True sophomore offensive tackle Brian Abraham answered a few questions recently.
You're slated to start at the open tackle position...
"There is still a lot of competition, though. We're battling for it."
How does it feel, possibly starting at UCLA as a true sophomore?
'It feels great. There's a lot of pressure. I have a high level that I have to step up to. Paul Mociler, who started there last year, knew his stuff. He was a great tackle, and I have to try to step and try to match him, and maybe pass him. I'm having fun so far."
How far along do you think you are in knowing your assignments?
"I think in knowing what I'm doing, I'm almost there. I pretty much know what I'm doing, or supposed to be doing. I have a lot of technique-type stuff to have to work on. There are a lot of old habits you get when you play, and last year I fixed many of them. But then when you get back into it, like in spring practice, they tend to come back, so I have to fix them again."
So you think most of the development ahead of you is technique?
"Mostly. I think I just have to work more on my technique and continue to improve, and get that fixed up a little bit. You almost always can improve your technique, but I want to get it really perfect and get rid of any of those old bad habits."
How many reps do you play in actual games last season?
"I think it was maybe about eight plays."
Do you get anything out of that at all? Since it was so few...
"Not much. You get a little bit. But I personally got more out of practicing as a true freshman with the 1s and 2s. I got most of what I feel is my experience from that for this season. I don't think I'm as far behind as others who came in with me because of that."
Where are you physically? Are you where you want to be?
"I have about ten pounds I want to gain. Right now I'm about 285, and I'd like to get to 295 to 300. That's my goal by fall. As long as it doesn't hurt my quickness."
What has offensive line coach Tom Cable said he wants you to work on in the off-season?
"Basically technique, on my own. I'm going to get some of the guys and do some things together off to the side. He wants me to try to get bigger and work on the technique stuff."
Have the veterans in the offensive line, like Mike McCloskey, helped you?
"They help a lot. If you have any questions they help you. I see Paul every once in a while. And whenever I see him I usually ask him a question, because he still remembers all of it. But yeah, the older guys are really helpful. They want the line to be really good so it's good for them to make the younger guys good."
What are your goals for the season personally? To start?
"Definitely to start. To succeed. To do at least as well as the guy who was there before me so there isn't any kind of letdown. To do as best as I can."
How have you done this spring?
"I'm doing okay. I could do a lot better, I think. Again, it's mostly my technique. I just have to get better at it."
When you watch film, does that make you more aware of what you have to work on?
"Oh, yeah. Watching film is really helpful. But even when I'm out on the practice field, I know what I'm doing wrong. When you're in the moment, little mistakes come up. You just have to get to the point where it's habit, that when you're in the moment you do the right thing."
Do you like the weakside/strongside alignment better?
"I like it a lot better. You end up so much more versatile. You get used to both sides of the ball, and you're not just a one-stance guy, and you need to use both hands."