Thoughts on last season? We talked about it the first day when we got back, but we're not talking about it ever again. We're moving on and we're not looking back.
What do you think about the newfound depth at linebacker? We have a lot of depth. I'm really excited about some of these new freshmen. And I'm excited about the people that are already here, Jeff Longhany, Clay Roberson, Clarence Gaddy and Devllen Bullard. We've all gotten better in the off season. I'm excited about all the linebackers.
For myself, over the first few days I retained a lot from the off-season. We want to pick up right where we left off, because we had a great spring. We picked right up from there. We're moving real well through this installation of our defense. We're going to be just fine.
Most important aspects of this year's improvement? We have gelled a lot as a defense. We learned our keys and where we are as a defense. That's the most important thing, where we fit and reading our keys and just gain awareness of everything that is going on around us. And making the changes and adjustments to what the offense is giving us.
What do you have to do to get your job back? Just be myself, continue to make plays, and hustle; and continue to press the coaches to let them know that I'm the best guy for the position
Do you think that perhaps other teams have forgotten how good you can be? I think so. That's going to give me a big advantage. Right now coming into the season, I'm looking at myself as an underdog. Coming off the past season, I know there are going to be some teams that aren't going to respect me. I'm going to have to make a name for myself.
Is there still pain and stiffness in your leg? No, It's OK. The rehab on my leg went well. It wasn't that hard to do, because we have an excellent trainer.
How much better of a defensive back do you think you are this year as opposed to last year? I really can't say right now, but what I can say is that I'm more focused and more willing to get better at what I do and learn from my mistakes.
What is the most important thing you've learned since high school? You have to have a short memory as a corner, because you're not going to be able to make every play. When a play goes bad, you've got to forget about it. I've been able to do that most of the time. I did struggle with that last year against Texas. There were a couple of plays that I just couldn't seem to let go.
Will you be in on returns also? Yes, but as far as I know, just on punts. I love punt returning. It started in high school. I made a name for myself as a punt returner. It can definitely be a momentum changer, and give the teammates a little boost going with a big play.
Can making a big return, help you with more confidence in your coverage? Yes, it can definitely help. Getting my blood flowing and more excitement in the game, yes, definitely.
Where did the nickname "Rabbit" come from? My grandmother gave me that nickname a long time ago.
Is being a good defense more about personnel or mentality? I think it's a little bit of both. Everybody doesn't have the same skills, but if you have the mentality and the willingness to prepare – that mentality that nobody is going to make a catch and if they do I'm going to punish them. When your on defense, you have to take the mentality that someone has your mother back there in the offensive backfield. One former player said that, but I can't think of his name.
Your thoughts on last year? Last season was last season. That was a great way to end the season and send the seniors off, with a win in a great rivalry. From my standpoint, you have to leave last year at a distance. It's there, you know you went there, but you really don't want to talk about it. That was our motivation going into the off-season, through spring practice, summer workouts, and now coming into training camp.
Did you see a change in Waddell from before he got hurt and now? Speaking of "Rab," your have to understand, you're talking about a guy who doesn't show too many emotions. When he would make a great play, he wouldn't show too much excitement. The other guys around him were more excited about the plays he was making than he was. That is just his demeanor.
Do you think he lost some of his confidence? When he was struggling at times last year, I think he lost some of his edge or the mentality he used to take when playing corner. In previous years, he was like me. I take a ‘I don't care about who I'm checking' attitude. That's the way I look at it, when I see "Rab" approach different receivers. When he hurt his leg, that took a little bit of the wind out of him.
How are you guys going to get the running game going? We have to have the right mindset on getting the ball down the field. We know that we have the capabilities and what not. We just have to show that we can do it.
What are your goals individually? One is to speak a little bit more, because I've mainly led through actions. I'm going to speak up a little bit more in the huddle and get the guys on the same page, be focused, and ready to go out there and dominate the person in front of us.
Have the past troubles with the snap been worked out? Everything has ironed itself out. Darian and myself our working on our terminology, to make sure that there are not any mistakes understanding one another. Most of those kinks have been ironed out, mostly in spring practice. We're having very few of those mistakes now, if at all. It's all about rhythm and knowing how Darian thinks. If there is ever any question about something not going right, he can sense it on me, or I can sense it on Darian. Now, we'll go ahead and straighten that out before the play ever starts.
What are you doing in practice to avoid another season opener filled with turnovers? Things like that are always going to be in the back of your mind and haunt you. ‘Is there going to be a repeat? Is that going to jump out of the closet and happen again?' But we're working very hard right now to eliminate those aspects. All of our coaches have faith in us. They remind us to stay on top of our game, stay focused and eliminate those types of errors. That's what were working on now, so that come Aug. 30, we're not going to see any of those.
But you don't want to get too tight though either, right? Don't look too far ahead of yourself, or even worry about the last play. Just stay relaxed and comfortable, and do what you've been taught. If you do those things, then everything will fall into place.