ACC Kickoff: Defense w/Audio

HOT SPRINGS, Va. -- Read and listen to some of what the 11 other defensive players had to say at ACC Kickoff on Sunday.

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  • ACC Kickoff: Matt Baker w/Audio
  • ACC Kickoff: Tommy Richardson w/Audio
  • ACC Kickoff: Offense w/Audio

    DE Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College

  • Named preseason All-America by Athlon Sports (first team), Blue Ribbon (first), Lindy's (second), Phill Steele's (first) and Street and Smith's (first).

  • On 2005 watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (defensive player), Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player), Lombardi Award (lineman) and Ted Hendricks Award (defensive end).

  • Two-time All Big-East first team defense (unanimous in 2004).

  • 2004 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Associated Press third team All-America and Ted Hendricks Award finalist.

    CB Tye Hill, Clemson

  • Listed as seventh-best cornerback in the nation by Lindy's preseason issue and 16th-best by Phil Steele.

  • Preseason first team All-ACC by Lindy's and Street and Smith's.

  • Third in nation in passes defended with 21 in 11 games in 2004, tying the Clemson single-season record in that category.

  • Had twice as many passes defenede than any other Tiger player, and led the ACC.

    On what's new with this year's defense:
    "This year will be more zone oriented. Last year was more press-man coverage, but we're going to have a totally different defense this year."

    On why he switched from running back to cornerback two years ago:
    "I wanted to continue running track and if I would have stayed at running back, I would've had to put on some weight. I enjoy track, but I'm not sure how much more track I will run. It depends on how the football season goes this year."

    On the up-and-down 2004 season:
    "There were a lot of what-if's in the back of our mind in the off-season, and we want to eliminate the what-if's this year. Our goal is to start hard and finish strong."

    On the large crop of first-time starting quarterbacks in the ACC this season:
    "Some rookie quarterbacks come in and are very capable in their first season, so I don't think there is really a freshman factor. They are football players and they are on scholarship too. They're going to come in and be very competitive, so we have to be ready."

    On Georgia Tech sophomore receiver Calvin Johnson:
    "I was very impressed by the way he played. He showed the ability to stay composed under pressure. We didn't know anything about him last year. He wasn't on the scouting report and we went into that game blind. We know about him now. His name will be highlighted everywhere on this year's scouting report. We'll probably have arrows pointing every which way at him. I'll probably know his favorite movie by kickoff."

    DE Phillip Alexander, Duke

  • Preseason third team All-ACC selection by Athlon Sports.

  • Duke's active leader in games played (37), tackles for loss (19.5) and quarterback sacks (7.5).

  • Led team with 18.5 tackles for loss in 2003.

  • Redshirted in 2004 after breaking his leg in week two against Connecticut.

    LISTEN (1:09)

    DE Kamerion Wimbley, Florida State

  • Had 27 tackles in 2004, helping lead a FSU defense that was third in the nation and first in the ACC against the run.

  • Matched his career-high with seven quarterback hurries, including five against Wake Forest.

  • Had one tackle for lost yardage in five of FSU's 12 games.

  • Has played in all 39 FSU game during his career.

    What's one thing you are looking forward to this season?
    "Winning a national championship. It's my last year so I think that would be a goal to accomplish since I haven't done it in the previous three years."

    If you would change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?
    "It would probably be to be 6'5", 290, solid muscle and five percent body fat."

    Who is the most versatile player on the team?
    "I would have to say either Willie Reid or Leon Washington. They can both do punt returns. They can both play running back and catch. Willie Reid can do a lot of things. He actually plays wide receiver but he did play running back."

    Which player on the team would be just as good playing offense as defense?
    "Antonio Cromartie. He would have made a good wide receiver this year. Before he got hurt, I think they were planning on doing some things with him this year."

    What has been the highlight or greatest moment of your FSU career?
    "The Colorado game a couple of years ago because I had a great game. I think I showed flashes of what I think I can do. Eric Moore got hurt and then I came in and played and started the next game after that."

    Who do you consider to be the "sleeper" on the team?
    "This year, I would say there is a number of people. I would say Kyler Hall could come in and do some things and myself."

    LB Gerris Wilkinson, Georgia Tech

  • Second team All-ACC selection in 2004

  • Led Georgia Tech in tackles

  • Second in the ACC and 24th in the nation in tackles, averaging 9.9 per game (119 tackles).

  • Third in the ACC in tackles for loss.

    LISTEN (2:40)

    How have you seen North Carolina improve in the last couple of years?
    "In the past, they've always been offensive oriented. I've heard people compare the [football team] to the basketball team, because they try to score a lot of points. Their offensive power has certainly been a luxury. The thing I think that's helped them raise their level of play is because their defense has been coming on and playing a lot better than it has in the past."

    Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta doesn't like to lose to UNC very much, does he?
    "You know he wants to beat North Carolina, since he used to coach there. I mean, he's fired up for every game, but that's definitely the game he's most fired up about every year. He's always got an intense demeanor about himself, but off the field, he's a good guy to be around."

    LB D'Qwell Jackson, Maryland

  • Named first team All-America by Second team by and honorable mention by Pro Football Weekly.

  • Candidate for the Butkus, Bednarik and Nagurski Awards.

  • Two-time All-ACC selection (first team in 2004, and second team in 2003) and second in the voting for ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.

  • Led the ACC with 123 tackles in 2004.

    DL Thomas Carroll, Miami

  • Has started 19 of 32 games played.

  • Has recorded 117 tackles, 22 tackles, including 39 solo and 28 assists in 2004.

