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January 5, 2011

Casey Matthews


Q. Are you enjoying Arizona?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I am. The weather hasn't been exactly as hot as I thought it would be. Leaving Eugene, Oregon, it was 24 degrees. Any weather is nicer than what we had up there when we left, so I can't complain.

Q. Casey, I know you have seen a lot of Cam Newton on film. He came in here a few minutes ago. He was bigger than I thought he was. What are your thoughts on him, tackling with him, dealing with him?
CASEY MATTHEWS: He will be very tough to tackle. He's not your ordinary quarterback. I mean, he's huge, 6' 6", 250. He's got a pretty powerful stiff arm. As long as you wrap him up -- that's one thing we are going to need to work on, our fundamentals, some of the stuff like that.
We know he is a very tough runner, and he is not like most quarterbacks. He will lower his shoulder and try to get those extra yards. We got to wrap him up as a team, can't let him slip and get those extra yards.

Q. Are you to sort of follow him everywhere he goes? Will that be your assignment?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Depends on what the defensive call is. That is the plan. We are going to have -- I mean, not actually a spy but we are going to bring some pressure.

Q. You can't stop him completely. If you want to take away one thing, what would it be?
CASEY MATTHEWS: His running ability because that's where he makes a lot of his plays on third and long. If no one is open, he is going to take off and run.
We had problems with that last year in the Rose Bowl. That's one thing we knew we had to work on going into this game.

Q. How do you think your defense is perceived from outsiders?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Well, I mean, it's hard for them to really look at us. If you watch our team, it is hard not to be a fan of our offense. But, I mean, we go out each and every game just proving that we do have a defense as well.
And hopefully, I mean, when people watch us, we are a fast, hard-hitting group. So that's the message we try to send to people.

Q. Why do you say that, We do have a defense, too? Why?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Well, because people -- if you watch our offense and all the stats they put up and points per minute and the fun stats that they throw out there, it is hard not to be a fan of our offense.

Q. What are you proud of about this defense? What does it do?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Just fighting through adversity really. A lot of people don't give us a chance. We are going to expose and stuff like that. But we've held true, and we've shown people that we can play defense.

Q. How much is stepping up on the big stage here?
CASEY MATTHEWS: It feels pretty good actually. Just being -- I mean, around this, all the media and all the -- how big this game is, it's fun to be a part of. We're trying to make history here. So I'm thinking when the game is a little closer, the nerves will start going and you can definitely tell the excitement of game day.

Q. Are you guys getting anxious to just play the game?
CASEY MATTHEWS: We are getting pretty anxious. Obviously, this game is the last college game there is. But, I mean, it seems like it has been forever since we played a game. We are ready for this game to come. I mean, it seems like it is so close. But there are still five days until we play.

Q. Do you worry about staying sharp as a defense?
CASEY MATTHEWS: No, that's what the practice is for. We are very confident in how we are practicing, just the momentum. We haven't changed all year. I mean, we're very confident in our practice habits right now and just -- and Coach Kelly has done a real good job of keeping things simple, keeping things the same. We are very confident going into this game.

Q. Have you had a chance to be in contact with your family? Have they given you any advice?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I have been in contact but not too much advice. Obviously, my brother gave me the advice to watch the stiff arm from Cam. Simple stuff like that, not necessarily how big the game is but just minor stuff.

Q. Support?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Yeah, support.

Q. How much has that helped you through the years, that family background? Has it put some pressure on you in some ways?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I don't necessarily see it as pressure but more as an opportunity. Talking with them, just getting their input, it has definitely helped out a lot. Just knowing what they see and just getting their advice, it definitely has helped me.
As I talked to Clay, he hasn't actually given me advice. He gives me goals he wants me to get, get a sack or a turnover, stuff like that. I try to do it.
But sometimes he gives me some --

Q. Do any of them have a national championship ring from their days, back in the day?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Actually, three people in my family have one. So my dad got one and both my brothers. So I'm trying to carry on the tradition.

