Defensive weekly Q&A: Linebacker Tom Wort

NORMAN, Okla. — Sooners Illustrated met up with linebacker Tom Wort this week to get his thoughts on the linebackers having a bigger role with a more run oriented offense they'll face, plus the prospect of playing a somewhat rare huge home game and more.

Q. How do you prepare for a predominantly run team?

A. Definitely working on stopping the run. They got a really good running game. Quarterback's key to it all. Definitely looking to stop him and his run game.

Q. You guys have only played two ranked teams at home in the last three years. Does it just seem like you end up playing a lot of those games on the road?

A. Yeah, it does, but playing a ranked team, having a big atmosphere is always fun, so looking forward to bringing this one home and got a lot of respect for this team. So, looking forward to it.

Q. Do you sense a heightened sense of excitement in practice just knowing you do have a highly-ranked opponent in No. 15 K-State coming to town?

A. Yeah, I mean it's nothing on the other teams, but this is a higher level opponent. So thinking about how they played last year, how they prepare, you know, they're a well-disciplined team. It's a challenge, but it's going to be exciting to play them.

Q. How difficult as a player is it to play two games, then take a week off after you've been waiting for the season to start?

A. It's definitely hard. You want to try and get in a rhythm, and then when it kinda gets broken up like that, and with us having a bye week after it's difficult, but you just gotta stay sharp. It's hard to do, but you just gotta focus in and have that maturity about you to do it.

Q. What do you need to do defensively to have the type of success you had against them in the second half last year?

A. Just gotta come out with that right attitude. I think that's one of the things we had last year. We had that, you know, fighting attitude. We went on the road, had just taken a loss, so you just gotta be prepared. With a team like this, you gotta be excited to play. They're highly-ranked team, a real disciplined team. It's gonna be fun to play them.

Q. For you as a linebacker, this has to be a game you're excited to play in against a team that's going to give you the chance to be a playmaker when they run the football so much:

A. Absolutely. Last year was a lot of fun to play linebacker, and just thinking back to last year that was one of my favorite games. Looking forward to them coming back in here, and I respect their players, I respect their fullback, their quarterback, you know, they're tough guys. Looking forward to going against them and banging heads a little bit.

Q. Who all do you see playing now that you're going to have several sets with the more traditional three linebackers defense?

A. I mean it's the same guys that have been there. We rotate everyone in. Every guy's trying to find a position or a role. Coach Kish will decide during the week who's going to play depending on their best abilities and stuff like that.

Q. More riding on the shoulders of the linebackers in a game like this?

A. Yeah, there's gonna be a lot of responsibilities put on us in the run game, so it's going to be about fitting everything up and being physical.

Q. You got off to a fast start against this team a season ago. Talk about what you learned from facing them last year that you can take into this game:

A. Yeah, they're just a very disciplined team. They're going to run it powers, then come back with a counter. You can't over-cheat one thing, because they can come back with another thing. And then having that extra player for a blocker with their quarterback being a runner just makes it that much more difficult, but you just gotta be that much more disciplined.

Q. We've heard a lot about how much it means to have Casey Walker back in this defense and how good he's looked, but what does it mean to be able to put David King back out at the defensive end position?

A. Yeah, I think that's his more natural position being outside. He's a big guy. He can take up the blocks and especially on the powers with those guards coming around you want a big guy like David to take them out. It's definitely going to help the entire defense.

Q. You ran four DE's at the same time, mostly in passing situations, but do you expect more of that?

A. It's just the coaches' opinions who they think can get the most pressure, you know, faster guys for third-and-long, stuff like that. So it'll just depend on the situation.

Q. What do you remember about Collin Klein that makes him difficult?

A. Yeah, I remembered one play yesterday where I was running him down and he broke through a tackle. He's a lot stronger than I thought he was. He can run through arm-tackles pretty decently, so he doesn't look overly, powerfully big, but he can run through tackles. He's a strong runner.

Q. You guys played well last year, but he still got his plays. Does that just show how much pressure those guys can put on a defense?

A. I mean he's a great player. He's going to find a way to make plays. We just gotta make more plays than them basically.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories