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November 2, 2016

James Onwualu

South Bend, Indiana

THE MODERATOR: Questions for James.

Q. When you first faced Navy as a defensive player in 2014, what were some of the challenges you faced? How much could you actually prepare in the week leading up versus your experience playing against them?
JAMES ONWUALU: Yeah, I think preparation is huge, just to get a look at it. It's really tough, almost impossible, to replicate how well Navy does it. So once you get into the game, it does take a little bit to settle in, get a feel for how fast it really is.

Other than that, I really think it comes down to preparation.

Q. What was the single biggest challenge your first time facing a triple-option offense?
JAMES ONWUALU: Probably just eye discipline and the speed of everything. Like I said, it's hard to replicate how fast everything is, how all the options come to you. So being able to settle in after a series or two is important.

Q. I think last year might have been the first year you really focused in August with the swag team and everything. How much did that help versus the prior year?
JAMES ONWUALU: Yeah, any look or any little taste you can get of this offense is beneficial, so... The more you do it, the better you're going to be at it.

Q. We talked to Coach Kelly pretty extensively yesterday about some of the things you guys do in preparation for playing Navy. He mentioned film study being really, really significant. Can you give us an idea what this week is like for you and the defensive players in terms of film study?
JAMES ONWUALU: Yeah, so any extra time we're going to have, we'll be focused on trying to continue to study this offense. The coaches have done a great job so far of being able to pull their main runs and their main objectives and give us examples of that from previous years, comparing the reps we've done in practice to actual reps of them running it.

You can see how it's done and what corrections to make. So film study is going to be huge. Continuing to look at that, it's going to be big.

Q. I brought up Coach Elliott, the work he's put in in giving you a base defense to work out of. Don't give away what you do, but talk about that basis you work out of.
JAMES ONWUALU: Yeah, so how we defended them last year. We thought we did a pretty good job. Again, it's an offense that is tough to stop, especially when you get them to third down. They're working for every single yard, especially with the style they play, how tough they are, like I said, working for every single yard. We thought we did a pretty good job last year. Learned a lot from that game, as well.

Like I said, we're going back to last year's film and making adjustments on what we think we can do a little bit better this year and trying to make those changes.

Q. I think Greer replaced you at some point in the Navy game.
JAMES ONWUALU: Jarrett Grace did.

Q. What weren't you doing? What have you learned since then?
JAMES ONWUALU: Their fullback was, like, 280 pounds. He got the best of me on a play or two and the coaches didn't really like it.

Jarrett is a big boy. He took care of business.

Q. What do you enjoy about playing against Navy and what do you hate about playing against Navy?
JAMES ONWUALU: I like the fact that you can really zone in on what they're going to do. Depending on how much you really study and put time into this offense this week, it can kind of align you for the amount of success you'll have in the game.

The tough part about it is you don't see this all year and all of a sudden it's on you. You just came from playing a great offense in Miami to a totally different offense in Navy. That's the challenge of it, just trying to flip your mind, be very assignment-oriented.

Q. This is probably more of a question for next week, but when you look at the schedule and see Navy, Army back-to-back, not the same offense, but there's enough of a core offense for you to benefit from that in two straight weeks?
JAMES ONWUALU: Uh-huh, yeah, definitely. Like I said, having that mindset and being focused in on this style of play will be beneficial going back-to-back.


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