Schofield's Knowledge is Power

After he made his first start in the 2008 Outback Bowl, senior defensive end O'Brien Schofield finds himself as the senior leader of the Wisconsin defensive line. Schofield gives a preview of the UW line and what he learned from last year's senior trio.

Badger Nation: Is it weird that you are the senior man of this group? It seems like just yesterday that you had your first start in the Outback Bowl and now you are the most experienced guy.

O'Brien Schofield: Time flies. It was long, but it was fast. This is a road that I am willing to embrace and I am ready for it.

Badger Nation: You look at you in the Outback Bowl and you now. What's the biggest change?

Schofield: Knowledge. The Outback Bowl, I was just starting to get a rhythm into things and now I feel I have the knowledge after the year under my belt playing a season. I learned from those guys – Chapman, Newkirk and Shaughnessy. I got a little bit of leadership and experience from my brothers.

Badger Nation: A lot of people are excited about the defensive line because there are a lot of unproven guys. Can you talk about the other guys on the defensive line, guys that people really don't know a heck of a lot about?

Schofield: I'll start with Dan Moore, who is next to me. A transfer student that is a real big guy, real explosiveness and I am real excited to see him play. He had a motor to him and with him is Patrick Butrym. He's been here for awhile and he looks real strong with his pass rush things. Jeff Stehle is a fifth-year senior and he got some time behind Newkirk and those guys. I am looking forward to him getting his chance to play because he has worked so hard. Brendan Kelly at the other end is a real hard worker and athletic and I am excited to see what he can do. Me and him always compete.

Louis Nzegwu is a freak athlete and I am just waiting for him to put it all together with his knowledge of the game and learning the playbook. Behind me is Anthony Mains. He's not the biggest guy or the tallest guy on the team, but he still puts things together. He's going to be a pretty good player and can get off the line. We have a real good group.

Badger Nation: One trait you mentioned a lot is hard working. How important is that for a young group with not a lot of experience to have that mentality? If you do everything at 100 percent, that will make up for some mistakes along the road.

Schofield: It's great and one guy I failed to mention was J.J. Watt. He's a hard worker, but his passion for the game is so visible. We were competing one time and he lost the competition and it almost looked like he was ready to cry. I've never seen that. I could tell that he was real passionate with what he was doing. You need that because that rubs off on other guys. If you play with passion, we're going to have a real good defense this year.

Badger Nation: That passion that you talked about. Does that come naturally or does that come about because of what happened last year and you don't want it to happen again this year?

Schofield: I think passion starts off when you are little. It's just having fun. I think it became more hard work and just coming out here working and just trying to get through it and remember why you play the game of football, because you love to do it and you love the contact. You love hitting somebody or making that catch. By doing all those team competition, it brought the love and the fun back to the game of football.

Badger Nation: What are some of the big things you learned from Matt Shaughnessy by watching him work?

Schofield: Matt Shaughnessy is one of those guys where he was a technician for technique and fundamentals. He rarely ever messed up. He was almost always perfect on every play and went 100 percent. He just showed his leadership through his play and showed up when we needed that big play. He was one of those guys where offenses had to scheme against him. That's real important.

Badger Nation: Do you feel that you are close to filling the shoes of Matt Shaughnessy and be up to his level and bring that 100 percent work ethic on every down for this team?

Schofield: I believe that I can. I really can't compare myself to Matt. He played for four years. He started for three and that's superb. I don't have as much experience of game play under my belt. I can put my own mix into what I know and what I can do physically and athletically.

Badger Nation: What's the biggest thing you worked on during winter conditioning to get yourself prepared physically and mentally for your senior season?

Schofield: I was almost watching film every day with Coach Partridge. Looking at film from last year and seeing exactly where I left plays on the field or seeing how close I was to getting sacks. Even when I gave up on certain plays when I shouldn't have. It's important that I go hard every play 100 percent. It's important for the defensive line.

Badger Nation: Since you watched so much film on yourself, can you give yourself a ranking on your performance last year?

Schofield: On a scale of 1-10, I would give myself a 7.8 season. It wasn't the greatest, but for my first year starting I think I did pretty good. I was undersized, probably 232, and I am 245 now. It was important to me to prove myself constantly that I could play that position.

Badger Nation: Since you are striving to get 2.2 more points, what's the biggest thing you need to do in order to get to a 10? What's the biggest thing to give yourself an extra inch?

Schofield: The biggest thing is perfecting my technique and my fundamentals. That's the biggest thing we get from the coaches. Consistently being consistent with stepping right, striking right and getting off blocks. That's something you can never stop working at because that's what you do all the time. Being able to do that over and over again and become a perfectionist at my technique, that would be a step to get 2.2 points.

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