Burrell Happy to be Starting

Free safety Quentin Burrell has found his way into a starting role. The 6-0, 180-pound Decatur, GA native has started the last two games at free safety and is starting to feel real comfortable with his position. He has eight tackles on the season, two tackles for loss, a half of a sack and an interception in his four games this year. Burrell will face his toughest test this Saturday and he tries to defend the Pittsburgh passing attack.

Burrell says he's having the time of his life right now just being able to play for Notre Dame. "Every game I'm gaining confidence," said Burrell. "Just putting on the jersey, you have to feel honored from the guys who've worn it in the past. I just feel it's an honor and a privilege and I just have to go out there and give it my all and do my job."

Burrell started his charge up the depth chart in the spring this year. Burrell had always shown signs of being a starter but couldn't stay healthy. Burrell says health is very important in football. "It makes a lot of difference. For me being hurt, the coaches say ‘ah, he's been hurt and can't stay healthy' so they kind of like second-guess you. When you can stay on the field, they have that confidence in you and you have confidence in yourself. It helps a whole lot to be healthy. I was able to finally make the plays I've known I can make and they saw it too."

Just being healthy hasn't been the only reason Burrell is starting. He said he is finally starting to understand the key to being a great defensive back. "I think just staying focused and disciplined, knowing your keys and reading your keys. As far as coverage, that's pretty easy to me. Just staying focused with my eyes and seeing everything and knowing where I'm supposed to be."

The junior free safety is known as a rangy player who can cover a lot of ground. The Irish defense hasn't had the interceptions they had last year and probably why Burrell is starting. He says the interceptions will come for this defense.

"I just think we need to keep doing what we're doing and the interceptions will come," said Burrell. "Keep practicing hard and getting everyone around the ball and the interceptions will come."

Vontez Duff is a player that Burrell looks up to. They don't play the same position but Burrell likes how Duff makes plays on the ball. "It comes with experience. He's a veteran and he's been through it all and he can get himself into position to make plays. A couple of us younger guys haven't had that experience but we're coming along and I think we're starting to get into position to make some plays on the ball."

The Irish defense has done the job most of the season. We asked Burrell if the defense is disappointed they don't have the wins to show for their hard work. "It's frustrating but you can't dwell on the past. We've got to take care of what we do on defense and the offense will come around. We're always supporting them and we've just got to do more. We've got to get those turnovers and help the offense and get those W's (wins)."

With a 1-3 start, the Irish don't have a lot to be happy about. Burrell says this team and his defense are still hungry and they know they are very close to turning this season around. "The team is not having going to have a let down. We're going to keep pushing and everything will fall in place. We're still upbeat because we know what we can do, we know we're this close to making plays and breaking things open and getting some wins."

Burrell's toughest challenge will be this weekend when he faces the Pittsburgh passing attack. He'll be in centerfield and the last man in defense and he relishes the challenge. "I think it's a privilege to play with a guy like (Larry) Fitzgerald—he's an exceptional athlete. For me, it's a measure of my talents against his. He's a good athlete and I feel I'm a good athlete so I'm going to go out there and try my best and hopefully we come out with a win."

Both Fitzgerald and quarterback Rod Rutherford present a big challenge for the Irish defense. Burrell says the Irish defense has to play their scheme and not focus so much on the two great players. "We've just got to be sound in our technique. We're conscious of Rutherford and Fitzgerald but we've got to stay focused on the defense, our coverages and everything will fall into place. Those guys are great athletes and it's just a matter of staying focused because if we slip up one time, those guys are going to make us pay."


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories