"I stayed in town, laid low and took it easy," said the 6-4 289 Michael Marquardt about his weekend of forced inactivity. "I enjoyed the rest. Sometimes I wish I didn't watch football in the bye week, because all it does is make you wish you were playing now. I only watched one game, the Oregon-Cal game, and sure enough it got me upset (laughs)."
After a year of layoff, the defensive tackle had to get used to the idea that going back to playing competitive football, will have bring the natural growing pains. "I feel that I did have to ease into it," he admitted. "Things didn't click starting the first game, and that would obviously be the ideal situation. I didn't feel that it was really going well for me until the second game of the season. Every week I feel that I have improved, at least until that Oregon drop-off, and I'm confident that I will continue to get better every time I'm out there." Marquardt added that the rotation at his position has helped a lot, because a fresh body means that your technique isn't comprised and ultimately you don't give up plays because of fatigue.
So far this season, Marquardt has nine solo tackles (ten total) and three and half tackles for loss. "I'm pretty happy with what I have done, in terms of being healthy and playing well," he remarked. "Unfortunately, my worst game came against Oregon (in which he registered a pair of solo tackles) and that was bad timing because a lot of the players' worst game took place against Oregon. I'm really focused right now and I did a lot of work watching film and being prepared for USC and making small steps in improvement."
It's been widely noted that the Sun Devils have started their Pac-10 slate facing arguably the three best teams in the conference. With the last of those match-ups coming up this weekend, the junior believes that the most challenging game will take place in Los Angeles on Saturday against USC. "Those guys have a good team," stated Marquardt. "They have sharp running backs; the quarterback is a great thrower. He's not the best scrambler but he gets the job done. Their O-Line, receiving corps, are possibly the best we have seen so far. Overall, they might better than Cal. Being number two in the nation; they'll obviously be a challenge for us. We'll have to bring our ‘A' game in order to compete against them."
Aside from the obvious physical challenge that awaits them, a mental test will come into play as well. Many have questioned how fragile the team's psyche is these days, following two lopsided Pac-10 losses. Marquardt is optimistic that he and his teammates will not have the proverbial hangover following those defeats. "The bye week was a downer for all of us, because we were disappointed coming off those two hard losses," he said. "But I have to say that the morale has picked up tremendously. Between the coaches and the leaders of this team, they have managed to get everybody pumped up and back and ready to play in the Pac-10."
Itching to Get Back on the Field
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