Iron Bowl: Alabama players talk about Auburn

Here is a transcript of Alabama Crimson Tide football players as the Iron Bowl game against Auburn approaches. Topics include the Auburn pass rush, having home field advantage, defending Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and much more. Alabama Player Quotes (courtesy of UA Media Relations):

Greg McElroy
On the Rhodes Scholarship interview: 

“I felt really confident about the way I went in there. I thought I gave a great interview. It was a great experience just meeting everybody and participating, and I think more than anything it was just a really special moment for me. Obviously I came up a little bit short, but there is no shame in that. I loss to a couple of winners that are very, very worthy of the scholarship and will definitely make the most of it. They had a Harvard graduate, a Yale graduate, two M.I.T. graduates, a Naval Academy graduate and an Alabama graduate, so I gave it my best shot and I was proud. I was just glad to go up there and represent the University the best way I know how.”



On the Auburn pass rush:
“They have a great pass rush, a lot like last year. They have some good players on the front line and they make things difficult for you. They have a lot of strength and a lot of speed and that is a tough combination to try to go up against. We’ll do our best this week to be ready for it, and we’ll do the best we can to simulate it the best way we know how in order to be ready for Friday.”


On what makes Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley so effective:

“Real similar to Marcell Dareus, just a good blend of speed and strength and quickness. He’s got a great first step, he really penetrates well and it makes it tough for the offensive line, they’re kind of sitting back on their hills a little bit and trying to sit a guy down that is that big. He’s just a good player. We have a lot of respect for him. We’re definitely going to have to keep an eye out for where he is on the field and how we’re going to try taking care of him.”

On the importance of scoring with Auburn’s high-scoring offense:
“They have a great offense and we have a great defense, so we feel real confident in that match up. They have a great group of guys over there and they score a lot of points. We have a lot of respect for them. I’m looking forward to seeing our defense be challenged by the best offense in the country in a lot of peoples mind. I think they’re looking forward to it. As far as our approach, we just need to be methodical, score points and make the most out of every opportunity. Every time we get in the red zone we have to try to get points out of it, whether it’s a touchdown or a field goal, we have to walk away feeling positive about that drive. That’s something that we have not done as well as we want, finishing in the red area.”

On playing for the state championship this year and not a SEC or national title:
“We’ve done pretty well over the past few years, and we have obviously walked away with a lot of trophies and a lot of rings and things of that nature, but this year we are obviously playing for something a little different. We understand that, but what we’re playing for is still something very impactful on the season. We can walk away feeling very good about ourselves with a 10-2 regular season. That is no easy task in the SEC. We’re going to try to do our very best this weekend and try to get a victory. Hopefully that will put us in contention to go to a great bowl game.”

On having extra motivation to ruin Auburn’s perfect season:
“We’re not really worried about them. Obviously they’ve had a great year, but we are not out for revenge or anything of that nature. We’re just trying to make the most of our opportunity, regardless of what Auburn’s record might be. If they are 11-0 or 0-11, we’re still going try to play him to the best of our ability, because it is our rival and a team we have a lot of respect for. Hopefully we’ll go out and execute to the best of our ability and make it a very competitive game.”

On this being his last game in Bryant-Denny Stadium:
“It is strange. It goes by very fast. It feels like just yesterday I was on Fox Sports Southwest saying that I was going to the University of Alabama and here I am five years later. I’ve had a lot of great memories and a lot of special moments in Bryant-Denny. This being my last game I want to make the most of it and walk out of there with my head held high. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished not only as an athlete here, but also as a student.”

On the new up-tempo style on offense being an advantage against Auburn:
“We have an explosive offense I think to a certain extent. We do a really good job of mixing up tempos and just keeping defenses guessing. Last week we really tried to make them make their checks and calls at the line of scrimmage, which is difficult for defenses. We’ll probably do all kinds of things this weekend, I’m not sure exactly because we haven’t installed the game plan yet, but I think that is definitely something that we use to our advantage and hopefully it is something that we’ll continue to use to our advantage.”

