Questioning the Enemy


*With the Ravens preparing to take on the Houston Texans this weekend, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad. *

** gives you head coach Gary Kubiak and defensive end Mario Williams.


Head coach Gary Kubiak

What are the strengths of quarterback Matt Schaub and what do you look for in terms of growth from him?

Kubiak:"We put a lot on his shoulders, too. We stepped up and went and got him last year, and we were very pleased with the way he played last year. Unfortunately, he did miss, I think, seven games or eight games last year due to a shoulder issue. What you'd like to have when you have a young quarterback is you want to get all these starts under his belt so that he can go through the growing pains and grow up as quick as possible.

"Unfortunately, Matt's working on start 13 or 14, which is not many in this league, but the expectations are high for him. He's very smart, handles the game plan very well, knows what he is doing and handles the team very well. The thing he's got to improve on is to continue to protect the ball better, keeping this football team in good situations. We've been pleased with Matt, but we also know that he's got to go above and beyond the call from a play standpoint for our football team to be successful."

What are the challenges for a young quarterback when facing the Ravens' defense?

GK:"They are as good [a defense] as you'll play. They do a lot of things and do them very sound. They're disruptive. To me, they played against one of the better quarterbacks last week, and you see what happened last week. That lets you know how difficult it is. Matt understands that and we understand. He's got to settle down and just play a good, solid football game for his team. He can't try to do too much. He's just got to do his job and understand that this is a dangerous defensive football team. They're going to make some plays, and we, just hopefully, don't help them any more."

What impresses him about Ravens tackle Jared Gaither?

GK:"I think he just works extremely hard. I think he's coached extremely well. When you sit there and watch the film last week, I was just so impressed with the way Baltimore controlled the line of scrimmage in both phases, on offense and defense. He's a heck of a player, and they've got many of them."

What pressures did Mario Williams face coming into the league with such high expectations?

GK:"It was very difficult. First off, he's come into a situation where the football team is not in very good shape. He's not only the first pick in the draft, which was controversial to some people and he has to deal with that, but he's coming to a football team that needs a lot of help, not just one player. So, [there are] expectations, a lot of pressure, a lot of being followed very closely week in and week out. I think it was very difficult for him, but players like that are the ones that become great players.

"I was fortunate enough to be in Denver when John Elway came in under the same situation, and I watched how hard it was for him as a rookie and what he went through. But, I really think he set the stage for the rest of his career. I kind of feel the same way about Mario. The growing pains he's had to go through, the things he's had to endure, are what have made him better, not only as a player but as a person. And, I think you'll see him play a long, long time and be very effective."

How do you manage emotion early in the year, especially after losing the first game?

GK:"First off, [Baltimore] should be very excited because they were very impressive against Cincinnati. They were a dominant football team that day and in all three phases. John [Harbaugh] has done a tremendous job. They are a very, very talented football team; they're a very physical football team. They should be very excited about their start last week. For us, we got man-handled pretty good down in Pittsburgh. We worked as hard as anybody in training camp and we felt good coming out, and we had a good week of preparation last week and we went down there and couldn't get anything right. It's disappointing, but the one thing about this league [is that] you turn around and play seven days later whether it is good or bad. We've got to get over it and try to fix the mistakes that we made, which were many, and we'll have to be very, very good this week to have an opportunity against this football team."


Defensive end Mario Williams


Do you remember your college (NC State) matchup with Jared Gaither (Maryland product)?

Williams:"No, not really. I really don't remember a lot of individual stuff that happened with anyone, actually. I try to forget about old stuff like that."

How do you think you two will fare against each other, considering how big you both are?

MW:"In any situation, it doesn't really matter about how big somebody is. It's just all about going out there and playing ball."

How tough was it to come into the league as a No. 1 pick?

MW:"I think that was tough. For me, it was pretty much just coming in and trying to fit into the scheme of things and into the organization, and know my role, pretty much, and get comfortable with it. That was the only thing that was tough for me. The more and more I played, the more and more I practiced, the more that I felt comfortable. I think the biggest thing for me was really trying to come in and fit right into the scheme of things here."

How important is it to get after Joe Flacco early?

MW:"We've got to start out fast. Last week, that's behind us. This week, we know what we need to do as a defense. We've got to start out fast, we've got to get back there and stop the running game. We've got to get to the quarterback and disrupt him a little bit. Yeah, he is a young guy, but it's just one of those things that we've got to get back there, knock him off his mark and just try to get things going."

How will the impending hurricane affect the Texans' preparation?

MW:"To me, being that, especially since we play inside, I'm really not worried about it. Thank goodness. It'd be a different story if we were playing in an open stadium. But we're playing inside, so I'm not even thinking about it. The last thing I heard, the other day, I think it was turned on us and went away. I don't know. But I'm really not worried about."

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