Question: What is it about Coach Joe Whitt that helps the linebackers be so successful in Auburn's defense?
Dede: "You've got to come together as a unit and I think that's what Coach Whitt does so well. Each group he puts on the field, he forces us to play as a unit, as three, kind of tied on a rope. If you ever stop the film and look at it, it almost looks like me, Travis and A.T. or me, Travis and Kevin or any of us, it looks like we're tied on a rope. We see together, talk about it and communicate. It's just a big part of the game."
Question: How important is bowl preparation for a team and is it hard to stay focused on the game with so much down time between the last game of the season and the bowl game itself?
Dede: "Bowl preparation gives you added time, which is big. It also increases the emphasis on special teams because teams have so much more time to prepare and they might add some wrinkles on special teams. They might have a new punt block in or a reverse on a kickoff. It puts an added emphasis on the kicking game.
"Also with offenses, depending on how confidence they are coming into the game, you never know what they're going to give you. If they feel like they need something early they might try a toss pass or might attack you early where you've been weak all year. I think there is more added preparation, but I don't get anxious. When the game is here is here. Until then I'm a laid back guy. When it gets here it gets here."
Dede started all 11 games for the Tigers this season.
Question: Each year several young players emerge during bowl practices and get a start on the next season. Is that something he's anxious to see this time around?
Dede:"With the bowl game being the first of the year it's really the start of next season. It's really an opportunity for coaches to say ‘who's going to fill this position for me and who's going to step up here and who's going to take on this responsibility?' It's a time when they do some experimenting and a time when the young guys get looked at hard.
"The reality of it is this is the last collegiate game we're going to have with the senior class. Not to say we forget about the past, but we want to build towards the future. I think this is a time that is big for all the youngsters. I think it's important for us older guys to teach them how the work, how to practice, how to watch film. Next year they're going to count on me the way I count on Travis (Travis Williams) and A.T. (Antarrious Williams)."
Question: What is the attitude of the team after two tough losses this season cost it a chance to defend the SEC Championship and play in a BCS game for the second year in a row?
Dede: "There's no disappointment to me because even last year we went undefeated and still didn't control our own destiny. This year we lost some games and didn't control our own destiny. Now we've got a chance to go to another good bowl game and get another victory. It's really the start of the next season for us."
Question: With the team having so much success the last two seasons on the field, how is the feeling different now around the program than it was whey you arrived at Auburn?
Dede: "I have been here for a while. The expectation level hasn't grown. It has always been high. It's funny because the program in wins has gone up, but the foundation was built when (Tommy) Tuberville first got here by guys like Reggie Torbor and Travaris Robinson, guys like Bret Eddins and Karlos Dansby, the older guys. They were some of the guys that played on teams that might have went 8-4 or 8-4, seasons that were considered disappointing. Those teams were the ones that built the classes that have gone on to have success.
"It's also a credit to Coach Tuberville. He came into this program and to me it's been on the rise. Tradition runs deep here, but since he's gotten here he's worked each year (to improve). We had a special teams meeting and Coach Gran said we've improved on every single statistical category this year except for one. He was like ‘Now we've got to keep working to improve on that.' I was like ‘wow.' That really says a lot because even though you've gone 13-0 you still have room for improvement. You have to continue to strive to get better. It's really a tribute to coach Tub and the coaching staff."