Spring Q&A: Ryan Groy

Now the senior leader of Wisconsin's depleted offensive line, Ryan Groy talks about moving into a leadership role, the challenge of spring practice with low numbers and his fourth offensive line coach in the past three seasons.

You are now the senior leader of the group, which is something you have told me you enjoy. How have you transformed yourself into the leader of this group?

Ryan Groy: I think it comes from being a part of the group and being in the trenches for so long, having that experience and watching the older guys that have come before me. They have been great leaders to me when I was young. I learned a lot from those guys, but I still have to bring myself along.

There has been a lot of transition for your group with four offensive line coaches in three years. How have you handled what has transpired with your group?

Groy: I think we're really accepting what has happened and moving on from it. The first couple changes were tough obviously, but we know now what is happening and what is going on. We like Coach Woods for who he is and so far, it's been awesome. He's unbelievable. He's an awesome coach.

Why is that? Why has T.J. Woods been such a good fit for this group?

Groy: He's a player's coach. He knows how to communicate with you. He knows how to get information to you, teach you well and at the same time be cool with you off the field. He's going to get after you on the field but you can go up to his office, talk to him and have a normal relationship with him.

What are his philosophies in comparison to what you have had from your past three coaches?

Groy: It's along the same line of what coach Bostad has taught. A couple things here and there that are different, but not much. It's really similar and we're going back to same plays we had when we had Coach Bostad.

Those plays have been the proven level of success here haven't they?

Groy: Coach Woods learned from a guy who played from Bostad. Same learning, same coaching, same everything. He's added some things he's learned along the way, but mostly the same stuff.

When you look at film from last year, your team had some incredible highs and some disappointing lows. How do you evaluate the team year from the offensive line standpoint and evaluate your individual year from last year?

Groy: My individual year, obviously I could have done a lot better. Penn State game sticks out in my mind as a game I didn't play well. That came down to a tough loss and it's pretty bitter for me. There were a lot of highs and some lows that shouldn't have happened. Some overtime games that we should have finished, and that's something you can blame the offensive line all you want. You could point the figure all you want. It comes to the offensive line not finishing, doing this or that.

When you look at the line last year with Travis Frederick and Ricky Wagner, who are going to be in the NFL, and yourself being an NFL prospect next year, why do you think finishing was such a problem on a line with so much talent?

Groy: I am not sure. I think we got schemed against pretty well last year. Defenses really attacked us in ways they knew would work. Not a lot of things work. We gave a lot of things away. When you run the ball 90 percent of the time, teams are going to put guys in the box. It is what it is. You can't run against the box like that. Regardless, you have to try. Sometimes we were successful and sometimes we weren't.

What sticks out about the Penn State game and what sticks out about the Rose Bowl?

Groy: Rose Bowl is a tough game. That stunk. It was close. I thought we had it at the end there. We were rolling, but a couple big plays that we could have had to win the game and a couple big calls that should have been called. It is what it is. That's football.

The Penn State game we started off hot, but we gave it away in the end. They schemed against us like I said and we couldn't get two pulling linemen out on our sweep play, but we kept running it and running it and they kept getting us for a loss. I wasn't pulling well. I wasn't blocking well, and pass protection wasn't good. Other than it was perfect (laughing). Just didn't play well.

What did you hear back from the NFL advisory board that made you comeback this season?

Groy: They said I wasn't going to be in the first three rounds. I was planning on coming back, but I just wanted to see what they were going to say. With the coaching change, it gave me a reason to look into it, see what my options were and see where I could go. I am happy that I stayed and happy with my decision.

I am sure that report is going to be a motivational tool for you this year?

Groy: Absolutely. It's a little different this year. I think last year I was a lead-by-example guy. I wasn't a vocal leader for the offensive line because we had Travis and Ricky. I kind of sat back and minded my own business. I love the idea of growing up and being a Badgers fan. Looking at the seniors and the captains who led the way for a successful team, I always wanted to be that guy. To be one of the senior leaders for me is awesome and hopefully we can take this team far.

What have you done in winter conditioning to get yourself prepared for spring practices?

Groy: Really just overall grow out my body. I was strong in certain ways and I was trying to help my deficiencies by getting my levels up. I was focusing on the nitpicky things of offensive line work when I did line work by myself. Really focusing on hand placement, footwork, all that kind of stuff.

Gary Andersen has said a number of times that you are really low on numbers. Can you tell that when you are practicing that you guys are stretched thin up front?

Groy: Reps are obviously a challenge. Coaching is a little easier because you can get everybody in. Nobody is sitting back and not getting reps. In the spring you want to give everybody reps and we are going through individual work a lot faster than normal because we lost a lot of guys. I think when I was a freshman we had 16 of 17 guys. Now we're really getting low.

That having been said, what do you think this spring is going to be like for you guys as a group? How important is this spring for you guys to gel?

Groy: I don't know if we'll be fully happy by the end of spring. I hope we are, but I don't think we'll be. I always shoot for high levels, but we have a lot of young guys we have to bring a long like Dan Voltz and Tyler Marz. Dallas Lewallen isn't a young guy, but he hasn't played a lot recently. We have to bring these guys along and get them up to speed as far as playing with the starters.

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