Norwood Looking Like a Veteran

Amidst all the hype of the new talent on USC's defensive line, returning Freshman All-American defensive end Eric Norwood is putting together a very good spring both on and off the field. Though only a sophomore, Norwood is playing like a veteran and stepping into a leadership role on the Gamecocks' young defensive front. caught up with Norwood following his 3.5 sack perormance in Friday's scrimmage, and the sophomore standout shared his thoughts on a variety of topics:

Question: What are your impressions of the new defensive linemen this spring?

Answer: They're doing good. They're still adjusting. Travian (Robertson) just got out of high school, so this is a big adjustment to the speed of the game. He's doing good. Jonathan (Williams) is doing good, Clifton (Geathers) and those guys. I just try to tell them to keep their confidence. Just keep their confidence up, and go out and play well. Everybody's going to mess up, but you've just got to go full speed.

Question: Is there any pressure on you with the arrival of that new talent?

Answer: There's no pressure at all. Those guys are doing good, but I've been here a year now. I know how it is, and they're just adjusting to it.

Question: You're one of only two defensive ends on the roster with SEC experience right now. Even though you're a sophomore, do you feel like you're now a veteran who can take more of a leadership role out there?

Answer: Yeah, I do. I do see myself as I guess you could say a veteran. I'm trying to step up and be a leader more vocally than last year and try to also lead by example.

Question: What are your goals for next season?

Answer: Team-wise, we want to make it to the SEC Championship and beat Clemson. Individually, I want to try and top the ten sack mark and get over fifty tackles. I want to force more fumbles and force more turnovers.

Question: You look like you're getting off the line really quickly and playing at a high level this spring. Can you talk about your play out there?

Answer: I think I get off the line quick, but that's against our offense. Our offensive line is good, but I want to do it against other teams so I can really see how good I am.

Question: What do you plan to work on during the summer?

Answer: For the summer, conditioning. (I plan to) condition hard, get stronger and faster, learn my assignments better, and try to teach the other guys their assignments. I just want to be at my best when the season comes around.

Question: What is it like playing under Coach Brad Lawing?

Answer: It's good. It's different. He's a real intense guy, and this year I'm finding out what he really expects. Last year, I know he told us to go full speed, but now I'm understanding what type of coach he really is. He's a real good coach.

Question: What do you think you've improved on the most since last season?

Answer: Since last season, the run. I think I've improved against the run a lot, and that's what I hope to keep improving on. Once I improve on that, there's always going to be another area in my game to improve on.

Question: How did the winter workouts go for you?

Answer: They went good. They went real good. I came in with my weight up. I came in at about 270 (pounds). By the time we ran (the forty yard dash), I was down to about 265 or 264. It's better now. Right now I'm right at 260.

Question: What is your target playing weight?

Answer: I'd say around 265, but not the 265 I was at - a little more leaner. I want to get my body fat down. That way I've still got the speed to get to the outside and cover in close.

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