CN: I had a chance to talk to Coach Sheppard on Friday, and he's very intense and obviously the first part of this program has been the strength and conditioning. Talk about what those first few weeks with Coach Sheppard and getting used to the new regimen has been like.
SCHMELING: Well, the first few weeks it was a big guessing match, because not really anybody knew what to expect from Coach Shep. We knew he would be intense and he definitely was, you know, and him coming here is definitely . . . it's a great thing for us, coming with his background, from Texas, we can't get anything but better.
CN: Now, he's talked about teaching speed, explosiveness, quickness. I had a chance to talk to a former ISU player, and I loved Coach Mac, he loved Coach Mac, but he said that Coach Mac was a lot about weight and not necessarily the science of conditioning. What's it been like playing for, or going through a program that's really placed an emphasis on some of those other things?
SCHMELING: Uh, it's different. Being in the weight room, you know, there's always weights and you've gotta lift them. It's just seeing how they want them done, you know. There's little subtle differences that you notice here and there, but mostly weight training is just weight training.
CN: In terms of the background or résumé of these guys, I talked to Alvin Bowen on Saturday and he believes that you guys are going to win the Big 12 North and compete for the Big 12 championship, and other players seem fired up, too. Is that because of the résumé and background of these coaches or is it because of what they've done from the day that you guys first hooked up with them.
SCHMELING: I think with their backgrounds they bring a certain attitude with them and they have pushed that on us, and if we don't expect to win the Big 12 North or even compete for the Big 12 title . . . they expect to and so we should expect to. I think their attitude, based on things that they've done in the past, the things that they've brought, has definitely worn off on us and we're excited to get to it.
CN: I saw them in practice the other day and it looked like they were, as I said to Coach Sheppard, playing patty-cake, and he said, "We're working on hand-eye coordination." What are some of the unique things that you guys have worked on as a unit within your particular area of responsibility? What are some of the things they have you guys doing technique-wise?
SCHMELING: For the offensive line it's a lot of footwork, its' a lot of hand placements, you know, it's getting to your aiming points. We've definitely worked on our hand speed, our hand-eye coordination is a big deal, on ‘set, hut' getting our hands up and getting them on the defenders so we can definitely . . . do what we do to them.
CN: Now, three JUCOs have come in; how are they working out?
SCHMELING: Good, they seem to be meshing with the group real well; there doesn't seem to be any outsiders, which is a good thing and as far as practice, Doug playing tackle and Joe Blaes playing guard, along with Alvarez, they seem to be doing real well and it's a nice experience for them and us because we're all learning a new offense at the same time, so we can all help each other.
CN: Obviously you've got guys like Blythe and Meyer, guys who are proven. The big question mark for most of the media and most of the fans has been the offensive line. How do you feel about the offensive line as it's coming along, and will you guys be prepared to meet the expectations or hopes of the Cyclone Nation?
SCHMELING: Well, I hope so. You know, all the questions and stuff, I'd be lying if I said that we didn't hear them ourselves, around campus, reading the newspaper, but it definitely puts a big chip on our shoulder, and we definitely have to come out and show that we have something to prove, not only in the games to come but in practice every day, in the weight room. We have to get ourselves better in every way that we can so we can get better and keep from getting Bret sacked, and get a 1000-yard rusher, you know, things like that, the goals of an offensive line.
CN: Now, how excited are you guys about playing, being able to play in front of guys as talented as Bret and Todd?
SCHMELING: They definitely make our job a little bit easier, because some of the things that they can do is . . . pretty amazing.
CN: Last couple of questions . . . How has the competition, you know Coach Chizik came in and said, "We want you, we don't need you." And "There are no starters as of today, no leaders, no inheritances." How good has the competition been for developing a line?
SCHMELING: Good, very good. You know, everybody feels like they have to prove themselves all over. We have groups right now, 1's, 2's and 3's, but as far as that being set in stone, it's not even close yet.