McIntosh Observes Defense

Senior linebacker Rocky McIntosh has been held out of all contact during the 2005 spring practices. At the end of last season Rocky was bothered by a shoulder stinger, but he now says that he has a different injury holding him out.

Roger McIntosh is not participating in contact drills this spring because of a back injury.

"I really do not know how I tweaked it," McIntosh said.

When asked if the season started today would he play, McIntosh answered:

"I hope I would, but I want to be as healthy as possible. I want to play 100 percent and if I cannot do that, I just have to be held out."

Last season, McIntosh made nine starts at both middle and strongside linebacker. He was second on the team with 111 tackles and totaled four sacks. Although his practice is limited, McIntosh still has areas of his game he could improve.

"The only things I can do now is just learn the game more, help my teammates and watch as much film as possible," McIntosh said. "I can also work on my conditioning. Now that I am out there watching instead of practicing, I can see new things."

Does McIntosh prefer playing middle or strongside linebacker?

"It really does not matter," he said. "We have a lot of injuries, so guys have to shuffle around. If that happens this year I won't mind playing weakside, strongside, or middle."

Now that McIntosh is a senior, he is looking to become a leader by example. He has realized this is his last chance to make an impact at UM and he plans on taking advantage of his opportunity.

"Yeah, I know this is the last go around," McIntosh said. "I am trying to get as healthy as possible and go out there, have a productive season and go out on top. I think everybody on our defense is a leader. We have to go out there and lead and the other guys will follow."

McIntosh says that this off-season defensive coordinator Randy Shannon is emphasizing the defense to play fearless and with instinct. Rocky says that Shannon thought the defense played a lot of snaps tight and scared last season.

Linebacker coach Vernon Hargreaves is stressing his unit to just play hard.

"He tells us to just go out there and be tough," McIntosh said. "Being a linebacker is hard. We have got bruises and scratches, but we just have to go out there and work hard."

This spring McIntosh has been impressed with the play of linebackers Tavares Gooden and Jon Beason. He has also seen better play from fellow senior Leon Williams.

"Leon has shown a little more leadership out there," McIntosh said. "Those guys are going out there and working hard. They are playing as hard as they can. I think he realized too that this is the last go around and we are not going to get any chances. He has got to go out there and play hard and I think he realized that now."

McIntosh currently weighs at 232 pounds, but he would like to add a couple of pounds before next season.

"As long as I have been here, I have been gaining weight," McIntosh said. "I can carry it and still move. Hopefully I can gain a couple of pounds and be at 235."

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