Robert Welsh tried to get his thoughts together on the team bus heading over to MetLife Stadium, but couldn't, the jitters were just too overwhelming.
"The nerves were ridiculous," Welsh said about going up against Penn State, "I can't even put into words how nervous I was."
Welsh, however, stayed the course and completed his pregame ritual before every game, calling his mom the night before.
"She just told me, ‘This is what you have been working towards your whole life. Just go out there and play your game.'"
"I will always have butterflies (before every game), but it won't be like the magnitude of the first game. If you don't have butterflies in your stomach, you're not ready to play."
The pep talked seemed to work, the junior recorded six tackles including four solo and one for a loss of four yards and was honored this week among ACC Athletes of the Week.
"It's an honor," Welsh said. "It feels great because all of the offseason work is finally paying off. But I just can't take it by myself, it was a team effort—a defensive effort. Coach (Bullough) called great plays. I just went out, executed and did what I was supposed to do."
As pointed out by football recruiting analyst John Garcia, Jr., Welsh was the lone lineman who actually got pressure on Penn State quarterback, Christian Hackenburg, multiple times. His main highlight, though, came when he nearly had a pick-six in Bullough's zone blitz package.
"I dropped like I was supposed to do, saw the ball and tried to pick it off – which I did," Welsh said. "Then I just tried to look for some room to run – I had the whole sideline – so I just switched hands and tried to make a play downfield."
"As I kept seeing more green, I just kept running faster and faster. Of course, I was trying to get in the end zone, but at the same time, I really wasn't thinking, ‘how am I going to get in there?'"
In his own words, he took "a leap of faith."
"I came down hard," he said. "At first, I thought I was in, but when I watched it, I realized I didn't get in."
The defensive unit, to put it mildly, was hard on itself during its weekly media opportunity. The squad knows that if it had done a few things different -- getting off the line quicker or following through on that swim move -- the outcome could have been different.
Welsh echoed Kirkland's sentiments.
"It's hard to say," he said, "yeah, I'm satisfied, we did some good things, but at the same time, we left a lot of plays out on the field, including myself."
"There were a couple things here and there, that if we did the right thing or if I'm an inch closer to sacking the quarterback, who knows, the outcome may be a little different. Give credit to Penn State, they played a great game."
With roughly three days left to prepare for Northwestern, Welsh has supreme confidence in the coaching staff to steer the defense in the right direction.
"Whatever coach calls," he said, "we will execute. At the end of the day, (Northwestern) has some great players, but it's not about them, it's about how we play, coach always says that. We just have to go out there and execute the game plan. It's going to be one great game."
Welcome to the party, Welsh
Cuse Nation Top Stories
Video: Coleman at ACC Media DaySyracuse senior center Dajuan Coleman discusses a variety of topics at ACC Media Day.
Cuse NationYesterday at 8:25 PM
Video: Roberson at ACC Media DaySyracuse senior forward Tyler Roberson discusses a variety of topics at ACC Media Day
Cuse NationYesterday at 8:20 PM
Boeheim: Syracuse Should Be Better This YearJim Boeheim told ACCDN host Jeff Fischel at ACC Operation Basketball that this Syracuse team should be better than last season's Final Four squad. Boeheim believes the backcourt…
Cuse NationYesterday at 8:05 PM
Dino Babers ACC Teleconference TranscriptSee what Syracuse head coach Dino Babers had to say during the ACC teleconference this week.
Cuse NationYesterday at 7:51 PM