  • Has two forced fumbles and made six fumble recoveries.

  • Starting defensive end who can play on both sides of the line.

    LISTEN (1:27)

    On the opener against FSU
    "…one of the great college football programs around the country, including ourselves. We're going to be stubborn. We're going to run what we run. And, that's the same thing with Florida State. They're going to run what they run. They have great athletes and they can do that, so I really don't think they're going to change up their offense all that much. And why should they? They have great athletes; they're Florida State. They're going to have a great powerhouse defense. The only reason I think they may change something around is, I guess, the quarterback. I don't know, I just think they're going to come out and run their game plan. It's not going to change that much. They have the same offensive coordinator from last year. They haven't changed anything."

    They didn't score an offensive touchdown against you last year.
    "They played great defense and we played great defense. I don't know what to say about it. We played great defense that game. They're our rival. I hope they don't score an offensive touchdown against us this year."

    LB Oliver Hoyte, N.C. State

  • Leading tackler on nation's top-ranked defense in 2004.

  • Recorded 93 tackles, 10 more than any other N.C. State player.

  • Second on the team with 14.5 tackles for loss.

  • 14.5 TFLs were the ninth-best mark in school history and seventh-best mark in the ACC.

    LISTEN (1:18)

    How do you think Virginia Tech will come in knowing that you were the only team to beat them?
    "They are going to come in fired up."

    Playing on Sunday night. Is that a little bit of a precursor for the future?
    "[Laughing] A little bit... I hope. That's my goal, that's my dream but if it doesn't happen it doesn't happen. That's something that I've been playing hard to achieve."

    Do you like the new division layout?
    "I don't really know the setup, but I'd love to play Miami every year. I'd love to play them. That's the only school that didn't recruit me. I love the offense they run. They have I-backs and run straight at you. I wish every team would line up in the I-back and run straight at me. That's a dream."

    Are you moving back to middle linebacker?
    "As of right now I'm the starting middle linebacker at N.C. State."

    Who are the two guys beside you at linebacker?
    "I'm seeing Stephen Tulloch and LeRue Rumph. LeRue Rumph is a very good player. He's a new guy on the block. He's pretty good. I expect big things out of him. He likes to hit... he's a very physical player. He's a former safety that likes to run, and he can strike people. Who do you feel is the team to beat?
    "Virginia Tech... the ACC champs. That's the team to beat." What about in your division?
    "Florida State is always. Year in and year out they are ranked high. Regardless of what kind of year they had the previous year they are going to be ranked top 10 or top 15."

    What are your thoughts on instant replay?
    "I'm pretty neutral on it. I feel that a call is a part of the game, and the game shouldn't come down to one call."

    If you had your choice you would leave the game the way it was?

    Even after what happened last year?
    "Yes. It shouldn't have come down to the last play. When a call is made in the game, that's the way it should be. That's what you hired the ref for. Everybody makes mistakes."

    DE Brennan Schmidt, Virginia

  • Entering his fourth year as a starter.

  • Has started every game in his career (39) and owns the longest streak for consecutive starts by a UVa defensive player since Mike Frederick started 47 games in a row at DE from 1991-94.

  • One of just two Virginia players (LT B'Brickashaw Ferguson) to start every game the last three seasons.

  • Has 224 career tackles, seventh in school history by a defensive lineman and tops among active Cavaliers.

    LISTEN (1:19)

    DE Darryl Tapp, Virginia Tech

  • On the preseason watch lists for the Hendricks, Bednarik, Lott Trophy and Nagurski Awards.

  • Preseason All-America by numerous publications.

  • First team All-ACC in 2004.

  • Recorded 60 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.

    LISTEN (1:59)

    We're you in on the play in which Va. Tech sacked Darian Durant and pushed UNC out of range for a game-tying field goal?
    "Yes. Jim Davis made the play."

    How big of a play was that for your season?
    "We lined up like, ‘This is the play; we've got to get it.' And Jim made the play. It pushed them out of field goal range just a little bit. Connor Barth…obviously, no range is out of range for him. He's got a great leg. It just didn't get there. It was great play for the season. It continued the season momentum on the road to our goal of winning the conference. It just turned the season around. Jim Davis made plays all year."

    LB Jon Abbate, Wake Forest

  • Named second team freshman All-America by and third team freshman All-America and ACC All-Freshman Team by The Sporting News.

  • Runner-up for ACC Rookie of the Year.

  • Named honorable mention All-ACC, becoming the first Wake Forest freshman to earn league honors since 1976.

  • One of just two freshmen in the nation with at least 100 tackles (101).

    LISTEN (2:52)

    On your recruitment and where did UNC fit in?
    "Honestly, when it came down to Signing Day, I had two Letters of Intent – one from Wake Forest and one from UNC. I honestly went in there not knowing my decision – especially with former teammate Scotty Lenahan, who committed to UNC already. I didn't know what team I was going to pick yet. I talked to my parents, and realized that Wake Forest was the place I wanted to be at. I wanted to play for Coach [Jim] Grobe and Coach Lambert. I definitely came close."

    Was it a matter of UNC coach John Bunting not showing enough interest?
    "He showed interest, but too late. He showed it too late. I definitely wanted to play for a school that wanted me the whole time, rather than a school that says, ‘OK, I'm going to offer you two weeks before Signing Day.' So that was another big thing there. Coach Bunting is a good guy; there's no doubt about that. But I just felt like my heart belonged to Wake Forest and I wanted to play for Coach Grobe."

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