Q: How is it for linemen, for your position? How are you learning to be more physical?
STEPHENS: It's always, down in the trenches it's always pretty physical, so maybe a lot faster, a lot more aggressive, altogether, all-around, everybody. But I think it's always been pretty physical down there.
Q: Are you getting in more contacts, is that how things are going?
STEPHENS: Well, like I said, it's always physical deep in the trenches down there, but things are a lot faster, things happen a lot faster . . .
Q: How's the offensive line coming along, you know, this has been the big question all season. You're playing behind some guys who've obviously been able to make a name for themselves at Iowa State. Where do you all feel you are in terms of the competition?
STEPHENS: Well, we're still learning offense, people are coming together. We've got to make sure we stay aligned, make sure we have our assignments and communicate together, you know, five play as one. And so, I think everything's coming together real well.
Q: What did you think of Coach Sheppard's conditioning program? I wish our listeners could see the smile on your face, but what did you think of Coach Sheppard's conditioning program? Watch 8 and 13 to see his smile . . . KDSM, too.
STEPHENS: It was a long off-season, but it . . . definitely is going to be well worth it. We're already seeing benefits from it. It was tough to go through, but now that we're past it, there's nothing but good things ahead of us.
Q: The first morning you got up at 4:30, what did you think?
STEPHENS: I don't even remember, I put it behind me, but I know it was something we had to get through as a team, and I think we're stronger as a team because of it.
Q: What's he like as a head coach, what's he like out on the practice field? What's his personality?
STEPHENS: He's all over the place, helping out wide receivers here, and O-linemen here, and he's just all over the place. He's helping everybody; he knows a lot about the game.
Q: From the little we saw, it almost seems a little like a military drill. He's pretty intense, everything's real regimented.
STEPHENS: Coach is pretty demanding. Everybody knows what he wants and what he expects of us, so it's either get it done or don't.
Q: Is there a sense, of all the head coaches that you've played for, that with Coach Chizik, more than any other coach, you don't want to mess around, you want to do everything right?
STEPHENS: Well, I personally have always had a sense of discipline to myself and so I think it's just a standard that he brings, and there's going to be a lot more discipline regardless of what position you play.
Q: Who worked out with the ones today on the offensive line?
Q: Now, there's no set positions yet, but how are guys feeling about the opportunity to actually be able to compete for the starting jobs? I mean, how much has that pushed things up? Right now, there are no scheduled starters, so how are guys responding to that?
STEPHENS: I think it's great to have competition amongst positions. Position battles are really key to making players work harder in practice and I think that we'll definitely reap the benefits from that. A lot of people are excited to get out there play and go as hard as they can on every play, because they know they have somebody behind them that is just as anxious to come out and play and prove themselves also. So I think it's really good for everybody.
Q: Now, we see that they're working on some things that they didn't necessarily work on last year, hand-eye coordination, stuff like that. What are some of the differences in terms of what you did last year with some of the things that you're doing to develop this year?
STEPHENS: Well, I don't want to give away all our secrets, but you know, offensive line technique is . . . we're getting back to the basics a lot, working on . . .
Q: What are the basics?
STEPHENS: Hand placement, like you were talking about, feet, the right steps for the right plays, and things of that nature. So just back to the basic techniques, and I think once we get back to the basics we can worry about how the defense lines up and all that other stuff.
Q: So, fundamentals are a huge part of what you are working on now?
STEPHENS: Yes, sir, so far this spring.
Q: Now, in terms of Coach McFarland, he said he's going to open this offense wide open. How are guys learning his offensive schemes, you know, the blocking schemes, those things?
STEPHENS: I think we're almost halfway through spring practice, so I think the basics are in and I think it's more just alignments and make sure we know people, where they're going to be aligned, and just executing whatever he throws at us.
Q: Now, speed has been a top priority of this program, teaching speed, developing speed. You're on the opposite side of the defense, but how are the defensive linemen looking . . . and the defense looking, in terms of their speed and explosiveness at this point?
STEPHENS: I think the defense is going to be great. They do a really good job of flying to the ball . . . at all times, so I think they're going to do a really good job.
Q: How are the skill guys looking?
STEPHENS: Which ones are you talking about?
Q: Bret, Todd, Jason?
STEPHENS: Oh, everybody's coming, you know they're still learning offense, just like we're are at offensive line, but everybody's coming real nice, I think the offense is coming . . . real nicely so far.
Q: The coaches talked about, there were seven consecutive 1000-yard rushers '95 to 2001, and only one since. Have 1000-yard rushers been a priority of Coach Chizik's? How much are you guys all working on the run versus the pass?
STEPHENS: I think it's all up the offensive line to open holes and create holes for the running backs, so that's a goal of ours, to make sure we do that.