Q: Alright, well . . . first off, how's practice going in terms of . . . you've got Alvin Bowen which is a pretty good starting point, but you need to kind of get that line to feed the guys to him so he can make the stops.
Bolt: Yeah, but you know, Alvin's doing great, he's learning, and he's been a . . . of course he's a All-Big 12 performer and he's a proven player; he's just got to learn within the system and get the things done that he's been doing and getting better every day, and he has done that.
Q: Now, you're going with a 4-3?
Bolt: We're at a 4-3, correct.
Q: OK. You've still got to find linemen; has anybody on defensive line stood up at this point?
Bolt: Yeah. I'll tell you what, they're all doing good, but Braaksma is playing the inside 3 technique for us, and Rubin's doing a good job. The two inside guys have really done well, not to say the other ones haven't. They've all been a pleasant surprise but those two have stood out and are doing good, and Coach Pelton's doing a great job with them, and they're continuing to get better every day.
Q: Here's the part, I might drive Jonathan nuts here, but I want to go back. Take me through, when was the first time you met Coach Chizik?
Bolt: We were together at Clemson in . . . 1987.
Q: He was just a pup then, wasn't he? And what position were you in?
Bolt: I was coaching tight ends at Clemson, and we became good friends.
Q: So you're a few years older than him then?
Bolt: Yeah, I'm 51 and I guess he's 45 maybe, I think, 45 or 46. But we became friends and we've been friends ever since.
Q: Take me through in the sense that . . . as young coaches were you eating Ramen noodles every night? I've heard stories . . . Bob Stoops painting houses over the summer? Take me through those days and what were the things that you guys were doing to get by at that stage?
Bolt: Well, we weren't making no money, that's for sure.
Q: What was the pay, roughly? Do you remember?
Bolt: Maybe . . . shoot, maybe about $6000 a year . . . about $500 a month before taxes.
Q: Were you guys ever roommates or anything?
Bolt: We were one summer. One summer we lived, we stayed with the players and we moved the players into the dorms over there at Clemson and we stayed together. Yeah, we shared a room together that one summer.
Q: What's that like? What I'm getting at is, was he the guy that wanted to watch "Monty Python" or something on a Friday and you were trying to do this, or . . .
Bolt: No, we were all young and energetic and trying to learn and football was about the only thing we cared about, and then when football was over we went on and did our deals. But we were young and . . . just like what all young kids do, you know.
Q: So now you go through that, he was only there a couple years, I believe, at Clemson. How do you stay close with someone, how do you keep connecting . . .?
Bolt: Just kept talking and . . . he went to Middle Tennessee and I stayed there, and then he went to Stephen F. Austin and that's when I went to Troy, and we started playing against each other. He was the defensive coordinator and I was the line coach at Troy.
Q: Did he send you any funny messages or . . .
Bolt: No, no. We didn't talk any ball, you know, like we did when we were at Clemson, because we were on different sides of the ball, we were competing against each other. But I remember when we played Stephen F. Austin, Coach McFarland was the line coach and Chiz was the coordinator, we'd go over to Chiz's house on Friday night before we played, and we had a cookout. Oh yeah, and we'd be talking junk to each other and then after that, I think they beat us the one year and . . . we had the chicken box, and of course I didn't want to talk to him and he came and got me off the bus and we hugged necks. And then the other year, his wife was pregnant with the twins and after the game he told me, he said, "Wayne, I gotta check on Jonna. She's about to have the twins." And so, right after the game, I think we won that one, he went in the locker room and I waited right there, and I took him up and (that was before we had cell phones) so we took him up to the office and called Jonna, she was about to have the twins, just to make sure she was alright.
Q: So, did you have to drive him to the hospital or anything?
Bolt: No, he was in Troy and Jonna was in Nacodoches and I had to make sure he got to the phone real quick, to call her so, it was a good deal. Matter of fact, he wasn't going to come to the game because Jonna was pregnant with the twins, and then everything was fine so he came to the game. .
Q: Now Troy, for those of us up here not that familiar, but Troy became known as that ‘giant killer' or that ‘little engine that could' for you guys because you were the ones . . . I mean Nebraska would thump you pretty good or something, but then you got the point where you were scaring the living daylights out of people.
Bolt: Well, we beat Mississppi State when Coach Sherrill was there, and we won several conference championships and had some good players and, you know, had a good run.
