I Want That Responsibility

Senior center Eric Olsen talks about his expectations for the season

He appears to be one of the squad's "go-to" guys. A player writers can look to for thoughtful, honest answers, and a player his teammates can look to for leadership after more than two seasons of battles and disappointment in the trenches.

Irish Eyes sat down with Olsen at today's media day session and found a focused senior - a player ready to absorb the bullseye directed at the team's maligned offensive lne.

Center Eric Olsen

On new Offensive Line Coach Frank Verducci:

"He's a pro, he's definitely a professional, he's very distinct in what he does and he's definitely a technician so that's helped us already."

On an emphasis on the running game in practice this fall:

"It's no secret our run game was a weakness last season… so you know obviously we're not just going to shun working on the passing game because we still have plenty of improvement there, but obviously there's an emphasis on the run game and we're really trying to get that right after last year. "

On the universal opinion that the season rests on the play of the offensive line:

"Good. Good. I'm glad, I want that responsibility. I know our guys and I'm close with our guys and we all want that – we're a real prideful group and we're going to embrace that opportunity.

"You know, it's tough when you're a bunch of sophomores when you're out there for everyone to be saying ‘well it's all on the offensive line' because we're out there saying ‘Oh (man) what do we do?' but now that we're seniors we have a swag about us, we have that fire, that passion and that pride and I want that opportunity, I want everyone to put that on us.

On the confidence of the whole line:

"We need that as an offensive line. We need to impose our will on other people; we can't let them dictate how the game's going to go. We need to tell them how it's going to go. I'm glad that attitude is kind of picking up (throughout the line) because that's what we need.

On Coach Weis' "Do it on the field" mantra:

"I like that. You read stuff and hear stuff on ESPN, everybody dogs us, especially the offensive line. We've been the whipping boys for a long time and you want to always say something to respond or make excuses or say stuff, but enough talk we just need to show it."

On the biggest change in his game (personally) from the season-opener last year to this moment:

"It's a little bit weird but I finally realized that I'm running out of time here so that kind of lights a fire under me to the point where I can't waste any reps in any practice. That kind of mental attitude as far as not trying to just get through practice, but to use every rep to improve has been the biggest difference for me personally."

On the hope for continued improvement in the screen game:

"It's definitely a comfort level for me for sure, and Chris (Stewart) and I will make a competition out of it for who's going to get a block downfield because that's a fun thing for an offensive lineman. We don't get many opportunities (to get on a defender in space).

"But I think a major part of it is when the passing game is really firing and he defense pins its ears back trying to get to Jimmy…that helps the screens out to – so it's all the aspects of the offense and then if we start running the ball, the pass rush slows down so all of that combined is what makes the biggest difference."

Olsen continued to talk about what a balanced offense would do for the team.

"The passing game was good last year – we have a long way to go and a little longer way to go in the running game, but obviously with the threats we have at wide receiver if we start running the ball efficiently…what is the defense going to do? Who are they going to stop? So that's something we have in our minds going into camp this season."

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