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Xavier Cooper talks about restoring pride to the Cougar defensive line

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The WSU defensive line has made a 180-degree turnaround from where it was at a few years ago. We had a chance to talk to Xavier Cooper about the improvement on the line and what it took to get better.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

From Lewiston -- Xavier Cooper has been a force to be reckoned with in the last two years on WSU's line. We had a chance to talk to Xavier after practice in Lewiston and he talked about the turnaround the D-line has experienced over the past few years.

CougCenter: Xavier, you're a junior. You've been in the program for awhile. Describe the change you have seen in the way the defense is approaching things in the last couple of years?

Cooper: Every week we're trying to get better. Every practice we're trying to get better as a team just coming together and trying to learn our plays and execute what the coaches ask us to do.

CougCenter: Talk a little about Coach Salave'a and how he's helped you along.

Cooper: I've got a lot of respect for Coach Joe. He's a mentor off the field and a mentor on the field. He keeps it really with us. If we work hard and bust our tail on the field, he's going to let us have our chance to play Saturdays. That's all I can ask for is a shot. Coach taught us all the techniques. He has ten years in the NFL so I couldn't ask for a better coach.

CougCenter: For many years people talked about the defensive line as a weakness. Now it's a strength. Did that motivate you?

Cooper: When Travis Long was here he took a lot of criticism because he was the guy on the defensive line. I just saw him struggle and struggle and put so much effort into a game. It just motivated me to go out there and represent the Coug Nation, because we're known for defensive lineman and defensive backs at Washington State. I really want to be a part of this team and this defensive line that has really restored the feeling around here that when you line up against Washington State defense, you're going to have to worry about the defensive line.

CougCenter: What have you worked on to improve in the offseason?

Cooper: I'm just looking to improve on my overall effort running to the ball and pushing on those days where you're tired and your worn out. Those are the days that are going to come in handy and come to play when Saturday comes around because there's going to be times in the game where you're tired and you've gotta to push through. There were a lot of plays I left out there last year that I could have made because I was tired and my conditioning wasn't right so this year I'm just focusing on going out there and battling through it.

CougCenter: Talk about camp as a whole. Who are you rooming with and what are some of things you're doing?

Cooper: It's great to get out here away from all the distractions of Pullman. Everybody on the team is coming together. My roommate is Greg Hoyd. He's a linebacker. He's a freshman I like his personality. He's coming out here and working hard and that's all you can ask for from the young guys is to see them work hard take some advice from the older guys and get some playing time.