Defense Should be Solid According to Landri

Senior defensive lineman Derek Landri started all 12 games at nose tackle in 2004 posting a career high 40 tackles, including 19 solos and seven for loss yards. He missed all of spring ball due to an injury but is fit and ready for fall camp. Landri is poised to have a big year and should be a leader on the defensive line. Irish Eyes spoke with the Concord, California, native about fall camp and the upcoming season.

The Irish had just finished their third practice of fall camp when we spoke to Landri, and the nose guard said the practices have been spirited.

"To sum it up, they were real intense," Landri said. "Real intense and striving for perfection and getting more knowledge of the defensive package. I believe we have fully bought into the new defense and taking it seriously. In my opinion there is no point in doing anything half-assed."

Landri said the defensive goals are simple. "To try and get back into the top five in the country with our rush and build up our pass defense by getting more sacks, which will help out our defensive backs," he said.

The senior says there is a lot of competition for playing time on the defensive line, and he welcomes the competition.

"We have good solid depth on the inside with me, Trevor (Laws); Beidastch (Brian); Stephenson (Dwight); Nicolas (Brandon); and the young guy Derrell Hand," Landri explained. "So we have a pretty solid core in there and should do well.

"Of course, any time you experience more playing time and can get into game situations, you always get a little bit ahead of everybody else. So experience is definitely a plus."

The veteran nose tackle expects to take on a bigger leadership role in 2005.

"I try and lead by example," he said. "If something needs to be said or if I think something isn't right, I will express myself vocally but leading by example suits me.

"I think one of the good things about Coach Weis is that he wants everyone to take a leadership role. He wants everyone to kind of lead everybody. So as a team I think we all need to lead each other and step it up in that way."

The good-looking nose tackle doesn't mind being called one of the big uglies. "Big ulgies sounds good to me," he said with a laugh. "Whatever we are called is fine with me; I just like playing. Quick-thick-nasty basically says it all. We have to be that 300 pound defensive lineman that has to tackle the best athletes on the field."

The California native says he's been impressed with the defensive coaching staff since their arrival.

"Coach Minter is a real intense guy who has a lot of knowledge about defense and the package he wants to put in," he said. "If we can learn to execute half or three quarters of it, we will be pretty solid. Coach Oliver is right there with coach Minter. He is solid and knows defense. I can't say enough about him."

Landri, who missed spring practice with an injury, said he is completely healthy and ready to go for the 2005 season.

"Everything is good. I'm out there and practicing every day and in the groove," he said. "I'm learning the new defense and getting everything under my belt. So everything is good."

The veteran said working with new strength coach Ruben Mendoza was a real benefit for him this summer. "Summer workouts were good. I like Dozer (Mendoza). He's a big guy. A big intense guy. He likes working with linemen. I really enjoyed the one-on-one type of workout. I really enjoyed it, and I think most of our defensive and offensive linemen enjoyed it. He likes to compete a lot and that's good."

Landri said getting motivated for the new season will be easy considering the results of the previous season. "I think all of our games last year and our record last year will be motivation for the Pitt game and every game," he said.

Landri has never been the biggest defensive lineman, but he uses his quickness to get into the opposition's backfield, and that is something the Irish have lacked for awhile. Irish Eyes expects Derek Landri to have an impressive season and be a major contributor to the team's success. Top Stories