Q: Did that prepare you for Iowa State in the sense that . . .
Bolt: I think everything does. I think that the more experience you've got the better off you are. You know, you learn something every day. You learn something every day, I do, and I'm still learning. I learned something today. It's a never-ending world out there and if anybody says any different, I'm gonna disagree with them.
Q: I know you've probably touched on this a little before. You've had some health issues in the sense that . . . to lose some weight. If you don't mind, could you take me through that, and maybe I should ask, what did you weigh at one point?
Bolt: I was up to 500 pounds . . . and I made a decision . . .
Q: How long ago was this?
Bolt: This was last . . . uh . . . I got the operation in . . . I started working out in January and I got the operation in April, April 4th as a matter of fact. Matter of fact, a year . . .what's the date today, the 1st . . . or 2nd? Two days from now it'll be a year, and I've lost 252 pounds now, I weighed 248 this morning. So I've got a year anniversary coming up from that deal, so . . .
Q: How will you celebrate that?
Bolt: Wednesday night scrimmage.
Q: Okay, that works. Nothing special . . .
Bolt: No, but it's been . . . it was a good run for me, been a lot of hard work and decided to get my life back in order. I had let myself go, and decided to lose weight and did and . . .
Q: This could sound dumb, but how do you get to that point, of 500 pounds? I mean, is it too much time sitting at the projector, or . . .
Bolt: Just let myself go . . . yeah, shoot yeah, watching that and eating too much wings and . . . just like anything else. Just like right now, I don't eat much at lunch, you know, I don't eat much at supper.
Q: Does that hamper a career, meaning at some point . . .
Bolt: I think so. Oh yeah! Oh yeah.
Q: Did you worry you'd go in for an interview and people would go, "Well, now do we want to hire this guy?"
Bolt: I've never had an interview.
Q: Really? Never had a job interview?
Bolt: I've never had any résumé.
Q: Never had one, you just got on the coaching train and . . .
Bolt: Matter of fact when Chiz . . . In this profession it's who you know, not what you know. And of course you've got to interview, say if you don't know the people, matter of fact when Chiz got this job, he said, "Now Wayne, make sure you get a résumé done." Because he knew, we ain't never had a résumé, but you've got to do it for the administration, you know, as a paper trail type deal. They've got to see it and make sure you've got a degree and all that kind of thing. But I never, when I went to UAB, I didn't need a résumé; when I went to Troy . . . I never had a résumé. So I had to get it together and get a résumé for the Iowa State administration.
Q: And what is the correct title for the procedure?
Bolt: Gastric bypass?
Q: Gastric bypass, as simple as that.
Bolt: Yeah, gastric bypass.
Q: That just sounds strange. So he's just calls and, "You're my DC, but get your résumé, I need you to have a résumé."
Bolt: Well, just for the administration. They wanted it, but UAB didn't and Troy didn't. When O'Leary, I guess . . . he ran into some problems.
Q: Notre Dame, yeah . . .
Bolt: Some people asked for some, some people didn't and . . . it just depends on where you're at.
Q: What was this winter like?
Bolt: It was cold . . . it was cold.
Q: This had to be the coldest winter you've ever been through . . .
Bolt: Ev-er!! (Laughter) You know, but this is home; and I got my wife here early, we bought a house, and I got her up here and got her acclimated. She's from Auburn, Alabama. So we got in the middle of it and we were rode hard and put up wet as they speak. It wasn't like we had to worry about no hot spell to get sassy because it was 18 below and we had to learn how to cope with it, and we did and we got some gloves and we got a beanie and got some corduroys and heavy coats and you know, we did it all. So it's been good and . . . you know, but the people of Ames have been great to us, just the people we've met here and I'm looking forward to getting in the community and meeting more people. Got a great neighborhood . . .
Q: What do you think in terms of . . . are the people here, fan base, is there a craving for success?
Bolt: Yeah, oh yeah. This reminds me, when we went to Auburn in 1981. This reminds me of the way the Auburn people were. Hungry . . . hungry. Had had some pretty good teams, were down a little bit, and they made a change; and we came in with Pat Dye and we were all 22, 23, 24. And we were young and we didn't care about nothing but football. And that's about like this staff is, a bunch of guys that don't care about nothing but each other and are friends and had been with each other somewhere or known each other somewhere, as a whole, and we just try to get better.
