TSD's Ben Love recently caught up with the Breaux Bridge native, who's pushing starter D.J. Welter for time at Mike LB, for a length Q & A.
Ben Love: You guys are entering SEC play. What's the focus of this defense coming off two games where a lot of people got to play and rotated in?
Lamar Louis: Basically right now everybody is getting reps. Everybody has been put in game situations, even in practice. We're just practicing hard, and everybody understands you have to be ready when your name is called right now because we don't really know what the rotation will be, or if there's even going to be a rotation. So we've just got to be ready when our named is called.
BL: What does that make it like in practice for the linebackers with so many guys that can go in and do go in and compete?
LL: Competition is really high, but that's what makes us better. At the end of the day we're all getting better because you can't have two or maybe three bad days in a row. You might get passed up. So with that in the back of your head, that there are guys right there with you who are trying to get your spot or push for playing time, it keeps you on your toes.
BL: At practice do you only work out at the Mike? Or do you work in some at outside linebacker too?
LL: I'm mainly at the Mike, but I pretty much have the Sam position down pat if I have to get thrown in there at any time during the game.
BL: There seems to be a feeling around this building that you're really pushing D.J. [Welter] for the starting Mike linebacker job. What are the areas you think you're catching up in that make you ready to hit the field more often?
LL: Confidence, making my calls, lining up the D-Line and the secondary – that's the biggest thing. We're all athletic, we're all strong, but the biggest thing is having confidence and being able to make those calls down after down.
BL: In Fall Camp the coaches moved Melvin Jones from linebacker over to fullback. I know you played on that side of the ball in high school, too. Was there ever any talk this offseason about you playing some in the backfield?
LL: Me and Coach Frank [Wilson], we clown a lot about me getting carries or what not. Right now, I've just been focused at linebacker, but if there's ever a situation or anything where I can move to that position, I love playing running back. But, honestly, I love playing linebacker, too. So it's wherever I can help out the team, that's what I'm willing to do.
BL: With all the guys they've got back there at running back, do you ever think that really might be a possibility?
LL: At one point I was like ‘No, it's not a possibility.' But then I've seen that things can happen. During a season guys go down, and you never know. At one point I think we were down to maybe three (running backs), and I think Terrence Magee had moved to receiver, so they had to move him back to running back. I'm always ready if that ever happens.
BL: The guys who are starting at linebacker now – D.J., Tahj Jones and Lamin Barrow, describe those guys individually and what they bring to the table.
LL: Lamin is a guy who's been battle-tested. He's played a lot of games for us, and he's kinda that old guy. That's what he brings to the table. Probably Tahj and D.J. are close to being in that same category. They're hungry, they've been here and been through Chief's system. They know what he wants, and they're in the back end of their careers so they know it's time to get it. I think they're hungry right now and just trying to fight for theirs.
BL: You're part of that 2012 class of linebackers that keeps emerging. What's the dynamic like with so many young guys – you, Kwon [Alexander] and Deion [Jones] – pushing those veterans for more time?
LL: Well you're always pushing for more time, always trying to get better and always trying to get the upper hand on the older guys. Like I said, they've been here, they know the system and they know everything that Chief likes and he doesn't like. So any little thing that we can do to put ourselves ahead or get even closer to them, we're looking for it. The 2012 class, we're hungry. We got a little taste of blood freshman year, so we're trying to go all-out this year. We're ready.
BL: What do you think the number one thing is that Chief yells at you about, just over the course of your time here?
LL: For me, the thing Chief yelled at me the most about was probably using my hands, and I've corrected that. (When asked as a follow-up, ‘Do you mean in coverage?') No, actually taking on O-Linemen and getting off the blocks. That was probably the thing that he fussed at me the most on as a freshman, but I think I've corrected that and I've been doing really well lately on getting off blocks.
BL: Give me a little idea of what the Kendell Beckwith that we don't see at practice is like. What's that young guy bring to this defense, especially considering we've seen him play several positions in-game?
LL: Well Kendell, his ceiling is really high. He's a nice guy. He's always willing to learn. He's playing pretty much three different positions (DE, OLB, MLB). I can see myself in him because that was me going into my freshman year. Sometimes it's a little frustrating, but any way that you can get on the field, do it – whether it's at end, whether it's at Sam or whether it's at Mike. But he's picking things up really well. He's asking questions, and he's already a physical guy who has good speed for his size. Kendell's going to be a great player.
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