Finishing touches for Tigers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – All-America offensive tackle Lee Ziemba looked around as walked away from the field at Scottsdale Community College on Saturday.

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof/Phillip Marshall photo

“My last practice,” he said. “I remember my first one.”

For Auburn’s football team, ranked No. 1 in America, the on-field preparation is done. The Tigers (13-0) play No. 2 Oregon (12-0) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and defensive coordinator Ted Roof said they were pleased with the preparation. They’ll study more film, have more meetings. But it’s almost time.

“We have our plan in,” Malzahn said. “We feel good about it. I think our guys are confident in the plan, but we haven’t played in 35 days. We were playing really good football then. The anxiety I have is seeing how we perform with the layoff. We’ve practiced, but when you don’t play a game in that period of time, that’s the unknown.”

Roof said the final practice was all Auburn’s coaches could have wanted.

They were really, really sharp today," Roof said. "Communication was excellent and there was great focus as you would expect when you are getting ready to play for a national championship," Roof said. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them. We continue to try to get mentally sharp and get a mental edge. So far, they’ve done everything we’ve asked of them and we’re very, very proud of them.”

More from Malzahn and Roof:

Malzahn on Barrett Trotter

“We gave him a lot of reps before he left and he’s gotten a lot here, too. We feel very confident and very comfortable if he’s called upon. Barrett is a great competitor, very intelligent. He has the ability when a play breaks down to make things happen, but he throws the ball on time probably better than anybody we’ve got.”

Roof on coaching for the national championship

“This is a situation where we have a chance to do something really special. Our focus has been to look under every rock and make sure as a coaching staff we have everything covered we need to cover. We have a responsibility to each other, our players and our fans to make sure we are putting our kids in position to make plays. That’s what we’ve tried to focus on this week.”

Malzahn on his high school roots

“I am a high school coach. There are a lot of great high school coaches out there that are probably a lot smarter than I am. I’m just blessed enough to have the opportunity. I want to do extremely well and, hopefully, give some other high school coaches a chance to go to the college level.”

Roof on the week leading up to the game

“It’s a day that started and hasn’t stopped. You watch tape until midnight and get up at 5 and go do it again. The hospitality has been fantastic. There’s been a great balance between enough functions, not enough functions, too many functions. The bowl people have done a fantastic job. Our kids have had a good time and handled themselves well.”

Malzahn on his relationship with head coach Gene Chizik

“He’s a great person to work for. I’ve learned a lot as a football coach, as a leader. He’s a great leader and I appreciate him giving me the opportunity to work for him.”

Roof on players being loose

“When it’s time to take care of business, they’ve taken care of business. You can be too uptight and put too much pressure on yourself. There is a fine line and a balance we have to get to.”



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