviously their running game is what most people would say `Wow' and pay a lot of attention to, but their passing game is tremendous, and it gets you at the right times. He does a great job on their play-action game. He does a great job on the deep balls, and they have some receivers that can fly. They are very opportunistic in their passing game. They will hit you on some big plays in the passing game while you're trying to load eight or nine guys up there because you're trying to stop the run because obviously between LaMichael (James) and Darron, you have your hands full stopping the run, along with their offensive line who blocks it really well. You have to be careful what you do. You have to be very sound in the pass game and in the deep game because he can put it right where it needs to be."

On the experience of seniors like wide receiver Kodi Burns...
"I look at this senior class, and you're bringing up Kodi's name, and there are so many others that I just have a great appreciation for to be honest with you. A guy like Kodi who has been here and has seen it and done it, a very selfless guy as we've said. I think that's what Auburn's all about. I think it's guys like Kodi that have to get a position switch, who has really embraced that. I look at things people forget about. The LSU game he's playing wildcat and gets two teeth knocked out. He gets his lip stitched up and comes back and plays a couple series later. My hat's off to guys like him because they've done all they can for Auburn football, and it's very much appreciated."

On watching film on Oregon and watching for things that other teams did well against them...
"You have to always work within the realm of who you are and what you do. Cal did a great job within their scheme of slowing the offense down. 317 yards I believe, or somewhere in that area, are well-below their 500 plus, and Cal did a great job executing. They played really hard. There are some things that you can take from that, and within what you try to do, you can implement some of that stuff. At the end of the day, you have to stick to what you feel comfortable with and what you do. They (Cal) did a great job defending them.

On Oregon's special teams and explosive plays...
"One game there were two punt returns for touchdowns. It isn't just Cliff Harris, there is another punt returner with a punt return for touchdown. No. 24 (Kenjon Barner) did the same thing. They're very explosive in that. They're very explosive in their kick-return game. Some of the punts they didn't take back for touchdowns in the Cal game, the Stanford game, the Washington game, you can go on and on, there are 30- and 40-yard punt returns that didn't get in the endzone that aren't part of the four or five touchdowns they've had but certainly changed the game. I think their special teams are, overall, just their coverage units and everything, those guys are game-changers. There's no question. That's why I say this team from top to bottom, in every phase right now, there's no weakness. They're good in every phase."

On Oregon's defense...
"There is a means to the madness there. Whatever they don't have in size, they have it in speed and they play hard. You look at them on film, and they are flying to the football. They have some pressure packages out of that three-down front. They're extremely aggressive and hard to block. They play a lot of people on defense, and they keep it fresh. They just play hard and fly to the football. I know the offense gets a lot of the recognition, but I think as Coach (Chip) Kelly would say, their defense is extremely talented and extremely good. I don't think there's any question about that."

On preparing a game plan and watching film versus talking to other coaches...
"We go off of game film. What you see is what you get. It's not like they're going to try to reinvent the wheel. There might be some new formations here and there, a new way to run the option, things of that nature, which is exactly what you would expect. At the end of the day, they're going to do what they do, and they execute it very well and won't deviate from anything they're doing. We expect more of the same, probably a little new wrinkle here and there, maybe a little new play-action pass off of it trying to hit you with a deep ball, something of that nature. That's expected."

On the importance of walk-on players like Chris Humphries...
"We can't do it without them. They are a special part of our team. I have a very high level of respect and high regard for those guys because they do this for free. They do it because they love football, they do it because they love Auburn, or they love both, and in most cases, both. Guys like Chris Humphries and Ikeem Means, I could go down the whole shooting match. I hesitate to even name two names because there are so many of them that we depend on that are a huge part of this program and will continue to be. They know how I feel and they know how we feel, that we could not have the success that we're having, nor could probably anybody in the country, if you don't have a very successful walk-on program. There are so many guys on our team right now that we really appreciate who they are and what they do for us."

On if the program's development has sped up over the past two years...
"I think it probably has. Obviously this is the goal of everybody; 119 or 120 teams. I think it's obvious what it does for your program in terms of exposure, in terms of young guys saying, `Wow, this is a place that is going to have a chance to be in contention. This is a team that's in a great league that's on the rise.' I think it helps in every way, shape and form for our program, both the players that are here and the ones that are considering coming. I think it's huge."

On the importance of watching film for this game...
"It's huge. Meetings and walk-throughs, along with practice, and the film study and the time they put in is huge. You can't watch enough of it. It's a big part of what we do, but again, the balance with practice and all of that is very important. Practicing in full pads enough to make sure you are ready to go is important, but also making sure they're fresh is very important. There's a balance in there. We're going to practice all we can practice to get ready for this game, but again, we're going to be smart about it."

On quarterback Cam Newton and the most impressive thing about him this season...
"I don't recall a lot of lows with him, but I recall a lot of highs. I'm just impressed with him period, both as a person on and off the field and the way he has progressed as a football player for us in this system week by week. Obviously, he's one of the huge reasons why we're here, along with many others. I'm very proud of him, again, as a person and as a football player."

