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Oregon QB Hawkins’ role is to portray Cam Newton
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. (AP) - Daryle Hawkins doesn't look a thing like Cam Newton.
Oregon's redshirt freshman quarterback from Omaha, Neb., is about 6-foot-4 and 192 pounds. Or about two inches shorter and 60 pounds lighter than Auburn's quarterback.
But Hawkins is doing his best to impersonate the Heisman Trophy winner on the practice field as the second-ranked Ducks prepare for the BCS national title game Monday against No. 1 Auburn.
That includes dressing like Newton. Hawkins said he's sort of like an actor trying to get into character.
"I wear the half sleeves, the sweat bands and such," he said. "I'm trying to give the defense a real good look to prepare them for what they're about to see."
Some of his teammates have even taken to calling him Cam.
Hawkins is listed as a quarterback but hasn't thrown a pass this season. He doesn't play much but when he does, he could wind up just about anywhere on the field.
He has 18 rushes for 93 yards and a touchdown and has caught four passes for 26 yards and a score.
Being Cam, though, might just be the most important role Hawkins has played this year for Oregon.
"I talk with the scout coaches about what they're trying to simulate, what holes the defense wants to try and fill up," he said. "They pretty much give me the guidelines, I'm supposed to hit this gap, that gap. Really try to focus on this because this is how they are going to try to exploit us. They give me the freedom to read the defense."
Coach Chip Kelly has given Hawkins an "A" for effort.
"You can't simulate Cam Newton in practice, Kelly said. "But nobody can. No one has a scout quarterback that's going simulate who the best player in the country is going to be.
"So Daryle is a competitor and he has taken his job very seriously. And he has done as good a job as he can."
HOLDING THE TROPHY: During media day at the Camelback Inn, the national championship trophy sat on display at the front of the ballroom.
Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes was so focused he didn't even notice.
"No, where is it?" Bynes said when asked if he had seen it. "Can I go touch it? Dang. That's kind of crazy. That's something I see in commercials, not something I thought I'd see in real life, a couple steps away."
And, to think, he could be holding it Monday night if the Tigers win.
"That would be a blessing," he said. "The ultimate goal is to hold that crystal ball and place them lips on it, knowing we won it. That's what's going to matter the most. We're going to be fighting for that crystal ball. Hopefully they've got another in case we break it. These guys, this team, they might drop it."
FIGHTING DUCKS: Count "The Fighter" among Oregon's biggest fans.
Gritty retired boxer "Irish" Micky Ward grew up not far from Ducks coach Chip Kelly _ Ward in Massachusetts and Kelly across the state line in New Hampshire. They've become friends as adults and Ward, whose early life as a boxer is chronicled in the hit movie "The Fighter," spoke to the Ducks before their regular-season victory over UCLA.
On Thursday night, Oregon players watched the film, and Kelly said Ward will be at the BCS title game on Monday night. "He is the toughest person I have ever met in my entire life," Kelly said Friday at media day.
Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas said the Ducks watched one of Ward's fights earlier this season.
"Coach Kelly showed us his fights at the beginning of the year _ his last fight, the one that he battled 12 rounds," Thomas said. "That's one thing coach Kelly did, was talking about each game as a round. You've got to take the season round by round."
ROOF CLOSED: Fans in search of stars at the game should look on the field, not toward the sky. BCS officials say the roof will be closed for the championship game, mainly as a way to enhance spectator comfort.
University of Phoenix Stadium has no heat, and with lows dipping into the upper 30s this week, the Fiesta Bowl decided to go by its usual plan and close the roof. It has never been opened for a bowl game since the Fiesta Bowl moved to the stadium in 2007. The roof has also been closed for almost all of the Arizona Cardinals' games since they moved in, as well as for the Super Bowl in 2008.
Keeping the roof closed will also prevent moisture from building up on the playing surface as the temperature dips.
Game officials planted new grass on the field after the Fiesta Bowl _ Oklahoma's 48-20 win over Connecticut on Jan. 1. They have kept the roof open as much as possible to get as much sunlight on it as they can in the lead-up to the game.
By Tammy Bruce
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