Badger Nation: What has been the biggest adjustment you have made since the end of last season as you entered spring camp for the second time?
Alec James: I would say taking on more responsibility on the team, trying to move up the depth chart and helping out the younger players when I can if they ask questions or if I see them do something wrong.
BN: You have started to practice with the starters on the defensive line toward the end of spring. What has changed in your game to make that a reality?
AJ: I feel like throughout this process I’ve gained a lot more confidence. Last year my main thing was a pass rush kind of role but this year I’m really trying to up my game and work on my fundamentals. With Coach Inoke it is coming along pretty well.
BN: You have always had the athletic ability but do you feel like you are starting to finally put it together now?
AJ: I feel more confident when I’m out there, everything is starting to feel more comfortable and the game is starting to slow down. I feel like each practice I’m making gains so I’m pretty confident in myself and my teammates, as well, so I feel like it is going good.
BN: When the game starts to slow down for you that has to be a big confidence boost for your play?
AJ: Oh yeah definitely because you start to pick up on things, and you can look at other things and focus on what you have to do. You can look at formations and recognize what they are going to do or tendencies, stuff like that, so it is a pretty good feeling knowing that you can just kind of focus on making plays on the football field.
BN: Where do you still need to improve as you head into the summer and transition into fall camp?
AJ: Just being more consistent. There will be times where I look real good but other times where I look terrible, like I use to play, so I just have to be more consistent and put everything together. I’ll get there but it will continue with the number of reps I receive.
BN: The defensive line is a young group but how good do you think you can be this coming season?
AJ: We can be real good as we could have an athletic defensive line. I’m real excited to see what we can do this coming year because we have a lot of guys who are hungry to make a name for themselves. Last year for the returning guys on the defensive line we didn’t have as much stats that we would want. We really want to make a name for ourselves and we are all helping each other, so I think this could be a real strong group.
BN: What differences do you see from Coach Chad to new defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield?
AJ: They’re both real good coaches. I’m happy for coach Chad as long as he is happy with what he is doing. As for coach Nokes, he seems to be a real good coach. He is helping us a lot with the fundamentals and he just seems like a real good coach who knows what he is talking about.
BN: Has there been one aspect of your game that he has wanted you to individually get better throughout spring?
AJ: Just being more consistent. I feel like he believes in me and that definitely helps, but he just wants me to be more consistent on the football field.
BN: Would you say this has been a productive spring for the defensive line unit?
AJ: I feel like this spring, even if you watch the film, we look a lot more confident out there as a whole for the young guys. The seniors were real good last year but when it comes to us, I feel like we feel a lot more comfortable out there. We look good out there and are more fundamentally sound in our play as a unit.
BN: Has there been one area where you saw the unit improve from the start of spring to the end?
AJ: I would say just not being afraid of cutting it loose. A lot of times us younger defensive lineman last year we were scared of doing the wrong thing. With this being spring we are kind of testing the waters, are cutting it loose in practice and if we are wrong then we will fix it in the film session.
BN: Where does this defensive line need to get to in order for this defense to have success like it did last year?
AJ: I feel like as long as we keep cutting it loose that it will help us. It will help our confidence, it will help us know what we can and we can’t do and it will help the secondary. Either way I think it will help us a lot as a defense.