Collier Focused on Making the Cut

With two years of experience under his belt, linebacker Blake Collier is adding quality depth to a Red Raider defense that is hoping to shake things up in the Big 12. spoke with Blake about fall camp and how things are shaping up for 2008.

Since he arrived at Texas Tech, Junior WILL linebacker Blake Collier has been a fan favorite on special teams because of his ability to get down the field quickly and lay out kick returners. This year, he is second on the depth chart behind junior Marlon Williams, but he is making a big push for playing time with an impressive showing so far this fall.

"Defense looks good; we've got a lot of depth," Blake enthused to RaiderPower. "The coaches mentioned today how we're going to eliminate it down to 28 players on both sides, so everybody's just trying to step their game up right now and make that 28 cut."

In his third year of fall camp, Collier feels that his experience should help make him one of those 28 players.

"I've always had what it takes, but experience has helped me and watching the guys in front of me like Marlon and Duncan and all those guys. They help me and we just help each other out."

The appointment of Ruffin McNeill to defensive coordinator is also an advantage for the junior linebacker, who has the athleticism that Coach McNeill is looking for in his players.

[Coach McNeill] keeps the intensity high, has everybody flying around, and that's my kind of football… He likes to uncomplicate everything, so that way everybody can just run and hit like he says.

"When you get everybody thinking too much, they're trying to do this, do that. He has everybody in pretty much one gap come down here, that's what he wants. We're hurting on the run defense, that's what we're trying to stop. So we're just trying to get everybody coming downhill to stop the run.

"Everybody doesn't have to think; you see a run, you come downhill, you go to your gap, and if everybody does their assignment, we're going to make the play every time."

Collier is confident in the big men up front and feels that the additions of athletes like Brandon Sesay, Chris Perry, and McKinner Dixon will be an important aspect of having one of the most dominant defenses in the Big 12.

"The D-line is crucial for linebackers; without them, we're nothing. So we're always trying to get their spirits up. Sesay and Perry and McKinner, they're all good athletes and definitely contributing already, and we're looking forward to seeing them on the field."

With just over a week until their first game, Blake is excited for kickoff and focused on one goal- beating Eastern Washington.

"That's all we worry about right now is Eastern Washington. So we're ready, we're preparing for them…We're all ready for [to face an opponent] I think. We all beat up on each other enough; I think we're ready to take it out on somebody else."

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