October 6, 2010

Akeem Ayers continues his super play

It seems like junior linebacker, Akeem Ayers does something impactful every game. Forcing fumbles, picking off passes, getting a key sack �" when a play is needed, this guy has been delivering. In five games this season, Ayers has 33 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, three pass breakups, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

If there has been a more impactful defensive player in the nation it would be interesting to find out who. Just this last contest against Washington State, Ayers was playing with a banged up shoulder and quad, yet he never made any excuses, he just went out and played.

The star Bruin linebacker put the period on the ending of the game when made three big things happen on one play. BruinBlitz.com recently talked to Ayers to talk about Washington State and the coming Cal game.

BruinBlitz.com: Akeem, how’s the shoulder?

Ayers: “It’s good, it’s a lot better. I have been getting treatment on it every day twice a day.”

BruinBlitz.com: Don’t you also have a quad problem, too?

Ayers: “It was just bruised, but that just got better over time by itself.”

BruinBlitz.com: You were just Akeem being Akeem against Washington State when you recorded sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery all on the same play.”

Ayers: “Yeah, I did, but I think I could have played a lot better than I played against Washington State. I don’t think I was as effective as I usually am, but I can’t make every play, every time, that is why I have teammates that have my back so that is what a team is for.”

BruinBlitz.com: What did Washington State do well that kept them in the game?

Ayers: “They just made big plays. They gashed us for 30 yard gains and then 20 here, so it was just that they has a lot of explosive plays on us and we didn’t answer back earlier enough in the game. I might have taken us a minute, but winning like we did is better than a L.”

BruinBlitz.com: How do you get ready for Cal so this kind of stuff doesn’t happen again?

Ayers: “For games like Cal, we come out ready. I feel like for Washington State we didn’t really come out with the enthusiasm that had when we came out for Texas and Houston. Those were games where we just came out on fire.

“I don’t think we came out with the same intensity as a defense and by playing Cal we’re going to come out being ready with hands down and be ready to play. When we play with a lot of intensity and at a high level that’s when we are at our best.”

BruinBlitz.com: Why didn’t you come out with that fire and intensity against Washington State?

Ayers: “I have no idea. We were just flat and me being a defensive leader on the team and a captain. I feel that was my job. Whenever I see guys flat I’m supposed to bring intensity by my play and just get guys going and I needed to do that earlier in the game.”

BruinBlitz.com: In the end though isn’t this a teachable moment?

Ayers: “I would rather have it happen now then later down the line when we are actually playing for the Pac 10 title. I was a good learning lesson. We learned a good lesson and I don’t think anybody wants to feel that way again. We came out not playing UCLA football, but I’m glad that it happened now and not later.”

Did you guys talk much about it during the week because the coaches sure were saying stuff like don’t overlook these guys then you get up quick and then figure this probably going to be an easy game…

Ayers: “Definitely, once we got off to that 20-7 start, I think a lot of guys started backing off and thinking this going to all be good from there, but we were forgetting that is four quarters. It is not just a half of a game. We have to remember that for all four quarters instead of two or whatever.”

When it was 34-28 and then they took away the touchdown, what were you thinking?

Ayers: “I was thinking that is something we can’t have. I was trying to get the guys ready for the next round because that play happened already and we can’t be thinking that they scored on us so I was trying to get them ready. I told them that we have to go back out there and make a play and try and get a defensive score.”

For the last couple of years UCLA has had an opportunistic defense. This game was going back and forth did you think that at some point you were going to make a play?

Ayers: “We brought the defense up and we said the game was going to be up to us, no matter what. At the end of the day, the offense was playing well and we knew that the game was going to be on us so we all just huddled up and had a man to man talk. We knew that we needed to step it up and make some plays out there.

“We had a talk with the whole defense and we just said that we are better than this. We are better athletes than this and better football players than this and this was not the way we play defense. We have set a standard in the past previous games of how we play and we just didn’t bring that.”

When did you have that talk?

Ayers: “After they went up 34-28 and from then on, guys were ready to step it up and I think we played a lot better.”

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