Defensive weekly Q&A: DT Casey Walker

NORMAN, Okla. — Defensive tackle Casey Walker talks about proving his critics wrong, what he's brought back to this defensive line and more in this week's Q&A session with Sooners lllustrated.

Q. What was your response to the criticism before the Texas game?

A. I don't listen to it. I don't let it get to me. I'm all about proving my point. If I do hear [criticism], or if somebody tells it to me, then I always wanna prove them wrong. But I always try to go out there and just kinda play my game.

Q. Well I guess did your family--a lot of times it's family and friends that are hearing a lot of that stuff. You guys know what you got into, and then people say things to your family and friends. Did you hear any of that or did they keep that away from you?

A. Well, the coaches posted two pieces of paper in the locker room talking about the quarterback Ash that he goes against the best D-line at practice. So, I mean that kind of added fuel to the fire, you know, but other than that it was all about, 'Let's just go play our game.' We gonna see what D-line is better. That's the thing. You know, I'll let him [Ash] make that call.

Q. So did it feel good on Saturday to do what you did with shutting them down?

A. Oh, of course. Of course. We're gonna see what D-line is better. You know, that's the thing, so I let him make that call.

Q. Since you've been back in the lineup, you guys have moved the line of scrimmage. You guys have been more dominant and I know you've played well since you've been here. But you're actually off to your best start at Oklahoma personally, aren't you?

A. Most definitely. It's a new year, new me, new mindset. Healthy. It's, you know, ears pinned back and you gotta go.

Q. I'm sure you don't mind being the guy that's ignited the rest of the group, but once you started moving, Jamarkus [McFarland] played better. He's had monster starts in the last two games [along] with the defensive ends. I mean, you've gotta feel pretty good. It's nice to be a senior leading that group, right?

A. Oh yeah, of course, of course. You've seen Gerald McCoy do it or anybody like that. Frank [Alexander], Jeremy Beal, you've seen them do it. You kinda wanna make your mark as doing that also. The young guys, they see that. When it's their turn, they can do the same.

Q. Was there ever a point in your life you weren't a nose guard?

A. Yeah, freshman year of high school I was a tight end and middle linebacker. Actually, after my freshman year of high school, I tore my meniscus and so I sat out for the full year and I just blew up.

Q. Have you had much of a chance to look at KU on film?

A. I saw them just a little bit today. They're a real good team just like everybody else in the Big 12. Big 12's got good schools, good teams and what not. You just gotta go out there and play your heart out every Saturday.

Q. Before the season started, everybody said this was going to be the weak link. The last two weeks the defensive line has not been the weak link at all. Are you guys driven to maybe not prove everybody wrong, but to show everybody you guys are pretty good?

A. It comes down to proving everybody wrong. You don't want nobody talking bad about you even when you know that's not who you are. That's our big deal. Me and Jamarkus, David, R.J., you know, we're not that much big of a name, but we will show you that we come with it.

Q. What do you think you brought back to these guys when you came back for that third game?

A. I'm not sure, because honestly I just try and play my game, and I guess me playing hard is like a domino effect I guess. Because I've seen Jamarkus play hard, I've seen David play hard. I've seen him making tackles and sacks and what not, so it's like I wanna do it too. It's kinda like competition.

Q. Coach mentioned after the game that that couldn't be the end-all for you guys, you gotta keep moving forward. Just what do you guys have to do to keep moving forward?

A. Progress. Watch film on Texas, see what we did wrong, so you don't make those same mistakes against Kansas. After Kansas game, whatever we do, whatever mistakes we make, we don't make that against Notre Dame. And you just keep going on and on. That's progression.

Q. You guys were getting a ridiculous amount of pressure on David Ash the other day. Why were you guys able to do that?

A. Well, Coach Mike Stoops kinda let us loose. You know, kinda like go get him. Same way as we did at Texas Tech. You know, so we're just playing hard. That's it.

Q. It seems like this last few weeks you have turned the corner. You're playing vintage what people think about Oklahoma football. Have you noticed that and how does that feel?

A. Kind of. Yes and no. You know, but at the same time we still have to play our game. We still have to do our assignments, fill our gaps, you know, defeat our blocks.

Q. The BCS Standings came out [the other day], the initial ones. I know three weeks ago when you guys lost, Landry said, ‘Hey, this thing's not over. We can still get where we want to be.' The rankings come out and you guys are right there:

A. I mean, honestly as a team we try not to look at the rankings. I mean, we do see them, but it's like we're not gonna let that be a factor. You know, don't get comfortable. That's the main thing. Don't get comfortable and stay hungry for more. We're No. 10 this week. Shoot, at the end of everyone's all said and done, let's try to be No. 1. But we just gotta play our game every week.

Q. What was it like planting that flag for the third time?

A. Oh, it felt good. Especially me personally because I didn't get to do it last year because I wasn't a senior, but being a senior you get to do it. That felt real good.

Q. Was that flag heavy, heavier than you thought it was?

A. Yes. Whoever that guy is and I hope that he hears me--y'all put this out--I got respect for you because that thing is heavy. It is very heavy.

Q. What was the feelings when you were running around carrying it?

A. Just enjoyment. You know, it's fun. This is what football's about, just having fun with your brothers out there and showing the world what you can do. So, I mean, that's what we plan on doing every Saturday.

Q. Can you describe to me R.J. Washington personality-wise?

A. Funny guy. Very funny guy. You know, if anybody's down or whatnot, he goes out of his way to try to cheer him up, give him a little bit of words of encouragement, anything like that. And if he's got it and you need it, he'll give it to you, point blank. Good guy. That's my brother.

Q. Can you give me an example of something he's done to help you in that regard encouragement-wise?

A. The first two weeks of the season when I went through all the deal, you know, he came over to the house a couple times. Him, David and Jamarkus and Stacy, and they just that brotherly love. You know what I'm saying? Mama's not here. Whatever the case may be. We're with these guys, you know, the majority of the day, so we kinda got that bond like that's my blood brother. And so just being around them, having them put their arm around you, that's what you need. That's the type of stuff that they do.

Q. So, it was good to talk to [them]? They maybe understood, too, that as opposed to you've known those guys. You're talking about classmates in a lot of cases. They've known you for a long time and they can understand.

A. Oh, of course. Oh yeah, of course. We go through a lot of stuff being especially linemen here at OU. You know, with the summer workouts, winter workouts and then on the field and everything like that, that bond is something that's going to be tight forever.

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