Smith Discusses His Senior Season

OSU senior and co-captain big contributor for the 8-1 Buckeyes. He hopes OSU can continue the momentum down the stretch.

OSU senior defensive end Will Smith, a co-captain, met with the media earlier this week and discussed his feelings after the Buckeyes enter the final three games of the regular season. OSU will begin that tough stretch Saturday when it hosts 14th-ranked Michigan State (noon, ABC regional telecast).

"These are my last few games at Ohio State University," Smith said. "I'm looking forward to having my best three games, lead the team and hopefully in those three games we'll be able to accomplish what we want to."

Smith, in his third year as a starter, leads the Big Ten in tackles-for-loss (16-½) and is second in sacks (9-½). He has also been named as a Lombardi Award semifinalist.

"I think I'm having a pretty good year," Smith said. "It could be a little better. I think if you ask me at the end of the year I can answer it for sure."

Ten months ago, Smith passed up a chance to go to the NFL and opted to return for his senior season.

"I just want to be a leader," he said. "I'm a captain. I just wanted to be a good football player and hopefully go to the NFL and be a top pick. We won't find that out for a few more months, I guess.

"I looked at it seriously. I wasn't really concerned with where I was going to be drafted. I figured if I went to the combine I think I would have been able to separate myself from the other defensive linemen who were in the draft. I knew I had a great opportunity there and a great opportunity here to come back."

Although the Buckeyes saw their long winning streak end at Wisconsin earlier this year, OSU was still in position to play for the Big Ten championship. But OSU trailed 17-7 at halftime last week at Penn State before rallying for a 21-20 win.

"At halftime of the Penn State game, we were talking that we had to step up and make some plays," he said. "This is our last time playing at Penn State and we didn't want to leave with a loss."

Smith helped OSU secure the win with a sack and three tackles-for-loss. In the second half, he appeared to be held on a play where an official downfield ruled OSU was guilty of pass interference. Smith argued the play to referee Steve Pamon to no avail.

"I just asked the referee if he saw it," Smith said. "He said he didn't see it. I just had to move on from there. That's just the nature of the game. They're not going to call holding all the time or pass interference all the time. You just have to fight through that stuff. If you get the call, you get it. If not, you move on."

After facing a number of teams that favor the run, OSU will be back against a strong passing team in Michigan State.

"We've seen a lot of different schemes," Smith said. "I think we're capable of playing any team and dealing with anything we might see."

Smith discussed the Spartans and standout quarterback Jeff Smoker.

"They can pass the ball," Smith said. "They have a great defense and great special teams. We know we have to stop the quarterback and get after their receivers and hopefully, somehow, we'll come out on top.

"(Smoker) has faced pressure a lot. Plus, with his situation off the field and coming back, he's been going through a lot of hard times. He'll be fine. The key will be hitting him and getting him on the ground."


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