Illini Week: Bryan Bulaga Q&A

Last year, Bryan Bulaga was a member of the Iowa offensive line that had sand kicked in their faces. This year, it's the Hawkeyes doing the kicking. Bulaga talks about the progress of the line this week, leading up to the Illinois game.

Q: What are your memories of the high school playoffs?

Bryan Bulaga: Phenomenal. Up until my first game in college, it was my best experience in any sport.

Q: As an offensive lineman, do you take it with a grain of salt knowing that you are not going to get much of the credit for Shonn Greene's production?

Bulaga: That is not a problem at all. That goes with the job. Shonn is doing a lot of the work himself.

Q: Are you surprised with the things he does?

Bulaga: That one against Wisconsin, that was #1 on Sportscenter. A lot of that was him down the field making a play. It was a good run.

Q: What is the biggest difference from last year to this year, in terms of how you are playing?

Bulaga: Getting more experience. Every game you learn something new. You make mistakes and build off of that. Spending an entire year in the weight room and getting stronger, learning the system better as you get older.

Q: What is like going from HS to playing in the B10? There is an adage that the farther you are from the ball, the easier it is to come in and play right away.

Bulaga: It was pretty big, going into camp. I was going against Kenny Iwebema and Kroul. It was a big difference. Their size and speed and strength, it was different from high school. In the end, it's just playing football.

Q: Did you feel like you were ready?

Bulaga: Coach Ferentz felt I was ready, and I have complete trust in them. I thought I was ready.

Q: Being a blue chip recruit, do you know the back story of all of the other linemen?

Bulaga: We have joked around with it a bit. A lot of the guys like to joke because Dan was highly ranked, Dace. We joke around about it. We all have one common goal, and it doesn't matter if you are a walk on, one star or five star. We are trying to win games.

Q: Do the walk on guys talk trash, like Bruggeman?

Bulaga: He hasn't talked any trash; he is humble and great to be around. The walk on guys haven't said much. Wes walked on and is now a scholarship guy. They are both humble guys and good players and it's great to be around him.

Q: When did you see this OL coming together like it has, because the beginning of season, things didn't look this good.

Bulaga: I think in fall camp, that is when I thought things were clicking and there were big improvements from last year's fall camp. I wasn't able to do spring ball, so I didn't get a feel for everyone. Things were working out better in camp, everyone was working together smoothly.

Q: What did you need to see?

Bulaga: Just the offense running smoother. Things working out better. When you watch tape, things were smoother, bigger holes for the running backs to run through, more time for Rick or Jake to throw the ball.

Q: How hard was it to keep your head into this after the lumps you took last year?

Bulaga: Knowing that we were better than what we showed, we knew we were better. We were making mental mistakes, and we knew we could overcome that. We all know we are better than we were, but we were making mental errors.

Q: It had to get you down.

Bulaga: It did. When you watch the tape and see stupid mistakes, you wonder why you did that. It's just getting over that and watching it, but still having in the back of your mind that you move on and get better.

Q: Has anyone on the line surprised you with regards to how far they have come?

Bulaga: No. From when I walked in here, I thought everyone was a good player. I never had a chance to see Bruggeman play, because he was hurt before I came. Once I got to see him in the spring and the fall, I was real impressed. He is such a strong guy and is a great leader. Just because I didn't get to see him play before is why he jumped out to me.

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