This came and went fast. Like in the real season, you never lose a game, you run out of time. I think we accomplished a lot of goals. I think we moved forward, without a doubt. Are we where we need to be or want to be? No, we would like to be further along.
What can you guys do over summer to improve?
We need to get stronger in the weight room, we need to get smarter in the playbook, get into the film room and learn as much as we can. When camp rolls around, we put that to work with the pads on and reevaluate it then. I think it's early to decide where we are, or where we should be. That will sort itself out.
Did it feel good to get out there and hit people?
Absolutely. To get on the football field, that is why we are here, or we would be doing something else. For 15 days in Spring you get to play football. I would be lying if I told you that I wished it were longer than 15 days, but its good to get a taste of it and see where we are at and what we can get better at and go back to work in August.
Dave Bradley did a good job last year for us, and Andy (Fenstermaker, the other punter competing for the 2005 job) and I have taken the same amount of reps in practice, so I don't think it will be decided until the fall. We will punter together this summer.
Kirk Ferentz said this battle will come down to consistency. Would you agree?
Yes. Both of us are not as consistent as Bradley was. As long as it's 40 yards and four-point-something hang time, nine times out of 10 I would take that. I think both of us, we were 8 of 10 or 9 of 10. But it's much better than a few years ago.
Do you think you have a stronger legs?
I would say I probably do, but that does not matter. Consistency matters.
Do you think your having punted in a game gives you an edge in experience?
I hope a little. I had a couple of punts a couple of years ago, but Andy is a level headed guy, and he could do the job too. It comes down to the mental side of it. Whether it's 10 people of 70,000, you still have to just punt the ball.
We want to get in there and get some things done, so the injuries are frustrating. No one is set at their positions, so we have to work to improve. That goes from top to bottom, including people like Drew and Abdul.
How did the defensive line look this spring?
Well, they have battled a lot of injuries and you have some guys with no reps and some with a lot, but I think they looked good. I think all in all, they showed improvement and that is what we were looking for, to get some experience against the ones. They need to keep pushing through this summer and we will see what happens this fall.
Do the linebacker feel now that you have to lead the way?
I don't think you do that when you play a team game. Those guys know what they have to do, they know their spots and they are going to compete, and that is all that you can ask for.
We have everything in (defensive packages) and that is what we wanted to do as a defense this spring. Educate everyone about the schemes, that stuff. We were pretty physical during this spring, thought we could have been more physical today.
Has the national hype been a distraction for you at all?
Not really. I take the good and bad the same way. This is something you learn how to handle. It's not like we have only heard about this stuff for the past couple of months, we have been pretty good over the last few years. But you just push that aside.
Spring ball is stacked against defense; has been forever. Does that get frustrating?
Not really, we love to compete. It is a time where we can get better. There is a clean slate, relearn the defense and it's a fun time for everyone. It's a great time for everyone and we have had some young players take some steps.
Which one of the guys impressed you the most, someone that has not gotten many real game snaps?
I think Matt Kroul has taken huge steps. I think Miguel is going to be huge for us. Jonathon Zanders has made some good plays. I think there are a lot of young guys that are not being recognized yet and hopefully in the fall, they will be rewarded on special teams and with some playing time.
My hands were good until today, but I dropped a couple of balls. But this spring, I spent a lot of time with Coach Jackson just going over my keys and my reads, and that helped me out a lot. Just watching the defense on certain plays. I calmed down, hit my hole and just go. If I keep working on those things, on my hands, I think I have a chance.
I feel that I am more of a student of the game now. I like it. It is a game of angles. Once you learn people's movements, you can just go with it.
What is your take on the running back situation on the whole?
There will be competition this summer, I know that. I might have been the key guy in the spring, but who is to say that I will be in August. I feel that if I want to stay where I am, I have to step it up even more.
Do you think this team will transition back to being balanced?
As a running back, I hope so. But Drew picked up and carried the load last year. They stepped up. The running back corps has to do that, too.
This was Damien Sims first spring, how did he look, and how did some of the injured guys look?
Damien is doing well. He is fast, I like him. Marcus came back a bit this spring and did some nine of seven. Albert, when I got here, I felt like he was the next LaDanian Thomlinson. He has everything that you want in a running back. I feel that he will come back and make an impact.
Were you hesitant at all this spring due to your injury from last year, and is that a problem with injuries?
Nah. I was not hesitant in Orlando. I just want to get out there and help out. I am 100-percent right now. When you get a major injury, you do have to work on building confidence; in your leg and in your mind. I hope all those guys come back and can make those cuts and moves.
When will the running back competition be settled?
I don't think things will get settled at running back until kickoff against Ball State. That is how I feel. We have to work hard all summer. It's going to be a battle and I am excited for it.
You had a big run last spring, and Damien had one today. Do those things mean anything?
It's nice for confidence, but the big picture is the Big Ten. That is what matters. It was nice for Damien to get out there and get that big run, because that was his first big run of the spring. That was good for him. Adolphus Shelton is getting better all the time. He has to work at it, but he is going to come on.