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The senior linebacker said he and his teammates are ready to hit the field today, just to get the taste of last week's loss out of their mouths. Turnovers have been a big focus for the defense this week.
You played a lot of plays on Saturday, and it seemed like heat was a factor. Was it the number of plays, conditioning, what was the problem?
"Any time you play 93 snaps in a ball game, it's our fault, we can't get off the field. That's something we have control over."
What are your impressions of Virginia's tackles?
"Those two tackles are big and good and highly touted. They're good as a whole. It's something we're kind of used to. Those guys are definitely talented tackles."
Why did you feel compelled to talk to team Monday and what was your message?
"We felt like we needed everybody to stay together. We didn't want this to carry over to the week of practice, which it hasn't."
When a team converts so many third-downs, does that just get to be deflating for the defense?
"The idea is to stop the team on third down."
You've played on some great Penn State defenses during your career. How much did it stick in your crawl to give up 499 yards Saturday?
"It's something I've taken pretty personally. It's something we're going to work on and we've been working on since Monday."
Looking at the film, what did you guys see on third down? Was it just Ohio making great plays or were you in position to make plays and just didn't make them?
"Whether it's a missed tackle or gap assignment, there's things that could have been done. First of all we should not have been in those situations. It comes down to playing within the framework of the defense. There were a lot of good things Saturday but sometimes there were plays we needed to make and we didn't."
Will you and Gerald Hodges have to cover a little bit more this year?
"We haven't had that discussion. We feel pretty comfortable in we both played a lot of nickel in our day."
Coach O'Brien talked about the walk-ons being the run-ons. How have those guys taken to their roles?
"Their roles are just as important now and they'll get bigger with the scholarship losses next year. I know those guys will be counted on to do more. You have to have great walk-ons coming in and helping our team win."
What challenges does running back Perry Jones present?
"He's a quick guy, he makes guys miss and a guy that we're really going to have to contain. He definitely presents a challenge for us defensively."
Is there a different approach this week now that you're heading on the road for the first time this season?
"I know this week we'll have no distractions and nothing to distract us from the job at hand, which is to go to Virginia and win a football game."
The defense was not able to force any turnovers against Ohio. How much did you talk about that this week and how much of a focus is it?
"That's something that I talked about in our post game. That's the most important thing between winning and losing. We have to do a better job of that. That comes from a mindset and a focus and repping it all week."
In the context of last week's loss, how important is it to bounce back with a win this week?
"It's very important. If we could line up and play today, guys would just to get that taste out of your mouth. I think it was good to get last week over with, we could get all the distraction out. We can get back into the groove, the rhythm of the season."
How does Craig Fitzgerald run his in-season conditioning program?
"We do a couple days a week lifting program. A lot of stretching, active lifting. We do a lot of conditioning after practice and things like that."
Can you talk about Nyeem Wartman and what you've seen from him?
"Any time a true freshman comes in and can play, that speaks volumes on his abilities. Him blocking the punt was a big thing. The more experience he gets, he'll be fine."
Did you feel you blitzed more in week one than you have in the past?
"I don't think it was more than in the past. If you remember, it wasn't like we never blitzed in our defense. I thought we had pretty good balance. We just needed to do a better job as players to get up the field on third down."
What are your impressions of Mike Rocco?
"He's a good decision maker. They're going to put the ball in his hands when it's time to make a play."
What about Kyle Carter impresses you the most?
"Kyle's had a great camp and a good game. He's very athletic. He's made some catches that are unbelievable. I think you're going to see a lot more of him."
It's been getting our hands on the ball, forcing turnovers, we've got to make plays really on defense. That's what it comes down to.
Is this Virginia offense better than Ohio's?
"They're two different offenses. Virginia runs more of a pro-style. There's a lot of differences and they have two different quarterbacks. They both present their differences and I think Virginia presents a lot of different challenges for us."
When watching film, did you see opportunities for turnovers? Were there chances you missed?
"There was that interception, there were a couple of missed tackles, the penalty where we jumped offside. We had our opportunities for sure."
What are you expecting from the crowd at Virginia?
"We've played in some pretty hostile environments. Noise is noise, and we'll have to adjust to that."
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by Jeff Rice 22 months ago
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Not sure what it would mean to have something "stick in your crawl." The idiom is "stick in your craw," as in something that you can't swallow.
Typo. My fingers do what they want when moving at top speed.
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