On taking pride in what the program has meant to the community this season...
"I think it's really neat. This is a great community, and it's a great family environment. This is a great community that really holds in high regard this university. Any positive publicity that can come to the university in all ways, and it means a lot to us because we are part of the community. That's what we are and that's who we are and that's what we do. I'm very proud that we could just be a small part of trying to make a lot of people proud, and that means a lot to our coaches and our administration and our team. Any positive light that we can shed on this town and this community, we feel really good about that."

On it being more difficult for the players to ignore what people are saying off the field for this game...
"I don't think so. I just simply don't believe that our team really pays a lot of attention to all the outside opinions. They know that this is a great football team. We're going to go there and we're going to execute well and have a chance to win the game or we're not. It's that simple. We have to practice and we have to coach them and we have to do everything we can to get to that game and be the best football team we can be on January 10. Really none of the outside stuff or anybody's opinion or any of that is ever really taken into consideration. For the previous 13 games I can say that for sure. That's what makes college football fun, everybody has an opinion, but our team knows that the bottom line is the preparation we do right now, film work, walk-throughs and practice, and the importance of execution in the game, are the only thing that matters for us to go out there and win."


Cam Newton, QB

On whether or not he thinks this team is a team of destiny...
"At times I do, but that's not what all our hard work has paid out to be. I think hard work pays off, and I think a lot of guys have put in the time not only for this team, but for this whole town and this city. It's well deserving of what we have embarked on. "

On getting back to playing football after the time off for the award shows...
"It was fun. Anytime I get back with this team I feel revived because I look at it as if we are all close knit family, so there's no other place I'd rather be instead of with this team."

On what Gus Malzahn means to the team...
"Coach Malzahn has set the bar very high for this team on the offensive side of the ball. He expects us to do great things. He doesn't let us shy away from us getting the job done. He expects a lot from us as a whole offense. Every single day he reminds us of that. We've had excellent game plans going into weeks. Most of it has been with him and also this coaching staff."

On whether or not there was a single moment when he realized he could play football for a long time...
"No, I think you can go ask anybody in College Park, (Ga.) or any little kid that has the same dream that I had, but I'm just the fortunate one to have had the success that I did have thanks to excellent team play with my teammates past and present. I've just been a blessed individual."

On the importance of Auburn's offensive line...
"What is already understood shouldn't be said, but at this point this offensive line has meant a lot to this whole team. At times they have made holes as big as all of us could fit in and they get the job done. They know a lot is expected from them because of so much that they've seen throughout their tenure at Auburn, but at the end of the day when the clock strikes zero in the fourth quarter, they did their job."

On whether or not the team has a feeling that they cannot lose...
"This is a team full of guys that are very relentless and they refuse to lose. During the time when the moments get tough you really see the leadership come into play in this team."

On his favorite play of the season...
"I hope my favorite play comes during this BCS Championship Game. I still have one more game to play and I probably could tell you after this game."

On Oregon's defense...
"They're a defense that is very complex, but at the same time with their schemes, they play a lot of people, so the many packages that they bring or the offense is challenged with, that can be very tricky. We have a lot of time to break down the film and see where we can exploit them."

On game planning for Oregon...
"As far as game planning, I don't game plan. I just do whatever Coach Malzahn tells me to do, but this is a great defense. They're not 12-0 just because somebody gave them wins. They earned every single thing they got and watching them on film, they're very fun to watch and they get the job done. Everybody knows they have a fast-paced offense, but with that defense, they've had a couple of games where they've had shutouts."

On whether or not they have been able to watch more film than normal since class is out...
"I'd probably say so. During this time with the holidays approaching, the coaches are keeping us busy whether watching film or working out, but everything is probably pretty much in this complex."

On not getting overwhelmed by the magnitude of the moment...
"Coach Malzahn always says, `The moment can never be too big for a player to make a play.' We have to believe that as much as anything for this game. It's probably the biggest game of everybody's career right now, but we can't look at it as if it's something with that great magnitude. We just have to go out and play Auburn football like we've been playing every week in the past."

On getting in a rhythm after a long layoff...
"I think we need a lot of practice. The other day we practiced, we looked like we hadn't practiced in two weeks. We know it's a process that has to be done and we're ready to embrace this whole process. Every practice is not going to be that practice that we feel like we did excellent on, but we have to come out here and practice and listen to our coaches and be ready to make any in-game adjustments."

On Kodi Burns...
"He's very unselfish. Behind any great team there are a lot of players on this team that don't get credit for what they do. You have Kodi Burns being the number one player, Mario Fannin. Players like that get the job done behind the scenes. The not-so-good job description that they have goes unnoticed a lot. I'd be the first one to tell you that without those guys on our team, we would not have had so much success as we did have."