How proud was your family that you came to Iowa?
It was a big deal. My brother went to college here for two years while I was here. It was great for him to be able to see it; my parents are here every weekend because they're a big influence on me. It's going to mean a lot to have them out there with me on Saturday.
What's up with their (Minnesota) rushing attack?
What's up with their rushing attack? It's good. (laughter)
Why is it good?
Their linemen move extremely well. They pull out well. They understand the blocking schemes. You don't see a guy miss. You don't see a D-lineman come free too much. They're always on their guy. They're like the Denver Broncos. They're not that big, but they can run. They pull out and run. They get on the linebackers quick.
Is there a name to their scheme?
Quick. I don't know. (laughter) A lot of teams try to double team you and knock you out of there. They kind of get out to the edge as quick as they can. They're hit the inside zones on you, but they snap the ball and they're moving. They're not waiting around for you to hit them. They're moving.
How do you counter that?
Move with them. Don't sit around. You've got to be ready to go every snap. You've got to get down, and you've just got to get your hands on them. Hopefully you can disrupt what they're trying to do.
When you signed on here five years ago, what did you know about Coach Ferentz?
I knew he came from the NFL. I knew he was a successful coach. I didn't know much other than that. But I didn't need to know a lot. You can tell a man's character. You can tell when you meet somebody what kind of person they are. Especially when I met Coach Aiken and the defensive staff, I knew that even though I didn't know a whole lot about these guys, we were going to win eventually because they were going to get it done. You could just tell by meeting them and talking to them.
Where were you in the pecking order of commitments?
I think that I was the last commitment. I loved Coach Ferentz. I was a Hawkeye. I wanted to come here. But I wanted to meet my defensive line coach, and Coach Aiken was one of the last hires, if I'm not mistaken.
Where you starting to get worried about that because he went slow with hiring his staff? That was one of the criticisms of him way back when.
It was tough. I was like "Coach, you know, I like it here, but I've got to meet the defensive line coach." I wasn't going to commit without meeting him. He said, "OK. I understand that. We'll get somebody here quick, but I can tell you whoever I hire is going to be a good man." He knew that a couple of guys were left I guess.
Other than not being Bobby Stoops, that was the big criticism that he took so long hiring his assistants.
It just goes to show, like his first two years here, he wasn't to worried about what people were telling him to do. He knew that he wanted to do, and he's had this plan since we've been here. It's worked out well so far.
Did that lose Iowa any recruits?
I'm sure somebody backed away, but our class is a very successful class, in my opinion. We've had not much of a drop off. Guys just get along together. And we've had a lot of guys play for a long time. I think we had good class even though we were ranked low.
Where was that class ranked?
We were at the bottom of the Big Ten or second to last in the Big Ten, which is funny. We lost Colin and Freddie last year, but we picked up Nate and Bob. It's just a good group of guys. I remember Coach Ferentz saying something once that our class was really special the way we bonded instantaneously when we got here. We stayed together, and that's the reason why we're having success. We can really trust the guys around us.
Is it a close group? Do you guys hang together?
I'm not going to say that we're going out to dinner every weekend. But we enjoy each other's company. We respect each other. That's the biggest thing. We understand that we're here working hard and everybody else has been here the same amount of time as us. It's a tough job. So, we respect each other. That's the most important thing.
You guys really come together on the field I think.
We understand that all of us came here without Iowa having been recently a successful team. We all understood that we came here for the same types of reasons. We respected what the coaching staff wanted to do and the type of people that we surrounded ourselves with.
Does that pig mean anything to you?
What pig? (laughter) Yeah. It's been fun having it for when we've had it. We know that they want it. We saw them last week go after that axe. So, you know they're a team that's driven by that type of thing. We're going to try to protect it the best that we can.
Do you players talk about bowl games and needing to win to up the opportunity?
It's mentioned, but we realize that if we start looking way too far ahead that we're going to slip up. We slipped a little bit last week, but we realize that we can still go to a great bowl. And we can still finish the season pretty good. We've just got to worry about that.
Colin Cole cried last year at Senior Day. What type of emotions can we expect out of you?
If Colin cried, he's about the most intimidating person that I've ever been around, so I'll probably be bawling.
Can that work against you on Senior Day when you guys are taking that walk out into Kinnick for the last time?
To tell you the truth, I think it works great. I think good players can flip it on and off. Coach Ferentz talks about all the time "Don't get your emotions too high too early in the week." The guys on our team that really excel can be laughing with you one minute, step out on the practice field and flip. You don't turn your back to them because they're going to hit you; the Gallery's, the Bob Sanders', Mo Brown. I don't think it's going to work against us. I think we're just going to feed off of it. It's going to be a great environment.
Does he let the seniors address the team on Friday?
He tells us all the time that this is our team. The seniors have a video that's shown every year before the last home game. That will be shown again this year. Seniors just talk about what it means for them to be a Hawkeye. It's recorded.
What did you say?
Lots of stuff. (laughter)
Did you get emotional?
No. I didn't get emotional. But it's odd to think back. I was saying on the tape that I was a freshman a couple of years ago traveling with the team and watching those seniors. Just like everyone says every year, it goes by. I couldn't believe I was sitting in that chair (Monday) getting interviewed. But I've had a great time. We've got two games left; a big one this weekend, a rivalry game. It doesn't get any bigger than this.