Sept. 22, 2004
Senior free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe
is featured in the fifth installment of a weekly column of player reports that lets Cardinal Commitment readers in on the thoughts of Stanford football players. The Cardinal hosts top-ranked USC at Stanford Stadium this Saturday, September 25 (4:00 pm) in a game to be nationally televised by TBS.
CC: How is the team getting prepared to play USC this Saturday?
OA: We're definitely thrilled to be playing this game on Saturday. But, we're preparing for it in the same manner as we would for any other game. We plan on playing well and want to make sure that we're staying focused on what we need to do as a team. We want to be sound in what we do and hone the skills that we've been working on for the last couple of months. We also want to be error-free in our assignments.
CC: How important was it to win the first two games this season?
OA: It was very important, because we got the season started off in a good way. It gets us off on the right foot and gets the momentum rolling. It was good for our confidence too, so that people can realize that we're not the same team we were a year ago.
CC: This year's team is a very experienced unit. Have you noticed an increased maturity in the defensive group this season?
OA: The maturity and the leadership on the team is outstanding. We return nine starters on defense, so there's nothing that can go on during a game that will catch us off guard. What we have going on here is a solid defense and a group of guys that has completely bought into the system.
CC: The defensive secondary is probably the most experienced group on the team. Can you speak about your on-field relationship with the guys in that unit?
OA: Those guys are my best friends on and off the field. We've been playing together for so long that we really have a feel for what one another is doing. We know how each other plays, and it's a lot easier to go on the field and know where people are going to be in certain coverages. It all really flows together.
CC: Can you speak about defensive coordinator/secondary coach A.J. Christoff and his influence on your play?
OA: It's great playing for him because he has so much love for the game and passion for competition. He brings that passion to the defensive secondary and the defense as a whole. It's great to have a coach that is just as intense about the game as you are. As far as schemes go, he teaches us what we need to know. He tries to show us the defense as a whole and not just how the secondary fits into it. He has made us more knowledgeable about the game of football, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
CC: Can you talk about some of your goals as you head into Pac-10 play?
OA: Personally, I just want to play as well as I can. I don't really set too many preseason goals, and I just want to go out and help my team while having fun out on the field. I want to play to the best of my abilities.
You have led the team in tackles for the past two seasons (2002 and '03). Is your tackling ability something you take pride in?
OA: I focus on being both a coverage defensive back and a sure tackler. A large amount of my tackles are due to the design of our defense. Safeties are heavily responsible for the run, and we are expected to help stop the running game. I just play my assignment, and it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
CC: What's your mindset going up against USC's receiving corps?
OA: I'm just focusing on being sound. The USC receivers are very good at attacking your technique, and they are very precise in their routes. You have to have sound technique and be ready to play.
CC: You ran track in your first couple of years on The Farm. How has that experience helped you on the football field?
OA: It helped me a lot. I was able to work on my speed and work on becoming more explosive. It really helped me with my natural explosion when making tackles.