Bowl Preview Q&A: SLB Erik Anderson

SAM linebacker Erik Anderson saved the best for last this season, in helping the Cyclone defense to a banner season. The co-captain will play the final game of his college career next weekend in Shreveport against Miami of Ohio. Anderson took some time away from the practice field to answer a few questions from

CN: This is your last go-around as a senior. What has the whole pre-bowl experience been like for you?

Erik Anderson: It's been good. After last year it's been a good experience to still be practicing, instead of going home after finals like we did last year. We're having fun and it's been competitive. We're working on a lot of different things, like preparing for another game as well as playing ones-ones and twos-twos.

CN: What exactly were you doing last year at this time?

Anderson: I was already home after finals just sitting around like a loser, like a bunch of other teams right now that didn't get it done. We got to six victories, woulda and coulda liked to have a couple more, but we're going back bowling, and are excited about going to Shreveport.

CN: How much did that experience last season fuel you and the other seniors to make sure it didn't happen again?

Anderson: Being around home was tough, thinking about everything. We were still in shock and didn't think we'd win two games and go 0-and-8 in the conference. Being home watching a lot of the games, coming back and meeting with the coaches and each other before we started winter workouts kind of started everything. We set our goals high, and our number one goal was to get back to a bowl game.

CN: Switching gears to Miami of Ohio. How would you compare first-year starter Josh Betts to former Redhawk and NFL rookie Ben Roethlisberger?

Anderson: Betts played under him and there has been some nice carryover. Betts isn't quite as big and maybe not as strong, but the way he's played and shredded up some of the defenses in the MAC, you can't argue that he's got a lot of talent. Ben Roethlisberger is a great quarterback and he's had a great rookie year in the quarterback. Miami of Ohio has a great system established and guys that are confident in it. It should work regardless of who's in at quarterback.

CN: One of the bonuses of bowl practices is the opportunity for coaches to evaluate the younger players and other non-contributors. Do you sense some challenges being set by the coaches to those kids?

Anderson: It's great for the younger guys and others that are not getting many snaps on gameday. Whether you're a scholarship or walk-on guy, you're here for a reason and that's to play. Not just to sit around and wear a jersey on gameday. You can really prove yourself in bowl practices and improve your standing in the coaches minds for spring ball.

CN: Who are some of the guys you think will emerge out of these bowl practices and be factors in the spring?

Anderson: I can tell you from my position that I really like Nick Frere. I have talked to him all year and kind of helped him come along. I know Getty really likes him and he works hard in the weight room. He's made some plays in practice and is starting to show some more confidence out there.

Brandon Hunley and Will Lewis both can hit. I like those guys at safety. Spring ball will be fun to watch. I'm excited to come back and watch a few.

CN: How about some future stars on offense?

Anderson: I go up against the tight ends a lot and Brandon Tinlin could be a pretty good player. He's got to put a little more weight on, but he works hard and is aggressive. I've watched him emerge from a guy that I could toss around like a rag doll to where I love going up against now. He gives me an extra challenge and a game-like look.

Chris Brown, the scout team player of the year, will be a good one. Euseph Messiah also showed a lot on the scout team. Bastian Schober is showing something. The offensive line is one of the biggest deals. Those guys need to step up. We don't need guys that have been on the scout team two years in a row. It's time for you to move up and take the challenge.

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