Tony Fein smiled when asked about "Camp Orgeron."
"It's tougher than I thought it would be, but everyone is going through it so I am not complaining. It's just an adjustment," said Fein.
Keep in mind that Fein has gone through boot camp in the miltary and turned 25 years old in July. Still, Camp O is more than he anticipated.
"I thought it was going to be tough, but it's more physical and more grinding than I thought it would be," Tony continued. "It definitely tests you physically and mentally. There's a lot to learn, especially the Mike LB position. You just have to have mental toughness and man up. I have been through a boot camp and this is right up there. The main thing is that I am not used to the humidity here, but I'm getting there. And Coach O is pusing us hard because he does not worry about the conditions or feel sorry for you if you are dragging. He wants us to be men about it and that's what we are trying to do.
"I haven't hit a wall, but it is a grind. Everyone feels the same - you just have to fight through it. The toughest thing to adjust to is that when you are worn down physically you still have to absorb things mentally and not get behind there."
Tony ran into one roadblock recently he's just getting over. He had a mouthpiece that he had an allergic reaction to of some kind and his mouth broke out in sores. He says he took that in stride, but it was highly uncomfortable.
"I guess I just had the wrong mouthpiece and I broke out, but I've switched to a different kind and I'm OK now," he continued.
Where is Tony now that the initial shock of Camp O is behind him?
"I'm getting my second wind. The hardest part - the adjustment - is over. The biggest thing I have to conquer now is playing faster. I'm still in the mode of thinking too much rather than just playing and it's slowed me down some," he explained. "I am trying to get things to be second nature now. I feel like I'm playing slow right now because the line isn't slowing down, the backs aren't slowing down.
"I've found it's best to make mistakes going full speed and not hesitating. If you make a mistake and knock a lineman down at the same time, you are less likely to get jumped by a coach. If you make a mistake and haven't done anything during that mistake, you are going to hear it real good."
Fein is pleased with the progress all the linebackers are making.
"We are installing some good blitzes and Coach (John) Thompson is bringing in an aggressive style of defense everyone likes playing. We are coming downhill and playing an aggressive style. It's on us to learn it quickly so the coaches can put in mroe stuff," he noted. "We have Division I linebackers here. Jonathan Cornell is our leader due to his experience and knowledge. Chris Strong is a very aggressive, big, talented guy. I can't think of a weak link. I am impressed with this bunch - I think all of us are talented and all of us are together and working hard."
Tony does not seem down and out about Strong getting a lot of number one reps at this point.
"It's just competition. He's a very talented athlete and to beat him out, I have to step my play up. I have to play faster, period, and I have to learn the defense going full speed," Tony added. "We are real close. We have a lot in common. We help each other and feel highly toward each other. I'm older, but we are in the same boat in terms of knowing the defense.
"He's going to be a great player and we push each other to reach our potential. We have a good relationship. I'm 25, but football is universal. We are all going through the same things and we are all learning and working hard. I relate to Chris and he relates to me."
Tony likes the depth at linebacker as well.
"Our depth is growing daily. The team is growing and we have some good rotations going. That's cool for the long season because all of us will be needed," he said. "This program is headed up - you can tell by the quality of players and the numbers here now. All the linebackers are young, experience-wise, but I think we have a lot of talent and will be very good in time."
Fein believes the LBs are benefitting from the depth and quality of the defensive line.
"With Big Powe and Peria and Ted Laurent and the rest of those guys in there, we feel pretty good as linebackers to have them in front of us," he smiled. "They make our jobs easier. Powe and Peria will draw double teams and we can mop up at LB. If they don't double them, Powe and Peria and some others will not be blocked and will make the plays themselves. I think it's a pick-your-poison deal for any offense."
Tony is also impressed with the Rebel OL and RBs.
"Man, our OL is big, strong and fast. They come out with the intent of blocking you and if you get past them, then you have to deal with three or four big backs like BenJarvus, Bruce, Jason Cook and Cordera Eason. They are all downhill players and you better be ready for a big impact when they are going full speed, and they go full speed all the time," he laughed.
For now, Fein is pleased with his progress.
"It's a process of trying to get better every dayand do whatever I have to do to help the team get better," he closed. "I've come a long way already, but I know it's going to require more hard work to get where I want to go. I'm willing."
Tony Fein update -
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