Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The dirt on the Danes with Andrew Smith

On Wednesday, I caught up with University at Albany red-shirt freshman Andrew Smith, who was named Northeast Conference Rookie of the Week after piling up 239 all-purpose yards and leading the Great Danes in rushing (99 yards) in their first game against Georgia Southern, 29-26 loss.

Smith was a dynamic player, both running and passing as a quarterback at Guilderland High School and was selected to The Record's All-Area First Team selection on defense in 2007.

After sitting out last year, he was able to show his talents in week one for UAlbany.

(We have the same initials so I'll just keep my questions in regular type and the answers in italics)

It's been a long time since you were in a game, were there any nerves?

AS: Every game that I was in during high school, I would get a little nervous. I saw a quote one time that said, 'The day you stop getting nervous before a game, is the day you stop playing.' I was nervous before high school games and then this one was unreal. There were like 20,000 people there and it was another stage that I've never experienced, especially since I've been out of the game for a year. There were a lot of nerves going, but after I got that first hit, I was ready and it felt good to get out there finally again.

What's it like when you finally stepped on the field for the first time?

AS: The first time I got in was the punt, which was the fake and felt really good - first play you get to take it that far, it definitely helped out a lot with the process. I just went in and felt like this was where I belong and what I should be doing. I wouldn't trade it for the world. It was the greatest feeling I've had in a while. It felt good, especially since I want to represent Section II, being a Guilderland guy, (Paul) Booker and I want to go out and represent Guilderland. It felt good, I feel like I did it, but it's the first step to a long future, I hope.

You came so close in the game. What was the mood like coming on the trip home?

AS: These last couple of seasons we've played some good competition. Last year, we had four CAA teams and they're considered the best conference in D1-AA. We're going down there and they have six national championships, but we thought we could win because they're struggling to find their identity. Usually we're content with being close to those teams, but this year it wasn't a good mood because we felt like we should have won the game, especially considering how many turnovers and mistakes we made. I feel like we should have won the game, everyone on the bus felt that way and the coaches did too. It was good to go down there and people didn't expect to be that close, but I felt like we should have won. It wasn't a good mood, but the future looks bright for us this season.

What's the mood like this week in practice?

AS: They have a good program over there. We played them last year and kept it close. They know we're physical and I know they respect us. They're a good team and they have a couple of good guys on defense from looking at the scout. The mood's good, positive, we're going to go in there and do what we have to do. We thrive on playing at other team's stadiums because we're not going to roll down and die and we like playing in a big stadium. We're going to go in there confident and positive. We expect to win. We don't want to keep it close, we want to take this one.

Are you hoping the secret is still a secret and you can catch UMass by surprise?

AS: I doubt that's going to happen. Georgia Southern had no clue, but I know UMass saw the film and so I don't expect them to be surprised when I step in. I expect them to key on me on some of the trick stuff, so I have to play harder I guess because it will be harder than Georgia Southern, but I expect that.

What was the reaction from friends and family after a good first game?

AS: They were all happy, family, parents and Guilderland community because (fellow Guilderland High School graduate Paul) Booker got the start (at tight end). They were all really happy. My mom was really excited.

The Great Danes (0-1) take on the Minutemen (0-1) at 6 p.m. on Saturday. UMass lost to Kansas State 21-17 in the first week.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good interview Andrew. Continue the good coverage of UA football. The Capital Regions's only DI football team.

September 10, 2009 at 10:51 AM 

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