Defensive Linemen Speak

Read on to see what defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski and several of his players were saying following practice Monday morning.

Defensive Line Coach Craig Kuligowski

On how talks with Coach Richt progressed into becoming Miami’s defensive line coach…

“It’s like every coaching job. You talk to a few people, somebody asks you if you’re interested in the job, you say yes…I don’t really know the timing, that’s [Coach Richt’s] deal. I’m happy to be here. We got to the airport, me and my wife, and we said, ‘That’s Mark Richt picking us up. Nice.’ It’s a good thing.”

On never having served as defensive coordinator despite ample success as defensive line coach…

“I’ve asked myself that same question a few times over the years. But the truth is, God has a plan. If his plan is for me to be a defensive line coach for the rest of my life, or if he has plans for me to be a coordinator later on in life, or a head coach, great. If not, that’s okay too. I’m happy doing what I do. I love doing it. I just want to be the best at whatever I do. That’s what I’m trying, with God’s help.”

On if he has ever been offered a defensive coordinator job…

“There’s been some talks and stuff like that, but in the end, it has to be for a good job.”

On assessing the state of the defensive line and what he has seen through camp so far…

“I think they’re progressing about what I figured. I think we have some talent. I think we have some guys that look like you want them to look, play like you want them to play – in terms of athleticism. Now it’s getting them to do the right things and do them the right way. So far, the guys have progressed in a way that I’ve expected. I haven’t been disappointed. They’ve bought in, they’re working hard, they’re teaching each other the drills now. They’re making it their own. I really feel like it’s going to be successful, because the guys have really bought into it. They haven’t really fought me on anything, to be honest.”


Defensive Lineman Chad Thomas

On what Coach Kuligowski has taught him…

“Finishing. He’s on me about finishing. I can’t really say ‘teach’ finishing. He’s on me about finishing and showing me what to do.”

On if he sees Coach Kuligowski as a wizard, in terms of depth of knowledge and success coaching the position…

“I would say a wizard, because he knows the answer to everything. He has been coaching a long time, and he knows how to get a defensive line together, get us all working, working right and working together as one. He’s a wizard. Everything. Hand movement, feet movement, how to get our hips around…everything.”

On what is motivating him entering his junior season…

“My last two years. I didn’t live up to my expectations. I made some plays, but I didn’t make enough. Just going off that and we’re in a defense that I like. I just have to perform. I have to do my part. All the coaches are doing their part.”

On if he feels more comfortable in this defensive scheme as compared to years past…

“Very comfortable. It’s  the same as my high school defense. I feel, on the line, that’s what it feels like. I feel free when I’m out there running.”


Defensive Lineman Demetrius Jackson

On Coach Kuligowski…

“I love him. He brings a lot of technique that he’s taught some of the greats before, like Aldon Smith, Shane Ray, Michael Sam. He’s bringing it here, and we trust him, because his resume, the guys that he taught, the things that we produced…we knew that’s a guy we can trust. We just take it to the field and it works. It works against our great offensive line. Like I said, we’re ready to go.”

On the new defensive scheme….

“I love it. Most of us here, that’s where we came from – our background in high school, that’s where we come from. A 4-3, attacking-style [defense]...just playing as we’re natural rushers. It helps us a lot, being able to get after the quarterback and make plays in the backfield.”

On the scheme bringing out the best in the players…

“It makes all of us better players. The whole defense. The ones and the twos. We’re just ready to go.”

Defensive Lineman Gerald Willis

On the advantages of rotating on the defensive line…

“It’s a real good advantage because we have fresh legs. Everyone knows what they have to do, so it’s a good advantage.”

On what the defensive line has improved on most in camp…

“Get off and everybody knowing their stuff. In the spring, everybody didn’t know their stuff. Now everybody knows the plays and are working on moves to get to the quarterback.”

On what defensive lineman RJ McIntosh brings to the defensive line…

“RJ is physical. RJ is a big, physical guy and I am more of an athletic guy getting to the quarterback. He’s more of a pounder and I am more like someone that tries to get to the quarterback.”

 On how the defensive line played in last week’s scrimmage…

“The entire d-line got good feedback. We just have to get to the quarterback more. We got like 12 sacks, I think, and coach wants at least 20. We just need to keep getting to the quarterback more.”


Defensive Lineman R.J. McIntosh

On what he has learned from Coach Kuligowski…

“Definitely the pass moves. I played defensive end last year and a little bit of tackle, but more tackle this year. He has definitely helped me with being inside, using my quickness…swim moves. I knew them, but he’s helping me set up the o-line a little bit better.”


On if learning under Coach Kuligowski has been like learning with an entirely clean slate…

“It wasn’t learning entirely new, but it was more enhancing the things that we knew. Getting better at the things we knew. And [Kuligowski] has definitely added some new stuff.”


On taking on a leadership role despite being a sophomore…

“Age doesn’t matter. The [freshmen] linebackers, you know their story…age or year doesn’t matter. You have to be able to come out here and take this very serious. It doesn’t matter who it is…if I see someone messing up, I’m going to try to correct them.”


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