Marc Timmons: I really feel like it. This team reminds me a lot of the Insight.com Bowl team. We're loaded with seniors, have a lot of underclassmen that have played a lot and a good nucleus of freshmen and redshirt freshmen.
Personally, I want to be an all-league player and need to put it all together. I don't want to leave here having regrets. I want to be one of the best and need to work hard at that.
CN: Speaking of that bowl game, you were one of a select few players that hit the field that night in Phoenix, Arizona. What do you take from that experience and hope to instill in this season's squad?
Timmons: One thing that team had was a lot of leadership. I was feeding off of those guys and that leadership, then tried to make plays where I could. Now I'm in that leadership role and am a senior. I need to be more of a leader and when I see things going down I need to pick them up. I need to step in and do something.
CN: Did playing so well your redshirt freshman season make some things difficult down the road for you?
Timmons: The early success was good. My first year I was wide eyed and came out and had a good year. Then the next year, we weren't as good up front as we were used to. I had to make a lot more tackles than interceptions. Last year I got off track and frustrated. I wouldn't say it was a bad year, but it wasn't what I'm accustomed to. There were plenty of reasons, but I'm ready to put it behind me. I'm just ready to build on that and put it together. I feel like I'm complete.
CN: Where does this defense rank compared to the 2000 one?
Timmons: I'd say we're number one. That whole defensive line went to the NFL, but I think what separates this defense from that one is depth. That team, at some spots, if someone got hurt it could really hurt the team. Here, if one guy gets hurt another guys steps in. There is no dropoff between ones and twos. We're really relentless and fly around out there. We're faster as a whole unit.
CN: It would be an understatement to say the secondary will be a strength of this defense, right?
Timmons: We have so much depth and have at least three guys that aren't starting that have started before at Iowa State. Steve Paris can play and has a lot of talent. Before, after the ones and twos, it was a dropoff. I definitely think this secondary is better.
CN: Talk about the strides you have made in the area of strength and conditioning.
Timmons: It's gone real well. I talked to Coach (Matt) McGettigan in the winter about how I wanted to do this summer. I wanted to go out on a bang, lead this team and be thought of as one of the best ever to play here. I worked hard and kept that goal in mind. Hopefully I'll be able to accomplish that.
CN: So were you one of the guys singled out by Coach Dan McCarney after the Humanitarian Bowl?
Timmons: Yeah, I'm always on somebody's list.
CN: How did you and some of the others respond in the off-season to Mac's postgame challenge?
Timmons: Essentially he called out everyone. In certain aspects some guys needed to get bigger, some guys needed to get stronger and some guys needed to get better overall. They did everything they needed to do to improve as coaches and we did everything we needed to do to improve as players. Coach McGettigan got us ready in the summer.
What that experience did was make us hungry. It provided us that. Anytime you lose six of your last seven games, lose your last game of the season and see those seniors going out like that, it hurts. I don't want to go out like that. I want to go to a better bowl game.
CN: The experience leading up to that bowl game with you being declared ineligible to participate because of a Big 12 academic rule had to be difficult.
Timmons: It was probably one of the hardest things that I've had to deal with in my life. I've been a stronger person and better player because of it. It made me hungry as a student and athlete. I knew I had to work two times as hard as the other person. A lot of negative connotations come along with that and I wanted to disprove a lot of that.
CN: How are you a better player than one year ago at this time?
Timmons: I'm a lot smarter and have a better knowledge of the game. A lot of things come naturally for me from playing so many years and seeing different offensive sets. I know what type of plays they're going to play out of certain sets. I'm bigger and feeling good. I have a lot of confidence right now and have never been hungrier to play this season. I'm really excited about this season and what we can do as a team and I can do invidually.