Sept. 21, 2005
Senior linebacker Ricky Brown anticipates a roaring crowd of 80,000-plus fans at Clemson's "Death Valley" when the Eagles take on the Clemson Tigers this Saturday. After breaking a bone in his right hand in the season opener at Brigham Young, Brown has returned to action with fellow linebackers Ray Henderson and Brian Toal. Last season, the Cincinnati native led the Eagles' defense with 81 tackles (52 solos, 29 assists).
Q: After three games, what has surprised you most about this team?
A: I think that our team speed has really shown. Defensively, I think that we have really started to gel. We have been great against the run, and we've been great against the pass. Guys are really flying around out there. I think that is very noticeable on the film, watching the defense fly around. Offensively, I think that Quinton Porter has had a great year. He's been slowed up a little bit by the ankle against Florida State. I think that he has shown that he is ready to take the reins of this team.
Q: Midway through this week, what is the team's mindset heading into Saturday's showdown at Clemson?
A: We know that it's going to be loud and crazy. We've actually done a couple things through signals because there are going to be 80,000 screaming fans. When you look at the tape, you see all of these people jumping around and you know it's just going to be crazy down there. We're just hungry for our first ACC win.
Q: Coach Tom O'Brien has compared Clemson's loud crowds at "Death Valley" to those seen in recent years at Virginia Tech. What do you expect to see at Clemson on Saturday afternoon?
A: If I could think of one word, it would probably be hostile. I've never been to Death Valley, but from what I understand from Coach O'Brien, you drive, it's in the middle of nowhere, and out pops a stadium and these people take football seriously. It will be a fun environment.
Q: This year's defensive unit allowed just eight rushing yards to BYU and 13 against Florida State. Talk about this year's veteran leadership on defense.
A: I think that when you look at guys like Al Washington and Mathias Kiwanuka, those are guys that are showing up every day, not just during the season. They have been here for four or five years, just busting their butts. Those guys know that this is their last year, and they are giving it all they've got, along with the linebackers. Ray Henderson has been playing great in the middle. Also, I think that a lot of times when you have a good secondary, it also contributes to the run defense. All the guys in the secondary have been doing a great job.
Q: Ray Henderson registered his seventh career interception last Saturday, and Brian Toal blocked a field goal at BYU, before rushing for two scores against Army. What's it like to be a part of such a skilled linebacker corps?
A: It's fun to play with those guys because we're always moving around doing things. It's not like we are just taking what the offense has. We're moving around and making things difficult for the [opposing] offense. Ray and Brian are great guys both on and off the field. They are funny characters, and we have a good time at practice.
Q: You've been a key part of the team's line-up ever since you arrived at BC in the fall of 2002. You immediately earned a spot on the depth chart. You didn't have/take a redshirt year. On the one hand, you're obviously happy to have had the chance to play right away. On the other hand, an "adjustment year" can also make the transition to college - on and off the field - much simpler. What are your thoughts?
A: I think that they hardest thing for me was balancing school and football right away because when you are in high school, you don't have to spend that much time with football. Having the 20 hours per week and then taking difficult classes was really hard for me. Learning resources and my friends have just helped me through it.
Q: Can you tell us about the right hand injury you sustained in the season opener? How is the hand now?
A: It happened at the beginning of the second quarter at BYU, and a helmet hit it. It broke the third metacarpal, and midway through the second quarter they patched it up. I finished the second quarter and the game. I had surgery the Thursday before the Army game. The surgery went really well. Dr. Paul Felden did a great job. He did Paul Peterson's hand - Paul had the same injury as me, and he did a great job on Paul [Peterson]. The coaches wanted me to get my feet went, so I played a little bit against Army. Last week, I didn't feel it once [against Florida State]. I got a really nice cast made for me. In the game against Florida State, I didn't feel it at all. I have to wear a cast for, I think, two more games.
Q: Last weekend's game not only brought ESPN's College GameDay program to Chestnut Hill, but also prompted student fans to form lines outside the stadium hours before kickoff. What's it like to be able to play before a loud, packed Alumni Stadium crowd?
A: Just when you look, during the timeouts, at the fans jumping around and the maroon and gold shirts going crazy, it really brings a lot of enthusiasm to your defense. When it's third down and you throw your hands up to get the crowd pumped up, and the crowd responds, it's such a pick-me-up.
Q: In your fourth and final season playing at the Heights, you've been a part of three bowl-winning teams. Having entered the ACC this season, where do you hope to see this team and yourself three months down the road?
A: I think we need to take it every practice at a time and every game at a time. With the talent that we have, I think that if we do that and focus every day on the little things, the big things will take care of themselves. By big things, I mean the bowl games, national rankings and that kind of stuff.
Q: Having utilized the new Yawkey Athletics Center through spring and summer practices (and now through three weeks of the regular season), what's your reaction to the facility?
A: It's unbelievable. I never thought that jumping from Conte Forum to Yawkey would be like this. It's just incomparable. The Patriots were shooting a Dunkin' Donuts television ad over the summer, and one of the directors came in and said that it almost compares to the Patriots. And the Patriots are World Champs. So, Coach O'Brien and Coach Gallup did it up really nice.
Q: When you're away from the field and out of the weight room, how do you enjoy spending your free time?
A: Most likely, playing the NCAA Football 2006 video game with [baseball catcher] Shawn McGill, [pitcher] Nate Jeanes and Karim El Nokali, three of my roommates. I also room with Josh Beekman and Al Washington, but they aren't into the NCAA game. None of us ever really play as Boston College. I'm playing with Texas A&M right now, and I had a little setback with my hand. But I've rehabbed my hand, and now I'm ready to go. Right now, I'd have to say the best player in the room is probably Shawn McGill.
- interview conducted by senior Alex Timiraos