Warrie Birdwell is a senior defensive lineman that looks to anchor the football team next year.
Birdwell has played three years and contributed greatly to the succes of the SMU defense. He looks to lead the Mustangs in sacks next year.
The Daily Campus: There’s been some suggestion that with the graduation of Kevin Aldridge, an already thin defensive line might struggle this year. What are your impressions of the defensive line?
Warrie Birdwell: I think the d-line will be more productive as a unit than we were last year. It’s time for the younger kids to step up out at defensive end, and they are up for the challenge, they have worked hard. I’m not too worried about it.
DC: Senior Lute Croy reportedly has lost a lot of weight while maintaining his strength and improving his quickness. Have you followed the same conditioning program he has in the off-season? How has your size/strength changed since last year?
Birdwell: Lute lost 20 pounds over the Christmas break and lost another 10 during [the] off-season and looks better than he has here before. We both made improvements in our speed and strength from the year before. I’m weighing a little over 280 right now, which is about 10 pounds more than I weighed last season.
DC: Can you two maintain your position inside, or do you worry about getting pushed around physically?
Birdwell: We can handle our own inside.
DC: How are your assignments different under the new defense than from last year? Are you still going to be asked to occupy blockers to allow the linebackers to run free to the ball, or are you going to be asked to collapse the pocket more and create more pressure yourselves?
Birdwell: Just by doing our job right in the new defense, we will be able to put more pressure on the quarterback while the linebackers take care of their own assignment.
DC: What are your impressions of freshman Marcus Walker? He came in last year with a lot of hype and redshirted – can he step in and contribute right away this year? What are his strengths as a defensive tackle?
Birdwell: I think Marcus is ready to play. He’s a big, strong athlete who has great active hands, which are a plus for the defensive tackle spot.
DC: What are your thoughts about the defensive ends? Melvin Williams played a lot last year and has added a ton of size. Allan Adami has bounced back and forth between end and tackle-where’s he best suited to play? What about senior Khalid Beard and junior Derek Swofford? Do you see anyone else in the mix, with the possible exception of true freshmen?
Birdwell: I think Adami will find his way onto the field one way or another at end or tackle. Melvin has a ton of talent as well, and I believe with junior Clay Glockzin, senior Eric Peterson, Swofford and Beard, we will be alright out at the end position.
DC: Vic Viloria said the first day of practice that he hasn’t been this excited about football in years. Is that enthusiasm felt throughout the defense and the whole team?
Birdwell: The whole team is excited. Coach Bennett has instilled his excitement throughout the team.
DC: How does the coaching differ from last year? Are the expectations higher on and off the field?
Birdwell: There is a greater sense of urgency not only on the field but in the meetings and the weight room.
DC: What’s defensive line coach Bob Fello like as a position coach? Is it different playing for an assistant head coach as opposed to a regular position coach?
Birdwell: Coach Fello knows how to get everything out of his players and is a great coach. His status as the assisstant head coach really does not affect us. He is treated with the same amount of respect as every other coach on the staff.