Redshirt freshman DE Gregory Rousseau is currently leading the team in TFL (3.5) and sacks (2) in limited time off the bench, as his length and speed have been hard to handle for a lot of offensive linemen.
"I feel like I’m playing good, but there’s always another level you can get to,” Rousseau said. “I’m having a lot of fun out there. You can always get better every day in practice, so I just want to keep getting better."
Rousseau has seen some of his snaps on the interior on third and long situations in Miami’s “NASCAR” package and talked about the differences between playing inside compared to outside.
"It's really different, but it's really the same thing because you have to come off the ball fast, get extension, be physical, and just get after it every single play just like D-End, but it's at a different spot," Rousseau said.
At 6-6 260 pounds, Rousseau has extreme height and length, leading his teammates and coaches to try and find the perfect nickname for him. Early returns included “The Tarantula”, but some others have their own monikers for him.
“Coach (Blake) Baker calls me `Groot,’ coach (Todd) Stroud calls me `Inspector Gadget,’ a lot of stuff,” Rousseau said.
UM recorded 10 TFL and 4 sacks on the day vs. UNC, holding the Tar Heels to under 100 yards rushing, and Rousseau feels the defense is well-positioned to become a great stop unit with some minor changes.
“I mean, from a defensive standpoint we just have to keep on getting better, shut down those big plays - we’re going to keep pressing on, not get discouraged,” Rousseau said. "I feel like we've done a pretty good job and a lot of it comes from stopping the run because when you're trying to stop the run, you're trying so hard to get this run-fit perfect and sometimes it might lead out into pass rush.”
What more does the team have to do to start turning these close losses into wins?
“We’re competing, trying hard, just have to make a couple more plays, cut down on mistakes, penalties,” Rousseau said. “It’s the little things. As the little things build up, once it gets to the fourth quarter, it’s tough to climb back.”
With Bethune-Cookman on tap for this week, Rousseau understands that this game is UM’s chance to work out their kinks once and for all before the schedule really starts to get into conference play.
"Coaches are after us, we are after ourselves because we have that pride of being that top defense,” Rousseau said. “We know we need to get back to that level. We were a little bit disappointed in ourselves, it sucks, but we're pressing on. We're just going to keep working harder and getting it right. We're not going to be sad now."