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By Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo
As I have shared time and time again practice is important and essential part of the winning process. What you do on the practice and scrimmage fields matters to a degree but where it counts and unfortunately what people will remember is what is translated on game day where the wins and losses follow you. Not to rain on anyone’s parade but until a team goes head to head with a defense or offense outside their own brotherhood how well or poorly they are is a matter of hearsay in my opinion. Though the defense and offense on your fellow team are going to be tough on you it’s till your team. So after a grueling Fall Camp it’s time to pack up the practice mentality and change it into game mode to move onward.
Denis Waitley used to say, “Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” Despite the strength of our defense there are still a lot of things to work to improve to capitalize on our talent as well as to make it to the long haul in to conference play.
I had the chance to catch up with sophomore linebacker Malcom McDuffen during the final practice for the Cats. McDuffen has some big shoes to fill at the weak side linebacker position after the departure of the Cats All-American Danny Trevathan. However McDuffen is more than able to step up to the challenge with his good speed and not to mention getting to the ball in a hurry can be just what the defense needs in keeping those turnovers high. Here is what McDuffen had to say going into Louisville.
Last week the defense had a bit of rough week what are y’all doing mentally and physically to be able to get out of that mentality and push forward going on to Louisville?
McDuffen: We’re just trying to get more in our playbook and trying to work harder on the field and be as a group to get to the ball more has to improve from last week.
Is there anything in particular on the defensive side of the playbook that you guys are working maybe that is not typical of what y’all running last season to be able to prepare for Louisville?
McDuffen: Well we just try to go out each and every day to work hard to better ourselves as football players and just try to prepare Louisville and everything. Nothing in particular you know we’re just going out there being as prepared as we can.
What do you believe rights now are the strengths of the defense that you have seen from spring ball to the present?
McDuffen: I see that strengths are the D-Line. Our linemen are the most experienced, the oldest out there right now.
Like anything you have strengths what do you believe honestly is the weakness y’all face going into Louisville and making the long haul to stay healthy going into SEC play?
McDuffen: I wouldn’t say we have a weakness. It’s just we have errors on our defense that we can always improve on and get better at.
Do you see this defense having a good balance of returning players as well as young players that have made it easier to quickly turnover these errors and helped you guys play more aggressively?
McDuffen: I think it has we are all pretty young as you can see and stuff. But I know our D-Line is the most experienced so the young players have helped us grow and mature on the field as well as off the field and be the best we can be.
A great deal of individuals often get weary when they hear teams are in a rebuilding year and have a lot of young players but do you think that having a lot of young players helps coaches and fellow teammates be able to better mold them into your system and program better and break habits a lot easier since they are younger and may have not played as much?
McDuffen: Yes, I think it has it just helps us and motivates us to be as prepared as we can and relay that on the field.
Any final remarks you would like to share with our readers going into Louisville on the mental and physical game of the team?
McDuffen: We are just trying to get prepared and we can’t wait for the second to come.
To take one from that Texascoach Darell Royal, “If everything had already been done, there would be nothing left for young people to accomplish. There are always going to be people who run faster, jump higher, dive deeper, and come up drier.”
There is always going to be an opponent that’s better on the gridiron and in life but its creating an atmosphere both mentally and physically that in any given moment it is any teams game up to the last minutes on the game clock that can go a long way. The Cats have a lot to prove but believe me as I have said time and time again in the season they are ready to prove people wrong and dig deeper for something more than critics and skeptics.