Q: Who were the coaches that you worked with, Dye and who was at Clemson when you were there?
Bolt: Pat Dye at Auburn, I played for Coach Dye at East Carolina, then he went to Wyoming and Auburn. Danny Ford at Clemson and then Larry Blakeney at Troy; he was the coordinator at Auburn, he went to Troy, and it was Watson Brown at UAB.
Q: My dad taught me to work hard and be patient. . .
Bolt: No question . . .
Q: Well, Coach, I want to start off with something Coach Chizik said at the press conference last Saturday. He said that it begins with the defensive line and that there had to be depth, because he didn't want these guys playing 70 plays, getting 600 pounds put on them a play. Talk about where the depth of the defensive line is right now.
Bolt: We feel really good. At our strong end, we've got Kurtis Taylor. He's done a great job and he's getting better every day. And behind him is Ferguson, who hadn't played, but he can fly! He's a little bit undersized, but he has been making plays. Of course, I mentioned Braaksma and Howe, inside at 3 techniques, and Howe's got a torn hamstring and he ain't missed a day. He has not missed a day. He's got some . . . he's bleeding in his calf, I mean he ain't missed a day. And then Tuba and Nate Frere, who's been a pleasant surprise.
Bolt: Rubin . . . Rubin.
Q: They've got nicknames. We learned about ‘Bubba' the other day.
Bolt: Yeah, Rubin and Nate Frere have been at nose guard and have gotten better every day, and then Rashawn Parker and Nick Frere, and Neal. Those are the three that's been working at the weak end, and you know it's a grind every day for them. You know, they're competing and . . . Coach Pelton doesn't let them get away with nothing, and that's his personality. Of course, he worked with me at Troy and I'm excited to watch them go to work every day. I told Braaksma today, I said, "You're just an old worker, you just bring your lunch pail to work every day." He said, "Coach, that's what I try to do." So that's sort of the way they are.
Q: Coach, we've often talked about Coach Sheppard's conditioning program, but, I mean, what's the feeding table like? I saw Rubin and it looked like he'd been eating some greens and black-eyed peas, and some, you know, just good cooking. What kind of diet, what kind of nutrition program are these guys on?
Bolt: He's got them on a calorie intake and . . . we don't have many big guys that gotta lose a bunch of weight now. I mean, he's trying to put on weight on most of them. And that goes with muscle mass, too. Coach Shep, shoot, he's got them machines back there where they've got the weight gain stuff, and they make themself a milkshake and they clean it up, and if it's not cleaned up, you know . . . he takes care of that. But he's done a great job with the diet and with our kids, and making sure, because you know how kids are today, they want to eat pizza and hamburgers and you just try to steer them in the right way and get them going.
Q: Now, how's Parker coming along?
Bolt: Yeah, Rashawn's doing great. You know, he played some last year and he's an undersized, 5'11" guy that can run, that he's got to play with perfect technique against the big 320-pounders, 350-pounders at tackle. And he's doing good. He's playing well and continuing to get better.
Q: Coach if we were to go through the line and then move on to the linebackers, give us the two-deep at each position right now.
Bolt: OK, we've got Kurtis Taylor and Ferguson at strong end, Rashawn Parker and Nick Frere at weak end, along with Neal. Inside with Braaksma and Howe, and at nose guard with Rubin and Nate Frere.
Q: Now, real quick, Frere was someone that was mentioned in the spring football media information that we received. Talk about how he's coming along.
Bolt: Very good. You know, they're brothers, and one's a big old burly guy, Nate, and Nick's a little bit smaller guy and a faster guy that can run, and got a high motor. And Nate's the inside guy and Nick's the outside guy, and they're doing great. I couldn't be more pleased.
Q: Now, at linebacker, you've talked about Bowen. Talk about right now what we're seeing at linebacker.
