Akeem Ayers: "Speed is Key"

The redshirt freshman linebacker, Akeem Ayers, is getting a great deal of playing time as the nickel linebacker this season, and he talked to us about it, about getting used to the speed of the game, facing spread offenses and particularly Oregon's offense...

Comments by Akeem Ayers at practice.

How's practice been this week?

"
It's going great, just getting everything down pat. Everyone is getting their assignments down and trying to be perfect."

Going on the road again, do you feel like you have something to prove?

"
We always feel we have something to prove. We've always been underestimated. We're just ready to play our best football and our best defense that we can."

Have you learned a lot quickly because of your playing time?

"
Yeah, I've learned a lot, how to get in game speed. It's a lot different than practice. It's more up-tempo. It's a totally different game."

Are there things you can only really learn from game experience?

"
Tempo. That's about it. Everything else is the same, but from practice to the game, tempo is a lot faster. "

Is it hard for a linebacker to play against a spread offense like Oregon's?

"
Not really. It's football. You just go out there and play football, do what you do. There's not really anything different."

Will your speed help you against the Ducks offense?

"
Speed is key. It's all spread so we have to run to the ball, and there are a lot of open-field tackles. Speed is going to help a lot."

Have you been timed in the 40?

"
Not since I got to UCLA."

But you're definitely confident in your speed?

"
Oh yeah, I'm confident in my speed and open-field tackles. You have to be confident against a team like Oregon."

Has it been hard to adjust to a busier schedule since classes started?

"
It's all about time management. You have to make time for everything, class and tutoring and office hours and all that. You have to find the extra time."

Is there anything that you've noticed Oregon does really well?

"They run the ball pretty well, and they pass well. They've got some pretty good numbers for that offense." 

Are you excited to play in Autzen Stadium?
\
"Yeah, it'll be my first time in Oregon. They recruited me, but I didn't visit. I heard a lot about the stadium and the fans and the atmosphere up there. I'm excited to see it."



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