ACC Kickoff: The Players, Part IV

GREENSBORO, N.C.--Willie Young and Jim Ramella discuss the 2009 ACC season.

Willie Young, NC State (DE)

This is your last year to cement your name in NC State legacy. When you hear Mario Williams and Manny Lawson and ends like that, guys who mentored you, and then you hear Willie Young, does that give you motivation?

A lot of motivation. It really tickles me just to hear my name in the same sentence as 'NFL potential' or 'NFL prospect.' Having watched those guys--I know what it takes to get up to that Mario Williams and Carl Reeves status--it takes 14-plus sacks. I think Mario set the record. I almost had that [game] record a few times: Carolina, Virginia. Virginia, I know I almost had it. It deflates the pass is what it does. The length of an eye lash is how much I missed somebody, and I must have hit him about five or six times.

I think Mario set it at four, four-and-a-half. I have been trying to get it ever since. If it is going to be done, it will be this year. When you have a productive offense, you are putting your opponent's offense in a situation where they have to throw the ball. We haven't been in that situation since Mario [was here]. Putting offenses in a situation where they have to throw the ball at the beginning of the third quarter, really, really tells you to pin your ears back and go get the quarterback. You know for a fact they aren't about to run the ball. When you increase the number of passes by 15-20, you increase your chances a lot. That's 10-15 more chances to set up the pass rush.

In the fourth quarter in previous years, you had to worry about play-action. You still had to worry about the run because the score is so close. You can't predict what the offense is about to do. Having them put points on the board and having the defense stop them in the first half. Most teams take their starters out in the fourth quarter. There is no point in leaving them in there and risking injury. Last year, we had a few games we did jump up and took out the seniors. Hopefully, this year we can get points on the board early on, put our opponents in a situation to do nothing but throw the ball, pin your ears back and go. That really has a lot to do with production.

Assuming you guys win your division, who would you pick to finish second?

It's hard to say. You are talking about the ACC. There are ups and downs all the way through the season. If I had to guess somebody I don't know who I would guess. I wouldn't even put ourselves in the first one or two right now--or third or fourth. I wouldn't even do it because I couldn't, just because of the caliber of the conference we are in. The ACC is the toughest conference, I feel.

How do you think the NC State program has changed since Coach O'Brien has been there?

I don't know. You hear this and you hear that. You hear that we weren't a disciplined team back when Chuck (Amato) was here and stuff like that. When I think, for the most part, what we were missing was a quarterback. You see the games--interceptions in the end zone, fumbles in the red zone. You can't win games like that; you can't do it. It wasn't that we didn't have a guy to get the job done. I just think there was a lack of focus. That was the biggest issue we had, a lack of focus.

The defense was there. Our defense was averaging, what, 60-some plays, 65, 70 plays a game? That is way above average. I think you average somewhere from 40-50 plays a game. I think that is a fairly (normal) number of plays in the course of a game. Well, you going 20 extra plays--I mean, that's a lot of banging going on. (Pause) It's different. We just have to practice hard, practice smart. I'll just say that.

Jim Ramella, Boston College (DE)

Where does this confidence at Boston College come from?

That's just the nature of Boston College. Nobody has ever picked us to do well. We always hear, 'They are going to suck this year. They've lost this and that.' It's just the type of kids they recruit to Boston College. They are smart and they are tough, and that has a lot to do with the coaching staff. It just brings everyone together.

How are the guys who are taking over for the guys who graduated (on the defensive line)?

They are young, but those four D-tackles have all played in games, which is good. They will fill in. On defense, everybody does their own role and we'll have success. Damik Scafe, Kaleb Ramsey, and then there is Nick Rossi, and Brendan Deska. There are other guys too who are battling for it… [Damik], Rossi, and Kaleb have all played in games, so it's not like we are just throwing a new guy into the fire.

Have you been talking to Mark (Herzlich) lately?

Yeah, I went out with him on Friday night. We went out for a guy on the team's birthday. Going out, talking to him, you wouldn't know that he has cancer. You really wouldn't, he's totally normal. He doesn't mope around or feel sorry for himself. He has a good time. From what I've heard, everything is going well with his treatments.

The Lift For Life [event], have you all talked about that?

That will be a great event. Each player has an online site to raise money, and we have raised a lot of money. I think we have raised close to 10 grand. It's pretty much like a strong man competition. There will be six-eight different events. People come and watch. I think it's five bucks for kids, 10 bucks for adults. I'm sure you can make donations. It's really good for us because it's a way for us to help out Mark. What other way can we do? It's good to do it for him.

Assuming you guys finish first in your division, who would you pick second?

Who is in our division--Florida State, Clemson, NC State, Wake Forest, Maryland? Those are all good teams. I couldn't even pick one because I just think about playing them and there is not one team I'd rather play more than the others.


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