What do you think about this team's chances to win a Big Ten title?
We can only control what's in front of us. I feel real good about it. Everybody else on our team does. We can't control what happens in the other games. We're just worried about getting this game won and just going from there.
What about their defensive front four? There's been talk about how they could be the best in the nation. As the quarterback, what do you need to do?
Just get the balls out quicker and set up in the pocket. The rush up field pretty quick.
Are you surprised when teams still bite hard on run fakes?
Yeah. I guess. They do whatever they do. We try to establish the run game to try to set up some of that stuff. Sometimes it's there. Sometimes it's not.
Are you going to need to start hitting a 10-yard run here and there?
It would help out. Whatever we can do to move the chains helps out. I'm sure we're going to try to run the ball this week. We just need to do whatever we've got to do to win.
Are you concerned about the Red Zone?
A little bit. But we've still got time to practice and come up with some stuff. We'll watch film and see how they play things in the red zone and come up with some plays to beat their kind of coverages.
What did you think your numbers would be back in August?
I didn't know. I didn't think about that back in August. I was worried about just starting on the team. I haven't really looked at many stats. That's not really important. We're winning, and that's the only thing that matters.
Back in September when you guys hit that rough spot. Did anybody in the senior class say anything?
They all did. It would be hard to point an individual out. As a class and as a whole they stepped up because this is it for them. There are no second chances on your last year. It was really important to them and they all stepped up. As a whole, they really took charge of our team. You have to give a lot of credit to them to see where we are now.
It seems like the O-line might be getting a free pass in terms of the running game because of the injuries to the running backs. Are you guys taking it as a free pass?
No. It's frustrating our lack of a running game. As an offensive line, it's frustrating to not be able to run the ball. But that's who we are now. I'm all right with that as long as we keep winning. But certainly it's frustrating not to move the ball on the ground as well as we'd like to because this is a running offense. Offensive linemen like that.
I certainly don't put it on the injury situation, I put it on our blocking. I feel like maybe if we'd block people we would run the ball instead of throwing it. I think we make it an easy decision for the coaches. Coach would rather have an incomplete pass than a negative yard running play. I don't blame him.
In terms of running the ball, cohesiveness is a big part of what you do. I know you don't want to use the injury excuse, but...
Yeah. You don't want to make an excuse. But certainly our cohesiveness has been a little upset this year through injuries, both up front and with the running backs.
But you look at the teams that run the ball successfully, one team that comes to mind for me would be the Denver Broncos, they have a different back there every year that does it and differrent linemen every year who do it. To me, I think we should be able to do it.
Obviously, (the injuries) have played a significant role, I suppose. But you can't make excuses. The Broncos seem to do it, no problem, year in and year out.
Is this your biggest challenge as an offensive line this week?
Absolutely. These guys are talented. They're good. All four of them are good. The inside guys tend to get over shadowed by the ends, especially the one (James). But the inside guys are as good as anyone in the country. It's a big challenge. We need to embrace that, protect Drew and hopefully maybe run the ball a little bit.
Are you excited about your last home game?
I'm trying not to think about it. I trying to go into it looking at it as any other game. I don't want to get too emotional during the last week of practice of the regular season. Maybe after the game I'll look back on it and think about the implications of it being my last game.
What do you remember about that game up there last year?
I said it last year, it was the best football game that I ever participated in. The way that it ended. The fact that we had to come from behind. They got up early on us by so much and then we came back. It showed the resiliency of that team last year. The atmosphere out there in Madison was unreal. It was similar to the kind of atmosphere that you see down here at Kinnick.
The atmosphere provided by the fans at Kinnick, is that the biggest reason why you've won your last 17 games here?
Without a doubt. We always get up and ready to play when we're in Kinnick. Our fan support is unbelievable - the student section, the regular crowd, they really get into it. It's easy to come ready to play when you know you're going to have that kind of support.
Can you see why some of the opposing players might view this as one of the tougher places to play in the Big Ten?
Oh yeah. Guys like Coach (Phil) Parker and Coach (Norm) Parker who have been around the Big Ten even said when they were at Michigan State they knew when they came into Kinnick it was the toughest place to play. The crowd is right on top of you. It's loud. And it's always packed.
Thinking back to the Michigan game, did you guys think you would still have a shot at the title?
We knew that we had a lot to work on and if we did the things that were necessary that we could set ourselves up with a chance to be in this type of a game. We've overcome some things that we've run into this year. It just shows the toughness and the attitude of this team.
Are you surprised that you can still win the Big Ten title?
No. I'm not surprised. Every year you go into the season those are the type of goals that you should have. We all wanted a chance to win the Big Ten. We'll see what happens.
Are you going to do some scoreboard watching?
Nah. If you get too caught up worrying about that stuff then the game that you're actually playing could get away from you. The best thing that we can do is go into our game, do what we have to do, and hopefully we get win there. Whatever happens, happens. At least we know we did our part of it.