Getting to Know...De'Shon Matthews

April 17, 2007

In 2006, the Husky defense kept the Dawgs in a lot of close games with some solid work in the trenches from the defensive lineman. Spring football is here for the 2007 season and the mindset on defense is much of the same, with an added emphasis from coach Tyrone Willingham on creating more turnovers. was able to catch up with sophomore De'Shon Matthews, who utilized his freshman year to learn the Husky playbook and prepare himself to fight for a spot this season. To start things off, how did the off-season go for youguys?
De'Shon Matthews: 'The off-season has treated us well. We are really trying to get ourselves in sync right now and every day that goes by we are working on getting stronger and stronger. This is a good opportunity for us to prove to everybody that we are a good team and we are better than what everybody expects out of us. The schedule that we have right now is a great opportunity for us to show everybody that we are ready to play.'

GH: Is that tough schedule a lot of the reason why everyone on this team is so pumped up to prove that you guys can play?
DM: 'It is, but besides that, every schedule you want to walk away with a winning season. Last season we knew that we could do better than how we did with that schedule. This season we are trying to not look back too much and move on and get better.'

GH: Last season you guys got off to that quick 4-1 start, but hit a bumpwith some injuries and things just went downhill from there. How can this team get into a consistent winning mode?
DM: 'There are all sorts of factors that play in, but it's the mindset. If we all just think positive, then we all will do positive things. The past is the past, and now is now. We are just trying to look forward to the things that we want to accomplish this season.'

GH: How have practices gone so far this Spring, now that you have a few of them under your belts?
DM: 'They have been going well, but you can always get better. It hasn't been as successful as it needs to be yet, but we'll get there because we want to become a championship team. We have to prove that in practices first, because that's where it all starts.'

GH: How open are the defensive spots on the depth chart right now? Is itpretty wide open?
DM: 'Yeah, the best player will play. Spring ball is usually where you will get that spot, so you have to play well during Spring ball and have it carry over to the season.'

GH: The defense lost a lot of key contributors from last season, are those spots going to be tough to fill?
DM: 'We have to step up every day, but I don't know who is going to fill those spots yet. Time will tell, Spring ball is when you have to show your stuff to get that spot.'

GH: What is thedifference between the De'Shon Matthews as a freshman to the De'Shon Matthews that stands before me today?
DM: 'The experience I have gained by watching the game. It's been awhile since I have played in a real game, but I have learned a lot. It's different from high school. I've been making sure that I get into the weight room to make sure that I get stronger and faster, because that makes me better.'

GH: Are strength and speed the biggest two areas for a defensive lineman to progress in?
DM: 'Those and knowing the playbook. You have to know the offense too. If you know what you are doing, that is going to give you confidence too and help you get better.'

GH: Is there anyone in particular that has helped you out along the way?
DM:'Caesar Rayford has helped me out a lot. We do a lot of extra things together after practice to help get a little better. I work on get-offs and my striking to help me get better in the areas that I am lacking right now and to become a better player.'

GH: You usually see offensive lineman grow pretty close because they have to work together a lot. Is that kind of the same thing for defensive lineman, or is it more of an individual thing?
DM: 'It depends on how you are, but it is true that the more you play together the closer you get because you create a bond. If you trust him, he is going to trust you and that carries off the field as well.'

GH: There is a lot of work with defensive lineman with their technique to help them get by the offensive lineman. How important is your technique when you are looking to get by a guy?
DM: 'I think the most important thing is to get up, because you can't lay off the ball. If you lay off the ball they are going to have a better chance of blocking you. After that it would just be your hand technique and your footwork, because you have to get up the field and around him while going towards the quarterback. You don't want to make the space between you and the quarterback bigger.'

GH: Does your technique vary depending on who you are playing against?
DM: 'Yeah, it really depends on the person you go against. Every lineman is different in the way they play. If you get down how they play, then that is going to help you prepare better for when you go up against them. You can change your movement a little bit and it will help you get by that tackle.'

GH: Do you come up with these moves after you get a few reps against him or is it something that you have prepared before you even step on the field?
DM: 'I think about what I am going to do first. I also try to look atthe people from the sidelines when I am not in so that I can try and get afeeling for the way the guy is going to block. Watching him block someone elsehelps me to be better prepared for when I have to get in there and face himmyself.'

GH: What makes a perfect defensive lineman?
DM: 'I would say they would have to be very quick and get off the ballvery well. You need to have a good combination of speed and strength to besuccessful at this position.'

GH: How important is it to come out strong and play well in the Spring Game on April 28?
DM: 'It is very important. It sets out what is to come in theupcoming season.'

GH: What is the difference between last year's team and this year's team?
DM: 'I think that this year's team is more focused and driven to get to the Rose Bowl. We are coming back from a season that is not successful enough to be where we wanted to be. We know that we are a better team and this year is a good opportunity for us to show everybody what we can do and show them how good we are.'

GH: What do you think that you need to do to get yourself a spot in thelineup come August?
DM: 'Learn the playbook and just perfect my technique. If I can getthose things down I will be ready to go.'