Jul 25, 2013
Charlotte, N.C. — Former ACC Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly was a highly-touted draft pick who did not disappoint in his first season at football’s highest level. The former Boston College stand-out played every bit like the next star linebacker for the Carolina Panthers as he was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
"I kept trying to tell myself, ‘it's all football, it's going to be the same stuff you see in college, it's just going to be a little quicker,’" Kuechly said. "Our playbook was a little bit different, but the schemes and ideas are relatively the same."
When asked about it, Kuechly shrugged off any sophomore slump notion. Without the pesky initiation process, the 22-year-old said he finds the game getting easier in the offseason.
"Now, I can kind of skip all that, I know most of the guys on the team, I know the coaches, I have a pretty good idea of the playbook," said Kuechly, who recorded 164 tackles, a sack, two interceptions, and eight pass deflections in 2012.
How exactly does he even begin to go about topping a year where he led the league in tackles?
"I don't have a tackle number because I think that kind of gets skewed every once in a while," Kuechly said. "I think if you make impact plays in games, that's the most important thing; causing a fumble, forcing a turnover, or making a big play."
One stat he'd like to see a spike in? W's.
The panthers finished sub-500 for the third consecutive season. Seven of their nine losses were by six or fewer points.
"In a sense, it makes you feel ok, like, 'alright, we're in the games,'" Kuechly explained. "But then at the same time, why weren't we winning? We played great in three-and-a-half quarters of most of the games, but then in the last five to eight minutes, what happened?"
That is a question that Kuechly said will no longer be an acceptable one to ask by him or his teammates.