Coach Giff Smith Lays It On the D-Line

Coming into the 2009 season Coach Giff Smith has some big shoes to fill on the defensive line. Smith talks about the new starters, who will be backing them up, the possible rotation, and talks about the progress made by the incoming freshmen.

What are your impressions of the freshman linemen now that you've had a chance to see them?

"I'm pleased with all of them. I don't think we missed on any of them. The only true freshman that is going to play is Izaan Cross. I think Emmanuel Dieke had a good camp. I'm not going to waste a year for a few snaps. I think his upside is tremendous along with Euclid and with Chris Crenshaw. I think both of them have a chance to be fine players. JC went down with an injury and had surgery on his shoulder. He'll be back for spring ball. I was encouraged by what I saw. I think our young D linemen are what we thought we were getting in recruiting. I look forward to the future."

What kind of rotation do you plan on using?

"The four that we have starting and then Anthony with the way he's played and Logan and T.J. have put themselves in a position to play. They're seven that I'm comfortable putting in any situation. I plan on getting Izaan out there in certain situations. We're going to dress ten and play ten throughout the season."

How has Jason adapted to the move inside?

"Jason's fine. He's fine with it. He's the ultimate team player. He's done a really good job in there. He's exceeded my expectations with the move inside so I'm very comfortable with him."

Is Barnes about where you want him to be weight-wise now?

"He's under 340 and he's really worked hard. I'm hoping that he's going to continue to progress as the season goes on. He's put himself in a position to play a lot of snaps. It will be fun to see him compete out there."

It's been said that he's progressed well over the past few weeks of camp?

"He has. Sometimes we all forget that he's just a redshirt freshman. He hasn't played any college games yet. His work ethic and his desire to get out on the field has been what we were looking for and we'll see where it goes from there."

Will it be tough to fill the shoes of the three starters from last year?

"That's a legitimate question. Those are big shoes to fill not as much in ability but in terms of experience we had with those other guys. We've talked long and hard about that since last season about playing within ourselves and knowing our roles and handling our assignments. I think they're very comfortable in who they are. I think if they maintain that and not try to be somebody else I think we'll be fine."

Have you seen M.J. on "Hard Knocks"?

"No, I've talked to Michael, Darryl and Vance pretty often. Obviously, we're extremely proud of them. I think they're missing the D line meal at Mary Macs more than they are playing here. It will be fun to watch them play. I know our players still talk to them. It's a great experience, and that's what we want this school to be known as for taking players to the next level on the defensive line."


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