Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, along with select defensive players had an early wake-up call Sunday morning for press conferences. Below are selected quotes from the Ducks defense. Monday morning will be the official Fiesta Bowl media day, with all players and coaches on hand for interviews.
Q: How has practice been so far? Is the team seeing any rust at all?
A: There was maybe a little rust on day one. You forget there’s an hour difference, just that little bit of hour difference, so they’re getting up a little bit earlier and stuff. I think as the week has gone on, the rust is coming off. Felt really good about the way we’ve practiced and paid attention to everything we need to do. It’s tough, a lot of times you go on a road trip, eight or nine days in a hotel. It’s not an excuse. Bottom line is I feel good about the way we’ve practiced and paid attention to meetings. It’s been smooth up to this time, knock on wood.
Q: Spoken very highly of Collin Klein.
A: He’s very good. He runs that offense efficiently. He’s a poised guy. Appears to be a very smart football player. He knows what they want him to do in their game plan. He can run. I’ve stated this a number of times. Mobile quarterbacks can extend football plays, and he’s one of those, for sure. That’s always an extra added, I won’t use the word ‘problem,’ because there usually should be a solution to a problem, but that does become something you have to be concerned with when a quarterback can extend plays and make something happen with his feet.
Q: All teams have injuries throughout a season. You got hit hard this year. Does a month between games give your guys enough time to get back?
A: Yes. Guys that were dinged up a little bit. If you have a major injury, you lose Boyett for a year, Avery Patterson where it’s a major surgery, those guys around coming back. Guys that have little owies, things with their shoulders, sprains in their ankles and stuff, certainly with a month to 35 days, they can ease into this thing. We’ll have everybody that we had against Oregon State. We should be fine that way. We should be fine that way.
Q: How difficult is it maintaining your patience against a team like K State?
A: It’s very important. They’re a great operation. I think they focus on not making mistakes. They have a guy in their quarterback, center, does a good job as far as controlling the game. It’s very important to be patient. Like I said, guys on the defense have to be disciplined and understand your job on every snap.
Q: When you face a team the way they do the play action?
A: Teams like USC, not only do they have a great quarterback, they have great receivers. Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. Like I said, we got to be disciplined. We got to play hard and everything else will take care of itself. Nothing is going to change. We played 12 games now. It all comes down to who’s prepared to go the best. It’s going to be exciting.
Q: There’s lots of schemes that have running quarterbacks. What is it from the tape that you watched that makes him so successful?
A: Like I say, he does a great job of managing the game. He don’t make a lot of mistakes. It’s kind of hard to find that weakness. But you understand that he’s going to have the ball in his hand. No matter what kind of play it is, it’s going to be him pitching into a guy or running down the field, play?action pass with the bomb. It’s going to be No. 7’s game. Everything speaks for itself. I watched a lot of game tape on him. He’s progressively gotten a lot better. It’s all credit to him and to these guys. Got to be focused and be disciplined.
Q: What do you have to be most prepared for against that offense?
A: Prepared that they do a lot of things, but you got to be prepared that the quarterback is going to run. You got to know that at any moment they can have a designed play for him to run or he can run on his own. Collin Klein poses a lot of threats and you have to be prepared for him.
Q: Do you think with what you have done this year, even with a loss to Stanford, your defense has more than proven their value?
A: The defense, we’ve proven we can play with the big guys. You know we’re not just an offensive team. We can do good things on defense, as well.
Q: Never get 100% healthy even with a month off. Does that 35 days give you a chance to get your legs back?
A: Yeah, with our treatment staff here, it’s amazing. With this much time, we can really get as close to 100% as we can. These days off just really help us a lot.