Aug. 18, 2009
By Alfredo V. Moreno - UNM Assistant Media Relations Director
Few people were as excited about defensive coordinator Doug Mallory's arrival at the University of New Mexico than senior defensive tackle Kendall Briscoe. A reserve nose tackle and end in the old 3-3-5 formation, Briscoe was thrilled when he learned that the Lobos would be running a four-man front under Mallory. Fortunately for New Mexico, his excitement has translated into results on the field.
A three-year letterman with 35 games of experience in the trenches, Briscoe broke into the regular defensive rotation as a true freshman in 2006. His debut was no small feat as he was the first true freshman in 12 years to play on the defensive line.
While he showed flashes of ability over the past three seasons, Briscoe's career numbers (43 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks) weren't overwhelming. This spring, however, he looked like a whole new player in the new scheme. Quick off the snap, intense, physical, confident - a rejuvenated Briscoe teamed with junior college transfer Peter Gardner to give the Lobos some real muscle on the interior line.
Though outside observers have pointed to the all-new starting line as a weak point on the defense, breakout talents like Briscoe are eager to prove them wrong.
I caught up with the Dallas native after another uptempo, physical practice today to get his thoughts on the 2009 season, married life and fatherhood.
Lobos are running a 4-3 defense, you're a projected starter at defensive tackle, you've had a great spring and training camp the start of the season can't come soon enough for you can it?
Oh, I'm ready to go. When coach Locks came in the first thing I asked him when I met him was "are we going to be running the four-man front?" When he said yeah, man that just blew my mind.
So a lot of college football preview writers see that the Lobos will have four new starters on the defensive line and call the group a weak point on the defense - what would you say to those that don't know what kind of talent we have here?
I would just tell them to come out and watch. It's great to be an underdog. When we come out, have a good game, fly around and play great defense those doubters will come off. Not having a lot of starting experience may be a factor here and there, but it's football. If everybody is doing their job, fly around and play as team, then inexperienced starters won't matter.
This spring we signed the big man, Peter Gardner, to play alongside you in the middle - talk about having him next to you and how you guys work together inside.
It's wonderful to have Peter playing next to me. He's bigger than me, so he's going to get all the double teams and give me more opportunities. (laughs) No, it's going to go back and forth. I'm going to draw some double teams too and give him some opportunities - that balance is the best thing we have going.
You had a unique opportunity when you arrived in 2006, playing as a true freshman, and now we could see one or two rookies in that same position this fall - what advice would you give those guys if they get that redshirt pulled off?
Mentally focus. The reason that they're playing is that their physical abilities are there. They don't need to worry as much about the physical side, but you've got to tone your mind so that you know what you need to do when it's time to do it. You're going to have times when you forget something and think you don't play well, but mentally you've got to stay focused. That's the biggest thing.
Not too many people know this, but you are a married man. You and your wife Luella tied the knot last year before spring practice started - how did you two meet?
Me and my wife grew up together. She was a cheerleader when I was playing little league football. Her sister and my sister are the same age so they were the best of friends coming up. Getting married was just a growing step. We grew up together, went to elementary school for a little while, broke out from middle school, but then in high school we finally hooked up as a couple and here we are.
Well your life changed in a major way a few months ago when your daughter Makaela was born (June 6) - what was that day like when you saw her for the first time and officially became daddy Briscoe?
Oh man. In the delivery room I was looking and I wanted to see everything. I couldn't believe a baby could come out like that. (laughs) It was exciting though and I love my daughter and will never forget that day.
So obviously being a husband and father changes life quite a bit for a guy who's still just a young 21-year-old.
No doubt. I don't have the free life that all the rest of these guys have. I can't think about myself first, it's got to be about my wife and my daughter first. That's the main thing I think I've learned by being married and having kids. It's all about responsibilities.
Now you had a different recruiting experience that eventually led you to UNM - how did that go down?
Well, I was committed to TCU for awhile and then that didn't end up working out, but I always wanted to come here. (Former Lobo all-MWC cornerback) Gabriel Fulbright and my sister were actually boyfriend and girlfriend for a few years and I talked with him and wanted to come here. At the last minute UNM stepped in an asked if I wanted to come for a visit and I just told them "I'm all in." Before I even set foot in New Mexico, I was ready to come here and play.
Now you've been here for three full years, you've had a chance to make a life for yourself and enjoy this city - what's the No. 1 thing you think you'll miss about Albuquerque if or when you decide to move on?
I love the weather here. I hate the humidity and the weather back home in Dallas, so I would definitely miss the great weather we have in Albuquerque.
I can't argue with that. I'm sure there's plenty of things you miss about home though. What's one of the things you just have to do when you're back in Big D?
I love drag racing. I haven't been to a drag racing meet in about two years, so as soon I get back home I'll go straight there. They have this drag strip called Kennedale and I would be there almost every Friday. So as soon as I get back I'll be smelling me some burnt rubber and racing gas.