Malone thoughts on freshman season caught up with Trojan punter Tom Malone to get his thoughts on the season and the experiences of his freshman season.

What happened this season that was different from what you expected?


"It was a lot different than what I expected.  We knew the team would be pretty good, with the kind of recruiting class we had you could kind of sense it, but having this successful of a season…that's a little surprising.  Not surprising really, just an unexpected surprise I guess.  It's kind of weird to handle but it's a great feeling to win all the time. 


I thought I would be a lot more nervous than I was in the games, that was the biggest surprise for me. We just prepare so much for everything that I was actually less nervous for games than I was in high school.  I only have to concentrate on what I have to do because the snapper is so good, I mean Matt Hayward gets the ball there every time, and I have so much confidence in my protection and coverage team.  I can focus more on what I have to do and with all the practice we put into that I'm pretty confident with what I can do."


Was there a point in the season where you started to feel comfortable?


"Yes, after the Kansas State game as we were preparing for Oregon State. I just started feeling really comfortable which I don't really understand because Kansas State was such a horrible game for me but I came back and concentrated hard and just really learned from that week.  After I got the first kick against Oregon State I was fine."


Last spring you talked about the fact that you had yet to perform in front of a hostile crowd such as the one you saw at Kansas State.


"That's a unique place to play.  I don't think the crowd really affected me that much but it's a whole different atmosphere.  Auburn was my first game with a big crowd and that was pretty exciting, I only had two kicks though and didn't have a very good game."


Was there a kick this year that stood out for you?


"Toward the end of the year I was hitting some inside the five, the one against UCLA and one against Notre Dame.  Those are really the ones that I like the best because I was having a hard time earlier in the year and I worked hard to improve on that."


How did you make the adjustment with school during the season?


"It was really hard at first because school takes a lot of time, there's a lot of classes and study groups that take a lot of time and then there's football.  There were times that it was hard to get up in the morning, it was a transition."


Talk about the feeling on the team during the run at the end of the season.


"It was really exciting, you could just feel it at practice and meetings, everybody was real confident. It's great to win.  Those two losses were really hard but then we got on a roll and it just kind of carried over.  I think that's part of how my confidence picked up was how good the team was doing and how confident they are and how hard we work in practice.  You can tell there's definitely something good going on.  The players, we don't talk about it too much, we talk about it a little bit just to make sure we understand how fun it is."


Were there any moments that stood out for you this season?


"A couple of the talks before the UCLA and Notre Dame games from Coach Carroll and some of the seniors.  Just seeing the emotions they've gone through you know, they've struggled a lot and this is kind of their season.  That's what we tried to emphasize this year with the freshman, that's been a big deal for us to realize how hard they've worked and how much they've been through.  We don't want to let them down.  As far as plays that stand out, it's pretty hard because I'm sure everyone has their favorite.  I think mine was the 4th down play by Malaefou against Colorado when he scored that touchdown, that was a great run and it kind of started things a little bit.  Having Carson win the Heisman, that in itself was probably the biggest thing."


Think about that, last year you were at Temescal Canyon HS a Top Stories