Q. Have you seen Cam Newton in person?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I played with him in an all-star game in high school. He was pretty big then, so I can assume he has gotten probably bigger since then.
But he was a big guy. I mean, he was definitely 6 feet coming out of his senior year of high school. Definitely kind of frightening when you see him. But we have gotten bigger.

Q. At the same time, are you looking forward to getting a shot at stopping Cam Newton, being the guy that shuts him down maybe?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Definitely would be a nice title. Obviously, it is going to be tough to shut him down completely. I mean, not too many teams have. He is the Heisman winner, just getting a shot to slow him down.
They are a great team without him, but he's definitely what makes their offense run. So we're looking forward to the challenge.

Q. How tough is it to try to tackle a guy that is that large?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Just got to wrap him up. You just can't let go. The thing he does better than most people is when he falls forward, he gets -- I mean, he can get three extra yards with just falling on how tall he is. You just got to wrap him up and gain tackle. That's really what it is going to come down.

Q. Does the size on their offensive line concern you?
CASEY MATTHEWS: No. I mean, we've seen O lines bigger than our D line each game. People questioned us when we go up against Stanford and how physical they were going to be.
We show we can hang with them. You watch this O line, they are big and physical as well.
Again, just looking forward to the challenge. We know -- we've had success against these type of O lines, so we are just looking to carry it on.

Q. As the offense calls you from field, what do you see that gives you trouble?
CASEY MATTHEWS: If they had success running the ball, it can set up a play-action pass. If you watch Alabama, they set up perfectly on the first touchdown but just all the misdirection they have, that's one thing their offense has that most don't, is the O line formations you are not used to and just send people every which way. People start following the wrong people, and that's what leads to holes.

Q. So you stay in your lane, stay disciplined?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Stay disciplined and Coach will find keys for you to look at. As long as you stick to those, you will be fine.

Q. How do you deal with not getting too focused on Cam, McCalebb and Dyer, those guys getting out on you?
CASEY MATTHEWS: They all face a big challenge, they got -- I mean, the whole offense faces a challenge. You got some great running backs. If you shut them down, the quarterback can take off on you, too.
It is definitely going to be a challenge to shut them down completely, but we are looking forward to it. Their receivers, they are some of the bigger receivers we have seen all year. They go up and get the ball. That's something different between them and other receivers.
But, again, we are looking forward to the challenge.

Q. Clay sort of blossomed late in his college year and really took off in the NFL. Do you sort of see yourself in that mold a little bit and moving on into the NFL?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I hope so. I mean, just watching how he trains and just his work ethic, his mental discipline as well. I mean, if I can come close to being half of what he does, I think, we could be successful.
Just his mind-set, he always feels like he is an underdog. Even after the season he is having now, he still feels like people are out to get him. Just look forward to training with him this off-season.

Q. Everybody talks about Oregon's tempo. What problems does Auburn's tempo create for you guys?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Well, they are a fast-paced offense. If you watch it on film, a bunch of their plays, the defense, they are not even ready. They are still looking for the call. Good part about going against a fast-paced offense is we see it and in practice we do it every day, no-huddle drill. It gets pretty tiring. But the conditioning from it, I think that should help out in the game.

Q. Given your family's history with USC and you didn't wind up there, can you reflect back on the recruiting process and how things worked out for you at Oregon?
CASEY MATTHEWS: If you look at it now, I definitely chose the right school. Back then if SC would have offered me, I would have gone. That's just how it was in my family. I can't complain how things have turned out.
They are going through their issues right now. We're playing for the BCS title. So, I mean, I can't ask for a better ending to this.

Q. Oregon's second-half defense, what do you guys do to do so well after halftime?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I think it is really where the conditioning takes over. Where most teams, they are kind of -- they kind of run out of breath, we're still going strong. And I think that's where the tempo of practice really comes in.
Just the fast-paced, when Coach Kelly took over, he put in this up-tempo practice. And I think that's -- I mean, we took out the conditioning aspect, but, I mean, just the pace he goes at, I think that's what leads to our success.

