Soft-Spoken Schilling Becoming Spokesman

Offensive tackle Steve Schilling on his newfound leadership role, on his O-line teammates, on the OL freshman … and more.

Question: Are you moving into a leadership role with the offensive line unit?

Steve Schilling: "I am trying to. It is going to take some time. I still have a lot to prove as well. I haven't done anything; my opinion I haven't done anything. So I still feel like I have a lot to accomplish myself and prove myself before I will be able to earn all the respect of my teammates."

Question: Is it a little strange; even though you say you haven't done anything, you have a lot more experience than the other guys you are playing with?

Steve Schilling: "Yeah, but I am seeing a sophomore technically; I have played one year. I am not a senior. We have senior leadership on the offense. As far as the offensive line maybe more of a leader, but we have other senior leaders that are going to help lead the offense."

Question: Is it tough for you to conceptualize yourself as a leader just because you know you are a sophomore and have only been here one year?

Steve Schilling: "Not so much. I was kind of forced into the role, but I understand the role. I was captain of my high school team and things like that, so I understand. I have been in a situation where I have had to be the leader before, but it is just a little sudden."

Question: Coach Rodriguez said today that the offense is pretty far behind the defense at this point or just hasn't looked good. What are your thoughts so far about how you have been playing?

Steve Schilling: "I think everyone is just trying to come together. We have got the freshmen in here now. You definitely saw in the spring that every practice we got a little bit better, so when we start to get the pads on and go a little bit and get the freshmen in here incorporated into the offense and kind of build on what we did in spring ball, I think we will be picking it up, practice by practice."

Question: Is it a little bit different, because your first year there obviously was a starter at quarterback, Chad (Henne) was the guy and there wasn't really going to be anyone pushing him. Now you have three or four guys all competing for one spot, is it a change that the offense approaches things?

Steve Schilling: "I don't think so. All the quarterbacks competing are working hard. They are all a little different. As far as offensive line, our goal is to keep anybody off of them, give them time back there and let our running backs run. It doesn't really affect us too much who is back there."

Question: What do you see from the freshmen offensive lineman? Do you think any of them will play significant snaps this year?

Steve Schilling: "I can't say that. Coach is going to have to decide that through the camp. I think they all came in, all are working hard. I am impressed with a lot of them. They are different than what I expected. They are all working really hard, Coach Frey has been teaching them and I think they are doing really well."

Question: Do one or two stand out?

Steve Schilling: "I have been working mostly; Dan O'Neill is playing right tackle with me. He has gotten a lot better. I can see in just the last three days with his pass sets and things like that; he definitely has a lot of potential; he has been doing well."

Question: Corey Zirbel has been standing next to you at right guard, working with ones a lot; what have you seen out of him, because he is one of those redshirt juniors that hasn't had a chance to play yet?

Steve Schilling: "I think Corey worked extremely hard in the offseason and he was kind of guy that was struggling with weight and speed and everything. He got a lot faster this offseason, worked really hard. He got his strength up a lot too, and he has been playing really well. He is learning the offense and he is really eager to prove himself. It has been a pleasure playing next to him."

Question: In talking to some of the other guys, Tim Jamison specifically, he said he noticed a big change in you, not just with physically, but you were using your hands a lot better, is that something that you really focused on working on?

Steve Schilling: "I think so, yeah. That is something that I needed to do, needed to work on, try to keep the defenders off of me in the passing game and get my hands inside in the run game to help control the blocks."

Question: Elliot Mealer, I talked to him a couple of weeks ago and he said that he didn't want to be treated any differently, if Frey wants to yell, he wants to get yelled at; how do you guys deal with your relationship with him, because obviously he has been through an awful lot in the last year?

Steve Schilling: "Elliot is a great kid. I enjoy his company. We don't treat him any different. He is another one of the freshmen. He is going to get hazed just like any of them, get whatever. We don't treat him any different. We know that he had a hard situation; we know what he has been going through and all of us are here for him, but when the time comes around that he can start playing and practicing, I don't think they are going to treat him any different."

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