Bolt: I think Jon Banks has had a great spring, you know he played a little bit last year, they moved him from safety, they moved him to outside backer as more of a nickel type guy. We put him in the box and let him go. And for seven days he's got an unbelievable pattern. He made a play today, he looked like a Big 12 linebacker is what me and Coach Chiz hollered at the same time. That's what a Big 12 linebacker looks like. And if he continues to do that, then we'll be unbelievable. Behind him is a kid called Schmidgall, and he's a walk-on kid that's trying like heck and getting better, and he's learning and just every rep he can get is . . . he'll be better off. In the middle you've got Jesse Smith, a walk-on and you know, shoot, he's smart. You've got to play within the defense, and he's not the most gifted athlete, but he is smart and he knows where he's at. Behind him is Fred Garrin, a true freshman from Texas, and Fred's everywhere, but he is running and hitting, and that's our motto on defense is ‘run and hit . . . run and hit.' And he's learned and he got better the last two days. The first week he didn't know where he was at, but the last two days a light just seemed to come on and he just knows the structure of the defense. And the weak side, of course, is ‘Ace' and Matt Leaders, whose brother played here and was a great player, and Matt's doing great and he can run and, you know, getting better. So that's the two-deep.
Q: Now how's the speed of that unit? I know you've talked about speed, Coach Chizik's talked about speed on defense. How's the speed of that unit coming along?
Bolt: It's good, you know. It's always been running to the ball and that's what you've got and they're running full-speed to the ball. And as long as you get that, that's all you can do. And, of course we're trying to upgrade speed every year and every week and . . . but it don't matter how fast you are, it's how you run with them pads on, and I've told you this before, you may run 5 flat, but if you run it 4-6 with pads on, you're running 4-6. And that's the only way we look at it.
Q: How's the quickness and explosiveness coming along? That's something you-all talked about.
Bolt: Good, good. Coach Sheppard, he works on it every day with them, the first day we got here that was our deal, strength and explosiveness, and they're doing a good job with it, so it's getting better, I'm telling you.
Q: Are they keeping their head up?
Bolt: Um-hmm. Oh, yeah, they got to. You got to or you get killed.
Q: Now one thing, we talked to a lot of the offensive linemen and had a chance to talk to Coach McFarland, and there are a lot of techniques, a lot of fundamentals that these guys are working on. How much of this right now is about fundamentals and technique versus learning the schemes?
Bolt: Both. You know, it's both. Football hasn't changed in a hundred years. It's fundamentals and techniques, it don't matter what the scheme is. It don't matter what the scheme is and it don't matter what the scheme is. I'm going to tell everybody that forever. The scheme don't make a difference; it's how you teach the players to play the scheme, and teach them the fastest one to the ball wins. And that's the way it is.
Q: Now how's the defensive backfield coming along?
Bolt: Doing good, we've got four corners and we've got four safeties that are battling it out every day . . . really five corners, with Singleton and Dre, they're right now lined up number one, now there's no number one right now, so . . .
Q: They're working with the ones?
Bolt: Yeah, they're working with the ones. And Chris Brown, Singleton, and . . . Sandvig. And then at safety is Berg and Smith, Hunley and . . . I can't remember. . . I'm brain dead. . .
Q: Well, Coach, in terms of that unit, how is it coming along in term of both speed and physicality?
Bolt: We're playing zone and man. And you've gotta play both; you've gotta play man and you've gotta play zone, and everybody knows . . . everybody understands about who the secondary is. Everybody understands when the deep ball goes up and they get beat, everybody knows it. And if somebody misfits something and somebody makes an extra play, they're learning, but it's the hardest position to play, corner and safety, and I'll go to my grave believing that. Because you've got to take care of the deep ball and be able to break on the short stuff, and those kind of things, so it's a never-ending task back there in secondary and Coach Koonz and Coach Raney are doing a great job.
Q: Now Coach, when we last talked, these guys were in shorts, they were running drills. Now they're in pads, now they're hitting. What's happened, how are these guys reacting now, how are they looking? Have there been any changes since they're actually getting in a live situation?
Bolt: A bunch of hits, on both sides of the ball, offensively, defensively . . . a lot of big hits. There's not much powder-puff going on out there. You know, there's not much powder-puff going on out there, and of course every day is a competition for us. Somebody's got to win and somebody's got to lose, we keep score. So it's been back and forth, and the kids know that and they're competing. And that's what it's all about when you get out in that stadium in the fall.
Q: As a defensive coordinator, how's the offense looking?
Bolt: Good, they're learning, they're putting in their stuff. As far as seven days and not having no work done before that. Of course it's a lot easier to put a defense in than to get all the intricacies of the offense, just because of continuity. On defense, one guy can make a mistake, somebody else can cover it up. On offense, somebody makes a mistake, you know, it's hard to do that.