Q. As disruptive as you were knocking catches out of the game and helping set up the tip passes, do you feel like in terms of your blitzing that was as disruptive as you have been or is that fairly typical for you this season in terms of the amount of times they brought you and how effective you were at getting toward the quarterback?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I feel like I got to the quarterback easier against Oregon State. There are some states I have gotten clean. It depends on how the quarterback is and how quick his release is and stuff like that. I feel in the last game it was a little -- I don't know if it was missed assignments or finding the hole, but I think I came.

Q. Different kind of quarterback obviously this game versus that one. Can you talk about your scheme and how it matches up that way, in terms of the pressure you guys want to bring and how you match up against Cam?
CASEY MATTHEWS: We are definitely going to bring pressure. I think just having him on the run, you only bring -- if you bring three rushers or four rushers, he can sit back and pick you off. If no one is open, he can take off.
So I think with the pressure and making him flush out of the pocket, hopefully he makes a bad decision. That's really -- just staying in our rushing lanes as well. If you watch Stanford versus Virginia Tech, they did a great job of that. Just really forcing him to make bad decisions.

Q. Everybody talks about their offense. Nobody has really talked about your defense. Do you guys feel a little disrespected?
CASEY MATTHEWS: No. It has been like that ever since I have been at Oregon. It is just the role you accept. You go out each week and show to the nation that we do have a defense.

Q. Your defensive coordinator just said that you have worked your way to being a five-star player who has a chance to play at the next level. How do you feel when he says stuff like that?
CASEY MATTHEWS: It definitely -- it definitely is nice to hear something like that come out of his mouth. He is not too big on compliments. It is definitely nice hearing that.

Q. In your keys to development as a pass rusher, how much of it is physical and how much of it is mental picking things up?
CASEY MATTHEWS: We work on pass-rush in practice. It is really just the simple things, fundamentals, where you place your hands and how they hit them off.
But, I mean, it seems like in my family people were pass rushers. I guess a little bit genetic as well.
Again, it is a lot of fundamentals.

Q. When you were recruited in your first season, things weren't going so great at Oregon. Did you see this ever coming? How do you feel now looking back on it?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I saw it coming. I just didn't think it would come this fast. Sophomore year we were No. 2 in the country but injuries derailed us.
Being in this position, I knew it was possible. It was just a matter of us executing each Saturday. We knew what type of team we had coming into -- going into this season. And, obviously, we were coming off the incidents that happened in this off-season.
We still knew we had the right people on this team that could lead us. Again, it was just a matter of executing. We have done it this year. We are looking forward to carrying it into this game.

Q. When you watch film on Cam, when people come after him, so many times obviously they don't get him on the ground because he is so big. Is it just a matter -- Have you watched film? Is it a matter he is just so big, or what's going to be important for you guys when you come out there like that?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Obviously, his size does create an issue. I mean, if you watch it on film, he just -- he feels -- he has a good feeling of where people are even when they are behind him.
You have a feeling someone is right behind him, he will sidestep and they will miss. He breaks a lot of tackles and gets loose. That's something quarterbacks aren't usually capable of doing.
Just staying in rush lanes and get bodies on him and make sure you wrap him up. If he falls forward, he can still gain some yards.

Q. Is there a danger -- As good as he is, they have got a lot of guys around him that made big plays. Is there a danger that you guys are too focused on him and not letting the guys around him beat you with big plays?
CASEY MATTHEWS: If you look at their offense, they do have a lot of playmakers, their receivers and all three of their running backs. They got a bit physical O line. They have a well-balanced offense. But I think Cam is what makes their offense run and be as successful as they are.
We still -- I mean, we key in on other guys. It is just the matter of the front seven doing their job.

