Sedric Griffin was one of the pleasant surprises in a season full of pleasant surprises last year.
Then a junior, Griffin had 53 tackles and three sacks last year.
Hailing from the tiny town of Blair, S.C. Griffin talks about his reputation as a bulldozer on defense, trusting teammates, and his favorite linebackers in the NFL.
AJC: What’s the highlight of your hometown?
SG: One thing is we have a nuclear plant. As I recall from history lessons It might have been one of the first hydro-electric ones built in the United States. That’s one of the highlights. And the four-way stop.
AJC: Everybody gather at the four-way stop and stare at each other?
SG: Yeah. And the corner store at the four-way stop. Everybody gathers there. That’s one of the highlights of my illustrious community.
AJC: You go back home often?
SG: I try to. I love my family. We are a close-knit family. So, I try to go home.
AJC: Other players have talked about you going full-speed all the time, is that the way you are off the field, as well?
SG: I’m a very laid-back guy. I’m Just kind of subdued all the time. Very cool, relaxed.
AJC: What happens when you get on the field?
SG: I guess that all that energy has built up in me from being so subdued just comes out. Football is my passion, my love. When it something yo love you are going to give it your all. That’s what I tend to do.
AJC: Which coach on staff is the funniest?
SG: Funniest coach? Coach Smith. He cracks a lot of jokes. It might be a tie. Coach Spencer is hilarious. I get a good laugh off Spencer.
AJC: What do they say that’s funny?
SG: Coach Smith, he’s always cracking little side jokes. Coach Spencer is hilarious. He’s really wise.
The bowl trip, he’s out of the loop, he’s not in the pop culture thing. He said some funny things that everybody repeats now. I wish I could remember some of them.
But, it’s a tie between those two.
AJC: A lot of people talk about the expectations between year one and year two with coach Johnson’s offense, but this is also year two in coach Wommack’s defense. Talk about the changes between year one and year two that you expect to see.
SG: Year 1 and Year 2…. Everbyody is fresh and new. Everybody wondered what he was going to do with the defense. Everyone wondered how we would adjust because we used to blitz with Tenuta. But in year two I expect everyone stepping their game up to the next level. Everybody going from a good defense to a great defense. We have the caliber of players to do that.
We all have this trust level with each other now. This comfortable feeling. It kind of hindered the defense last year. There wasn’t much trust there. Everybody wanted to do too much on defense and wanted to try to make the extra play instead of trusting the defense and letting the defense work for itself. That was when our team got into trouble when they’d over-do things and get out of position and this led to big runs or big passing plays. There’s big trust within the defense now.
AJC: How tough was it missing the Georgia game?
SG: My knee was hurting so bad, I tried to jump up and down and cheer. That was not a great idea. I fought through the LSU game. That was tough also, trying to drag your knee around on the field. That was tough But I’m 1000 percent right now.
AJC: Coach Wommack was talking about how tough the last two games were on the defense. He said ‘we defeated Georgia, but it was only because we scored 45 points.’ He said it seemed like the defense was in slow motion. On the sidelines, could you see that?
SG: I saw that. Just a lot of mistakes we didn’t make all year. Only takes one mistake to lead to a touchdown. A lot of things we didn’t do during the season we did in that game. In the LSU game, we had bad communication and not putting our eyes in the right place.
AJC: Talk about the beginning of the schedule. It’s going to be a tough start. But the good thing about is if you get through it unscathed, it sets up very well for the rest of the year. How do you approach a season that will start as hard as this one will?
Honestly, I’m approaching the season like I have the last three. Same opponents that we’ve been playing the past three years. It’s going to be tough this year, but that’s what the offseason is for to get you mentally prepared for this long season. Twelve straight games, is tough, but that’s why we have a strength and conditioning coach to prepare us for stuff like this. We’re going to go out, take it one game at a time and give 100 percent and make sure we come out the victors at the end.
AJC: Have you been helping the defensive line? Have you been helping the interior guys with their positioning and techniques?
SG: We’ve been trying to do a little film work on Tuesdays. I’ve been getting the D-line and showing them the signals and sets. When we go 7-on-7, they come out and practice their stunts, so we can get everybody up to par and be full-steam ahead when camp comes.
AJC: What’s the worst part of camp?
SG: The heat. Down in south Georgia, the humidity is ridiculous. Tring to gasp for air is even tough. The air is so thick and the sun bearing down on you. And I guess the long days. Get maybe an hour and a half rest between practices. Go to sleep, and it seems like you sleep for a hour and a half and then you’re right back at it.
AJC: What was your personal highlight from last year?
SG: Have to be the Mississippi State game. Third and 1, studying with Coach Wommack, he told us their tendencies and things they like to do. In the formation they lined up in, we noticed they tended to like to dive over the pile when they get close to the goal line. So I decided to meet him in the air. I dived over the pile and met him in mid-air and stopped him at the 1.
AJC: Who do you like to watch in the NFL?
SG: I’m a big Ray Lewis fan. One of my new favorites is Patrick Willis. I seem to pattern my game after both of those guys. Very hard-hitting, very intense all the time. And great athletes. Patrick Willis is one of the best athletes I’ve seen in a long time at linebacker.