Question: Why should the offensive line be better this year than last?
Answer: "I don't think we lived up to our own expectations last year. We thought were going to be better last year. We did improve, but we didn't get to the level that we had hoped to get to. I think we can learn from that, see what we did wrong last year. Plus, we're all returning from last year and have more proven backups that we know can come in and play and know the scheme of things."
Q: What are some of the lessons learned from last year?
A: "Being able to play a complete game. There were times last year when we let our mistakes get to us, we dwelled on them a little too much. This year I think we'll be able to put those things behind us a little better. We're always preached to [by the coaches] to play one play at a time, forget the last play, don't think about the next play."
Q: What about the backfield - will it help you as a line this season?
A: "I think we have a great backfield this year. We've got guys that are capable of running the ball. I think it's one of the best years of tailbacks we've had. The new guys, Ronnie McGill is a big, strong kid who looks like a senior almost in terms of his body. I think he's going to have a great career here. [Rikki] Cook is a big guy who can get it done carrying the ball or blocking."
Question: Coming into this year, what are some of the things you're looking to improve on to surprise some people?
Answer: "Everything - aggressiveness, movement, everything. I'm more focused and more willing to make adjustments to improve."
Q: Would you have thought coming out of high school that your career here would be up-and-down?
A: "No, I didn't think that. As a matter of fact, I was hoping to have the kind of season I had in high school, but things haven't gone that way and you have to build off it and keep going. This is my last season, so I'm still hoping to have the kind of year I think I'm capable of."
Q: Was it a shock to be on the second team coming out of spring practice?
A: "Yeah, it's a shock, but it was done for a reason and I understand it. I can't do anything about it but try to compete. When you get moved to the second team, it's obvious that you're not getting the job done to the coaches' satisfaction. I've been hitting the weight room hard. I need to continue to make plays and hustle to impress the coaches and win my job back."
Question: How has this year been different from last year so far?
Answer: "I've got the chemistry down with the No. 1 offense. Last year I was kind of rotating between the first-team and the second-team last year in camp, but I'm a lot more comfortable with the offense and my situation."
Q: What about the offensive line this year, having so many players back from last year?
Answer: "I think that's the strongest part of our offense. I'm 100 percent confident in those guys. It helps that they all know each other on the field and off the field, so they're comfortable with each other. I think that will make the line a strong part of our offense."
Q: What do you guys need to get the running game going? There hasn't been a 1,000-yard rusher here in awhile.
A: "I think that's the biggest key for us. It would also keep a lot of hits off of me and keep me healthy. All those runners have different talents - some are good to the outside, some are good between the tackles and some can make moves in the open field. They all have a different type of flavor and they all can help our offense. We have different styles of play for whichever back is in the game."
Q: You look bigger - have you put on weight?
A: "Yeah, I've tried to hit the weight room hard to add muscle so I can stay a lot healthier."
Q: What do you think of the true freshman receivers?
A: "I think those guys have a lot of talent. The main thing for them is going to be to learn the offense and adjust to the college level. The speed of the game is a lot faster. Very seldom are you going to be able to just out-run a corner. If those guys can adjust to the speed of the game and get their knowledge up, they're going to help us."
Q: Are you curious about how this team is going to do? It seems like you're a team that could be a little hard to predict?
A: "I'm ready to see. If you look at some games from last year, like NC State or Virginia, a couple of games we lost, we were in the games. A costly turnover here or there sealed the game for the other team. If we can keep our turnovers down and play smart, we can be a heck of a team."
Q: Are you more comfortable now on the field in terms of getting the signal, calling the plays, that sort of thing?
A: "Definitely. Going into my third year with this offense, I'm a lot more comfortable. I pretty much know what everybody has to do on every play now. I can look at a lot of different positions and see what's going on instead of worrying about what I have to do."
Question: You had a lot of tackles last year, which is good for you, but was it also a bad thing for the defense that you're having to make so many tackles in the defensive backfield?
A: "I'm not going to say it's a bad thing. I don't want to talk badly about our defense. We were inexperienced and undermanned at a lot of positions, which caused breakdowns, missed assignments and misalignments. Confusion by one of the lines of defense causes confusion for the other lines of defense."
Q: Do you think your tackle total will be lower this year?
A: "People talk about that tackle total, but if you look back two years ago, to when Julius Peppers and [Ryan] Sims were here, I still tallied about 100 [tackles]. I set my personal goals [for tackles] but I'm not going to get into all that. I'd still like to see it come down, though."