A Spring in his Step

Ready for his last spring practice as a Wisconsin Badger, senior right tackle Eric Vandenheuvel previews the 2008 Wisconsin spring game.

BN: Is the excitement starting to grow among the players with the spring game this Saturday?

Eric Vanden Heuvel: Yeah definitely. I think we're all starting to come together, more confident in our abilities and ready to put it on the field and see how it works.

BN: Over the course of the last few weeks, does it build that on Saturday you guys are going to be in a game situation for the entirety of practice and not just parts of it?

Eric Vanden Heuvel: It kind of does but really Saturday is pretty much another scrimmage for us. Each Saturday, we have a scrimmage where it's pretty much set up like a spring game. The spring game is just the final culmination of all of spring ball. It shows how far we've gotten so everyone's excited to put their best on the field that day. We get to show the coaches how far we've gotten to run a clean bunch of plays.

BN: Is also important to show the fans what you've done through spring ball?

Eric Vanden Heuvel: That's the big thing about the spring game is that you have to build up excitement for the fans for the upcoming season. The spring game is as close to a game as we're going to see until August. We want to put on a show and what we've worked so hard for to the fans so we can get a little bit of glory. A lot of guys look forward to that.

BN: How much do guys read into competitions for positions like quarterback or right tackle?

Eric Vanden Heuvel: That's always a big emphasis for all positions. You are trying to put yourself in position to do the best you can to show that you are worthy to start. Competition is always going on between all the guys. It's just that some are more closer and heated than others. That's the big thing about college football, guys coming up the ranks and showing their stuff.

BN: How are the teams going to be decided?

Eric Vanden Heuvel: How it's been since I've been here is the number one offense will go against the number two defense and the number one defense will go against the number two offense. I don't know if guys will be switching teams. I remember a couple years ago with injuries that a couple guys put on black jerseys to go both ways for awhile. It's all about getting guys reps that need them.

BN: What does the spring game mean to you?

Eric Vanden Heuvel: It's kind of a predictor for the season coming up. You've got a good 14 practiced done heading into the spring game and after the spring game, that's what you've accomplished over spring. You want to see how you've improved from the beginning of it. You watch the first practices at how you did and then you watch the spring game and you know what you need to keep doing heading into the season.

BN: With the quarterback and running back situation up for grabs, is that something you guys see on the line at all?

Eric Vanden Heuvel: Not too much. We've got a good core of running backs behind us and a bunch of good quarterbacks with the receivers. As the line, we're just trying to do our job, letting the running backs run and the quarterbacks pass. Whoever gets it, may the best man win.

BN: With four of you returning on the line after injuries last year, is the spring about getting back that chemistry that you had last year?

Eric Vanden Heuvel: Yeah, everybody on that line has that experience. You could say that four starters are returning, but then you are forgetting about Moffitt who started a bunch of games for us. We basically have five returning starters for us and everyone has experience. We definitely bonded very well over spring ball, improving to become more of a mechanical unit, getting together on techniques and making sure everything works in sync with each other.


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