Kirkland improving, making strides on defense

Linebacker Josh Kirkland talks to about his breakout game versus Wagner, the defense as a whole and his confidence moving forward inside.

When it was brought to his attention Tuesday night that he had a team-best in tackles last Saturday, linebacker, Josh Kirkland, looked at me with a puzzled look on his face.

"I did?" he asked, his mega watt smile beaming.

"I knew how many tackles I had," Kirkland said, "but I didn't know I was the best. I try not to worry about that stuff. I want to stay humbled."

Kirkland quickly countered, bringing up the most minuscule improvements that would often be overlooked in someone else's mind.

"There are a lot of things, looking back, that I could have done better," he said. "Some of my blitz tracks weren't completely correct. There are some little things that I need to tighten up, but overall, I had a better game then I did last game (against Northwestern).

The JUCO transfer certainly did. Kirkland led his team on the defensive side of the ball with five tackles, including two for a loss of five yards and a pass breakup.

Kirkland is coming into his own the more time he gets on the field.

"The more game time you get, the better you play," he said. "I'm starting to feel a little bit better about my game -- that's how it should be with every player. With this next game, I just really want to focus on my fundamentals and footwork. Hopefully, the game plays out like we practice."

Of the three games in the books, Syracuse has played its most complete game against Wagner.

T he defense held the Seahawks offense scoreless, a two-of-14 performance on third-down conversations (14 percent) and forced three fumbles, one of which was recovered by the Orange.

"We played a solid game," he said. "We will see better opponents up here soon, that will be a real test. We definitely played as a team on both sides of the ball."

He continued, "It was a really high energy game. We knew we had to go out there and get our first W. We were in the Dome and the crowd was hyped up. Everyone played with high intensity, did their job and executed the game plan. We knew we could do it."

As far as a game plan for Tulane, Kirkland stated that they really haven't put to much focus on them yet.

"We are still getting the structure of the game plan and what defenses we want to run," he said.

While the coaching staff and players are focused on taking one game at a time, there is somewhat of an intrigue of snagging one away from Tulane and heading into the bye week all even out at 2-2.

"That's very important," he said. "You got to come in with a strong attitude, never think that we are going to beat them for one second. We have to come in with a good game plan so we can go into the bye week feeling really good. We will have to get everyone healthy, a little bit stronger for Clemson. That should be the ultimate goal."

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