The scrimmage: Chase Thomas

After a breakout season in 2010, Chase Thomas is back for his redshirt junior campaign, facing high expectations. Fifteen pounds heavier than he was a season ago, Thomas met with the media following Sunday's open practice to discuss the Card's 2011 season.

Were you disappointed that the first-team defense didn't get a chance to go against the first-team offense?
Chase Thomas: I guess so, but at the same time, we go against them usually every day in practice, and so a majority of the time we're going against the first-team offense.

Who has the upper hand when you do?
CT: I think the last couple of days it's been the defense, but early on it was the offense.

How much better are you going to be this year? Just in terms of are you bigger, do you feel quicker, are you bulked up at all?
CT: I'm about 240 right now. I probably played at 225 last year through the season. Over the offseason I gained about 15 pounds. I tried to get stronger in the weight room, glad I did that. The strength and conditioning staff was adamant about getting my strength up, and I think it's really showed up so far in this camp, holding off blockers, getting off quicker, and getting into more plays.

How do you gain 15 pounds as a kid?
CT: You eat the right foods at the right times. It's all about being disciplined with what you eat and how you treat your body.

Give us specifics on your diet.
CT: I always take a full breakfast in the morning, probably eat an omelet, a smoothie, some fruit, eat a peanut butter and jelly before lunch. [Then] eat lunch, whatever that is, some grilled chicken. Eat dinner, and then a shake, and then another peanut butter and jelly before you go to sleep and then supplements throughout the day also, some protein.

How important was it for you to bulk up?
CT: I really wanted to because I usually lose between five to ten pounds throughout the season just because we don't lift as much so we don't get a chance to keep up as much of your muscle. I try to keep myself at 240, [it's] really important for me to play at this weight and this size.

Obviously you had some pretty big losses along the defense line in the offseason. How have you seen this year's defensive line progress throughout the camp?
CT: I've been really proud of these guys, their progress through camp. They're starting to penetrate through the line, even our two defense going against our one offense, they pretty much shut down that run, and so it's good to see the young guys getting some depth along the defense line. I know we lost, like you said, two starters, but you see the depth that we have right there at the twos and the ones getting the job done.

Anybody in particular been impressive to you out there?
CT: David Parry, he's a stud, he's one of the stoutest guys on the D line. Everybody's doing a good job, though.

After a year, you've adjusted now to the outside linebacker spot?
CT: Yeah, I think having that year under my belt of switching from defense end to linebacker, it took me a little while to adjust, but having that full year under the system now really allows me to play faster and knowing my limits and what I'm going to do and how to assess my abilities.

I know the NFL is far from your thoughts at this point, but are you prepared that this could be your last season?
CT: It's in the back of my mind, but I'm trying to just focus on this team right now and winning the Pac-12 Championship.

This is the highest preseason ranking since 1950, obviously we can see the enthusiasm out here, but how much do you guys read into those preseason polls?
CT: It's not how you start, it's how you finish, so that's pretty much the way we're looking at it.

One of the guys that really stood out to me today was Kevin Anderson, can you talk about his play in camp?
CT: Kevin is a local guy from right here in Palo Alto, he's doing a great job. It took him a little bit at first just learning the techniques, but that's expected as freshmen. A bunch of the older guys are trying to help him out, get him acclimated to the system, the whole regimen, all the techniques, and you can really tell he's buying into the program and he wants to get better. He showed you today in practice with him fixing those mistakes. I'm proud of him and what he's doing and he'll be a great player soon.

What about the progress of Blake Lueders from last year to this year?
CT: Lueders had a great camp, you can definitely tell his pass rush has gotten better. He's gotten bigger, too, he's in the 250's up to 260 range, so he's definitely going to be great to have in the rotation with the outside linebackers. He's physically matured over the last year from his freshman year to now, so we're really proud of where he is from his freshman year to now.

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