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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Early BCS title game notes press conference: Auburn DT Nick Fairley comes out of his shell

The cameras focused and questions being fired away from his left and right, Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley answered without hesitation Thursday, at ease with himself in front of a daunting media horde.

That hasn't always been the case.

"If y'all came here in the beginning of August, I'd probably been stuttering my butt off," Fairley said. "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."

Fairley, a consensus All-American who won the Lombardi Award, has come out of his shell of late. Always a character on the field, speaking with reporters is no longer a chore to him. He's branched out in social media too, closing in on 7,000 Twitter followers in nine days.

"It's just some entertainment for me, just something to do throughout the night," he said.

On the field, he's been dynamic from the start of this season, finishing with 21 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks, leading the SEC in both categories. Oregon knows what it is going up against.

"The only parts (of the game film) I saw were highlights," Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich. "And that's scary."

Fairley seemed comfortable talking about everything, even the perception from late in the season that he's a dirty player.

"I just go out there and give it 110 (percent)," he said. "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."

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said Auburn talked to him about toning things down, but disagreed with the idea that Fairley plays outside the rules.

"He plays hard, he plays physical," Roof said. "And we don't apologize for that."

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Heading out to practice again today. But here are some notes and quote from the early interviews:
  • Fairley said defensive line coach Tracy Rocker has been a great mentor to him. Rocker has a straight-shooting coaching style. "That's the kind of coach you want," Fairley said. "You want a straight-forward coach who will give it to you whether you want it or not. He doesn't sugarcoat anything. I think that's why I liked him from the get-go."
  • Did they ever butt heads? "Of course, you're always going to get it with your coaches," Fairley said. "You don't feel like you did it wrong; you feel like you did it right. It's all back and forth. At the end of the day, we're going to come together and help the team win."
  • Fairley's Twitter secret? The Q&A format he does relatively often. "I think that'll help me get some more followers, so I might do that," fellow Twitterer Zac Etheridge said. "That was a good idea by him."
  • The two have a friendly competition on Twitter. As of 11:35 a.m. CT, Fairley had 6,809 followers. Etheridge had 6,577. "I'm going to catch him before the weekend," Etheridge said.
  • Anybody in the SEC have a tempo as quick as Oregon's? "I think they're the fastest," Etheridge said. There are no misconceptions about how quick the Ducks move on offense. "They run a pace like no other team has run against us," linebacker Craig Stevens said. "We already have it set in our mind that we have to stay on our toes and try to keep gas in our tank for these guys."
  • Lots of questions about Oregon's pace today. "It's tough," Stevens said. "It's pretty tough practicing that pace. With them going so fast, you have to try to emulate that in practice. It's hard for a scout team to do that."
  • Is Auburn fast enough to keep up? "Fast enough to win 13 games," Roof said.
  • Some Oregon opponents have slowed down the Ducks' pace by faking injuries. "That's one things we're not going to do," Fairley said. "We're not going to fake any injuries. We're going to do what we do." A reporter added that some teams have just gotten off the pile slower. "We're not going to do that either," Fairley added.
  • Fairley is a fan of Oregon uniforms, which have hundred of combinations. "They're nice," he said. "I like the all black ones that they have." Auburn, which has a more traditional look, has only two. "We keep it original," Fairley said. Would Stevens like to change anything about the Tigers' duds? "Naw, we're glad with what we have."
  • "I believe they're here to say," Stevens said. "Like I said, anytime you go undefeated and I believe they also won the conference last year. It's pretty set in stone that it's not a fluke."
  • Roof on Oregon RB LaMichael James: "You don’t see a crease, and he squirts through and goes 80 yards. You say, 'How did he get through there?'"
  • James, on if the SEC gets too much media attention for having won four straight national championships. "I don't think they make too much of it," he said. "They have won, so I can't really say too much negative. It's not like they're losing the championships."
  • Roof coached against Chip Kelly back in the day, when he was at UMass and Kelly was at New Hampshire, which was 16 or 17 years ago. "I don't think I've got that UMass-New Hampshire game in my file," Roof said. (According to an AP tweet, New Hampshire won the game 40-7, so of course Roof doesn't remember much about it.)

1 comment:

Tar Heel Tiger said...

"New Hampshire won the game 40-7"

Time for Roof to get even.

GO TIGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!