Q&A with Matt Bernstein

Matt Bernstein hopes to continue what he started two weeks ago as he returns to action at Camp Randall Stadium Saturday morning. Badger Nation's Ronny Whitworth talked with Bernstein about his return from a hyperextended knee.

Is it a relief to know you will be back on the field against West Virginia?

Bernstein: Yeah it feels great. Missing the UNLV game, sitting at home watching the game was not fun. So I want to be out on the field. I want to be able to produce for my teammates. I missed that this weekend.

Was the Fresno State game kind of bittersweet? It couldn't have started better for you, and then you have the hyperextended knee.

Bernstein: It was good. It's good that it wasn't worse though. I'm happy that I only missed one game and I will be back for this weekend.

Did you initially think it might have been worse?

Bernstein: I think initially I was, but I was able to run off, and then run on the sidelines so it wasn't hat bad.

What was that first game like for you? It looked like you got pretty excited out there.

Bernstein: I've never…I mean, last year games were just, you run on the field and just stand there and cheer on your teammates. But this year, its crazy. You're out there, you're mentally ready to play, everyone is out there cheering and you're just going crazy.

Fans tend to latch onto fullbacks. They love to chant their name, whether it's "Moose," "Kuhns," whatever. The fans seemed to become immediately attached to you in that FSU game. Did you feel that bond?

Bernstein: I don't know. Maybe not the first game. I mean, the fans were great. They are so loud and some of the stuff they do is so funny. It's awesome to be in this environment. It just felt great playing for this school.

Going into the season, you said you weren't sure how many carries you would get. Getting two touchdowns in your first game, was that just a huge surprise?

Bernstein: I couldn't believe it. And you know what? I still don't even believe it. It was just so awesome to be able to get going on the 1-yard line. It was just awesome. It just shows how our line was able to push everyone back. I just ran up the middle. It was just awesome.

Coach Brian White said he knew you had the ability, but he wanted to see how you responded when the lights came on. You obviously responded very well. Is that something you kind of thrive on, performing well when it counts?

Bernstein: Yeah, it's just such a great feeling to be out there. Everything just clicks when you're in the game, and you know what you're doing and you want to do it as hard as you can and hit someone as hard as you can. I don't want my linebacker to peel off me and hit (Anthony Davis). I just want to get in there and man up on my blocker and just stay with it.

Do you think you've given defenses something else to think about? I mean, they have to account for AD, Brooks Bollinger, the receivers. Now they have to worry about a 260-pound fullback coming at them as well.

Bernstein: I hope so. It's impossible to stop AD, so a little run inside is not that bad sometimes. But I will stay wild and crazy as long as I have to.

Were you expecting to have your number called as frequently as it was in that first game? Chad Kuhns only had one carry last year.

Bernstein: Well maybe when it's like third-and-1. Not on the goal line though. Third-and-one, maybe here and there I would, but you know what? If it's me or AD, I know one of us is going to get the first down.

Do you anticipate the role of the fullback expanding a little bit now that you've shown what you can do with the ball?

Bernstein: I mean, five carries a game is pretty good for a fullback. I don't expect the ball on first-and-10. I expect to block most of the time. I don't just go in there and I'm not going to make some phantom blocks and wait for my number to get called. I'm going to go in there and hit people hard the whole game. And then if my number gets called, I'm going to try my hardest to move the ball.

You've talked about how much your redshirt year has helped you adjust to the physical nature of college football. Were you surprised at how well Dwayne Smith did as a true freshman stepping in last week?

Bernstein: Yeah, I mean he just learned the plays real fast. I heard he was No. 1 in his class in high school. So he's a smart kid, he's very athletic and he's huge. I mean, last year I came in all fat and stuff. He came in here in shape, and ready to learn the stuff. He's done a great job playing special teams and now he's starting to play on offense and he looks pretty good.

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