"On the Spot" w/ TE Coby Fleener [#82]

After a few days of welcome rest, the 5-1 Cardinal is busy preparing to face Washington State in Saturday afternoon's homecoming game. Bootleg pal Dave Fowkes stopped by practice and spoke with redshirt junior TE Coby Fleener to see how things are shaping up coming off the break.

"On the Spot" w/ TE Coby Fleener [#82]

Stanford's tight end Coby Fleener has enjoyed a solid start to the season. The fleet-footed 6-6, 245-pound redshirt junior has 11 catches for 194 yards and three touchdowns to help lead the Cardinal's potent offensive attack. Maybe more important is that his improved run-blocking has helped lead a replenished rushing attack that has had to forge ahead without prime-time players like Toby Gerhart and Jim Dray, one of the finest blocking tight ends in the nation last year.


There is always room for continued improvement and Fleener and his Cardinal teammates are focused and preparing for a visit from Washington State following their "improvement week." I caught up with Fleener after practice on Wednesday night:


The Bootleg: Did you enjoy a little time off this week?


Coby Fleener: It was nice. It was a good time to recuperate for the team, even more than the body - for the mind.


TB: Were you able to get away from football even for a day or two?


CF: Yeah, there was time to get away from football. But at the same time, it's still on your mind. You are still in the season. While you may not have practice that day, you are still looking at your playbook or film.


TB: So even when you have time off, you are still looking at film and playbooks? Where do your other "books" and studies come in?


CF: That comes in after practice, when you can fit it in.


TB: Were you surprised to get a five-day break?


CF: It did not come as much as a surprise. Coach had kind of cut us a deal, depending on how many games we won, it was going to affect the bye week. It is not like we needed more incentive to win, but coach put it on a plate like that.


TB: I heard Jim Dray was back in town this week, did you have a chance to hang out with him? How was that?


CF: Jimmy is an awesome guy, not only on the field, but off. He is like a big brother. He taught me the ropes. So it was great to see him. It is good to see that he is doing well out there (in Phoenix, with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals).


TB: Did he share any stories or provide any special inspiration?


CF: No, he said it is a totally different game. It is a business. But he said there are some great guys out there as well.


TB: We know it's always important to focus on the road ahead, but since the bye week is right here in the middle of the season, were you able to look back and reflect just a little bit on the team's 5-1 record and how you feel about Stanford so far?


CF: We are excited about Stanford Football, but at the same time it does not matter how you start - it really matters how you finish. Going 5-1 and losing the rest of your games does not help anyone. So we really need to focus on this week and stay focused on this week... and then the next week.


TB: Are you satisfied with the level of play that you are producing right now?


CF: Satisfied? Absolutely not!


TB: I know, "satisfied" is a bad word around here, my bad. (laugh) Is it acceptable?


CF: There is definitely, always room for improvement, especially when you are doing very complex schemes. You want to make sure you have your assignments done. Then physically, it is not good enough to step in front of a guy and make sure he does not make the tackle. You want to make sure you are "hitting" people every play. Making sure that your run-blocking is above-average. Everybody knows I can run and catch the ball, I want to block as well. The team needs me to block.


TB: How is the tight end position, and here I am going to include you with Konrad (senior Konrad Reuland) and Zach (redshirt freshman Zach Ertz), how do you feel the position has filled in for Jimmy in terms of the run game and blocking?


CF: It is always hard to fill the hole that Jimmy left because those are such large shoes to fill. We have been winning. We have been getting the job done. But we still have a ways to go to replace Jimmy Dray.


TB: Talking about Washington State, there are a lot of comparisons to WSU now, to where Stanford was a few years ago. There is a sense that "They are going to jump up and beat somebody" and "Let's hope it is not us"-type of thing. Do you subscribe to that mentality?


CF: Both teams are equally wanting to win this game. We are not taking them lightly by any stretch of the imagination. We know how hard they play and how good they are. We are not going to be a team that takes another team lightly. We know coming from that a few years ago, that there were people that overlooked us, and we pounced and took advantage of that. So we are not going to be a team that is going to be taken advantage of by looking past any team.


TB: What do you see from Washington States's defense on film?


CF: They play hard every single play. They are not going to take a play off. They are going to be physical until the whistle. We need to come out prepared and be a step ahead in terms of physicality.

Dave Fowkes is a longtime Stanford Cardinal fan. Born at Stanford hospital and raised on the Peninsula, he has been a football season ticket holder since 1981. In that span he has only missed three home games, but of course never a Big Game. Dave currently works in media both on the air and behind the scenes in advertising sales. He has covered sports on and off since 1992. Currently he works as a traffic, news and sports man on several Bay Area radio stations under a few different on-air aliases. Dave blends the passion of being a fan with the perspective of being a reporter in his stories. For more Stanford football coverage by Dave Fowkes, you can read the "Stanford Football Examiner" at www.stanfordfootballreport.com  

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