Some of the best ‘quotes' a reporter can get are from offensive linemen. It's no secret that many of them are quite articulate and highly intelligent. The demands of the position require such gray matter.
Another thing that I have noticed over the years is that offensive lineman are also fond of using clichés. They do so quite well, and always have two or 15 of them ready to go.
In my media day conversation with Iowa guard Ben Cronin, didn't disappoint on either front. At times he spoke candidly, at times he spoke figuratively and at times he offered up a paragraph's worth of clichés in the same breath.
Nonetheless, one theme rang through it all: the current crop of Iowa offensive linemen believes they can keep the ball rolling.
There are those that say this Iowa team, from tackle to tackle, has a few question marks. How do you guys feel about your abilities, on the whole, to keep the Iowa offensive line tradition going?
I just feel like we have a great opportunity. We had a chance to train with all of those guys, like Steinbach, Nelson, Gallery, Sobieski and others. They set a great example of what it takes to be the best. That is our goal, like it says everywhere around here; ‘Iowa Football: Preparing to be the Best' (which can be seen on signage at the practice field, in the football offices and training areas) Everyday, we can see them on film and we can compare ourselves to them and try to reach those levels, or beyond.
Right now, it's a matter of getting ready for the first game and put something together; getting on the same page and functioning as one unit. That is really what this is about. When we all do that, move together, when you can sense that in the other guys, it makes us really strong.
How long does it take to get to that ‘one unit' situation? Can that be accomplished in training camp?
Definitely it can. We all learn the specific techniques and fundamentals, and then when you put us together, you act in unison with each other. We just have to get the feel for each other and knowing the guys around you and trusting them. We all do those things, but it's a matter doing it together.
The coaches don't have you in tutu's and tights prancing around like synchronized gymnasts or anything?
(laughs) No, not that. But it's a family atmosphere around here. You train together, and your best friends are here as well. Everything you do is together, so its kind of makes it easy to take things to the field.
What would you say to those skeptics, and I will admit to being among them to some degree, who have some questions about some of the unproven players stepping up and playing at a high level like we have seen in recent years at Iowa?
I just feel that we have such a strong program here, not only on the offensive line, but the rest of the team…we have that tape to watch from years past. We can learn from that. They set the bar. We will do our best, and the coaches will put the best five on the field that they know can play.
Do you feel the players will know who the best five are, so when the coaches make those decisions, you will respect that, even though you are fighting like crazy to be among those five?
Right now, there is not a best five, at least its not known to us. We all know what our roles are at any time. Each of us is trying to improve as a player.
Going to bowl games must be getting old hat to you now, what is the next bowl you want to play in?
It really doesn't matter right now. That first game is what matters, then its one week at a time. We try to forget about those things and just try to improve every day, take one day at a time and not look ahead.
There were too many clichés in that answer. Just saying ‘Rose Bowl' would have been much easier.
(laughs) That is a goal for everyone here, to be at the top of the conference. But it all starts with the first game?
We have heard ‘Break the Rock' and ‘Climb the Mountain'. What is the mantra this year?
You can say we are always preparing to be the best, but we call it ‘Building a Mountain'. If we can continue to break rocks, we will build that figurative mountain with the pieces of the rocks. Robert Gallery always used to break down every day by saying, ‘Be the best.' That is one of the things we break down with from time to time as a unit.
The slogans might change, but the goals never do. We will try to improve every week, and keep the tradition we have built moving forward.