Obi Ezeh on the Defense

The veteran linebacker talks about the LB corps in detail, but also about Troy Woolfolk and a host of other defensive issues.

Question: When you look at this season whom do you look at as players that the fans will take notice of very quickly of?

Obi Ezeh: "I don't know because there are a lot of young guys that are in there that have the potential to be playmakers, but you never know who is going to step up during game time, so hopefully more than less. There are a couple of household names that you already know about in Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren or what not. Jonas Mouton towards the end of last year really kind of emerged for us. Hopefully he starts off with a good season, kind of start off where he left off. Then there is a bunch of other guys on the D-line and the D-line is really good and they do some really good things. Hopefully they will keep myself and Jonas clean to make some plays."

Question: When you look at your role on this defense what is it that you are supposed to do and how is that different from year's past?

Obi Ezeh: "Last year, I was kind of let loose and just kind of run around and make plays. This year, I have to be in certain spots at certain times but not sure we were more downhill as a linebacking corps and this year a little more lateral. So it allows you to fall back into more plays. As long as I'm in my gap and doing what I'm supposed to be doing, I can check that and go make a play. We'll see how it plays out. I just know that I got a job that I have to do."

Question: What's the mindset of the team with just everything that is going on, going down?

Obi Ezeh: "We just want to stay together. We don't really want this to distract us. All summer, we just had to deal with a lot of unnecessary drama, just a lot of unnecessary that we really shouldn't have to deal with, but if you stick together as a team and you have each others back, you'll be able to get through anything."

Question: You talk about some of the other players. Troy Woolfolk really made an impact moving to safety; what he is going to be able to do back there, especially taking over what Stevie was doing?

Obi Ezeh: "Yeah, Troy made the transition from cornerback to safety and I think he has really kind of honed in on what he's supposed to be doing back there. He's a guy that brings a lot of speed to the table, so even he does make a mistake, he's kind of a guy that you want to be able to erase those mistakes. We got him back there and we got Michael Williams back there. Mike William is a guy that is a guy that is going to hit you in the face if you let him or even if you don't let him. He is also a guy that can make plays back there in the secondary."

Question: You talk about Troy's speed and I'm not really trying to call out your teammates or anything, but do you feel a little bit better with that speed back there to erase any mistakes that might happen back there especially with another new scheme in three years?

Obi Ezeh: "Yeah. It is more comforting to have that back there, but you just hope that everybody is in the place that they should be. If by chance there is a mistake, you got guys back there who kind of help alleviate that."

Question: How do you feel about the cornerback depth outside of Boubacar (Cissoko) and Donovan?

Obi Ezeh: "I feel really good about Boubacar and Donovan, , but younger guys have been able to get some reps with the ones, so that's really good for them so that they can be able to come into games and kind of it will be like Donovan never left or Boubacar never left. Obviously you want those guys out there but you know that there are solid backups."

Question: What have you seen kind of from the freshman, especially some of the earlier enrollees and some of the linebackers in talking with Mike Jones, Brandin Hawthorne?

Obi Ezeh: "Yeah Stevie gets o deal with Mike Jones and Brandin Hawthorne a more than I do, but definitely when we're out there scrimmaging, those guys are out there competing. They're out there running around making plays and even if they make a mistake they take coaching and get back out there. When you fall down, you get back up and that's what those guys do. The inside linebacking corps, JB Fitzgerald, Kenny Demens and Brandon Smith really have been coming along quite well, Kevin Leach who I played high school football with is actually coming along really well too. So that's a really good feeling."

Question: How has Brandon Smith accepted his role from safety to linebacker?

Obi Ezeh: "He was a linebacker before he even knew it. I think it was tough for him, but I think once he really kind of figured out…it's tough because safeties do a lot different stuff than we do. Safeties most the time are pass first and we are run first. You really got to be able to hone in on your run keys and stuff like that. Just with repetition, all that stuff becomes kind of habit and he's been able to kind of progress nicely."

Question: Do you feel like you're going to be able to put enough pressure on (Tim) Hiller's quarterback? That was something that was talked about last year, three man fronts, different things like that not getting enough pressure on the quarterback, letting him nitpick you…?

Obi Ezeh: "Yeah. Just because we have three down lineman doesn't mean that we're not going to bring four. They aren't going to know what we are going to do and trust Greg Robinson to put us in the right place and put us in a position to win."

Question: Did Coach Rod talk to you about how he hasn't seen as many missed assignments at all from you guys on the defense and he feels that you guys have the basics down; what's your take on that?

Obi Ezeh: "Yeah, we spent a lot of time on the basics. All of spring ball, even through the summer. They would just pass out little tests and little reminders about what we had been doing, so you would just kind of retain all that information, stuff like that. Pick up kind of where we left off in training camp without having to go back and re-teach things. You only have a certain amount of to do things. You don't want to spend half the training camp teaching what you taught in spring ball. A lot of guys were able to retain a lot of that knowledge over the summer and it allowed us to really progress. People are really comfortable with the basics and we are able to do a lot of more different things."

Question: Do you guys think you are able to grasp this defense better at this point this year than even last year at this point?

Obi Ezeh: "Yeah I think so. Even myself, just learning, not what you do on the defense, but learning what everybody else does and just trying to see the whole concept of the defense so that you realize how important it is that you're in your depth or you do what you're supposed to do. I think learning that is the most important thing of all and I think that is where we are headed."

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