One-on-one coverage: West Virginia DL Scooter Berry
Defensive lineman Scooter Berry is one of the top playmakers on the West Virginia defense, as he proved at the end of last week's win over Rutgers. The 6-foot-1, 288-pound redshirt sophomore took some time to visit with the Big East blog this week.
You dropped back in pass coverage and broke up a fourth-down throw to seal the win last week against Rutgers. How nice was that to do as a defensive lineman?
Scooter Berry: It was real nice. If I could have caught it, it would have been 10 times better. I wish I got to (drop back) in practice but they never want to call it.
You're actually one of the older guys now on a defense that features a lot of freshmen and sophomores. Does that feel weird?
SB: It's funny because everybody calls me a veteran guy, but I'm only a sophomore. Coach Stew (Bill Stewart) makes fun of me all the time because I've been here so long. I feel like a veteran and I feel like a rookie at the same time. I think it's good to have a balance like that though, because then you're never satisfied. You never feel like you're on top and you always have something to learn.
Do you feel comfortable taking younger guys under your wing?
SB: I definitely feel comfortable doing that because I've been here for a while and I definitely know the ropes. So I like teaching the other guys. But at the same time, I like to lead by example because I'm somewhat of an introvert. I only talk when I really have to.
How is the defense coming along with so many new faces?
SB: Everybody is getting better as week after week goes by. We started off a little slow, but we try to preach to the young guys, 'Don't play scared to make mistakes. Just go out there full speed 100 percent, and if you make mistakes, just get back after it the next play.' They're taking to that well.
Coach Stewart said early this season that the defense might have to lead the way. Do you feel like you guys can do that?
SB: Every season, the defense for West Virginia is underrated because this is Touchdown City. We've always been in the background and feel like we have something to prove.
Is that any different this year, since the offense isn't putting up 40 or 50 points like it used to do?
SB: A little. Hopefully our offense can start clicking like it used to do in the past. We like being the underdog of the team.
You came to campus as a fullback. How did you end up on the defensive line?
SB: All through high school, I played fullback and middle linebacker. I came to West Virginia and greyshirted in '05, and I packed on a couple pounds. So they asked me about playing the defensive line. I took it for what it was. This is Division I football and you can't be too picky. It turned out good.
How much weight did you gain?
SB: I only packed on seven pounds from high school. But when I was greyshirting, I really wasn't doing anything, so I picked up a lot of bad weight. When it was time for me to lift weights, I was a little behind.
How long did it take you to pick up all the techniques for the defensive line?
SB: Even though I don't have it all the way down pat yet, I'd say it took me about a year and a half.
It's a dirty job, fighting with those offensive lineman, right?
SB: Oh, that's the best part.
When your team was looking for a fullback earlier this season, did you ever volunteer?
SB: Every day I make a joke to the offensive coaches and say, 'Hey, put me in at fullback, I can get some yards or block.' They just laugh at me. I think they forget I played fullback in high school.
So you're still available?
SB: Center, offensive guard, tackle, running back, wide receiver, anything. I'm the mechanic.
And maybe defensive back, too, the way you broke up that pass.
SB: (Laughs). I don't know about all that.
What are your thoughts on the Big East? You're the defending champs, and the race looks pretty wide open. Do you like your chances of winning it again?
SB: Yeah, it's pretty much wide open. I think it's going to come down to the wire for the Big East championship, and hopefully we'll come out on top again.