By Jose Romero/SBN Arizona

BCS Championship: Can Auburn Slow Down Ducks' Offense?

The Ducks and Tigers have both landed in Phoenix and will begin their various preparations and other publicity events.

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Auburn DT Nick Fairley, Oregon RB LaMichael James Highlight Thursday Session

If Auburn has a defensive star, its 6-5, 298-pound defensive lineman Nick Fairley

The big man set Auburn's school record for single-season tackles for loss with 21 in 2010. He's also a half-sack away from tying the school career record. 


The Lombardi Award winner (nation's best lineman) is looking to squish some Ducks on Monday. 

"It's getting closer and closer, that's all I've got to say," Fairley said Thursday. "Hopefully their running backs will pat their feet a couple of times, don't get downhill too fast so our linebackers can come in and fill the gaps and make a lot of plays."

Fairley was asked if he could compare the Ducks to any SEC team the Tigers faced this season. 

"Our offense in practice," he said. 

Someone else asked Fairley about his supposed reputation as a dirty player. 

"I'm a hard worker. My motor's always running," he responded.

Fairley will be on the Ducks' minds. 

" Can't get discouraged. He's going to make plays," Oregon center Jordan Holmes said. "He's a playmaker. That's what they do... hopefully everything will work out."

The Tigers, meanwhile, are like the Ducks in that defense is not what they're known for. There seemed to a prevailing sentiment among the media that Ducks are going to be able to use their breakneck, non-stop tempo with effectiveness against Auburn, which has struggled on defense early in games.

"You can't change your approach to the game. You have to stay consistent with what you've been doing," running back LaMichael James said. "If you look at this game bigger than any other game, then we're probably going to lose."


(photos by Jose Romero)

James was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy who is clearly happy with his coach. He's coming back to Oregon next season and skipping the NFL draft.

"He's a great mentor for me," James said of head coach Chip Kelly. "I think I would mean as much to him even if I didn't play football."

James said top running back recruits like Oregon because of the speed of the offense and the stability of the coaching staff. Running backs coach Gary Campbell has been at Oregon for 28 seasons and has been like a father figure for his players. Running game coordinator Steve Greatwood has been at UO 25 seasons in various coaching capacities.


Your 15-Minute Window Into Oregon Practice

It must have killed Oregon coach Chip Kelly to have to open up the start of Ducks practice to the media Tuesday morning. 

You could just tell he wanted little to no part of the regulations. Nevertheless, the Duke of Duck let us watch. We didn't see much.

Some crazy variety of music playing over the Pinnacle High School stadium speakers. From Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" to Elvis Crespo's merengue classic "Suavemente." I kid you not. Running back Kenjon Barner was moving his hips to that one, too. 

The players stretched and coaches barked encouragement. The offensive line and backs hit blocking sleds. The receivers and tight ends caught passes from the quarterbacks. And then, after 15 minutes, it was time to go.

"Gotta go, guys!" a guy in a black shirt whose job it must have been to usher out the media shouted. Security was everywhere. Cops, dudes in polo shirts telling us where to park, media relations staff checking for the BCS-issued media pins. 

The weather was nice, anyway.



Excited Auburn Contingent Arrives In Arizona

The Auburn Tigers and entourage arrived Monday, a posse of about 400 strong, and have their first BCS title game practice Tuesday.

"We are excited to play in this game and we are extremely excited to get going in Arizona and get to practice tomorrow," Tigers coach Gene Chizik said. "We have had a lot of good days of practice at home, and we are ready to get this thing going here in Arizona, so again we are very proud, very honored to be here.”"

Part of what Chizik called "a great two and a half, three weeks" of practice included preparing for the Ducks' tempo on offense. The one that had teams faking injuries to slow it down. Yes, you, Arizona State and Cal.

"If you don’'t, you are kind of missing the boat here," Chizik said. "And, you know, one of the things that we’'ve had a little bit of an advantage over somebody that doesn'’t run that type of pace in their own offense... is use our own offense which has been something that over the past two years that we have really been able to control."

In other words, Auburn's defense working against its offense in practice is what they feel to be solid preparation for the Ducks.

We shall see.

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