Talkin' With T-Good

Tavares Gooden took time to say what is on his mind with the 2005 team, the linebackers, his game, and more.

STOCK - First off, just talk about the attitude of this team heading into the season

T-GOOD - I have noticed that everybody is hungry. People are going out there to prove that last year was a disappointing season and we should have won more games. The attitude now is that we want to go into the season and play hard like we know we can. We are trying to get back to the top of our game. Nevermind all of the other stuff with other teams. I know that when we are on top of our game we are going to have some exciting plays this year, exciting players that will break through, and we are going to have some exciting wins.

STOCK - Let's talk about this defense you guys have. You have a lot of guys who are back and have played a lot.

T-GOOD - We have a lot of speed on this defense and from head to toe we have people that are going to lay it on the line. With our defensive line, I don't see any reason to blitz with the way they play. Those guys create penetration and make plays in the backfield, which makes our job at linebacker a lot eastier. I am confident in our secondary--we got speed back there. You see a guy like Brandon who is not afraid to hit someone. I've seen him knock a couple people out last year. With guys like him back there receivers don't want to catch the ball. All we have to do as linebacker is stop the run--they will take care of the pass. Last year, as you saw Threat led the team in tackles, then Roger, and then me. We have to try to get more tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

If you make a mistake, then run the guy down. I know everybody on the defensive line runs a 4.6-4.7--that is fast. Our linebackers run 4.3-4.4's so let's run somebody down. We can't give up a play. Once we stop them we have enough speed and if we play hard then we might be able to get a turnover. We have playmakers in the secondary. Our special teams is a key this year too. If we pin people down inside the 20 and they have to go 80 yards, it is going to be tough."

STOCK - Talk about last year with the linebackers and some of the ups and downs you guys went through.

T-GOOD - We had young guys in there. Not to use it as an excuse, but there were certain things that would be a different look for us. Sometimes they would go in motion and we would be like, 'I have never seen that before'. But then you have to realize there are only so many formations that you can do. Knowing that comes with your age and knowing the game. Some of us didn't even play linebacker in high school so we are still somewhat new to the position. The coaches have been drilling us this summer and working us hard. Then when we went out on 7-on-7's and we would ask Kyle and the guys to do some different shifts and motions. We are working on all aspects of the game and we have been successful.

STOCK - We have talked about how close you and the rest of the linebackers are, just talk more about the personalities you guys have when you are together.

T-GOOD - Leon is doing his own thing. He's from New York and real chill--that is his style. Then you got Beason. When Beason and I are out and we hear a song, we'll jump around because that's my boy. Roger just doesn't say too much. But then he'll be screaming and you can't really understand what he's saying. But he'll get hyped too. Willie will get hyped. Then, once Leon sees all up as a group, then he'll jump around sometimes.

STOCK - Talk about the energy you guys have at linebacker and how that helps you with your game.

T-GOOD - We need to play with that kind of energy because when you make a mistake at linebacker you don't want to really make a mistake the next time. But when we play with that energy we feel we ran run through anybody. We got big fullbacks this year, besides Q-Hill, we got James Bryant, and the new freshman Jerrell. Then when we see Tyrone over there you just want to jump through his chest. It makes you motivated to go downhill and just cut people up. That is what our coaches want from us. They want us to go full speed. As far as the games go, I can feel the electricity now. Our whole linebackers corps is going to be at another level this year. And I am quite anxious for that.

STOCK - You came in as a freshman in 2003, talk about how much you have progressed since you first arrived on campus.

T-GOOD - I feel pretty good with the game itself. I know when the safeties are dropping down. I know when somebody is behind me and when to take a chance--things like that. Mainly, I just know the guys better. That is the best part about it. I am fortunate enough to have everybody back. I have been playing with these same group of guys for a year or two now. It is just exciting because these are the guys you grew up with in a way. These are people you see every day. They are your friends and you just want to lay it on the line for them because everybody wants to get back to the 2001 season. I am kind of tired just waiting around. I am ready to play right now.

STOCK - Before we wrap it up, talk about the key for the 2005 team to get where you guys want to be.

T-GOOD - The key is that nobody can let down. Everybody has to go out and play every game like it is their last game. Don't have any regrets or any excuses. Go out there, balls to the wall, full speed on every play. I think now it is a matter of us making the plays that we are capable of making and that will determine our season.

STOCK - Thanks, appreciate it. Be good now.

T-GOOD - Always.

Christopher Stock is a Senior Writer & Assistant Editor for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@canestime.com

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