We all know that I'm not your traditional journalist and I'm not the traditional sports writer. Just a guy telling a story in my own limited vocabulary and understanding of the English language. I don't pretend to be something I'm not and neither does Stevenson and probably why I admire him and his thinking. Stevenson didn't give me any better quotes than the next guy, for some reason however, I believe him and I believe this means something to him.
Dan Stevenson is an offensive guard playing right tackle. He would never say that and would never complain that he's not in his best position. Even offensive tackle coach Mike Denbrock has said that Stevenson has to play tackle. Yet, Stevenson takes all the blame and handles the criticism with grace and goes about his business knowing he's a man playing a position he's probably not suited for.
What I respect about Stevenson is that he isn't a complainer. He knows he can play one heck of an offensive guard but has to play out of position because the Irish have nobody else. He takes the blame, the criticism and still shows up to face that criticism regardless of what happens. Again, I'm a big fan of Dan Stevenson.
I caught up with Stevenson after Thursday's practice to talk about Pittsburgh, Purdue and the Irish team. Stevenson took it all in stride as he always has.
Running the football is the theme for this week. Stevenson says he's seen an improvement this week. "I think you'll see a lot of progress this week," said Stevenson. "We've got a good game plan this week and the coaches have really been harping on just letting it rip. Just going out there and not worrying about anything, just smashing somebody up and I think by doing that, we've started to make plays that we should've been making."
Stevenson says they haven't changed anything in technique or blocking assignments, it's been an attitude adjustment more than anything. "It's mainly just an attitude. Just getting out there and blowing somebody up. We worked fundamentals and I think that is a good thing. We got to go back and worked on the basics but I think the attitude has been much better."
The Irish offensive line has been the whipping boy this year and Stevenson says they are starting to take it personal. "I know me personally, I can't speak for everyone but it really has put a big chip on my shoulder. I think we've got a lot to prove. I think the offensive line is really starting realize that it's our job to make things thing happen."
Freshman quarterback Brady Quinn gives the Irish a chance to move the ball through the air. Teams cannot just focus on the running game any more and need to respect the Irish passing attack. Stevenson says this will help the running game a lot.
"When you have an effective passing game, obviously it makes defenses be more honest so if we can get that and get the running game going, I think the offense can be unstoppable. Our priority is obviously to run the ball."
Stevenson say the Pitt defense hasn't changed much since last year but execution is all that matters to this offense. "They do a lot of similar things, they do some new things. Pitt has a great defense but I think as long as we go out there and play our game, it doesn't matter what defense we go against."
So how can the Irish offense be successful against the Pitt defense? "Just play the game, just execute. Every play, what coach Diedrick says, ‘play ever play and every single play every day.' Just got to go out there and execute."
The Irish are 1-3 right now but Stevenson says the attitude of the team has been at an all-time high this year. "That is one of the biggest things I've noticed this week and last week. A lot of people want to look down on the offense, but I think in a sense, it's brought us closer together. It made us realize that it's all on our shoulders and we've got to go out there and get it done."
Stevenson didn't have his best game against Purdue. He knows this and he says he's learned from that game. "That was a big disappointment for myself—the way I played. I don't expect anything like that to ever happen to me again. It was a good learning experience; it let me get back on my feet. Going home this weekend, having the weekend off, it was a great learning experience and I'm just going to use that to go out there and dominate people the way I can."
Dan Stevenson might not be the best right tackle in the country but he hasn't quit. He's just as positive as he was at the beginning of the season and why I appreciate him. Hopefully the Irish will adopt his attitude because that can take this team a long way.