Alvin Bowen Q&A

As spring practice winds down, we talk to ISU's star linebacker one final time.

Q: Practice outside the last two nights . . . What's that been like as far as leaving the bubble and having to . . . It's cold out there!

BOWEN: Yeah, but it's football, you know, you've just gotta battle through it.

Q: The coach said he wanted you guys to make this a special place, and he wanted you to appreciate . . . and that's why he brought you out there in this cold weather. So how do you . . . how does he convey to you that that's a special place to be at, practice or game day?

BOWEN: Well, him saying it is one thing, you know, but we already have to know that, you know? This is home . . . this is home, and we have to represent home very well.

Q: What do you see . . . just give us an update on the linebacking corps right now.

BOWEN: We're doing pretty good, we're doing pretty good, you know. We're learning our scheme; we've still got a lot more to learn, but we're coming together as a group, as a good group, you know. We try and please the coaches as much as possible.

Q: What are the toughest aspects to learn, anything in particular?

BOWEN: Uh . . . just the signals real quick, you know, the signals sometimes. The plays sometimes, once we go over them in the meeting room and then go over them before we actually start practicing we actually go over some things, but then the signals, you know, to just remember all new signals and stuff like that, I would say that's kind of tough, just on the go, especially when it's a fast-paced offense going . . . I would say that's probably the toughest.

Q: When you talk about the signals, you're talking about coming in from the sidelines?

BOWEN: Yeah, coming from the sidelines and stuff like that, yeah.

Q: Are you working at all on making adjustments at the line of scrimmage when you see what the other offense does?

BOWEN: No, we go based on the personnel and we just play it. We've got certain checks we make for certain things we might see . . . about it.

Q: What's it going to be like now, going back to the same . . . next week you come out for your last scrimmage; you're going to have a crowd there a little bit. So is that something you guys look forward to after three weeks toiling in anonymity a little bit? Are you looking forward to next Saturday?

BOWEN: I think we look forward . . . well, me personally, I know a lot of guys feel the same way I do, I think, we feel great just putting the pads on anytime . . . anytime we get the chance to put the pads on. And then to add the fact that there's going to be a crowd out there is going to make it that much better.

Q: Is this something where you've go so much in your head with the new defensive scheme and learning . . . how much are you thinking and how much are you guys able to react?

BOWEN: Well, defense is more of a reaction type of game, you know, you've just got to know what you do, how to react. The whole thing about the defense, as far as defensively, you've got to know where you're going to be at when you react. If there's a iso you've got to know you're quick to B, or you're boxing the fullback or so on . . .

Q: Are you getting to that stage, because Coach said 75 to 80% of the defense has been put in now; are you comfortable at that point?

BOWEN: I feel pretty comfortable, you know . . . feeling pretty comfortable.

Q: Does this defense scheme allow you do to some things that maybe you haven't done in the past?

BOWEN: Um . . . I would say partly the same, about the same . . . a little bit here and a little bit there . . . about the same.

Q: So for you and the rest of the linebackers, what are the main adjustments that the new staff is teaching you?

BOWEN: Um . . . new? Off the top of my head I can't really give you anything, off the top of my head.

Q: So it's just about putting in the work and . . . ?

BOWEN: It's about running hard and hitting hard. That's about it, getting to the ball and making a play . . . players make plays.

Q: Coach has talked about consistency, the importance of consistency. What do you need to do the last week to get to that level of consistency?

BOWEN: Remember what we've been taught, you know, don't forget the simple things, the little things, like as far as linebackers, getting down in your stance, having a wide base so your first step isn't backwards, it's forwards towards the line of scrimmage. It's the little things that we learned in the beginning sometimes is what's forgotten toward the end of something. You forget the little keys that brought you to where you are. So just the little things that need to be remembered; just don't forget, basically, the little things. I'll just harp on that.

Q: I was going to ask this. From the defensive side, is there someone on offense we should know about who's looking good? As you're working against him you're going, "Hey, this guy's coming along." Is there somebody like that?

BOWEN: Scales . . . Scales. Um, I was just in the shower conversating with Banks about that. Scales is really running pretty good.

Q: Is he running like a guy who's ready to hit that field after coming through some injuries?

BOWEN: He's running like a Big 12 linebacker, I'll tell you that much . . . and of course, I feel that when I hit him. (Laughter)

Q: Now Coach Bolt talked to us Monday night and he had made the comment that there was a play that Banks made and both he and Chizik at the same time said, "That's a Big 12 linebacker." Talk about how these guys are coming along in terms of really getting to the level where the coaches are saying it.

BOWEN: Well, you know, I guess you've just got to buy in to the system, and they're buying in to the system and they're making it work for them. And I guess, it turns out . . . the coach has no complaint but to say, "You know what, that's a great play right there. He's buying in, he's doing what I asked him to do, and he's going to make a play off it." That's what you have to do to make plays, just do what you're coached to do, and use your ability.

Q: Now, you know, when I competed I hated losing, and last year this team came in with high expectations and had a very disappointing year. How much does the experience from last year motivate you all to compete that much harder?

BOWEN: Well, it motivates us a lot, especially as a senior . . . I'm speaking for the seniors right now . . . we want to go out with a bang, especially on our last year, our last college time, time together. It reminds me of high school, you know, the last time together . . . the last go-round. And we expect a lot out of each other, especially the seniors expect a lot out of the seniors.

Q: Now, in talking to the other players, it clearly sounds like you're one of the players, particularly on defense, the team's looking to. After this week the coaches have very limited exposure to the players and, you know, you don't get to put the pads on again. Individually, what are some of the players going to do to keep making progress between now and fall camp, and what are you going to do as a leader on this team to help the other guys to make sure they don't fall off between now and then?

BOWEN: Well, to answer your first question, everything we do once we take the pads off is going to have to be mentally; of course we might have some 7-on7 and stuff like that, but everything's mentally, really getting into the play book and knowing the ins and outs of what you have to do. And then . . . what was your other question again?

Q: What are you going to do in terms of, as a leader on this team making sure the guys do what they need to do over the summer?

BOWEN: Me personally? Well, you know, as a linebacker, leader of the linebackers, of course I'm going to try to take control of the linebackers, go over some drills and stuff like that. As far as a defense, when we come together as a defense, probably 7-on-7, or whatever it might be, I'm going to . . . I guess I'll keep some guys in line. For the most part, that's about it.

Q: Coach Pelton talked about the run. The run takes away your manhood, that stopping the run is critical for this defense. What all have you been working on specifically to focus on stopping the run?

BOWEN: Just being gaps on, being where you need to be, being where you need to be, and when you get there you mean man up, hitting, tackling; if you're boxing, box; if you spill, you spill; if you're over the top, be over the top; if you're quick to B, be quick to B. I mean don't cheat the system, you know, just play within the system. I mean, if you've got backside B gap, stay backside B.

Q: Now Coach Raney, I interviewed him last night, he talked about you guys getting a chance to work out with the D-backs. Awesome stuff. What's that like, and how are the D-backs looking?

BOWEN: D-backs, I was saying to . . . oh, I forget who I was talking to the other day . . . the D-backs are looking real good. I've seen the corners come up and make some amazing plays. I don't know if you were out there today, but the safeties as well. They're looking really good and ready to play.

Q: How physical are these guys?

BOWEN: Very physical.

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