What is the difference between teammates who want to work together, as opposed to guys that are [not]?
“Oh, it’s a huge difference. If we’re stunting, and if you’re playing against individually good offensive linemen that don’t know how to work together; they’re going to have big trouble, because they’re not going to be able to pass the ‘twist,’ and that’s going to lead to sacks on blitzes. You’ve really got to have chemistry. You’ve really got to talk to your teammates. You’ve got to know what their tendencies are. Like if an offensive guard’s tendency is to deep set, you as a tackle need to know you have to stay on his level so you don’t get separated and the defensive line splits. So it’s definitely key to have a chemistry when you play offensive line, because those guys have to know each other inside and out.
Is that something you watch kind of close when you’re looking at tape?
“Yeah, and I kind of just learned how to watch tape. Coach [Brad] Lawing taught us that you look for levels – like if a guy is deep in the backfield off the ball, then he might be pulling. If both of them are deep, you might be getting a zone block. So there are just little things that you look for that help you determine what the play might be. If I know it’s going to be a pass, then I can pin my ears back and try and work a move to get a sack. That’s something that I just learned, so hopefully it will help in games this year.”
Why are you guys going to be better this year?
“Gerald Sensabaugh, Khalif Mitchell, Kyndraus Guy, Kareen Taylor…all those guys. These are guys who are very, very, very talented, and I can’t wait to see them play. Jonas [Seawright] and Puff [Thomas] lost 50 pounds apiece, so I’m looking forward to seeing them play a lot better slimmed down. And Larry Edwards and Fred [Sparkman]…they’ve got some more experience at linebacker, so we’re only going to get better. So basically there is just a lot of young talent that is ready to blossom and I think it’s going to happen.”
What kind of difference has Sensabaugh made?
“It’s kind of strange. He’s like a physically imposing dude. He’s like about 6-2, well built and he works hard in the weight room. But he’s not a real vocal leader, because he just got here. He knows everybody now, but not really enough to jump all over somebody. But he does lead by example. I mean, he makes tackles. He makes tackles on the edge when he needs to. He does everything he needs to do, and he works how he needs to work. He’s kind of set the bar for those defensive backs. They’re following his example and they’re all getting better; Mahlon Carey, D.J. [Walker], they’re all getting better. He’s a really good player that could have gone anywhere, but went to East Tennessee because of academic issues, I think, or something that happened with his qualifying.”