Quote Sheet: Senior Leadership

This particular group of seniors has a lot to battle through--a new coaching staff, a new scheme, new philosophy and some are even getting one last shot at a starting job. Here's a look at how a few are approaching the season.

Brandon Lindsey is not only switching from the 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme, he's going from being in a three-point stance at defensive end to a standing position at outside linebacker. Here's a look at how Lindsey is approaching his senior season.

How do you like the Panther position?
"I like it a lot. I just have to get used to playing up again. I haven't played up since high school. It helps you see the offensive line better. It helps you see the quarterback; what the quarterback is doing, see the run, see the pass a lot quicker. It helps me out in different positions."

What do you think of the team's new philosophy, and this fast-pace brand of football?
"Just watching the freshmen come out, we're going to be flying around. Like coach (Todd Graham) is saying, they're trying to snap the ball in 15 seconds. Once we make a tackle, we have to be ready to look at the sideline and be ready for the next play. You can't dwell on whatever happened in the last play because you're going to get burned again, if you're not ready for the next play."

You broke into the starting lineup last season filling in for Greg Romeus. Is there anything different in being conditioned to be a full-time starter with full-time reps?
"Definitely. I'm getting comfortable playing (more). I wasn't used to playing all the reps I was playing because I wasn't starting at the beginning of the year. About midway through the season, I got my feet wet and I got used to playing. This year, I feel like I have to take a leadership role because it's my senior year and we have a lot of players coming back on defense. We don't want to let anything slip away. We don't want to let anything mess us up for next year."

What team and individual goals do you have set?
"We want to lead the nation in takeaways, number-one scoring defense in the nation, number-one total defense in the nation. Myself, my goal is 15 sacks, Defensive Player of the Year in the Conference, lead the conference in everything I can lead them in."

Pitt has three recipients of the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award over the last two seasons. Do you feel pressured to carry that tradition on?
"It's not pressure, but you have something to live up to with all of them getting the defensive player of the year award. They have faith in me that I can do it and I have faith in myself that I can do it. I know my teammates have faith in me.

Greg Williams broke into the lineup as a redshirt freshman, starting at outside linebacker. In recent years, he's had to fight others to hold on to his starting job. On top of that, Williams had to sit out this spring due to injury. Now, he has one last battle for a starting job, as he looks to hold off some stiff competition from redshirt freshman Todd Thomas.

How tough was it for you to sit out in the spring, anxious to learn the new staff and new schemes?
"It was very tough because I missed a lot. I didn't get a chance to play. I had to stand there, watching. It kind of bothered me because I really wanted to be out there with the guys, learning the new plays that coaches are putting in."

Playing outside linebacker in the 4-3 as opposed to playing the 3-4 now, what are the differences between the two schemes you have played at Pitt?
"I feel like (the 3-4) gives me more freedom. It gives me a lot of opportunity to blitz, actually. I'm looking forward to doing that. That's something I love to do, is blitz. It gives me an opportunity to cover receivers more, in the flat. It should be fun, to give me a lot of freedom; to run around, use my speed."

Is speed your true strength for this position?
"It relies more on instincts. It really is used for speed, and to be patient, really."

What do you like about the new defense overall?
"Just watching it, it's fast. Once the play is over, you have to get back to the defense; huddle up, hurry up, look to the sidelines, get the play and get ready. I'm excited. Once we run it, I think I can get used to it. After awhile, it should be nothing. We play a bunch of teams that run a fast-paced offense. That's going to be better for us during practice like this, especially against an offense like that."

How did you like the offseason conditioning program with the new staff?
"It did a lot for me. It made a difference from last year's conditioning to this year's conditioning. The guys, Coach Gris (head strength coach Shawn Griswold) and Coach D (assistant strength coach Trevor Dielman), they actually changed up the runs every day so you can't really get used to it. You have to work hard every day and build like a team. Everyone came together during the conditioning and stuff. I felt faster and more conditioned, less tired. I'm excited for the season after these summer workouts."

Then, there's Chas Alecxih who became a full-time starter a year ago, and blossomed in doing so. Alecxih, who came to Pitt as a 210-pound walk-on, was faced with being a detrimental leader through the coaching transition.

What did you place on your shoulders when the coaching change took place?
"What is was, when Coach Graham came in, he really impressed us when he first came in. We realized that we had to take it upon ourselves and set an example for the young guys. It's a change, and change happens in life as we were constantly told. I'd like to think that we made it easier on some of the young guys."

How did this new strength coach have an impact on your offseason?
"Obviously Coach Gris and his staff have been very, very—they're awesome in that they don't yell and scream like other staffs. They encourage, and they say, ‘We know you have more to give.' I think that's an attitude, especially with everything that happened with the team, the team really liked that. They really responded well to that."

How do you like going from being a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme to being a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme?
"It's good. We did a little bit of it in the spring, and I liked it. I'm really looking forward to seeing where it could take me."

With a strong group of seniors on that defensive line, do you feel a correlation between leadership and play on the field?
"I had a coach tell me, ‘We're the first line of defense.' I really like that, because that's the way I see it; me, Myles (Caragein) and Justin (Hargrove) up front. Not only us, but the second-string; A.D. (Aaron Donald) and K.K. (Mosley-Smith), T.J (Clemmings). We have to set an example; to lead by example, and we're the first line of defense. We have to be the strongest."


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