Chizik, Tigers Excited to Be in Arizona

The Tigers touched down in Arizona on Monday night exactly one week before they hope to score a lot of touchdowns in college football national championship.

Phoenix--The Auburn football team arrived in Arizona on Monday evening and will hit the practice field on Tuesday at Scottsdale Community College to continue preparations for their BCS National Championship Football Game vs. Oregon.

The Ducks, who arrived a day earlier than Auburn, began their Arizona practice schedule on Monday with Chip Kelly saying that all his players were present and accounted for, something Chizik said in Auburn on Monday before his team departed for the Atlanta airport and something he repeated at a press conference at Sky Harbor Airport on Monday night in Phoenix.

"We just want to say how fortunate, how blessed, and how excited we are starting with our administration Dr. Jay Gogue, our athletics director, Jay Jacobs, myself, our football team, and our fans, we could not be more excited to be here and to be playing in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game," Chizik said.

"I want to say a special thanks to the Fiesta Bowl Committee," Chizik said. "I know president and CEO Jon Junker and all the guys that I can't name all the names, but there are so many countless people out there that are behind the scenes doing a lot of work and we know that and we really appreciate that. We have been looking forward to this now for a lot of days so we are really blessed to be here.

Cameron Newton poses with fans on Monday in Auburn before leaving for Arizona.

"It was a great trip and we brought close to 400 people with us on that huge plane you just saw out there," Chizik said. "Again, we are excited to play in this game and we are extremely excited to get going in Arizona and get to practice tomorrow. 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."

Asked about the mood of his team, Chizik said, "Well excitement, They've got a lot of energy. They are very excited. You know sometimes you try to read too much into the mood of what they look like, what their feeling and, you know, you can go into a game with a great week of practice and they did everything right and their mood is one thing and you get a different result and vice versa you know.

"Sometimes I am not sure if you are ready to go to a game and they play like gangbusters so I don't know how overrated or underrated that might be to be honest with you, but I do know that our team is extremely excited and I do know that they have prepared and have worked extremely well in practice everyday that we have practiced. In that regard, no difference, no change in the previous 13 weeks."

Cameron Newton jogs to his bus as the Tigers leave from the football complex in Auburn headed to the Atlanta airport.

Asked about his team's focus, Auburn's coach said, "I don't think there is any question that it has been a great two and a half three weeks of practice with our guys being focused and locked in on what this is. You know this is a business trip. This is a once and a lifetime opportunity, possibility, for so many people and you never know if you will be here again. Hopefully, often, but you never know. And I think our guys understand the importance of the game and huge this is so the coaches have been very pleased with just with the last three weeks of practice and I am very proud of our team.

Linebacker Josh Bynes boards a bus in Auburn on Monday.

"I think even today, coming here makes it a little more realistic cause they know it is getting closer and it has been a lot of fun, but the focus has been there, but we have to lock back in and get ready to go back to work."

With the game being played on Jan 10th the Tigers have 37 days between games. Asked how difficult it has been to keep his team focused because of that, Chizik said, "I think that is one of the reasons we are playing in this game. I think one of the great things that our coaches have done and that our players have been able to do is no matter what the circumstances are take one day at a time and focus on the task at hand is and I do have to give our coaches a ton of credit and our players a ton of credit for being able to block out time, distance, you know, whatever the case may be in terms of how faraway the game is or what is going on on the outside and really do a great job of focusing.

"We have taken really one day at a time as a football team really preparing to be better and really doing what we have been doing all year," he said. "You know, we took one day at a time, one play at a time, to become a better football team, and I think we have done that since we played in the (SEC) Championship game this early December."

Senior defensive tackle Zach Clayton prepares to hop on a bus as the Tigers head to the Atlanta airport to board a 747 charter flight to Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix.


Auburn running backs coach Curtis Luper talks with Jackie Newton, the mother of Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.


Safeties coach Tommy Thigpen is shown heading for a bus as the Tigers make their trip to the site of the BCS Championship Game.


The Tigers were escorted out of town by city police motorcycles as well as state troopers.

The Tigers are shown exiting their 747 at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix on Monday evening.



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