Transcript from South Carolina junior defensive tackle Travian Robertson's time Monday on the SEC Championship teleconference
Talk about the Gamecocks making the title game and the upcoming matchup with Auburn on Saturday in Atlanta.
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: It was always a goal for us to get there. Ever since we started summer workouts, that's what we worked for. And we're finally here and have a great opportunity to do something big.
Q. I wanted to talk to you about being part of the recruiting class of 2007. A lot of you guys said then, you're signing with USC because you wanted to do something that's never been done before. And now you have that opportunity. Could you speak about how you guys have grown in the last four years?
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: I mean, it's been a long process for us. We lost a few players in that class, but we always stood together and tried to figure out what can we do to change the program. And this year was the year. And we got together as captains and we talked about how we just want to make a difference. And we just, like, got great leaders and great, had great competitionduring all summer. We just stuck together and now we're in the situation we're in now.
Q. Going back to that first meeting, I don't know what you all knew about Cam Newton going into that game from film. Did you kind of see going into that game or did it take actually playing him to see how good and how successful he could be?
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: I mean, the type of offense they run, we actually saw it. But we never had a guy that big and that fast that ran that offense until we got to that game. But the type of offense that he runs, we saw it before, but we never saw a kid like Cam Newton run and run the offense. So it was just a matter of stopping him itself. It wasn't a surprise as far as what they run.It was just him, himself, he's a great player.
Q. Have you kind of paid attention to him as he has gone along before you all knew you were playing them?
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: For a while, they went undefeated for a while, we watched a few games. We paid attention to him. But after we knew we were going to play them is wheneverybody, I think pretty much the whole team, started watching our competition. And it's something that we do when you know you're playing in a big game, everyone's watching the competition. So, yeah, we paid attention to him and the games they played already.
Q. I guess you guys had one of your worst days of the year against Arkansas, and I think came back just a week later and had probably your best game of the season. Could you just talk about what the feeling was after the Arkansas game and how you guys came back from it that way?
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: It was an embarrassing feeling. We all know we didn't play well against Arkansas. But we knew that we had to play well against Florida. So we just talked about bouncingback. We came together and we had a good preparation that week, and it was a bad feeling. But we couldn't stop there. It was a loss we took, and we just had to keep going. So we knew that we were going to play for a championship game at Florida. So we just let Arkansas -- we put that behind us, and we just rallied together that week and came together and got the win against Florida.
Q. You mentioned having to adjust to seeing a guy like Cam Newton running that offense, is there some benefit to now having seen it to knowing what to expect, or do you think that will help at all?
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: I think it will help. We see him -- we got film and we've seen him play. So we already know what to expect out of this offense. We just have to take care of our part as faras stopping him and doing the best we can to get him down every chance we can, and just making up the mistakes we had the first game. But we already know this team and this offense, so just gotta play our part and just try not to make too many mistakes.
Q. How far do you think this defense has come through the season? It's been kind of an up-and-down year. As it was said, you followed some bad games with some great games and gone backwards at times. Overall, what's it been like you for you guys?
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: It's been a roller coaster ride; we've been going up and down. But we always tell each other, we just can't stop. If we want to go out and get the championship, we'vegot to keep building and learn from our mistakes. So I think the best thing we do is we learn from our mistakes. And we just try to go out and create everything we did wrong from game to game.But I think we are climbing now. Everything's going good right now for us. So now we've just got to keep everything going on the path we are right now for the team to play well.
Q. What do you make of their offensive line? People sometimes call them finessed, because they pull a lot, they trap. They're moving around and moving parts. What do you make of their offensive line?
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: I think they're very athletic, being able to run, help block for Cam, that's a great offensive line. They're strong and powerful with the run block. And they pull them around a lot. They're very athletic. It takes a lot to keep up the block for Cam. So they're a great offensive line and one of the best we went against this year.
Q. How do you take care of some of the -- they'll double team. Can you play head up on them 5-on-5 and take away some of those double teams they like to do and just get into the A gap?
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: We just have to try to outpower. They double team -- we just have to fit our gaps and play, play ball. Whatever the coach asks us to do as far as scheme-wise we just have to do it, and hopefully there to help stop whatever they got going on. But we've got to trust our coaches and their schemes. But they're a very powerful team as far as running block. We need to fit up and stay in the gap and try not to get outleveraged.
Q. Just to follow up on some of those previous questions regarding how this defense has taken poor performances and bounced back. This would be the first time you get a second look at the same team. Have you already started thinking and have the coaches already started talking about some specific things that you maybe didn't do the first time you played Auburn that they want you to do this time?
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: No. We haven't talked about it. But I'm pretty sure it's going to be tackling and no missed assignments. We missed a lot of assignments when we played them the first time. We missed a lot of tackles. The main thing the players know obviously we need to work on is don't miss tackles and don't bust assignments. We already know that, but I'm sure that coach is goingto repeat that and just make sure we get that through our head going into the game.
Q. I guess it goes without saying that short tackling is essential when you're playing a guy like Newton, because seems like guys get a hand on him, a lot of times, because of the sheer strength, he's able to shuck some of those?
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: Right. He's a great guy. Great quarterback. He's got the size and the speed. So any opportunity we get we have to get him down. If we don't, he's going to tryto make the best of it. So our best thing is just to tackle him the best way we can and rally tackle him as a team and try to get him down. We know if we don't, he's going to put on a show. So we have to do it just the best we can to get him down any chance we get.
Q. Is there one play from the previous meeting with Auburn that Newton did that has stuck in your mind, either something saying: Boy, if I had a chance to do it over again, I'd do this? Or just something that really impressed you about his ability?
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: Everything. Just watching him, his attitude on the field. And from the first game, you know, going back and watching film, I probably should have did a lot of things different just to get him down. But he carries the team well. And I think everybody on the team works with him. He's just a great leader. So he's a great leader. And just everybody -- watching games he's already played in that we see on TV, he's just a great guy. But anything I can say is just when they get down, he keeps them going, he tries to keep them up. You can actually see that. That's what I see from watching the other games.
Q. Obviously Newton gets a lot of attention. But I think the first time you guys played Michael Dyer had 100 yards rushing. And McCalebb had some yards, too. Talk about those two guys, stopping Dyer and McCalebb while keeping an eye on Newton?
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: We just basically have to tackle him. With 100 yards rushing, it comes down to tackling and -- obviously we had a lot of missed tackles that game. So the stop we just have to tackle and play our assignments, play football. Any opportunity we get we have to take the chance and get him down every chance we get.
Q. When you guys played Auburn the first time and faced Newton, was it just his running ability or his ability to hide the fake hand-off so well that gave you guys the most problems?
TRAVIAN ROBERTSON: He basically beat us in the running pass. With that type of offense, when you shut down the run, he would throw it and give you a run threat and throw it. And it's a difficult offense to try to stop. But just have to pay more attention and study film. You just can't go out there that day and try to play the offense. You've got to study that film, because it's very difficult with the threats of him running and passing the ball.