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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Early practice notes: Looking for a LaMichael James comparison? Think Noel Devine

One player came to mind when Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes and defensive tackle Zach Clayton were asked to think of someone similar to Oregon's LaMichael James — West Virginia's Noel Devine.

"They're like replicas of each other," Bynes said.

That's true of their size. James, the Doak Walker Award winner and Heisman finalist who led the nation with 1,682 rushing yards, is 5-foot-9, 185 pounds.

Devine, who torched Auburn for 335 yards and four touchdowns in two games in 2008 and '09, is 5-foot-8, 180.

But it's more than their size that's similar. It's their tenacity.

"Just the way they run, the way they handle their game for their size," Bynes said. "They take a lot of big hits and just keep on moving."

The Tigers will go into the BCS title game with a stout rushing defense that allows 111.7 rushing yards per game, which ranks 11th nationally.

But they realize James is a threat to go the distance on every play.

"If he breaks free and gets through there, that's a touchdown," Bynes said. "I think he's definitely going to be the one we're going to have to stop."

"He's the motor for the offense," defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker said. "I think everybody knows that."

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Here are some more notes and quotes from today's pre-practice player interviews:
  • The NCAA has been in the business of statements lately and felt prompted to do so today, following the Ohio State ruling recently. The crux of the statement? The NCAA doesn't play favorites. It clarified (for some reason) that Cam Newton was not suspended because no actual extra benefits were received. Had Newton's father received money, even if Cam didn't know, he would have been suspended. I feel like everyone knew this already.
  • Defensive tackle Nick Fairley said he hasn't submitted his name to the NFL draft advisory board, which assesses where an underclassmen might go in the draft should he declare a year early. Fairley, who won the Associated Press' SEC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league in sacks and tackles for a loss, is a projected top-10 pick in some mock drafts. "I haven’t even thought about it, to be real, you know what I'm saying?" he said. Underclassmen must declare for the NFL draft by Jan. 15, although they have until Jan. 18 to withdraw their names.
  • What would be a positive about coming back for his senior year? "Staying around these guys another year," Fairley said. "The Auburn family, the love they show. That would be a plus for me."
  • Fairley said facing Oregon's fast offense will be tough, especially from a conditioning standpoint. "It’s very hard. You get tired," he said. "You try to catch wind while they running the plays. You probably take a couple plays off."
  • DE Nosa Eguae, on how he approached the season: "What we said at the beginning of the season, we wanted to make sure that this season is memorable for the seniors, because it’s their last go around. As far as us young guys, we just want to make sure we can keep going out there and doing what we have to do, just make sure we keep getting wins and send those seniors off right."
  • Oregon runs a lot of read options, meaning it will be an important game for the defensive ends. "You really have to listen to your coaches, play your technique and go out there and play pretty much a perfect game, because they’re reading you every play," Eguae said.
  • The key? About every defensive player that came in today had the same answer. "You definitely have to get aligned," Eguae said. "It’s all about getting in your alignment and making sure everybody’s on the same page. When people are on different pages, that’s when mistakes happen. That’s when big plays happen with their offense."
  • As reported earlier, Auburn has added pace periods to its practices to get used to Oregon's speed. T'Sharvan Bell said it helps, especially to get in the mindset of playing that fast. "You know, every nine seconds it’s kind of hard to play with great technique, hard to get lined up and get the call," he said. "So it’s just a big learning process for us right now and I think by the time the 10th comes we’ll have it down to where we need to have it."
  • Bell on Oregon's receivers: "They’ve got good receivers across the board. They do a great job of catching the ball in open space and getting up the field. They’re not really guys that just try to make you miss, they get what they can get and that’s all to it. I think they’ve got a good wide receiver coach, they run good routes, they block probably the best I’ve seen of any opponent downfield this year. I think it’s going to be a big key for us getting off the blocks of the receivers when it’s time to."
  • Bynes is kind of sick of hearing about how Auburn's defense is lacking. "We're not worrying what everyone is saying about our defense," he said. "We're going to go out there and play football regardless. Because at the end of the day, it's all going to be settled in between those white lines."
  • Bynes said Auburn's opponents went away from their tendencies a lot this year, which is why the Tigers struggled so much early in games. "When we figure out what they're doing in the first half, the second half we go out there and just be dominant," he said. "That's why we've been efficient in the second half. ... I think guys just went out there and fought their behinds off for four quarters. It might not have looked good for one or two quarters, maybe three, but in the fourth quarter, some way, somehow we found a way to win and get the victory. We've got guys on this team who are willing to fight adversity, to do the things that we've been doing all year is insane."
  • Whitaker didn't play a whole lot this year, but he got his feet wet, which will be important next year. If Fairley enters the draft, he could be in a prominent role, with Clayton and Mike Blanc graduating. "I'm learning how to be a great leader," he said. "I'm learning how to be a great player. I'm learning how to be a great champion."
  • Has Auburn's success made an impact on potential recruits? DE Corey Lemonier thinks so. "It does because it shows that we’re winning and it shows that freshmen can come in and play so that helps us in recruiting," he said, "entice them even more to come here.”
  • T-Bell summed up a point special teams coordinator Jay Boulware made in a meeting this week: "Everybody is saying we’re going to try to win the national championship, but the question he asked us is what are we going to do to win the national championship. So I think that’s the question now — what are we going to do? Going to go the extra mile and do whatever you can, have no regrets."

1 comment:

Tar Heel Tiger said...

AB - thanks so much. I soaked up every word.