October 11, 2011

Smith back with a vengeance

There's still a lot to be learned from Texas Tech senior defensive end Scott Smith but at least one thing is for sure: the guy loves football. He continued to talk general X's and O's even after the recorders were turned off.

A year ago it'd be hard to imagine Smith still had a majority of games to play as a Red Raider but unfortunate circumstances prevented Smith, a junior college transfer, from playing out most of his junior year and the first third of his senior year.

He's back.

"The last 12 months have been very hard," Smith said. "Whenever you get suspended, I mean, it sucks. It pretty much describes the whole thing -- it sucks. You're in it, but you're not really in it. You're just getting ready and know you're not playing. All you can do is prepare yourself."

Smith completed his suspension at the final whistle of the Kansas game two weeks ago and lined up against real competition for the first time in 12 games against Texas A&M. He was an influence on his very first play, but overall it's a game he felt he overhyped in his own mind.

Running off of adrenaline, Smith tried to do more than he was supposed to. There are assignments for defensive ends, but he wanted to do more than the game plan called for and it made him make mistakes that normally wouldn't have happened.

Maybe a lack to sleep as well.

"I let too much of my mind get into it," Smith said. "It was only Tuesday and I was having a hard time sleeping. It can't be like that, any player would tell you that. You've just got to be calm, cool, collected and let it just come to you. I was too anxious and I realize that.

"I'm looking forward to finishing that this week. Hopefully my resolve will show that."

There's no question Smith is committed to the Red Raider program.

It was within the realm of reason for Red Raider fans to believe the suspension could have caused a rift between Smith and the coaching staff.

"Oh no, absolutely not," Smith said when asked if he contemplated a transfer. "I actually was having a hard time in school and I buckled down hard just to be sure I'd be eligible. There was no way I was going to walk away from here. No. Heck no.

"I've still got a degree to pursue and hopefully I've still got seven games left to see what I can do."

Aside from the degree, Smith finally has the opportunity to show what he can do against the best teams in the Big 12 Conference. If Smith plays with his head instead of his heart, it starts with No. 17 Kansas State.

He definitely has the intangibles to be an effective defensive end in the professional football ranks. Hopefully seven more games to get himself to that level.

"I think the best is yet to come still," Smith said. "Like I said, when you're suspended like that, I had to get the cobwebs out. The game, I was very, very anxious and I pumped the game so much that I screwed myself out of it.

"Now that I've got this one game under my belt, I think everything is going to fall into the place. I'm looking forward to K-State coming."

Smith said one of the worst parts of his suspension was watching the Tech defensive line struggle through last year with no depth whatsoever. But between the acquisition of fellow junior college transfer Leon Mackey, Smith's roommate, and a revamped defensive line the physical tools are in place for the Red Raiders to better contain the running game.

"I love Mackey," Smith said. "Being my roommate, just talking and trying to make each other better, we're always competing. Competition is always good because we're both elite pass rushers really, I see that.

"I learn from him, he learns from me. We watch film almost every night. We talk and point out things we see. I'll point out things I saw he didn't notice and he'll point out things I didn't notice."

Smith said with him playing levelheaded and Mackey as the other defensive end, the undefeated Wildcats are in for a real -- treat.

"They run the football and that's what we've got to stop," Smith said. "Obviously, anybody that turns on the film will try to run the ball on us because we haven't done a great job in stopping it. Once we shut that run down, once they have to open it up with that pass, that's when it's going to get really fun."

And as the interview ended, Smith talked about exactly how much fun Saturday will be.

He's ready for it.



 

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