"I had a pretty good game, but now it's Colorado this week," Smith said after Wednesday night's practice. "Sunday is when everyone was giving me a hard time about the pick, but I'm over it now. Next it's on to Colorado."
Despite his determination to stay focused on this week's opponents Smith, an Arizona native, was especially proud knowing that his friends and family were in the stands watching. "It was really cool," Smith said. "My family goes to all the games and as a defensive tackle you don't expect for the first game to get a pick."
There were a lot of questions concerning the defensive line during the preseason. There have been multiple injuries and the line is not as deep as they were last year, but with such an impressive performance as last Saturday's the defense can start to answer back to some of those lingering questions. "I think we are better than last year because of coaching, technique and just getting after people," said Smith.
Grady Stretz returned as the defensive line coach for the second year naturally giving the players more consistency. "That's been huge," noted Smith. "I have had two different defensive line coaches since I have been here and each coach has his own personality and technique. Just to keep this for more than one year has really helped us be able to progress on what he's taught us."
Smith continued to build his skills as a player last year while he patiently waited for his opportunity to be a starter. "I had to wait my turn," Smith said. "As a sophomore I had a chance to start, but I had a senior ahead of me. I just had to take it one day at a time out here at practice and continue to get better so that I could keep my position."
As a junior among other less experienced players Smith has found himself stepping up into a leadership position. A key element in being a successful leader is making plays and being reliable. "(Michael) Marquardt and I have the two's, but he and I are going to get a lot of snaps this year. I got a lot of snaps last year, and he started last year so we're a big key to the defensive line."
According to Smith the film on Colorado shows them to be bigger and faster than San Jose. "The difference with them is that they are going to come at us more so we're going to have to be more aggressive," Smith added. "They have a much better line than San Jose."
Smith has worked to correct his mistakes from last week and is confident about the upcoming game. "I just have to take one game at a time," Smith said. "I have to make plays and make sure my technique is good. I'm definitely confident going into the game."
Smith Not Resting on His Laurels
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