This is your last year. Are you surprised at how quickly things have gone?
Ben Gates: Yeah, I remember my freshman year and was thinking that I have five years of this, now I am a senior. It has been a great experience, now its time to perform.
How did it feel last year after all the years of hard work to finally get on the field and compete?
Ben Gates: It felt great. Just being a part of the team and being with the people we have here, we are so close. It's great to just grow as a unit, almost like a family. This year we are going to improve over last year and we have a lot of confidence.
That first night you got back after playing serious reps, did it feel like high school all over again, when things were new and exciting?
Ben Gates: I don't know that you can compare it to HS after playing in a B10 game, but until you get in there, you don't know how you will do and watch film. I am hard on myself and I like to look at things to get better. We are all like that.
This unit will have more experience this year. Has the ground game been a focus this offseason?
Ben Gates: Obviously. Iowa has been known for having good running backs. We have a great quarterback, and we feel we are going to have a great line, too. We all work hard. I can't see anything but good things this year.
Where are you working out right now?
Ben Gates: I am playing right tackle right now. I think I am more comfortable over there as I was a tight end for three years, and had that dominant right hand stance and moving to my right. Last year it was all new for me on the left, and there was a big difference. I am comfortable both ways now. I am willing to play wherever they put me, but I like right tackle.
If you guys can make it through camp healthy, will you surprise people?
Ben Gates: I don't know if there are any surprises any more, but I am sure that people had doubts about us with what happened in the running game. As long as we believe as a unit and the coaches believe in us, they would not have us doing the things we are doing if they did not believe in us. We are confident that our running game will come through.
What is it like blocking for Drew Tate? You never know where he is going to be back there.
Ben Gates: Exactly. You have to have eyes in the back of your head. You block one way, but you never know where Drew is going to go. It can be confusing because you are supposed to keep your guy outside and Drew is roaming all over the place. But it can only help us with his elusiveness.
How is he in the huddle? Is he a ‘keep your mouth shut' old school quarterback?
Ben Gates: Yeah, he is more serious than anything. But he has his jokes too. He can make you laugh, but he is real competitive. HE gets down on himself more than he does anyone else. He is a great leader and its fun to be with him in the huddle.
What were your thoughts on that last drive against LSU?
Ben Gates: To be honest, I knew we had a minute left and that it would be tough. There was a part of me that was like ‘holy cow, we have led this whole game and it can be over like that.' But another part of me felt that we could come through. That first catch went for 10 yards, and I believed we could do it. Schlicher is a good kicker. After that penalty, that was a tough time. But everything worked out.