- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Arguably no Big Ten defender received more offseason hype -- Big Ten blog, included -- than Michigan State junior defensive end William Gholston. At 6-foot-7 and 278 pounds, Gholston is a unique physical specimen who finished his sophomore season with a bang, recording five tackles for loss and two sacks in Michigan State's Outback Bowl victory against Georgia. A second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2011, Gholston was pegged for much bigger things this season. Although he leads the Spartans in both tackles for loss (4) and quarterback hurries (4), he has only one sack in the first five weeks and hasn't impacted games as much as many anticipated for the 3-2 Spartans. Fortunately for Gholston and his team, there's still plenty of time to shine.
ESPN.com caught up with Gholston this week in advance of Saturday's game at Indiana.
First off, how are you feeling? It looked like you might have been knocked out during the Ohio State game.
William Gholston: I feel good now. I lost my wind, just got the wind knocked out of me.
How would you grade yourself through the first five games?
Why a C?
WG: That was the first thing I thought of, honestly. I don't really look at myself like that. I'm trying to look at the team overall, and how we did as a team. I don't really care about how I do, as long as we win.
Where do you think the defense is at right now and what do you need to do to get better?
WG: Just improve on all the little things, everything fundamentally and be more sound. I don't think we're doing too bad. We just have to make more plays. We have to remember our goals when we come into practice, see the things they adjust to and trust in each other and trust ourselves that we can make the play. Don't overthink it, I guess.
Who is taking control with the defensive line this year?
WG: The guys who talk the most would be Marcus [Rush], Rashad [White], myself, Denzel Drone. Basically everybody in the room, we kind of complement each other when it comes to being a leader. If somebody needs help, I try to be the one they come to, to give them advice, or if they don't know a play or the adjustment, I try to be there. And I like them to feed off my energy when I'm out there. I like to be energized and enthused and positive.
How are offenses approaching you this year?
WG: I wouldn't say it's anything different. I'm seeing the same amount of double teams this year that I got last year.
How is the confidence level on the team after a 3-2 start but still a long way to go?
WG: I don't think our confidence will fade away. That's crazy, honestly. I don't think confidence goes anywhere. We're an extremely confident team, and we can go in and compete with anybody. And the end result, what we want to see is Dec. 1 [Big Ten championship game]. We've just got to take one game at a time.
What do you see on tape from Indiana?
WG: They get a lot of yards, a lot of yards. That's one of the things I've focused on the most, and how quick they are, how fast-tempo they are on offense.
Does that change your approach as a pass-rusher, how quickly they run their offense?
WG: Not necessarily. We've got to be able to collapse the pocket because they have two good quarterbacks, and two nice [running] backs, too.
Coach [Mark] Dantonio said this week no one is panicking despite the 3-2 start. How important is it for you guys to put together a complete game?
WG: That's the most important thing. It's something you strive for each and every game, to have a complete game in all three phases. It'll be the same for each and every game. That's what every team strives to do.
How good can you be individually and as a team when you put it all together?
Gholston: I feel like we can be great. I haven't even touched the bar as far as my expectations. It'll all come, you know. The team comes first, and then you can worry about individual stuff.
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