Senior, Free Safety, Ama, La.
Do you have the playbook on NC State? You seem to have a lot of success against them.
"Not really. We've been able to scheme well against them. Coach Tenuta comes up with a good game plan."
When you have a lot of success against a team, does that breed confidence in the week leading up to it?
"It kind of does. We've executed well against them, and maybe we can come back this year and do some of the same things, see what works against them."
Have they changed much from what you've seen?
"A little bit. Their routes are a little different, but they still do a lot of shifting, things that cause a defense problems."
How do you like playing them on Thursday night?
"There's nothing like a Thursday night game. The whole United States gets to see that one. We're going against a good opponent. It's always a good feeling. Our crowd usually gets up for Thursday night games, and I don't think this week will be any different."
Is this a better team than their record indicates?
"They can easily be 3-0. They lost two games where they had some key turnovers that cost them. The yardage that they're putting up on offense can cause a lot of defenses problems."
How worried do you get when you face a team like them that might suddenly snap out of it against you?
"It causes problems. They have so many formations. They change personnel a lot. We have to be really talkative on defense and look out for their final formation because of their shifting."
Have you talked to your brother (LaRon, at LSU) since they've had to move around a good deal because of the hurricane?
"I've talked to him a couple of times. Football has been a way for them to get away from dealing with the hurricane. My parents are back home now. I'm from Ama, which is about an hour and a half from Baton Rouge. We had a lot of trees down, and power was out for a week or so. But we were fortunate not to have any big damage.
"They were pretty anxious to get back on the field and play at Tiger Stadium, but they didn't come out with a win."
Does this off-week come at a good time? Or would you have rather gone ahead and get the taste of the Virginia Tech game out of your mouths?
"The off-week gave us a little more time to watch film and get a jump on NC State. A lot of guys got their legs back. I think the off-week helped us, especially coming off of a loss."
Why do you think your defense has intercepted more passes this year?
"The team has jelled. Everybody knows their own assignments. We're coming up with good reads. The defensive line has brought a lot of pressure and forced some bad passes, too."
When you were coming out of high school, how many teams recruited you as a quarterback?
"All of them recruited me as a quarterback. But when I got here, I wasn't performing up to my capabilities, and when the opportunity came, I changed, and it worked out for the best."
What kind of a quarterback were you?
"We did it all in high school. We had option, five-wides, four-wides, things like that. We had a wide playbook."
Did it take a while to adjust to not being a quarterback?
"You need to get used to making a hit instead of being hit. You need to learn how to tackle, back-pedal, play backwards. You have to get used to (not having the ball in your hands). I just worked hard every day trying to get better. It was a mutual decision. I wanted to help the team."
What was the attitude among your teammates last week coming off the loss?
"We were kind of ticked off that we lost. But we stayed positive because we know it's a long season. We didn't play our best game, and it showed. Everybody is still upbeat."
This is your first conference game against a non-division opponent. Have you guys tried to compare divisions in terms of which is stronger?
"No. I don't really think we've done that. We just know we need to go out and play our game."
How different is it having Chris Reis back there with you this year?
"James (Butler) had played safety for two years, and we had some chemistry between us. But with Chris, it's not like we put a guys there who didn't know the defense. He still knows all the calls, we talk a lot. I'm in the post more this year than last year."
Senior, Offensive Tackle, Mesquite, Texas
How much of a mental advantage is it for you to have had a lot of success against NC State in the recent past?
"In a way, there might be some advantage. But it really doesn't matter with an upcoming game. They're a whole new team. We're a whole new team. You have to prepare the same way. You can't look at it as a given that you'll be successful the next time. That's the kind of stuff that'll get you beat."
Do you think that once other teams began to see what you (the offensive line) were doing on film, they might be a little better prepared for you?
"It's not like we re-invented our offense. We've run a lot of the same plays in the first few games that we ran last year. Some of them we've run with a little more frequency than we did last year. As you go through the season, nothing is a surprise anymore."
NC State has a pretty talented defensive line. Is this an opportunity to erase a little of what happened at Virginia Tech?
"It's a very good opportunity for us. They are a great defense with a very good defensive front. They're as talented on the line as any of the top teams we'll play."
The Thursday night games are unique. Do you like playing them?
"I like them a lot. First of all, the week flies by, and then you have a long weekend and a chance to rest a little more before you play another game. You're basically the main event across the nation. You're on ESPN, and it's fun to be in the spotlight."
This is the first time you've played a team from the other division of the ACC. Do you compare or contrast the divisions, or do you still need a card to tell you which teams are in which divisions?
"The main thing I look at is the big teams you play every year, Florida State and Miami. I think that by splitting those two up, it's relatively even in my eyes."
You're a fifth-year senior on a line with a lot of younger players. How do you approach that?
"The other guys might be young, but they're great work-ethic guys. They come to work when they practice. They know that it's going to be a process to develop as a line. So they're eager to take it on. Even though they haven't played as many games, they still know what it takes to prepare for a game. But it does take time to develop. I was a young guy on an older offensive line, so I knew if I just did my job, we we're going to be fine. Now I'm the older guy on a young line, so it's kind of interesting."
How have you handled the transition from guard to tackle?
"I enjoy it. I feel like a tackle now. I don't feel as much like a guard trying to play tackle, if that makes any sense. That's a good thing. It's a challenge, but I'm starting to enjoy it. It's a more athletic position than guard. You have to contend with some of the more athletic players on the other team's defense. It's almost more of a skill position in a way. You're moving your feet, like you're a big basketball player out there. It's different."
NC State has two really good defensive ends. What kind of challenge will that be for you?
"They're whole defensive line is very good. I'd rather play a good defensive front than one that's considered bad. It's always better to respect who you're going against and look forward to the challenge."
At what point did you begin to feel comfortable at tackle?
"I felt pretty comfortable the first game. Towards the end of camp, when we began to scrimmage, it started coming back to me."
You've gone up against Eric Henderson (in practice) and know what he can do. When he's not in there, how much does it change things?
"It does change things. You've got a guy with that a lot of talent who is a great leader. Luckily we do have guys behind him who have played. They see this as an opportunity while he's out. They'll do just fine."