Shrop, you are a senior this year and one of the more vocal leaders. Are you ready for the responsibility?
"It's a lot of pressure on me if you know what I'm saying. Some keep throwing it up to me that I did not play to my potential last year - but that's behind me now. It's a new year and we're six days away from the game. I'm ready physically and I am ready to go out and do what I have got to do ... be a leader up front. I've got great guys all around me. Got George Gause on my side and then there is Jason Capers and Moe Thompson on the other side. We have the potential to be a great unit but we have to go out there and prove it."
You and George are on which side?
"We're on the left side, the strong side. Cape and Moe are on the right side, the weak side and they'll be coming to the blind side of the quarterback."
How do you like the four man front so far?
"Oh I like that a lot better. It gives us an opportunity to go out and make plays and offer a lot of movement that offensive lines are going to have to deal with. We can use our quickness as a unit and it also helps me individually get pressure up to the quarterback a lot quicker instead of having to play the gaps. It gives me a lot of mobility to get a lot of moves in and I believe it is going to help me get more pressure on the quarterbacks from my position."
Is Jason Capers too small to play the other tackle position?
"No. Heck no. He's definitely not. Cape's got great quickness and a lot of smarts. He uses his quickness to engage the blockers and that's going to hurt a lot of offensive linemen who try to bull him. He's a little smaller than the rest of us weight wise, but he has such great quickness and a great head for the game that he's going to be in the backfield before they know it."
:::::::::::: at this point Cape heard his name and joined in on the conversation ::::::::::::::
Cape, are you too small to be a tackle in this league?
Cape: "No, I've gained my weight back to 270 plus some and there are plenty of tackles in this league at that weight."
Shrop, how much do you weigh?
Shrop: "I'm going about 295."
Cape, how do you compensate for being twenty pounds lighter than Shrop?
Cape: "Oh I don't know. I use my quickness and I stay lower and I know how to use leverage better than the average guy I guess. Or at least that is what they tell me."
So Cape, you are the smart one and Shrop is the brute?
::::: both laugh ::::::
Cape: "No comment. He might beat me up."
Shrop: "Yeah, that's fair to say I guess. He's definitely smarter than me. He keeps me going and makes sure I am doing it right and not making any mistakes. We're a team out there. We try to help each other out. Let me tell you something about Cape that I want the fans to know. He really didn't want to come inside on the line but he's doing it anyway because he is a team player. He's got heart man. He didn't want to do it at first but now he is rocking you know what I am saying? Cape is a player. He's doing a great job up front."
Cape, how do you feel about this new four man front?
Cape: "I don't feel anything special about it really. I mean it works real good. I am very confident about being in the middle with this group of guys like Moe, George and Shrop. And I know I can hold my own with these guys you know. Yeah, it's a big responsibility but I can hold my own. Plus we have real good linebackers backing us up to fill the gaps. It's going to be interesting but I think we're going to shock some people."
How are both of you health wise right now?
Cape: "Oh my back is fine. I am most definitely 100%. No problems at all. I am very healthy. I'm good."
Shrop: "I feel great, 100%. Last week my tooth was bothering me but I got that taken care of, got it taken out. I'm just ready to play the game. I want the game to get here. I'm ready to get out there and hit somebody other than my teammates."
Are you both looking forward to a SEC opener on the road? Do you approach this game any differently than last year for instance?
Cape: "No sir. It's the same. We're looking forward to it. It's a SEC game, it's our first game. Vanderbilt is going to be a good team this year. They've got 21 starters returning so they are going to be tough."
Is the key to this year's defensive line fortunes the depth? If so, who is behind each of you?
Cape: "Stanley Doughty is behind me but we call him Ducky. He's come a long way. We're going to be fresh because of our depth. Stanley is a player let me go ahead and be the first to tell everyone that just incase they don't already know it. I mean that dude gets low and he is like a tank. Nobody is moving that little tank out of the way."
Will that cause confusion for offensive lines? One moment they have tall and quick Capers and the next moment they have short and bullish Ducky?
Cape: "Yeah man. They get thrown off balance in practice a little. I mean he's a serious good run stopper and he is definitely a whole different animal to try to handle than me. I hope he tires offensive lineman out some trying to stop that tank man I'm tellin' you. He's seriously strong too."
Shrop, who is behind you on the depth chart?
Shrop: "We've got Preston Thorne and Freddy Saint Preux. Plus we've got Marque Hall who is only a freshman but he plays like an upperclassmen. He's looking really well. He's over there behind Cape and Ducky and you talk about messing with someone's head. Wait until they think they are getting used to blocking Cape and Ducky and then we throw Marque in there on them."
Shrop, what's your mission this year as an interior lineman?
Shrop: "The main thing is that we don't like how we performed last year as a unit, especially on the inside. Lot of pressure was on Moe as a player and he was having to do all the stuff up front. This year it will not be a one man show. This year it will be a one unit show on defense. We're all pulling together as one and we have dedicated ourselves to that and I believe it will show rather quickly if you know what I'm saying. We're communicating like a team and pushing each other like a team is supposed to. Moe will still make his plays but you got all the rest of us doing our part this year too. We're coming at you as one."
Cape, word is that the defensive line wants to lead the way and anchor the football team this year.
Cape: "Oh yes sir. We've got a lot of guys with a lot of talent turning it when we platoon. That's going to keep everyone fresh first of all. Our defense is going to be our strong point absolutely. We are loaded with talent and a lot of experience, especially in the box."
Will we see you at defensive end at all this year?
Cape: "Yes sir. Both defensive tackle and defensive end. You can count on that."
Shrop, what is your goal for the year?
Shrop: "I gotta get some sacks this year. And my goal is to come out and be a leader and lead by example. And whoever is over there at quarterback or running back or whatever, you know what I am saying, I want to get to them. I've made that commitment to myself and also to my teammates. Our defensive ends are going to be doing their thing and we have four good ones. So it is up to us defensive tackles to do our part and not leave all the quarterback sacking up to the guys on the outside. Me and Cape, we want to have our fun too."
An Interview With Darrell Shropshire (and friend)
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