Q. (Question about family winning a championship.)
CASEY MATTHEWS: In a way it does. That's not necessarily why we're playing this game. It is not for my family. It is a side bonus of having a chance to talk about being in the championship game and hopefully winning it.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
CASEY MATTHEWS: My mom told me I had to be slightly insane with my play. That is one thing I haven't heard her say ever, but she did tell me that. It was just, you know -- just simple stuff. My dad and my brother will usually tell me stuff when it comes closer to the game. My mom dropped that advice on me and caught me off guard.

Q. Right now your mom is giving you advice?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Yeah, I gave her all the credit. I always tell her she is the best athlete in the family. There was a time in Georgia when she played one-on-one basketball with my brother. She ended up -- she sprained her ankle, but that's just something that stuck in my head, just how great an athlete she is.
She knows what's going on and just -- any type of advice I can get, I will listen to it.

Q. People who follow Clay at USC were pretty much marveled at where he got to considering where he started. Did you look at that as motivation or an example for yourself?
CASEY MATTHEWS: It is definitely motivation, just seeing what he went through and just his work ethic and everything like that. Where he came from as a walk-on, a small walk-on to his success now, it is just -- it is directly related to his work ethic and his mind-set really. He just feels like everyone is against him.
I mean, he has some of the best mental discipline I have ever seen. He won't eat any bad food, even during the holidays or anything like that.
I look forward to hopefully trying to be a player like he is and just -- I get the opportunity to train with him this off-season, so I will see how that works out.

Q. Did you want to go to USC?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I did. Obviously, when I was getting recruited, everyone in my family went to SC. So that was definitely something I thought was going to happen. All these other schools started recruiting, and then they ended up getting Chris Galippo, and they were done for linebackers.
Where they are right now and where we are, I can't complain how things have turned out.

Q. Did you have an opportunity to be recruited there?
CASEY MATTHEWS: They were recruiting me, but they didn't offer a scholarship.

Q. You didn't feel like walking on there?
CASEY MATTHEWS: No. Clay didn't have offers coming out of high school, so he chose to walk on. But just being recruited in these offers and just being able to go out and see other colleges, I did learn that there is more than just one college.

Q. Did you have some lessons that you learned playing against Pryor last year as far as a big, fast quarterback?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Don't underestimate them. Pryor last year, we always questioned his throwing and then he came out and threw the game of his life.
Even on third downs, he took off and ran. I'm sure -- We've learned from it. The game plans are pretty simple. I mean, obviously we have some new defense in this year. But we're still using a couple things from last year. You just got to get off the field on third downs. That was the biggest thing from last year.

Q. A player like Cliff Harris makes so many big plays, but he has had some moments where he had some brain cramps. How do you guys as veteran leaders of the defense keep him focused? Aliotti talks about exuberance and nonconformity at times. How do you keep him in line in terms of players?
CASEY MATTHEWS: For all the big plays he makes, he will sometimes slip a little bit. But, I mean, we know as long as -- again, it comes back to the mental discipline, just taking your assignment. Sometimes you will try to make the big play on a double route or stop and go and he will jump it and then he will be wide open.
But you can't go yelling at people, telling them to do this. You just got to keep them calm and remember how he had his success, just stick to your assignments and you should be fine. He's a great corner. Just around the receiver when the ball is thrown, he has got a chance to pick it. That's the big part about him, is his big play ability.

Q. This is an unusual few weeks for you. This is your last game as a college football player but you are done as a college student.
CASEY MATTHEWS: A few of us are done. After practice, we go back -- we started our first week of school on Monday. So they have to do mandatory classes and study hall and stuff like that.
But the rest of us will just get in the film room and watch it. That's what our coach said. We could have it off. But if you are going to be here, you might as well put in the time.

Q. How do you keep the pressure of this game from overwhelming you?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Actually, the coach has done a really good job, limiting the pressure. Certain types of people around you who -- We have been here before, but, again, just keeping all the autographs -- guys who are trying to get autographs away. It is really not too hard.
Last year, I mean, it was tough because it was our first time in a big game. It seemed like we were happy to be there, just the big game experience.
We will be ready this time, and we know what to expect in a BCS game now.

