Warren Herring: We have a lot of guys that played last year. We have a lot of guys with experience, so that's always good. You have Beau Allen coming back as a senior, as well as Ethan Hemer, Pat Muldoon, a lot of (defensive tackles) with experience to help me, Bryce (Gilbert) and the other younger guys. We are learning from each other, and we have Coach K (Kauha'aha'a) teaching us along the way. He's a great coach. We are getting better every day.
What's your growth been like since the end of last year now that you have settled into the defensive tackle spot?
Herring: Just great coaching and having great people around me (who) continue to encourage me every day. My fellow defensive tackles Beau, Hemer, Bryce (and) Jack Keefer are driving me. Having everybody around builds good camaraderie, encouraging everyone.
My growth has been good because Coach P's (Partridge) coaching from last year carries over because him and Coach K teach the same things with this new defense that we have. His insight and knowing what we need to do is great as well with our fundamentals and everything.
Cosmetically you can see you guys are transitioning to a new defense, but fundamentally where is it different?
Herring: It's different reads. You have different read keys, line up in different spots and working on more of our angles. Fundamentals with our hands and striking (offensive linemen) are all the same.
What do you like about the energy this coaching staff brings, especially Coach Gary Andersen? How is he different that what you had previously?
Herring: (He's a) great coach. Every single coach preaches intensity. There's great energy whenever good things happen. When bad things happen, they don't get down. They continue to try to encourage, and that's what's makes us better every day because it keeps us driving. We have that good vibe. It seems like they've been here a long time because of how they fit with us and we fit with them.
What do you like about the intensity Andersen brings with the way you start and end practice virtually on time, get your work done and you go at a high tempo throughout practice?
Herring: We embrace the efficiency. We get in, get work done and we get out. One thing Coach A preached is it's not about how long you are out, it's about the quality. You are get in, do things right and get out. If you don't do things right, you didn't finish on what you need to finish on, it's like losing a play in a game. You have to get in, work efficient and get out.
Beau Allen being limited this spring gives you an opportunity to have a lot of repetitions. What have you learned about yourself since you started spring practices?
Herring: I have to be a leader. We have a lot of good leaders out here, but I am growing. That's because of the players around me and my coach. With Beau being limited, I have to step up. I didn't start last year. Everyone wants to be a starter and I want to be a starter as well. When he (Beau) gets back, it's going to be a great competition. We have great camaraderie, but it's a competition. Everyone wants to play.
What's the big growth you think you have made from last year to this year since you know what you need to do to be competitive at a Big Ten level?
Herring: My fundamentals definitely. My steps have been a lot more crisp, my strike has been getting better every day (and) I've been getting stronger. Definitely my fundamentals.
When you look back, what are some of the big thing you take away from last year with your position group?
Herring: I think we were definitely successful. We had a great defensive line coach teach us. We've always had a strong defensive line. Coming in here and transferring over to this season, we don't think about last season. That's in the past. That's not us. Even though we are all still here, this is us. That's last year's team. This is this year's team, and we always have to out due the year before.
I know you had a great teacher in Charlie Partridge, but what is Coach K like as a teacher?
Herring: High intensity, high energy and keeps all the guys live. He wants us to be a tough group. Coach preached toughness and being the toughest guys out there. He wants us to keep high intensity at all times when we are on the field.
How have you changed your body since last year to prepare yourself for what's to come this year?
Herring: Definitely have to gain a little bit of weight. I have to get around 295 pounds, and I am getting up there. I am molding my body to be able to play more snaps and take on all the interior things that have to come. Last year, I couldn't play at nose tackle playing at around 270 pounds, but getting my body right and getting ready for the physical play.