Spring Q&A: Warren Herring

One of the expected leaders on Wisconsin's roster entering the 2014 season, defensive lineman Warren Herring talks about embracing the leadership role and how UW's defensive line could surprise some people this season despite losing many talented players.

Talk about defining leadership roles in the spring. How important is it and how important was it for you since you are being looked at as one of the senior leaders on this team?

Warren Herring: We've got a lot of young guys out here, a lot of guys who don't know what they are doing yet, but every day they are continuing to get better. As a leader, you have to show that vocally and lead by example every day. It's just not me. You have Zags (Konrad Zagzebski), you've got Vince Biegel, Michael Caputo, Marcus Trotter, Derek Landisch, guys out here busting their butt every day and teaching the younger guys what it takes.

From a defensive line perspective, do you feel there are a lot of eyes looking at you because you are one of the more vocal guys on the defense?

Herring: I feel like they are looking at the defense in general. We have a lot of young guys but we've got a whole bunch of leaders. It's not just me, but I do have to step up and do what I can for my defensive line. I'm going to do what I can to lead these guys to a bowl game.

Have you been impressed with the way your defensive line has worked in every practice, considering the amount of young guys in your group?

Herring: I am more than happy, especially with the guys who don't have a lot of experience or just are coming in. I am happy with all of them, and you can constantly tell they are getting better every day. A lot of guys who redshirted last year are learning how to shake off that freshman mentality. Everybody makes mistakes. I still make mistakes, but they are shaking off that mentality and it's looking like everybody is getting more polished as we go along.

Is this a fiery group considering Wisconsin had a good season last year but not a great season?

Herring: I thought last season went really well. Coming into a new scheme and guys adapting the way they did and have great leaders like Chris Borland, Beau Allen, Ethan Hemer, Tyler Dippel, Brendan Kelly, Ethan Armstrong, Dezmen Southward, guys like that to lead you through last year went pretty well. We have a lot of hungry guys this year. A lot of guys who haven't played, who don't know the speed of the game yet, but are ready to go. We're competitive every day and that's what you need to get better.

The defensive players have seen a lot of coaches come and go over the past several years. How important is it for the continuity of the message to stay the same with all of the defensive coaches back this season?

Herring: It's very important. There are a lot of the same things being installed that we went over last year that guys are getting used to. The new things we have to be able to help translate what the coaches are saying to the younger guys. It's very important that we have the same coaches as last year because, as an older guy, we know what they wanted, what's going on with the program and with the system.

What are the big strides you are making in your second year with the 3-4 defense ?

Herring: I am not a pure zero-technique anymore. They have me playing mostly nose tackle and some defensive end. The biggest thing I am taking in this year is getting to know both positions really well, to do to the best I can and play to the best of my ability wherever they put me. I have pretty much played every position that there's been across the defensive line, and I feel that's boosted things for me because you know what's coming with the types of blocks and things like that.

When you go into a senior year, what are some of things you are focusing on now to get you ready for the upcoming season?

Herring: The main thing is leading by example and leading vocally. Consistency is a big thing, producing for my guys. I want to do what I can to help lead these guys.

You lose a lot of players off your group, but the depth is obvious and guys seem excited by the depth. Tell me about some of the guys you have seen step up this spring who could play a factor in your rotation in the fall?

Herring: The biggest jump I have seen out of these guys, in my opinion, is between Arthur Goldberg and Alec James. Alec James coming from an outside linebacker last year to being able to move down inside within a season and getting better daily is impressive. Goldberg is toughening it up in the middle. Everybody is doing good things. Chikwe Obasih, Jake Keefer coming off a knee injury is getting better daily. Guys are just hungry and competitive each day because they want that position.

Do you see a change in the philosophy of this defense, too? (Defensive coordinator) Dave Aranda has said he's moved a lot of guys to a lot of different positions in hopes of increasing the speed. When you watch film on practice, do you see the potential for this defense to be a lot faster?

Herring: We've got a lot of guys who have had to lose weight, especially myself, be just seeing guys move on film, you can definitely tell a difference between last year and this year. Like I said, guys are hungry and they want that position. You can see the want in the technique, the way we are running and things like that. It's a big difference.

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