#57 Marcell Dareus, DL
On trying to defend Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton:
“Cam is very athletic running the ball. Every little crease you give him, he will take it. He has deceptive speed where he can just get out and then get away from people. He has some moves that he can get away. We are just going to have to try our best to contain him. It’s hard to just stop Cam, so we’ll just have to do the best we can and contain him.”

On the importance of staying focused on individual assignments against Auburn:
“That is what we have to try to work on. Maturity is something we’ve been working on all year. We have to focus in on the play and the play you have right now. We’ve really been trying to work with our younger guys on that. We really have to buckle down and play assignment football. If everybody does their assignment, there is nothing they can do. We have to do everything we can to play our assignments, play your man and contain them.”

On this week being different knowing many of the opposing players:
“No, I don’t think it is that different. Auburn is a big rivalry of course in this state and a lot of players that haven’t played against Auburn; they’re going to feel the wrath of how intense the game is and how emotional the game is, especially with how good Auburn is. We really have to buckle down and get our emotions together to be focused in on the game.”

On what this game does for the Crimson Tide legacy:
“You just want to keep it going. The legacy of the Crimson Tide runs deep in the state of Alabama and we have to keep it going. I don’t think we want to be the ones to stop it, just do the best we can to keep the spirit going.”

#8 Julio Jones, WR
On whether or not he followed the Iron Bowl growing up:
“I never followed it. I didn’t even follow Alabama coming up. I didn’t really start watching college football until like my 10th or 11th grade year in high school.”

On what it’s like now being a part of it:
“It’s bragging rights, you know. It’s just competition.”

On what he remembers about the game-winning drive from last year’s game:
“I can’t really remember. They called my number and I had to step up and make plays. (Greg) McElroy did a great job of dishing the ball out to me.”

On how this game impacts an Alabama player’s legacy:
“Alabama wins games and Auburn wins games. We can’t focus on what the legacy will hold for us, we just have to go out there and play for 60 minutes and give it our all. You can’t be disappointed if you go out there and give it your all.”

On whether or not things change with not having the SEC Championship game to look forward to:
“Not at all. Every game we supposed to go out there and let it hang out. It’s just the Alabama way. We have to go out there and play for 60 minutes.”

On playing the role of spoiler:
“We’re just trying to go out there and win. It’s going to be great game. I don’t know what to tell you about trying to spoil their season or whatever, but it’s a competitive sport and everybody wants to win.”

On how much he’s watched Auburn in his spare time:
“Not at all. I’ve caught glimpses of them before we get ready to play a game when they have an early game or something, but other than that I haven’t really watched them at all.”

On why the offense seems to click more when using a no-huddle attack:
“We practice like that all year. Our practices are up-tempo. We try to get in and out of the huddle and play fast at practice, and we weren’t utilizing that in the game the way we practiced. We usually get to the game and tried to slow it up some. Coach McElwain and everybody noticed everybody was clicking well when we go hurry up and we’ve been doing a good job the last couple of weeks.”

On how much pressure to score an offense like Auburn’s puts on Alabama’s offense:
“Like I said, I haven’t been watching Auburn. I don’t know what they’re offense does. We just have to go out there and put up points. When the opportunity is given for us to make big plays and put points on the board, we’re going to have to capitalize.”

On how much pride the receivers take in blocking:
“I love blocking more than I like catching footballs. Those other guys too, they’re coming along with it and blocking well. We’re not trying to be selfish. Receivers are usually selfish guys and we’re not trying to be that way. We are trying to make an identity for ourselves as a receiving corps, to go out there and block on every play even if we’re not getting the ball.”

#30 Dont’a Hightower, LB
On how important it is to finish off tackles against Cameron Newton when given the chance:
“Oh yeah, that goes without saying. First off let me say that Cam is a great player. That’s why he’s here. That’s why he’s in the SEC is because he’s able to make plays. He’s a big playmaker. He’s probably their best player on offense. As far as making plays, we’ve actually got a highlight reel of the way to tackle Cam. You don’t really want to come in low on him. He’s a big guy. He likes to stiff arm, he likes to cut back so you’ve got to be aware of that.”

