When Irish Eyes caught up with Bob after practice, he was smiling as he pulled off his shoulder pads so we asked him how it felt to get back on the field and into action. "Tell you what, man, we worked all winter and sit there all off-season and to just go out there and put the stuff back on, it feels real good. It's been a long winter season. We're still feeling a little bit of last season so it's real good to make a second step and kind of redeem ourselves."
The Irish have been approaching practice as back to square one according to Morton. "Getting back to start again; technique a whole lot. Work on the intensity and stuff like that, of course. We can't just go all out and try to drill somebody with no pads on. It's kind of remembering technique and working on the intensity as we go."
Even though winter conditioning is demanding and can take its toll, Morton was pleased with the results, "It went real well. As a team, I think you can tell by the way we hold ourselves, our attitude has changed a whole lot. We've grown up; the veterans have grown up even more. The leadership has really come about, and it was a good overall off-season as far as individual gains and as far as team unity and team gains, as such."
When the topic of veterans and leadership was mentioned, we wanted to know if he would be stepping into a leadership role with this team. "I'll try, but I don't know if anybody will listen," he laughed. I've been known to talk apparently, so I will go out and do my job, and I think basically the great thing about all the guys on the offensive line, when something needs to be said, you can count on one of the guys that we have in there, saying it. If my turn comes about to say something, then sure, I'll say it."
Last year the offensive line went through several changes and had its up and downs, Bob said the biggest challenge for them is, "Just getting better, you know what I mean. It sounds easy sometimes, I mean we're all older and stuff like that. We've come a long way since the beginning of last year, but we have a long, long way to go."
We asked him to rate the chemistry of last year's O-line to this year's and he stated, "You know, compared to when we came together last year, it's incomparable. We can still get closer, we can still get tighter, but you know it's definitely an excellent start."
We asked Morton how this team can regain its confidence and without hesitation, the answer was, "Getting better, man. You know you can't just sit there getting your confidence back just by looking good on paper and just by seeing that you don't have too many freshmen or sophomores seeing that you are older. You don't get confidence by running plays on air, we have to get out there and we've got to do it. That's what spring ball is all about. We have 15 practices to get out there and do it. And we have one of the best defenses in the country to do it against. If we can get pretty decent doing it against them, we'll have a pretty good year."
Morton said he has a few goals he is going to work on during spring practice. "Getting a little more physical to be honest with you. I felt I was just kind of a body blocker a little bit last year. I covered my person up and my responsibilities are fine. But I feel I need to become a little more comfortable in taking control of the offense as far as pointing out defenses and calling defenses and when I find my person, doing something with him and giving those running backs as much space as they need."
We closed the interview by asking about his weight and he good-naturedly said, "That's a personal question," then added, "295."
Bob Morton proved last year that he is a player and now that he has that experience and with his work ethic and desire to improve, this should be an even better year for him and the offensive line.