Bohlander Takes it Personally

The senior offensive tackle, Bryce Bohlander, talks about the offensive line's performance this year, and how he and his OL comrades take any sack personally...

Interview with senior offensive tackle Bryce Bohlander:

How do you think the offensive line has played so far this season?

"I think we've played well. The last couple of weeks, a lot has been expected from us and I think we've done a fairly good job. There have been a few games where the pass protection wasn't as good as it should have been. Every game you want to not give up a sack. But as many people know, not every sack is on the offensive line. But I think overall we're doing a good job and working hard. We've been able to open up some holes in the running game. We've been trying to run the ball, and have been pretty successful, especially against the teams that have thrown a defense at us to try to stop the run. And we've been able to throw the ball when we've had to. So, I think we're doing well. But there's always room for improvement."

You've had two good games in the last two weeks, especially having to protect inexperienced quarterbacks. Have you made certain adjustments?

"With the new quarterbacks, the young quarterbacks, we made a lot of protections where there weren't any built-in checks. We didn't need to change protection a whole lot. We kept everything real simple. We made sure the quarterbacks knew the free man wasn't going to be blocked. A lot of times, with them, there haven't been as many blitzes, so there hasn't been as many free men coming through."

Have there been more protections where you've kept more people into block?

"We've been keeping tight ends in a little more, depending on whatever the protection is. There are protections where the tight ends stay in, and we've run that quite a bit the last couple of weeks. Obviously, it's hard for young quarterbacks to be getting hit or feeling rushed out there. So having time helps their confidence."

Do you take it personally when you give up a sack?

"It's definitely something you take personally. I take it personally. Moreso when it happens to me than when it happens to just the offensive line. You never want to get beat. Giving up a sack is basically just getting beat. Whether the person is better than you or the person is working harder than you. They, of course, make plays, too. Everybody is out there making plays. But you want to think that you'd never get beat because it's an effort thing. But you have to be realistic because people do get beat for sacks every now and then. But I think you have to take it personal and really take it to heart, or you're not going to get the job done."

Has the unit's run blocking improved? And are you seeing different fronts than you have in the past?

"Definitely. We're seeing a lot more fronts where it's easier to get all the people blocked. We're not seeing as much eight-in-the-box. Eight-man fronts. We've run a lot against that and traditionally we've done pretty well running against it. But we're not seeing it as much now. And now we're able to block everyone with a fullback. It's fun playing against a more balanced defense, where they're not just trying to stop the run and force us to pass. It's encouraging to do that every now and then. Last year we saw that every game. When Cory Paus injured his thumb."

" Has Tyler Ebell made the offensive line look better? And do you block or scheme different for him than you would a bigger back?

"Tyler, he's small and shifty, and he can kind of hide behind us. We obstruct people's vision of him because he is so small. It's different blocking for him that DeShaun Foster. DeShaun was more of an in-your-face guy and Tyler's more elusive than DeShaun. Definitely with Tylever we open the holes as the play is designed but he has such good vision he'll cut wherever he thinks he can go. He's a lot smaller and he can turn a little gap into a big run. Our blocking is all the same. We try to block the same every time. But he can make things out of nothing when he has to."

Have the freshmen quarterbacks been nervous?

"In the Cal game, they were kind of nervous. But they've been playing real well. They've been confident. It's not like they're in the huddle and calling the play and saying, ‘Right, guys? Right?' They've been doing a real good job, as well as they can do. Much better than I expected."

Do you feel more protective about the young quarterbacks?

"Sure. About a month ago, Drew was stepping back, I forget what game it was. One of the early games of the year. We saw a guy coming off the edge and it was a three-step drop. And we're thinking, ‘We have to check this play,' and he stepped back and got sacked. And he told us he thought he could get the ball off. It's just little things an experienced guy would pick up on. So, yes, we consider it a big issue, a pressing issue to protect them and block for them. To make sure they don't get hit. They'll get hit regardless. It's not like you could keep them from getting hit completely. But we do feel responsible and all you can do is try to do your best."

How much does the camaraderie of the line affect the unit's effectiveness?

"We're playing real well as a unit, and I think part of that stems from us all hanging out together and enjoying each other's company. I think it's a big factor – to like the person you're playing next to. Then you can go out and play not just because you have to. When you really like the guy you're playing next to it makes you more inspired to play well and helps you achieve your goals better."

Not only do you have freshmen quarterbacks, how has it been with a freshman center, Mike McCloskey?

"Mike has been doing a great job. A young center would often times be able to be exploited. There was a time last year against Washington State. But that hasn't happened this year. There's never been a weakness from him in our line. We're able to do a lot of blocking schemes and pass protections because of his abilities."

Are you and the team really bearing down for the remainder of the Pac-10 season?

"The last three weeks in November are big for us. If you look at the Pac-10 it's real even. The middle and the top. There are a lot of teams that are 3-2 or better. The last three weeks are real important. Anything can happen. It's not like Washington State will lose the remainder of its games and everyone else will run the table. But the last three weeks are real important and anything can happen."

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