Pack Pride Q & A with DE Mario Williams

Pack Pride sits down for a Q & A with DE Mario Williams. <P> <B>Photo Courtesy of Gene Galin</b>

Prior to Pack DE Mario Williams arriving at NC State, many had already proclaimed him the next Julius Peppers. Rarely do such comparisons come to fruition, but in this instance, the similarities are striking. Although Peppers had the benefit of a red-shirt year, a quick look at how both fared in their first seasons on the field reveals stats that are amazingly comparable.



Caused Fumbles



Mario Williams






Julius Peppers






Pack Pride caught up with Williams and asked him about how he's progressed since the end of last year and his thoughts on various aspects of the NC State football program.

After a very successful freshman season, how has camp gone so far for you?

"I've just come out here and I've worked harder. I just listen to what the coaches say. I try to correct the things that happened last year. I look back at some of the mistakes I made last year and a lot of them didn't make sense. I know I can do better than that and every day I got out to practice, I play hard and I try to be consistent and try to eliminate the mistakes I made last year and step my game up."

Is there anything in particular you've tried to focus on that will help take your game to another level in 2004?

"I think gaining experience and keeping my intensity up are the main things. If I had more of those two things last year I would have gotten off the ball faster, my technique would have been better and I could have had better results. Sometimes my intensity would drop due to not being consistent and I wouldn't get off the ball fast enough. I didn't use my hands like I'm supposed to. And those are just things I've been trying to work on this year."

You've got a new position coach this year. Tell us about coach Stroud.

"Coach Stroud, he's a great coach. I love playing for him. It's actually a motivator playing for Coach Stroud and Coach Herring. When they're on the side line, I hear them saying, ‘We need a rush. We need a rush.' It feels like they're actually calling out on me. I feel like they're counting on me. Even when I'm tired, It just gives me that extra power, that extra energy, because I know I need to go out there and perform and I know I need to get back there to the QB."

Is coach Stroud a quiet coach or more of a screamer?

"Coach Stroud is like part of your family when you're out and about. He'll have fun with you. But when he's on the field, he's serious. I mean, he loves us still- but it's business. When we're out on the field, we've got to know the plays. We've got to do what we're supposed to do and we've got to go out and play. But coach Stroud is a yeller. He's not like some of the coaches as far as the verbal things he says but he will yell. I mean, he'll get on you, he'll correct you and he'll teach you all the time."

Has coach Herring brought any new twists to the NC State defense this year?

"We're doing a lot of different games, movements and schemes with the defensive line. Everybody is involved. What goes along with that is intensity and work ethic. We do everything full speed now. I mean, we don't know anything else. We go hard every play and he's trying to implement the things that he wants us to do."

What do you think the strength of the Wolfpack defense is this year?

"We've got leadership which is bringing unity and we're coming together and we're playing as a unit."

Are there any surprise players on the Wolfpack defense that you think will make an impact but may have been overlooked by the fans and media?

"I think I would have to say DeMarcus Tyler. Last year he maybe didn't get the snaps that he wanted but right now, in practice, he's with the ones. I mean, he's running things. He's rushing the ball better. He's dominating, but right now, he's not getting noticed that much."

You're going up against the offense every day in practice. Size up what you've seen so far.

"The potential is still there. We've got some young QB's. We've got some young RB's back there. But it'll take time. They'll be alright though. We're giving them all they can handle. We're giving them the pressure and they've handled it well."

Do you think it's the defense's turn to take that leadership role that many feel the offense has carried for the last couple of years?

"I've heard that and I believe that. Right now, as we all know, defense is what wins championships. The defense has to be dominating and that's really what we've started to believe here and we know we've got to come out and back that up. We've got to shut people down and just win ball games."

Talk about Darrell Blackman and Bobby Washington.

"They're fast. They are extremely fast. I hit them and sometimes they're bouncing off and I'm like, I don't know how he did that. I never had anyone in high school do that and I didn't have anyone last year do that, but these boys, they run the ball hard. I mean, I've never seen anything like it- especially coming out of high school. We've got four running backs that can get down and especially those two. I told them personally that I had never seen anyone like them."

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