Oct. 19, 2006
Linebacker Kevin Akins and the Boston College Eagles (5-1, 2-1) will hit the road to face Florida State (4-2, 2-2) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Doak Campbell Stadium. Akins, a Lansdale, Pa. native, recorded two sacks in last week's win over Virginia Tech and has 17 total tackles on the season.
Talk about the team defense. What are its general principles? What do you expect from your defense the rest of the year?
The basic principle is to execute -- do your assignment and good things will happen. I expect positive results, a lot of execution, big plays, and, hopefully, scoring on defense.
The team currently ranks fourth in the ACC in scoring defense, second in turnover margin, and fifth in sacks. How has the team been able to do as well as it has after losing some key players from last year's team (Kiwanuka, Brown, Henderson, among others)?
We just go out there every day in practice and work hard. We work on good technique and try to execute our assignments.
You're part of a young group of linebackers. There's not a senior in the group. Talk about the group's dynamic and camaraderie. Who provides the leadership?
Jolonn Dunbar. He's the captain of the defense and one of our tri-captains. He shows a lot of leadership out there. This is my first year playing linebacker, so I learn a lot from those guys. Everybody has a role and we help each other out so we can all have success on the team.
In last week's win over Virginia Tech, the defense registered four sacks, two interceptions, and kept the Hokies out of the end zone for the first time since 1998. How was your defense able to take over the ballgame and hold the Hokies to just a field goal?
It was [due to] good preparation during the week. We watched a lot of film, learned about the other team, found out a lot of keys and worked hard during practice. That helped out a lot because during the game it looked just like practice. We practice like we play, we play like we practice and that helps the team out.
After redshirting the 2004 season, you got your feet wet last fall. You played in all 12 games and made 20 tackles. What lessons did you learn in your first year of collegiate competition?
It gave me a little bit of experience of what the speed of the game would be like. It's a lot faster than high school, of course. I learned that there's competition out there and if you want to win games you have to compete and that's what I try to do.
Already this season, you've recorded 17 tackles through six games. To what would you attribute your increased production?
Understanding the defense more, coming out there, watching film, practicing hard, working on my techniques, just trying to get better as a football player in general.
You currently lead the team with four sacks; you've already forced one fumble (against BYU) and made a tackle in the end zone (for a safety - against Maine). You seem to be in the right place at the right time. What's the key?
When I'm on the field, I just try to hustle no matter what happens on the field. If I fall down, I get up and run after the ball. No matter what I do, I just keep going until the whistle blows and when you do that, good things happen. When I'm out there I go 100 percent every single time and if good things happen, they happen. Somebody's going to make a play and sometimes it happens to be me.
Talk a little bit about Coach Spaziani. What's his demeanor and how does he communicate his message?
It depends on what the situation is. Sometimes he can be laid back; sometimes he can be more aggressive. He just tries to get his point across and get the team and the players to understand what he wants done and how he wants it done. When we do what he says, good things happen.
Coach McGovern is your position coach. What's your relationship with him and what does he emphasize to you?
He's a really good coach. The transition of coming from cornerback to linebacker was a tough one, but he made it a little better for me. He got me to understand what linebacker is and how it's supposed to be played. Over the course of the season, he's been helping me out a lot in my techniques, my style of play, and how to do things out there as a linebacker.
Having been accustomed to playing cornerback, what helped you and what hurt you in the process of switching positions?
It doesn't really hurt me at all. A football player is a football player. If I'm going to be out there I'm going to do my best to make plays, but the biggest difference for me is that in playing cornerback everything's in front of you. As a linebacker sometimes things are behind you and you have to look back, get back into what they call the "seek and search". That's the biggest difference, having everything in front of you [before, but now] having some things behind you.
As a sophomore, who do you look to as your mentor on the team and why?
I could say a lot of people are my mentors. This is my first year being a linebacker, so I could say that the whole linebacker corps is mentors. I've watched what they do. I've learned a lot this whole year from Tyronne Pruitt, one of the other strong safeties that plays in front of me, and I've learned a lot from the coaches, other players. Even some defensive linemen have taught me some defensive rush moves that have helped me out this season.
What can you tell us about Florida State? What do you know about their personnel?
They have a lot of fast guys - fast and strong guys who are also pretty big - so it's going to be a task. It's going to be hard. We have to go out there and play our game and if we do that, good things should happen.
Have you ever been to Tallahassee, Fla., or to Doak Campbell Stadium? Do you know anything about the Seminoles' home field?
They have a great crowd, that's what I've been hearing. They're supposedly wearing black t-shirts and they're changing their jersey for us, but from what I've been hearing it's a great crowd, a great area. They have good support for their team, so it's going to be a challenge and I'm looking forward to it.
How does your team react to the hype of a much-anticipated ACC battle on national television?
We don't really focus on all the hype. We just work on what we have to do and focus in on what we need to do to win the game.
What does the team need to do on Saturday to leave Tallahassee with a win?
We need to execute our assignments. That's the main thing - keep the offense on the field and get off the field when we're on defense.
Interview conducted by Geoffrey Kehlmann