Akeem Ayers talked fromt the Rose Bowl locker room Saturday after the game.
Were you inbounds or out?
‘'I hope in … that's what I was hoping for, so … in.''
When did you pick up the ball on that play?
‘'I rushed the edge coming from the defensive end spot and the lineman, it was a clear hold – he pulled me by my collar and pulled me down. My first reaction was to get back up on my feet and as soon as I got back up I saw Brian Price hit the ball out and I was just running to the ball, like we do in practice.''
And, instead of falling on the ball, you picked it up and …
‘'Scoop and score. We drill it every day and I finally got one in the game.''
The reach for the end zone – a little risky?
‘'It was, but sometimes you're just in the moment and you're trying to make a play for your team. It was a risk and luckily it went good.''
That wasn't the only play you made today – seven tackles, two for losses, a sack, a forced fumble … Your best game to this point?
‘'I think I'm starting to play a lot better. I think I started off kind of slow, but with the practice and then more experience as a starter, this is my first year as a starter, I'm getting more comfortable with the defense and then being able to play more.''
Is that the main thing having that experience?
‘'Yeah, you know, when you're learning your defense and finally get to know it, you're out there just playing, 100 percent, and flying around instead of thinking. When you know it, you just feel comfortable, you don't have to think twice about it, you can just fly around and make plays.''
How much were you having to think out there earlier this season?
‘'A lot. This is my first year as a starter and I didn't want to make too many mistakes. I was just thinking too much and not just going out there and playing football.''
Now that you are doing that, how much does your game elevate?
‘'It elevates a lot. I feel comfortable now. I feel comfortable with the scheme and I can just go out there and do what I do and play football, make plays.''
The d-end part of it, does that add to it?
‘'That adds to it. Now that I'm able to catch on what I'm regularly doing, they can throw me into doing more things. It was just something I've been doing since high school, so I'm used to it.''
But it's not more on the workload – you're rushing …
‘'It's pretty basic. But by me catching on to the defense more, the coaches feel comfortable throwing more schemes my way.''
So how much more is there for you? Talking to Rahim (Moore) you guys are barely scratching the surface of the stuff you can let loose defensively …
‘'Yeah, we've got talent in our defense. You know, we're just getting it all together. We've still got a bunch of young guys and everything is starting to come together. We're starting to mold as a defense and playing better as the season progresses.''
A lot of the talk coming in was about Arizona State's defense … did you see that as a challenge?
‘'We just wanted to come out and prove that we're a good defense, also. They're not the only good defense in the Pac-10. That was our goal, just to play hard regardless of the situation and just get a win.''