SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Washington senior linebacker Keishawn Bierria met with the media Wednesday during a Fiesta Bowl press conference at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn. Here’s some of what he had to say:
Q. On covering Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki, who’s been a matchup problem through the Big Ten this year.
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: I think our coach has done a great job of coaching us up based on that. Understand they’ve got some good athletic players on their team, guys who run well and are absolute great receivers catching the ball. But as far as that, we’re going to just play team defense, do what we do best, communicate, make sure to make the right plays, the right calls and always be on point in our communication. I mean, as far as like communication, understanding what people are doing the play, like what we see, what we understand if we see something call it out.
And it all goes into the game plan. We definitely do a great job of like practicing and understanding what we’re going to do in practice and it’s all about executing on the field. As long as we play good team defense, communicate, I think we’ll get the job done.
Q. How do you stay sharp tackling during the long break?
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: Gotta practice it. A lot of guys don’t want to go into practice live tackling but throughout the weeks we definitely kept the shoulder pads on and the thigh pads, and we stayed true to what we do. We run the same drills we ran all year, maybe do a little more than what we’ve done all year it’s preparation time.
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Throughout the few weeks we make sure we prepared as hard as possible, doing our drills as hard as possible and getting in mental reps. We don’t want to hurt guys in a bowl practice, live tackling. But we definitely make sure our drills are like high tempo, high energy, like very focused. And I think our coaches do a great job of preparing us for tackle.
Q. How important are Vita Vea and Greg Gaines on defense because they seem to win so much up front?
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: They’re very important. They’re the center of our defense. They really are the base of our defense. So as long as you know they’re taking two and making openings for other guys to make some plays — it starts with them honestly. So they’re very important. They’re very important.
Q. How would you compare and contrast Barkley with Bryce Love, the different styles, the two top backs this year?
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: They do have very different styles but similar playmakers. Saquon, he’ll show like inside run, it will be an inside run, and he’ll just make something happen, boom, bounce outside, 30 yards, touchdown.
Bryce Love is a similar way, but he’s more like inside consistently, inside, inside, pounding the rock, five yards, three yards, two yards, and keep going right back to that. They do have, I want to say very similar, but I would say Saquon is a little more illusive and Bryce Love is like kind of more just pounding the rock.
Q. On Budda Baker, a Pro Bowler in his rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals.
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: Budda has always been one of those guys who pushes himself every day. He’s always one of those guys running at full speed throughout the tempo, just making sure he’s, like, in the right position, and it’s paid big dividends for Budda.
He’s done some great things at the NFL level. Also with that, the guy’s a phenomenal person. He’s an all-around good guy. He’s one of those guys that Coach Pete loves to bring in because he’s going to do everything right, going to go to class. And life in general, Budda is doing it the right way. And, I don’t know, I suppose he’s like a younger guy but he’s already at the next level. Kind of like my little brother, but my big brother at the same time.
Budda is just a great dude. Probably going to be friends for a long, long time. And at the next level, man, that’s just what he does, that’s Budda Baker. He goes out there and makes plays at the next level, and he makes it look easy. He makes it look easy when it’s really not. But that’s just really who Budda is.
Q. He’s a rookie now going on to the Pro Bowl, making such an impact on the Arizona Cardinals defense. Not surprising to you at all?
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: Not at all. Pro Bowl Budda, that sounds right. For some reason that just fits: Pro Bowl Budda Baker. Yeah, I can see that happen a few more times.
But, yeah, that’s just who Budda is. He’s a hell of a competitor. He is one hell of a competitor, I’ll give him that. That dude does not quit. And he loves playing football. So, I mean, the Arizona Cardinals have a great football player on their hands.
Q. Talk about the matchup with Saquon Barkley. Can you contain a guy like that?
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: We’ll see. I’ve seen guys get contained before. Think about it. But you really can’t contain a guy like that. You can limit him, take some things away. But as far as that — as a defense, I’m pretty sure we can do our job and get it done. As far as containing, I mean, we’re dogs. We’re dogs. We’ll see. We’ll see. But, I mean, he’s on a very explosive offense. The QB is a great QB. Nice big tight end. They’ve got a lot of options to go with.