Ready or not, then-freshman linebacker Dwayne Maddox was thrown into the fire last season when Nate Irving went down with an injury. Although he suffered through some growing pains, Maddox finished up the year with 28 tackles while playing in nine contests.
With Irving out for the entire 2009 season, Maddox knows he’ll need to step his game up and tells Pack Pride that’s exactly what he plans to do in this Q&A.
What was your reaction when you heard Nate had been hurt in a car accident?
I was thinking that I’ve got to step up. I’ve got to take more reps than I thought I was going to take just to prepare more and help this team win.
How difficult is it to come in as a freshman and be counted on to make plays and more importantly, try to avoid making mistakes.
It’s tough, especially last year coming in and playing like that without having any clue you were going to have to come in like that. It’s something you’ve got to learn from and just take one step at a time. When you get thrown in the fire like that it’s kind of bad in the beginning but the next year you come out and play, it’s good because you have the experience and you know what it’s going to be like. You don’t have to be too nervous when you go out there.
Are there any positives you brought out of last year and are using to build on?
It gives me confidence that I don’t think I had last year because as a freshman it’s a new experience for you. And then filling in for a great player, it may have been a little pressure but you’ve just got to pin your ears back and go out there and play.
Have you had a chance to talk to Nate much about the upcoming season?
Well, I haven’t really talked to him that much. He came by but everyone was trying to talk to him so I didn’t really get a chance to talk to him much about playing and what my job was going to be this year. Hopefully I’ll talk to him in the near future.
When things go rough out on the field, how good are your teammates about picking you up?
It’s unbelievable how close our family is on defense. They’ve got you back when you mess up. They tell you to forget about it and just move on to the next play. I mean, that’s just the way you have to play on defense. You have to have a short memory because things happen and you just have to look forward to the next play. So they do a good job of picking me up and I try to do a good job of picking my teammates up.
As a group, how is the defense looking so far?
Everybody is doing good. We’re just striving to get better every day. We’re not where we need to be we’re scrimmaging and practicing to be ready for South Carolina on Sept 3.