How have you adjusted to the calls and the checks? You are sort of the quarterback of the defense.
“Honestly it’s help the defense is a whole year older. Everybody knows where to be. It’s less on me to get people where they need to be and get everyone the call – because everyone is used to looking over to the sideline for the call. It’s a much easier process for the MIKE.”
You were trying to do that last year as a guy who just stepped on campus, how much easier is it now that you have had the time you have had now.
“I’m a lot more comfortable with it. I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I was doing last year at times, but I still had to do it. Now that I know more, I still try to get everyone lined up, but realize, I don’t have to. It’s a load off my shoulders that I can focus more on what I need to be doing.”
How nice will it be to have Randy Gregory back this Saturday?
“It’s going to be awesome. Anytime you get a guy like Randy Gregory in front of you, the attention is towards him. The offense can’t key on other people. Their focus is going to be on him and it frees stuff up for us.”
What is your overall grade or feeling about the defense so far?
“I think we have played extremely well. Obviously last game was a little bump, but it was nothing drastic. We are still on the same course that we set day one. We want to be the best defense in the nation and we have the players to do it. As long as we stay on the path and take the approach we did during fall camp and the season so far, I think we are going to be where we want to be.”
Are you excited to take this show on the road?
“Yeah, absolutely – get out of here for a little bit and get some experience at a different stadium.”
Do you like road trips?
“I don’t like road trips as much. It’s a long day. It’s a long week. Getting on a plane and playing so late, especially at a place like Fresno State. It’s fun when you play at another stadium, but there is some baggage that comes with it.”
When Michael Rose went down with the injury, what was your thought at that point?
“It was big. It didn’t really change my thoughts that much, because I was competing with him. My thoughts were to go as hard as I can and do what I could for this team, trying to win the spot.
“It hit the team hard. That’s a great backer that was going to be on the field, it’s hurt us on defense, it’s hurt us a little bit on special teams, because it took some of the depth out.”
The goal is for the defense to be the best in the nation, what is the next step?
“Eliminating repeat errors. We know what we did wrong in the first game and the last game. We need to clean those up and get in the film room. It might not have showed statistics wise, but I think we grew from the first game to the second game. As long as we continue to grow from game-to-game, the steps we took, we are going to end on the top.”
Where did you feel the mistakes came last week from the linebackers?
“It’s little things like eyes, footwork, it’s getting into the film. It was nothing drastic, like we missed every play. It was your footwork could be better, so you could shoot that gap – it’s little stuff like that.”
Did you leave the field at all last week for any defensive snaps?
“No. I was all right with it. It’s fun getting out there and playing, but for the defense, would it be nice to get fresh legs in there? Yeah, it’s hard to play 70 to 80 snaps a game. I’m fully up to the task. I can lead this defense.”