Karras Brings 'Tough, Blue-Collared Attitude'

Ted Karras is looking to bring his tough and nasty mentality back to the huddle this week.

CHAMPAIGN - The offensive line needed to be nastier, tougher and more hard-nosed in the season-opening win against Southern Illinois.

There was plenty of room for improvement, coach A.J. Ricker said, after the offense allowed five sacks and rushed for only 49 yards.

The first adjustment came in the form of addition -- starting right guard Ted Karras returned to practice this week, a positive sign heading into Saturday's matchup with Cincinnati.

As it so happens, Karras is the nasty, tough, hard-nosed member of the o-line unit.

"I'm cool. It feels good," the redshirt sophomore said of his injury, described as a mid-foot sprain.

The line shuffled in the wake of Karras' injury, suffered in the final scrimmage of fall camp. Numerous line-up combinations were put to the test, with redshirt freshman Joe Spencer making his first start and first-ever appearance in a game last week.

Of course Karras' was missed in a physical sense, but according to Ricker not having the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Indianapolis product out on the field cost the offense more than a capable blocker.

"His whole attitude and demeanor, he's nasty -- he's awesome," Ricker said. "He's what you're looking for in that mentality. I think the guys feed off of him. Really when he was out we didn't have that guy. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but we didn't have that tough, blue-collared attitude that he brings."

Karras started every game last season and said he never missed a game in high school due to injury. He did what he could from the sideline, but his leadership wasn't the same since he couldn't be an on-field example.

"I've never missed a game in my life so it was a new experience for me," he said.

Everyone involved hopes the injury is a short-lived experience. Karras was eased back into the starting rotation this week, receiving increased reps with each new day.

"If you ask that kid if he's alright he's going to lie to you, which is what you want, I mean honestly," Ricker said. "You just have to be careful with him."

That's Karras' mentality, on display again when asked if he was going to play Saturday.

"Absolutely," he said.

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