Presser Quotes: D.L. Wilhite

MINNEAPOLIS — Starting defensive end D.L. Wilhite met with the media on Tuesday. He talked about the defensive expectations for this season, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys and the importance of improving the pass rush.

On the expectations of the defense this season:
"If we go out and do what Coach Claeys and Coach Kill say, I think we have an opportunity to be a great defense. If we have guys out there trying to do their own thing, it could be a bad year, but hopefully we go out there and do exactly what Coach Claeys says and we'll have a good year as a defense."

On defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys:
"Coach Claeys is a really interesting coach—I love him to death. It's not too often that he yells at us or speaks up but when he does get mad you feel it—like man, what did I do to get under his skin that time? He seems like a defensive genius. He knows exactly what he's doing and the guys respond to him really well—so he's a great coach."

On improving the pass rush and pressuring the quarterback:
"It's very important. First of all, every time we hear something about how the D-line's not good—and it's true because we weren't good last year. We were one of the worst units at getting sacks so it hurts. It hurts our pride so we definitely want to out there and be that spark for the team to go out on third downs and make a big play or force the quarterback to throw a bad pass. Really if we can't get pressure on the quarterback it's going to be a bad year.

"All since spring ball we've been looking at the sack number. It's something that we definitely have to improve and the coaches have stressed that. If it means that the defensive ends have to come out game and we have to put linebackers in, the sack number has to improve."

On the bond between the linemen:
"I think it does. We got a real good bond between the four of us, including Ben Perry who's a freshman. He kind of ran and fit right in with us so it's like we all move off of each other and know what each other is thinking."

On the emergence of redshirt freshman Ben Perry:
"Ben Perry is—I can't even express how proud I am of how far he has came as a player. He's special. He's going to be a good player here at the University of Minnesota. What makes it good is Ben Perry is a real smart kid so even though me and B.K. [Brandon Kirksey] and Anthony [Jacobs] have more experience than him, he knows the system just as well as us."

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