First of all, coaches have talked a lot about Doug Rippy taking a big step forward in spring ball. What have you seen from Doug?
Jon Major "Huge difference on and off the field. I'm very impressed with how he is coming along. He's really proving himself as a great Mike linebacker. He's kind of had a long journey going from the line and different positions and finally settling in and finding confidence. I think it has really showed."
Where do things stand for you guys as a defense at the end of spring ball considering so many guys were out with injuries?
JM: "I think (the spring game) was a huge improvement, especially from past scrimmages. I think we were able to stop the run really well on first-team defense and that led to them throwing a lot and that's where they had most of their success. We're just continuing to get more comfortable and playing fast and being able to make plays.
During an interview with defensive coordinator Greg Brown earlier this spring he called you a cornerstone of the defense. What does that mean to you?
JM: "I don't know. I guess that is kind of an honor. It's really what the other guys think though. I've got to have the respect of all of them. Once there is respect from everyone, it really allows the defense to play to the best of their abilities. It's just knowing every position, knowing where everyone needs to go and kind of being that glue for everyone.
Coach Embree downplayed the injury situation all spring, but how significant is it that so many guys on the defensive side of the ball were hurt and weren't able to get everything out of spring ball that you would have liked to get?
JM: "Well, sure, but it kind of shows to how good we can be. We were missing Chidera (Uzo-Diribe) most of the spring and (Derrick) Webb and Liloa (Nobriga) are out. I just think it shows how successful we can be this coming fall.
In light of guys being out, where did you see the most improvement defensively this spring?
JM: "I think that allowed those guys who were considered backups and still developing guys to really get a lot more reps, a lot more experience and allowing them to develop, which is only going to help us get a little more depth. It's going to make everyone better for that level of competition.
So much emphasis was put on replacing the two cornerbacks. Did you see the secondary really develop over the last couple weeks?
JM: "They really have the toughest job and they're really going to have to be the hardest working group on defense to replace those two great corners that we had. But I think they're all coming along and we've got the whole summer to work. Hopefully two guys emerge and really solidify themselves at the top.
What is different about this defensive scheme?
JM: "It's just old Brownie. He's been here. He's aggressive. We've got to stop the run so we can have some fun and really get after the offense."
You know all the linebacker positions and played Will linebacker last year but you were listed as the starter at SAM linebacker at the end of spring. Is that where you expect to be?
JM: "I think right now it's still Will linebacker. I'm very comfortable on the inside. Will and Mike are very similar and I'm also comfortable at SAM. It's just a little bit of a transition I guess.
So you guys are running a true 4-3? There is no more LIZ linebacker. Do you like that?
JM: "I do. I think it's going to allow us to stop the run having a big end in there. We have a lot of athletic ends. So it's still going to allow us to be versatile and have them dropping into pass coverage or whatever?
So going forward, where are you going to be?
JM: "We'll see. It kind of changes every day and I'm fine with that. It helps everyone. Coach (Brian) Cabral said it would be good for everyone to know every position. If you want to play, you better learn all three. So that's really how it is right now.