Mathias Kiwanuka is a supporter of his former Boston College teammate Matt Ryan -- except for when he squares off against his former quarterback in the playoffs on Sunday.
"I try to keep track of all the guys you played with and I am very proud of him and very happy for all the stuff he has done," Kiwanuka said on Monday. "Just hope he slips a little bit (this Sunday)."
The Giants linebacker and Atlanta quarterback played together at Boston College in 2004-05, with Ryan leading the team for two more seasons after Kiwanuka finished up his eligibility. In that short time together, Ryan left a favorable impression on Kiwanuka.
"He had no fear," Kiwanuka said. "He was going to release that ball regardless of what was there because he always felt he could make those throws. Over time you could see that confidence didn't come from nowhere. He has that ability to make tough throws and the confidence to go out there and do that. It is not a challenge we haven't done before. We got to get it done."
The linebacker went on to say that Ryan can make every throw in the NFL and is a prototypical quarterback, but he believes that as long as the Giants defense is in the right spots and knows what it is being asked to do, his team will emerge victorious. Kiwanuka and the Giants are 1-0 against Ryan, securing a 34-31 win in overtime in 2009.
Kiwanuka's play could play a large role in helping decide if the Giants can keep Ryan and Atlanta's offense in check. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin talked highly of Kiwanuka's play against Dallas on Sunday night, especially against the run. The coach said he hopes to see the continuation of that play moving forward.
"That was really an outstanding game for Kiwi," Coughlin said. "He penetrated, you saw him run through the back side and make the play on the power right off the bat, first play of the game, did that with some consistency throughout the game. Had some good rushes in the third-down packages as well. One of the packages was what you saw right away early in the game with Kiwi. He certainly did respond and play well."