Q. I think I heard Coach Kelly say before one game that pressure is what you feel when you don't know what you are doing.
CASEY MATTHEWS: He recites that before each game, right before we head onto the team bus and go to the stadium, "Pressure is what you feel when you don't know what you are doing. But I don't feel pressure because I know what I'm doing." He will say it twice and we repeat it back.

Q. Watching Stanford's performance in the Orange Bowl, does that give you -- buoy you, give you any confidence? Because it was an impressive performance.
CASEY MATTHEWS: Stanford, they have been playing as good as anyone lately. I mean, obviously people are going to say we beat them by 21. But that's not necessarily -- it doesn't really carry over into other games. It is all about matchups and how teams perform and just their simple fundamentals.
But last year, they lost to SC and Purdue and we beat both of them. We can't really compare scores.
Obviously see ing Stanford be that dominant is definitely exciting to see and for the Pac-10 as well. Hopefully we get a little more respect.

Q. Do you guys feel that the Pac-10, especially defensively, is always looked at as -- I shouldn't say always but often looked as inferior to the SEC and their defense?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I mean, yeah, that's definitely one thing people will always say, SEC is the dominant defense and Pac-10 is all about their offense.
But Stanford's performance, hopefully when we go out, we can show that Pac-10 can play defense as well. That's really what it's all about, is just getting the ball to our offense and just helping them put as many points up on the board as possible.

Q. Can you admit to a little CHIP on the shoulder maybe when you hear that day in and day out in publications and T.V. shows?
CASEY MATTHEWS: It does get a little frustrating. Obviously, you will have a CHIP on your shoulder, just a matter of going out and proving to people that they're wrong.

Q. What's the situation with being done with school, you and Spencer?
CASEY MATTHEWS: In Eugene, that's how we -- we didn't have time before the game. Usually we went home. The past couple years right before we went to the Bowl site, we would just fly from home.
But this year we had to -- we got the Christmas break and then we had to go back up for practices. But right when Christmas break started, we drove all our stuff down and just left --

Q. The two of you?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Yeah. I was living on a futon and Pace was sleeping on his friend's couch.

Q. Where were you?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I was staying at my house, but there was nothing else there except a futon.

Q. Your house in Eugene?

Q. (Question about Aliotti.)
CASEY MATTHEWS: It is a lot of fun. Obviously it is different from the first two years when I was here. He didn't pressure too much, ran a simple face defense.
But now that he's -- we got -- we knew we wanted to bring the pressure that will lead to our success. It is just fun, you get -- when you get the call from the sidelines, knowing you get the opportunity to rush a passer, get a big hit on them, it is definitely exciting to be a part of.

Q. Obviously, with a lot of those things you are going to be able to get to the quarterback. Do you ever feel pressure that you need to get to the quarterback to make his scramble work?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Yeah, there is a lot of times when you take someone out of the pass coverage and bring them under pressure, there will be a hole somewhere. We call it pressure over coverage.
We got to get to the quarterback and get in his face and make him throw a bad pass or tip it or bat it down. We know when we bring pressure, the coverage will be weakened than if you -- say, you didn't bring any pressure and just dropped people.
It is all about getting there. You got to get there quick.

Q. What did you know about the State of Oregon before you were recruited?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I didn't know too much. I actually thought Washington was north of California than Oregon. That's one thing I will admit to. When I took the visit there and saw it on a map, I fell in love with the University and the whole atmosphere there.
I went to the game where they played Oklahoma and they ended up winning. They came back and won.
Just the whole atmosphere on game day, just how their players treat their recruits, it was exciting. I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Q. Did someone at Oregon show you a map?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I think I pulled it up. I think as I got older I learned.

Q. What is Brandon like? Obviously, he is not your average college student because very few of you guys --

Q. Married with a kid. What kind of influence is he on the team? Does he seem like a little bit more of an adult than the rest of you guys?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Yeah, just how he carries himself. Obviously he is a father, so he knows how to carry himself.
Just the thing about him that's different than most people, I don't think he ever gets tired. He always has a motor. He is always excited. He will always have a smile on his face no matter what goes on.

