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Mon., Mar. 30, 2015 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM EDT
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Panthers LB Luke Kuechly Conference Call Transcript
Q: How excited is the team, the franchise, and the city to be hosting a Monday Night Football game for the first time in awhile?
LK: Oh, I’m excited. I don’t know how long it’s been, but everyone’s excited here. I think the city is real excited and the guys on the team are excited. Monday Night Football, there’s not a whole lot of motivation outside of what it is – Monday Night Football, one game on TV, and we’re just excited to play.
Q: When you were at Boston College, did you get much interaction with Patriots coaches being in the same area?
LK: They came to BC once for some deal, I think some of the players did – I think maybe during the lockout and then we went there during camp for like a facility visit, but that was honestly about it. Foxborough and BC are a little ways out from each other.
Q: How close an eye did you keep on the Patriots while you were at BC?
LK: Up in New England, up in Boston, the Patriots are big, so they’re always on TV, and a lot of people that were at BC were big Patriots fans. You’re always hearing about them, so you had a pretty good idea of what was going on.
Q: How did you end up at BC? Last week when you played the 49ers, Jim Harbaugh lamented about not getting you to come to Stanford. What was the final push to get you into BC?
LK: Well, I think BC had a lot of St. X [Xavier High School] guys roll through there. Tom O’Brien, their coach, was a St. X guy, and when he was there he started pulling a lot of St. X guys to BC, and then after he left, kind of the pipeline kept going. And it’s a Jesuit school, kind of like St. Xavier, it was a good educational school, it was small, it was in Boston. I think the thing between that and Stanford was, it was just a little bit closer and my parents could get to some more of the away games being in North Carolina and stuff like that.
Q: You went back to school in January. How close are you to your degree?
LK: I have three classes left. I took five up there this past spring, and now I’ve got three left for this year.
Q: We don’t know exactly what your assignment will be, but are you excited about the prospect of going against Rob Gronkowski?
LK: Oh, that’ll be great. He’s one of those tight ends that is a playmaker. He’s big, he’s strong, he makes – can catch the catches, and this is why you love playing football, playing against good players in big games. I’ll be excited. I’m not quite sure how the matchup is going to work yet, but I’m sure at some point I’ll be in the same vicinity.
Q: How do you guys feel about your defense? How are you approaching all the success you’ve had so far this season?
LK: I think we look at each game, and we look at what we did well and what we didn’t do so well, and I think in order to keep moving forward in the direction that we want to, we’ve got to keep doing the positive things. And all the things that we didn’t do so well we have to get them corrected, because when you play good teams, especially a team like the Patriots, they’re going to do their best to find out what you’re not as good at. So we’ve got to do a good job of finding – self-scouting ourselves, knowing what we do well and not so well, and improve in areas that we need to improve in.
Q: I’m guessing there haven’t been many corrections in the past five weeks?
LK: Oh, you wouldn’t believe it. There are corrections almost on every play. A guy out of a gap here, a guy luckily made a play to cover him up and you cover up for him. But there’s always something to look at on each play, and that’s the thing that we need to keep doing, is looking at what we need to improve.
Q: You led the NFL in tackles as a rookie, and from the outside looking in, your transition from college to the NFL looks pretty seamless. What kind of adjustments did you have to make coming from BC to the NFL?
LK: There were a bunch of adjustments. I think if you would have – if the season would have started on day one of OTAs, I would have been all over the place. I didn’t really know what was going on right away, but it was a process. Luckily, I had the OTAs, minicamp, and then camp, and then the preseason to kind of get adjusted, but I think the biggest thing for me was I had some older veteran guys around me that first year. James Anderson, Thomas Davis, Jon Beason, and Jordan Senn were a couple guys that really took me under their wing and showed me kind of how things were done.
Q: People always remark about your instincts and technical ability as a middle linebacker. Is there someone in the league that you watched or idolized growing up, or did you just develop that type of style based on your ability?
LK: When I was growing up, obviously I grew up in Cincinnati and the Ravens were always on the TV playing the Bengals, so Ray Lewis was a guy I grew up watching. Brian Urlacher was another guy, when I was younger he was always on TV making plays, so those are two guys that I always watched growing up.
Q: Were there any lessons you learned at BC that you were able to take into the NFL?
LK: I think maybe one of them was, there’s always – there was a point in our season at BC, I think it was my sophomore year, I don’t know what we were, 2-5, 1-5, and we ended up going to a bowl game. It was one of those things that’s, ‘Never give up, because you never know what the season holds for you.’ I think that’s something moving forward that you’ve always got to hold on to, is you’ve got to play each play, if it’s a play or if it’s a game or if it’s a season. Everything’s got to be important, everything’s got to matter, because you never know where it’s going to put you.
Q: Do you still have a lot of friends who are Patriots fans? Any trash talk?
LK: Honestly, not too much right now. A lot of the people that I was friends with from BC, they were all over the place, so some of them are Patriots fans, some are from Chicago. They were all over the place.
Q: Coach Belichick praised your instincts in some of his comments today. Have you always been an instinctive player? Has that always come fairly easily to you, or is that something you had to work on?
LK: I think one thing I try to do is I try to get well prepared for the game, whether it’s the coaches’ game plan or watching film. I think if you can take advantage of that and have an idea of what a team is going to do, the mental side and I guess the instincts kind of kick in and pair together, and you can be pretty successful doing that. So I think I do a good job of trying my best to prepare for games, and then just the aspect of just playing football, going out there and the phrase ‘Play ball’ just kind of takes over.
Q: What degree are you pursuing?
Q: Five classes in one semester is a lot, isn’t it?
LK: I think it’s pretty standard. I think that’s what most kids at BC – is a normal semester for most kids.
Q: What do you think of Tom Brady from watching him on film this week?
LK: I’ve been watching him forever, but what he does well is he’s like Peyton [Manning], he’s like Eli [Manning], he’s like those guys that – they’re going to do their best to figure out what you’re in, they’re going to be smart, they’re going to get their team in a position to be successful. He’s going to make audibles to the line, get themselves in the route concepts that are effective against the defense we’re in. So we need to do a good job of just playing our defense, playing assignment football, and just concentrating on what we need to get done.