East Rutherford, N.J. — New York Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh was on hand before Syracuse’s game against Notre Dame at MetLife Field to talk about his experiences in the NFL and his thoughts on the current team. Here’s what he had to say:
Q. What was the difference between playing here in college as opposed to being a pro?
A: What was hard about that game was I was out. I had surgery, so I wasn’t even playing in that USC game. That one hurt. Luckily, I had an opportunity to get drafted here. It’s a great organization and get to play on this field was kind of redemption.
Q: It seems like Syracuse playing here is a big advantage for recruiting.
Exactly. Playing in the ACC and playing the best competition in the country, when we were playing in the Big East, a few times we had some big games. We had a couple of games against West Virginia. But to play the No. 1 team yearly, the Florida States, the Notre Dames, the big time programs, that attracts the recruits. We’re definitely taking the right steps at Syracuse, and I’m a proud alum.
Q: How hard is it to play on Thursday nights?
A: It’s definitely an adjustment. After a game, the next day, everything hurts. Your toes, your elbow, whatever it may be. You have to speed those things up, and it’s a mental thing. You have to put in a couple of extra hours for the days that you miss.
Q: What’s the biggest difference at the pro level?
A: Speed of the game. Not just how fast guys are, but how fast things happen. Guys who have been in the system 10 years, you’re going against guys like DeMarcus Ware, whose gone against every type of player and knows what he’s doing, and can execute at such a high level. Also, learning how to be a professional on and off the field, and always be doing the right thing.
Q: Did Syracuse help prepare you for the NFL?
A: Syracuse was the best thing that ever happened to me football-wise. Having coach Marrone who was an NFL guy, learning how to become a professional and take your job seriously and take it to the next level that something that definitely helped me. I saw all of those guys earlier when we played Buffalo and we had a little reunion. Every team we play has a bunch of Syracuse guys on it. The other players on the Giants are a little annoyed at me always talking about Orange Nation.