Senior Salute: Kristofer O'Dowd

USC center Kristofer O'Dowd discusses his USC career in this exclusive Q&A from the Senior Bowl.

Question: When you look back at your USC career, what memories stand out to you?

Answer: First and foremost, starting my first game in the Coliseum as a freshman. I will always remember that moment in life to the very end. Beating UCLA with a 79-yard rushing touchdown right down the middle. I ended my career the way I wanted to and I'm really happy about that.

Q: What are some of the lessons that you learned from the coaches or teammates that you will take with you?

A: Ever since the first day I stepped on campus at USC, it's all been about competing. Coach Carroll really emphasized that and Lane Kiffin did as well, but he really wired into us this is the game where we come and compete at. A lot of people are going into this game for other reasons

Q: How would you compare Pete Carroll and Lane Kiffin as far as their coaching styles?

A: Two different types of coaching styles. Pete Carroll had a lot of fun, but at the same time he was very serious at what he wanted to do. He brought competing in a fun aspect but at the same time a very serious one. Lane Kiffin, no fun and games, just be a gentleman, be standup, do what you have to do, grab your lunch pail and learn from your coaches and just carry it over to the field.

Q:Offensive line, more than any other position, is five guys working together as one. How would you describe that bond?

A:It's huge. That's the tightest unit in football, the offensive line. You have to be like brothers. I consider myself brothers with the guys I played with. You're going to have your arguments at times but you're going to enjoy your moments. The great thing is when you have everyone working together, and you rely and trust the guy next to you, that's the best feeling because you understand that we are all trying to go for the common goal and that's to win.

Q: Which players have you learned the most from during your time at USC?

A: I've talked to Ryan Kalil a lot. He's given me good advice. I didn't play with him but we've stayed in contact a little bit. I learned a lot from Sam Baker and how he studied and how he worked on and off the field. He's just a great, upstanding guy. Charles Brown was a great technician. I learned a lot from him. Just doing repetitive things to get myself doing them in games. Defensive line, going up against Sedric Ellis my freshman year was really eye opening in the fact that you're playing against the very best defensive tackle in the country. He's going to teach you what you need to know. It goes down the line. Fili (Moala), Kyle Moore, all those guys, the linebackers, Cushing, Rey, Clay. We were going against an all-pro team in college in practice, so coming to the senior bowl, that's what it's about. It's about competing in practice and doing what you're taught.

Q: How tough was playing your senior season knowing that you weren't able to play in a bowl game?

A: At first it was difficult, but in the same sense it's one game and one game's not going to determine my life. The great thing is we played thirteen so it was like a bowl season anyway. We ended it at the Rose Bowl. You couldn't ask for anything else. Especially finishing and winning out at the Rose Bowl is the ultimate feeling, and in the same sense this is probably the closest I've ever been with the team at SC, just the sense that we were all fighting together and fighting for the common purpose, to show and prove who we were as USC Trojans and the USC football team.

Q: Are there any current Trojans that you think are ready to emerge as big-time players?

A: Matt Kalil had a great year at left tackle. I think he's going to be a premier left tackle next year. He's a smart kid. Khaled Holmes, whether they move him to center or guard, he has a great head on his shoulders. He's shown a lot of improvement this year. I think John Martinez, if they give him the opportunity, he has the ability to come in there and do a great job. He has some things he has to straighten out but other than that I think those guys are really going to excel.

Q: Any last message for the USC fans?

A: I wouldn't be here without the USC fans with their support and their love. I'm living the dream right now, being able to compete at the Senior Bowl, and playing on that stage in the Coliseum every Saturday was definitely one of the most ultimate feelings I've ever had in my career.

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