Oct. 24, 2001
Irish captain Grant Irons sees tremendous improvement on the defense since the start of the season.
Irons believes that the struggles in the early part of the season have only strengthened the team. The following is a quick interview with the defensive end about the state of the team, especially the defensive unit.
Do you think that the defensive line has improved this year?
I think we definitely improved. If you look at last year, we had different players that we are missing like Anthony Denman and Lance Legree. As a defense and a team, we are definitely improving.
Are more people taking notice of the defense this year?
When comparing last years to this year’s defense, you have to separate the two. Last year was a totally different team. We had a lot of success last year making it to the Fiesta Bowl. But this year we are improving and taking one game at a time to get better and we are coming together as defensive unit.
Are there any players you see stepping up their play this year?
I think every player on this team, offensively and defensively, is stepping up. If you look at it from the first three games as opposed to the last three games, each player and each coach has made a concerted effort in steppng up their play. The execution part of the game has improved tremendously.
With three hard losses in a row, and then 3 straight wins, can you see a difference with this season compared with your previous four?
It is different in the fact that we started out with three losses to start the season. The level of play hasn’t changed. We have been through a lot. You talk about adversity, there are not many teams that could persevere through what we have and overcome it and be successful. I am very proud to be a part of this team. As a member, as a captain, it is awesome to see this team not quit and persevere. It is a testament to each player and each coach on this team.
Is that a perspective that someone outside the team would not see?
We see it as players and we see it as coaches and I think in time, the whole country will see it. At the same time we can’t concern ourselves with what the critics say or what the outside opinion may be. We have to take it one day at a time and just try and improve and get better.
Boston College is your next opponent. Is the defense getting prepared for their top running back Green?
He is explosive. He is a game breaker and is very talented. It is going to be a challenge and a great opportunity for this defense and this team. It is a huge rivalry, and that in itself makes this game that much better. We are all looking forward to it.