Q. Considering he's got even more responsibilities?
CASEY MATTHEWS: Yeah. I think that's who Chip goes to first when he asks for advice from the players and how we should handle certain things. We look up to him. Obviously the age, just his experience, I mean, he has been here for a while at Oregon.
But we look up to him. He actually -- him and the rest of the D line, they will usually set the tone for practice because they are always running around having fun. You look over and their D line coach, Coach Az, just how fired up he is, it is fun to be around. It is contagious.

Q. And anything that he is 25 and still in college?
CASEY MATTHEWS: We'll joke about it every once in a while but -- he always jokes, Man, I'm Old Bair, but I got five years on you, stuff like that.
We still look up to him, and I think he has been an important part of this team.

Q. Coming to Oregon instead of USC, did you ever imagine that your senior year you would be in the national championship at Oregon, USC wouldn't be in the picture?
CASEY MATTHEWS: It was definitely tough to see at the time. I knew what type of team we had. I mean, I knew -- I knew which direction this program was going in when I first came here. It is just a matter of executing, everyone staying on the same page and the leadership.
Each year it has gotten -- it has gotten better and better, especially this last off-season. I think when this team has gotten closer than it has ever been before and we knew -- we set goals, we knew they were definitely obtainable.
Again, it was just a matter of going out.

Q. So your senior year in high school, you thought -- did you think there was a chance that you would be playing for a national championship at Oregon?
CASEY MATTHEWS: That's definitely everyone's goal. But at the time, SC's dominance, it was tough to see that.

Q. What has this experience been like for you being down here and not having to deal with anything else but football? No festivities, just practice.
CASEY MATTHEWS: It's definitely nice just to get limited distractions.
Again, it's definitely -- football has cranked up since we have been here. We do get a little time off. With the curfew and being at the hotel at10:00, we are pretty locked down.

Q. What do you remember from talking to Micky Ward and have him talk to you guys and have that inspire you guys?
CASEY MATTHEWS: It was actually pretty exciting to see that because Coach Kelly just -- he showed us the fight and then he's like -- he started talking about it and then he stopped. I will let him talk and speak for himself and then he came out and started talking to us. It got us fired up. It was before the UCLA game.
Knowing his story and what he has been through, you know you can listen to him for advice. I think it definitely helped out.
He's taken a couple different things like the Secretariat, he used that as an example for one of our games. And he finds stuff to get us motivated.

Q. Have you watched "The Fighter"?
CASEY MATTHEWS: We're going tomorrow as a team to watch it. Yesterday we went to see the "Secretariat."

Q. So you guys have thrived on taking the ball away. They have not turned it over very much. How much is this game going to come down to that?
CASEY MATTHEWS: It will be a huge factor just winning the turnover battle. Again, they haven't turned it over too many times. But we are looking to change that.
This is definitely one of our keys to winning this game. We just got to get the ball back to our offense to have them -- give them an opportunity to score.

Q. What's it like knowing that Brandon is the only guy on your defense who is bigger than Cam Newton?
CASEY MATTHEWS: You know, you don't really think about it. Again, he is not your prototypical quarterback, 6' 6", 250. He can lower his shoulder. He can play D, pretty sure, if he wanted to.
You just got to stick to your fundamentals. We should be fine, just wrapping him up and not letting him break through tackles.

Q. If you had any choice, would you rather have him run or pass?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I think we rather have him pass. We look at his stats. I think he is the second leading rusher in the nation.
I think he reads his holes well when he runs the ball. He follows his blocker. He has an arm of a quarterback and the running of a running back. He is the best of both worlds.

Q. He is more dangerous as a runner than Pryor, is that what you think?
CASEY MATTHEWS: I think he might be more dangerous. When he gets down to the red zone, he seems to always to find the holes to get into the end zone.
We are definitely looking forward to the challenge and the threat he poses.

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