ASKED AND ANSWERED with Eric Striker

Linebacker recaps Week 1, talks a little LeBron James

How do you feel like you guys played Saturday?

I thought we played great. We came out fast, stopped the run. That’s what we wanted to do. Everybody was ready to go, and it showed. We were assignment great. Everybody did what they had to do. … The front seven played very well especially in the pass rush situations. We had a great game.

When you play that well, what do you hear from the defensive backs?

Of course it makes it easier on them. The pressure just messes everything. Either he takes a sack or he’s trying to get the ball out of there. That’s not good for them. They appreciate, I know, Zack and Q. When the pressure comes, the quarterback’s getting it out of there. They’re not even reading the secondary. And they get interceptions. I’m actually looking for a steak dinner from one of them.

What was it like the first time you were isolated on a slot receiver? I was like, ‘Let’s go.’ I can do this. I’ve been repping it every day at practice. You go out to a game, and really the only difference is 85,000 people are watching. In practice I’ve been on Sterling Shepard and K.J. Those guys are better than their receivers. Yeah, I got this. There weren’t any nerves at all.

But would you rather be rushing the quarterback?

Would I rather be rushing the quarterback? I mean, it’s in my blood, man. I’m doing what’s best for the team, though. That is in my blood, though.

Are you going to tease linebacker Caleb Gastelum for his dropped interception? Probably. Say he can’t catch and stuff like that. Just for a little bit. But we’ll let it go. He can deal with it.

How does it affect a pass rush or getting your hands up against a quick-passing team like Tulsa?

Well, it depends. If you try to guess and you think he’s going to get it out, yeah you’ll try to get your hands up. But other than that you’re going full-throttle rushing to take his head off. That won’t change.

Were you caught off guard when Louisiana Tech’s running back flopped during the after-play action?

I was kind of caught off guard. That’s just him trying to get a penalty. He sold it a lot, didn’t he? Like he almost hurt himself. It was kind of funny. I laughed. I’m sure you all laughed. I told him he was crazy for that after the game. He just laughed at me. He was just trying to do what he had to do to help his team, so that’s what he did. It was pretty funny, though. I think he should win an Oscar for it.

He looked like a soccer player didn’t he?

He did, didn’t he. Flopping like that. Or LeBron James. Something like that.


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