How many times have you watched the Capitol One Bowl?
I've seen it quite a few times. I've probably watched it 10 times start to finish. I've probably watched "The Play" more than that. It's an exciting thing to watch. It was great for Hawkeye Football.
How important is it to be the fourth senior class in a row to win at least 10 games?
It would be neat to be the first group to ever do that. But you try to keep in the back of your mind that it's going to be a long summer. We have a lot of work to do yet. That's part of it, just working for the first game then the second game and just taking one game at a time. You cannot really look at the big picture yet.
How does the defensive line look?
They're coming along really well. There are a lot of young guys working really hard. They're doing the things they need to do to improve themselves.
How has life been after "The Play"?
The fans are just crazy about "The Play." But it's just a great thing for Warren, first of all, because he's a great guy. I think out program really thrived off of that just because it was such a huge win for us. I think it's something that could really take us over the top the next couple of years.
Do you think the attention has taken anything out of Drew?
Not really. He's still working hard at every practice. He makes good throws I don't think anything like that is really going to affect him because he's pretty tough.
When did you and Abdul realize you had a lot of similarities even though you come from different backgrounds?
We came on our official visit together. You could kind of tell what kind of guy he was. Roth was on the same visit, so we kind of knew what we were going to have when we came here. Probably that first year when we were redshirting and going against Eric Steinbach, Gallery, Nelson, all of these linemen that are so good. We loved it. We loved the fact that we got in there and got to be physical with these guys. We learned every day. We kind of knew that we were probably going to be the next linebackers that had to step up and play. We thrived on that. We always had talked about wanting to be the best group in the country. We've worked for that.
What is the biggest similarity and the biggest difference between you and Abdul?
He's black and I'm white. (laughter) That's probably the biggest difference. The biggest similarity is just our work ethic and our competitive nature. It's almost identical.
Are you guys the best linebacking core in the country?
I don't know. I'm sure not. There are a lot of good ones out there. Virginia is good. USC. UCLA. Ohio State. They all have great linebackers. One of them will probably be the best. I'm sure we'll underachieve.
Losing the entire defensive line puts more emphasis on you guys this year. How do you handle that? How do you respond to that?
We're handling it pretty good. The biggest thing is that they have to learn and come along. They're doing a great job of that. I'm sure the coaches aren't too concerned about that.
How are you responding to the pressure brought about by all the success you've had over the last few years?
I don't really think it's going to be a problem. The success we've had the last couple of years is probably going to help us. We've had 10 win seasons in the past. We're ready for that stage where we can handle the stuff.
Are you still going to be able to play the underdog role?
I hope we can find a way to play the underdog role because that's when we play our best. Playing that role makes it easier for us because we're a Midwest team and not too flashy.
As seniors, this is your defining year. How important to you guys is it not to let their be a drop-off?
It's obviously very important. Coach has said that it's the seniors' team. We need to take it by the horns. All the seniors and the underclassmen that have played a lot it's going to big for us to take those younger guys and show them how it's going to be. We can put a stamp on what kind of season we're going to have.
You guys are kind of the last guys that came in and saw a season where New Year's Day wasn't a reality. Is it important to pass along that those bowl games are not givens? You have to work for them.
I think it is. People got to Texas and expect to play in a Jan. 1 bowl every year. I don't think we're at that stage yet. There are guys that are coming in that haven't gone through this thing and have to learn from us.
How are you handling the Playboy all-American honor?
It's a good thing. It's exciting. It will be fun to go down there for a weekend.
Is it just an excuse to get the magazine now?
Yeah. I'll use it as an excuse. It's probably more my dad's excuse. (laughs)
You're a team guy, but did you ever expect this to happen to you?
I obviously wanted it to happen. I dreamed about being like this. It's almost crazy how it's happened. But it's better to think back to freshmen year and think about where we wanted to be as seniors. It's worked out even better