On how Cameron Newton compares to Tim Tebow:
“He always reminds a lot of people of Tim Tebow the way he was able to carry the ball and the way he had so much effect on the fan base as well as the team both offensively and defensively. Cam is a little bit different. Tim Tebow was able to throw the ball pretty well and was always a downhill runner. You see Cam making plays that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. He’s got two guys on his back and he’s stiff arming one guy and the next thing you know he breaks out with a 42-yard run. That’s when you just have to get in the film room and see the things he likes to do, like set you up for cutbacks, when he likes to use the stiff arm, what gaps he likes to run through on certain powers and counters and what he likes to do. It’s all about us getting in the film room and being able to slow him down. He’s a really good player.”

On Cameron Newton’s supporting cast and Auburn not being a one-man team:
“Oh no, they’ve got a lot of guys. Michael Dyer, the freshman, he’s pretty good. Ontario McCalebb comes in a lot. Mario Fanin is there too. They’ve got all kinds of weapons so you can’t just say, “let’s put 11 guys in the box,” because they have some really good receivers too so you have to be aware of that. We feel like he sets up pretty much their whole offense so you can’t just key on one player.”

On what a win in this game does an Alabama player’s legacy:
“A lot. That being said, it’s the Iron Bowl. There aren’t too many games that are bigger than the Iron Bowl other than maybe the national championship. Even people in this state would beg to differ that they would rather win the Iron Bowl than the national championship, so this game means a lot to us.”

On whether or not playing as the underdog makes the team looser:
“I don’t think so. Like I just said, you’re playing against Auburn. It’s always going to be a tough, hard game. Even if we were 2-9 and Auburn was like they are, 11-0, it doesn’t matter. It’s the SEC. It’s the Iron Bowl game. Everything is going to come out and it’s going to be tough, physical game.”

On Auburn being in the same position as Alabama was at this point last year and if he can offer any insight as to how they might be thinking:
“I don’t know. They’re set on playing in the SEC Championship, but like I said, it’s the Iron Bowl. Regardless of what goes on after this game, you want to be able to say that we won this year. This is basically the state championship. Who can say they won? Who can say who is the better team in the state this year? That’s what we’re thinking and I’m pretty sure they’re thinking the same thing.”

On how comfortable he feels alongside the younger defensive players:
“I feel very comfortable. At the beginning of the season we hit a couple of rough sides and bumps in the road going against Arkansas, having to come back in the fourth quarter and having some games that we came out and struggled a little bit in the first half. I feel like now, in the last couple of games, those freshmen and guys that didn’t get to play that much last year have stepped up and mature a lot.”

On how hungry he is to get back on the field for an Iron Bowl after having to sit last year’s out:
“I’m very hungry. Last year the Auburn game was one of the ones that I was most interested in. Not being a part of that victory last year, I’m hoping to get out there and get one this year.”

#37 Robert Lester, S
On how important it is to tackle Cameron Netwon the Auburn receivers on the edges
“It’s real important. We need to make sure we’re buckling down and using the right technique to tackle him because he’s a big guy. He’ll be hard to bring down so we have to make sure that we’re using the right technique to bring him down.”

On how much the Iron Bowl means to him:
“I was born in California and wasn’t really aware of the big rivalry between Alabama and Auburn. I spent six years in Alabama and as I grew up I learned a lot about it. Being from Foley, it’s kind of like a Foley and Daphne type of rivalry so I’m ready to play in it.”

On whether or not Cameron Newton is the best player he will have faced:
“He’s a great player. I can’t say that he’s the best. We’ve faced a lot great opponents and he’s going to be a player that we’re looking forward to playing against. He’s one of the best players and we’re ready to play against the best.”

On Auburn having a lot of playmakers on offense and not being a one-man team:
“Of course. I’m pretty sure other teams look at us and say we can’t just focus in on stopping Mark Ingram because we have other weapons like Julio. We can’t focus in on just stopping Cam Newton when they have other play makers as well.”

On Auburn’s passing game not getting as much attention because of Newton’s ability to run:
“He’s a quarterback. As a secondary we have to make sure that we look at the same keys that we would any other quarterback and see who his favorite receiver is and pick up on little things like that.”

On how deceptive their offense is from what he’s seen on tape:
“Technically we haven’t really started on them. We start on them today. Those are some things that I will have to sit down and look at.”