Talk about the new defense and what makes it different than last year.
"We worked on a new scheme, basically just getting after the ball. There's a lot more movement, a lot more alignment adjustments, different alignments, actually it is easier than last year. This year I am a right end, whereas last year I would switch depending upon the call or what have you. But I am a right end and George is a left end this year so that makes it a lot easier."
How so? What actually makes it easier?
"Basically the guy in front of us is our key and he takes us to the ball every time. So it's basically just pinning our ears back and getting after the ball. If the guy in front of you pulls then you follow him down the line. If he blocks straight up on you then you know the ball is coming your way. If he retreats to pass block then you blow past him and go after the quarterback. It is as simple as that. I mean not quite that simple but you get the idea."
So are you the Sam End and George Gause is the Will End?
"I'm on the right side, not necessarily the Sam side because the Sam side would mean the wide side of the field. For George and me he'll always line up on the left and I'll always line up on the right regardless of which side is the wide side of the field. I'm comfortable because it's just one side we've got to learn and basically that makes it easier for the whole defensive line as far as where we've got to go. No more having to remember different assignments for different sides of the field. Plus we're getting some help with the tight ends. I mean last year you just never knew what was going on from play to play. It was always a guessing game and you had to hope you were guessing right. Usually we guessed wrong."
So it is easier to play the new defense, but it will still be effective?
"It takes a load off from having to think so much because if you just concentrate on your side of the field knowing the other guys have their side taken care of it's a lot easier to play this defense than what we were asked to do last year. So yes sir, we will definitely be more effective. Much more."
Other defensive linemen on the team have said the goal is for the defensive line to anchor the team this season.
"That's one of our goals and that is our attitude. I'm glad to hear them saying that because that is something we are going to strive to be this year and we're going to work hard to make it happen. We're going to try to be one of the best, not only on the team but in the country."
Do you feel comfortable that the depth behind you is adequate?
"I feel pretty comfortable. You know those guys have a lot to learn as far as the plays and all are concerned but we have a lot of talent behind us on the D-Line and you can bet there will be a lot of guys rotating in and out on the D-Line. I'll say this for the fans, it's going to be exciting watching us on the front of the defensive line this year I really believe that. It's going to be very exciting on the defensive line this year I will definitely say that. Oh and, once Preston returns along with Eric and if Stanley and Tucker and some of those other guys keep improving, we are really pretty good depth wise. I feel pretty comfortable but I don't want to jinx us."
About the team's chemistry.
"The team ... we seem to be getting it together as a team this year. We'll work hard together over the summer and continue to develop the chemistry but we have a good foundation heading into the summer. We have come a long ways in that regard there is no doubt about it. I like what I am seeing so far and it makes me believe we have the potential to be very good if we continue to come together as a team. There is a lot more experience this year than any other time since I have been here. Plus everyone has really gotten together in the weight room and worked hard to get stronger, so it should all pay off this year."
About the rumors that you are leaving after this year for the draft?
"Uh, nahhh ... I'm not going to talk about that right now. That is not on my mind. I just want to concentrate on this season and take it one day at a time. That's all I really care about right now."
About Coach Minter's approach to the defense. Is it a good philosophy?
"Definitely. He keeps it simple but at the same time he makes it difficult on offenses to stop us and that is a rare combination and it really take talent and a good defensive mind. We can see it happening. He makes it easy for us to do our jobs and that helps us to realize success and gain confidence as a unit. If we can go out there this year and make it work against other teams then it should take off. Coach Minter's philosophy is to give us a chance to succeed and to make things happen that is a good way of putting it. Our objective is to hold offenses to three downs and out or either force them to turn the ball over. If we can do that and limit the scores then we give the team a chance to win and the simpler it is for us to do that the more successful we should be as a team this year."
On the new players coming in and is part of the plan, using them?
"That'll be up to the coaches. We haven't really talked about that a whole lot but yeah, I would imagine that if they are good enough some of them will play right away. I mean I did ... as a freshman. From what I hear a couple of the new guys are good enough so I expect them to get a shot. If they do then that will only help us. We can never have too many players on the defensive line. The more the better. I am all for it."
An Interview With Moe Thompson
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