MADISON - During fall camp a season ago, and even into the early portion of the regular season, the Wisconsin offensive line was a bit shaken up. With injuries to both Bill Nagy and John Moffitt, several shifts and movements were made up front.
Fast forward to this spring and much of the same has occurred. Both Gabe Carimi and Moffitt (both back in practice) missed significant time in the first half of spring camp. Then, of course, center Peter Konz hasn't been able to undergo any contact since suffering blood clots late last season.
At the conclusion of a recent practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with Konz to discuss his recovery, his therapy and when he will return to the field. The following is a question and answer with Konz.
Obviously you haven't been able to practice, but can you still get better when you aren't practicing?
Konz: I think so. What I try to focus on is getting my teammates better. If it's just, 'Hey, keep going and keep pushing through,' or just hiking the ball to the quarterbacks all the time. It's better for them to get a real live center in there instead of getting a trainer or having themselves faking the center snap.
I try to actually just get everybody else better. Me taking all the shotgun snaps and the regular snaps, in turn, makes me better.
Do you treat them as if you're going to take on a block? Do you treat them like they're the real thing?
Konz: I try to. Obviously I can't take hits, so I try to do footwork for whether I have a guy on me or if I don't. It's a little different, but I just mentally rep it.
I didn't get to talk to you after the whole deal. What happened and how scary was that?
Konz: To tell you the truth, it wasn't scary for me because I had no knowledge of what it was or how serious it was. I was down in Hawaii and I feel some chest pains. At first I thought it was just my back and maybe I tweaked it during practice, because that happens.
Then all of a sudden it doesn't go away and I'm having trouble breathing and there is chest pain. So I was like, 'We better take it in.' At first when I was sitting in the hospital I was thinking that this was going to be nothing and I'm going to get back. All of a sudden it turns into me having to stay overnight. I went that night and went for about one hour of sleep.
They were making sure everything was all right and I wasn't going to go into a heart attack or something.
So at that point it became a little scary?
Konz: A little bit because I'm thousands of miles away from my family. But the team doctors did a great job of kind of walking me through saying, 'Okay, this is a little serious but this seems to be a small (thing) and you're going to get through this.' They did a great job of just kind of telling me.
It was blood clots?
Konz: Yeah, blood clots in my lungs.
How did you have to go about getting rid of them?
Konz: You take Warfarin, which was actually developed on the Madison campus. It was the Wisconsin Association for Biomedical Research and Education. It was first a rat poison, then they figured that it must have thinned their blood so much that they died. So, smaller amounts for me thins my blood so clots can't form. Therefore it gets rid of the one I already have and makes sure I don't get another one, because that can be serious.
Is there a certain time frame for recovery?
Konz: Yeah, six months after you get it is a good time frame. That's the average time frame I've been on. The first six months is where you're most likely to get another one. When you're in football and you get bruises, you clot a lot. So, I was also measuring other than the three months.
So are you able to do other cardio type stuff, like maybe ride a bike or get on a treadmill?
Konz: Actually, I am with our strength and conditioning coaches right now getting really strong. So the only thing I am missing is the actual contact during practice. I'm able to do some of the non-contact stuff when we're not in practice. I'll hit the bags, I'll throw sand bags and I'll do some pass sets. I'll do that about twice a week and that's like cardio because I keep moving for about an hour. Then I have about four days of lifting.
I'm not trying to turn this into a whole medical school experience, but is the probability of getting another clot high?
Konz: A little bit, just because my allergies to Advil and things like that that naturally thin your blood. Then obviously football players have clotting because they have bruises. As long as I take care of it and make sure I'm not on any long flights or car rides and keep moving. That will naturally dissolve in my body.
There isn't any long term prognosis, you'll be able to play? They don't suspect anything
Konz: No, just keep an eye on it type of thing. If I start noticing more bruising, maybe I'm going to have to start walking a little bit more and making sure I'm not resting too long.
Does it wear on you mentally? Do you think about it a lot?
Konz: I guess the only time I think about it is when I am at practice and I can't do this.
It sure doesn't help when you have guys like me coming in here and talking to you about it all the time.
Konz: If I'm on my scooter, I make sure I'm very careful and wear a helmet and all that stuff. If you get hit, you're going to start bleeding. That kind of scared me when the doctors said if you get hit, especially in the head, it's possibly a life threatening situation. Things like that, if I'm climbing a ladder or something, I just have to make sure that I'm careful, real careful.
So obviously switching gears a little bit here, you've been able to see some of the things the offensive line has done. Have you been impressed with what some of the younger guys have done with Carimi-obviously he's back now-but with Moffitt and him out earlier?
Konz: Yeah, I like how many reps their getting. This is an unusual situation. In the beginning we had three of us out so they got a little bit more reps. They've been doing a good job. Obviously there's always room to improve because for most of these guys this is their first spring. So far I like what they're doing.
When you look back to last fall and early on in the season there were injuries to Moffitt and some other guys that made you guys shuffle a lot. Do you see those reps you guys got back then translating now and maybe making it easier to get better now?
Konz: Oh definitely. You start seeing things in a bigger picture. You go from position to position, I've been on all five during practice, so things I'd look for as a guard I'd just be focused on what I had to do. Then I moved to tackle and I was fighting with Josh Oglesby for the position during spring.
All of a sudden I know kind of what the guard and the tackle position were doing so I understand a little bit more. Then after playing center, this picture sort of widened and all of a sudden I'm able to see different levels and different things. Mentally, it just clicks very fast so it's very positive.
That's pretty common across the board. It seems coach Bob Bostad has you guys pretty versatile and practicing a lot of positions.
Konz: He makes sure that we don't get comfortable at one position unless you're like a fifth year senior (and been there). He wants us going from center to guard, tackle to guard, always more than one. Not only does that make you a better football player but it makes you easier to get on the field and more valuable as a player.
Is that preferable to you, too? Are you just willing to play wherever?
Konz: Yeah, I love playing. That is no lie. I just love to play the game. If it's guard or center (it doesn't matter). That also tells me that I'm good enough. I wouldn't mind just being at one position, but if somebody calls for me I'm there.
Before spring break there was that last practice when Gabe and J.J. Watt got into a little bit of a scrum. