"Take 5" with Mike Smith

Opportunity can be defined as the chance for progress or advancement. After a somewhat disappointing junior season, Mike Smith and the Texas Tech SWARM defense have the opportunity to show their toughest opponents in the Big XII that the inexperienced team of a year ago is just a memory.

Opportunity can be defined as the chance for progress or advancement. After a somewhat disappointing junior season, Mike Smith and the Texas Tech SWARM defense have the opportunity to show their toughest opponents in the Big XII that the inexperienced team of a year ago is just a memory.

With a fresh pair of legs and graduation behind him, Mike Smith looks to anchor a veteran defense and lead the Red Raiders to a November date at the Dr. Pepper Big XII championship game.

The 2003 season proved to be a challenging year for Smith after realizing that he must graduate by August 2004 to be able to compete in his senior season. During the fall and spring semesters Smith took a combined 32 hours of junior and senior-level classes along with ten more hours during the summer to complete a degree that seemed nearly impossible last year at this time.

Smith has a long memory and refuses to return to the disappointing performances of last October when the Red Raiders gave up an abysmal 113 points in two weeks against Big XII rivals Oklahoma State and Missouri. Heisman candidate Brad Smith ran circles around Tech as he danced his way to a 300-yard day and 62 points. This year Mike Smith promises a different story.

Tech's defense will have the opportunity to prove that they do not belong in the bottom tier of division I schools in 2004. Mike Smith tells us why:

RP: During the offseason, you had surgery on your PCL and lateral meniscus. How is that feeling?

Smith: "Feels great, feels wonderful. I kinda tweaked it the other day, but I'm back to 100 percent and feeling the best I have felt since my freshman year.

RP: How much do you think the surgery will affect your speed this season?

Smith: "My speed has gone up a lot. Last year I had problems with my knee and nobody knew that. They thought I was just running slowly. Dr. Henry did my surgery and this is the best it has felt in a long time.

RP: What part of your game did you work on most during the offseason?

Smith: "Probably the mental part of the game. Last season we had a lot of mental mistakes as a defense. As we sat down and watched film, guys began to learn the system and the package we run. This year our defense is gonna be much better."

RP: You grew up in Lubbock, right? Have you always been a Tech fan?

Smith: "Ever since I was little I have been a huge Red Raider fan. My Dad helped build the old coach's offices, and during construction, we would sit over there and watch all the games. Heck, I even had a Zach Thomas jersey! It was my dream and I have never looked back."

RP: How does it feel to have graduation behind you? Will you be able to focus more on football this season since you aren't taking 18 hours?

Smith: "It feels great to be done! People out there think football players just play football. They don't realize that we still have to go to school and do all the things a normal student has to do. I feel like a lot of weight is off my shoulders, and I can concentrate a lot more on football."

RP: Out of the entire freshman class, who is your favorite one to pick on?

Smith: "All of them, but if I had to pick just one it would be Eric Morris. He's a little top shot coming in here. He wants to be like Wes Welker so I gotta give it to him."

RP: If you could put a lick on any player in the Big XII that they wouldn't forget, who would it be?

Smith: "Player? I don't know. Anyone? Coach Fran. My coach doesn't like him so I don't like him very much either."

Well, Mike…Here's to eight out of ten against our friends down in College Station and lets see some of that Red Raider defense we all remember from a decade ago!

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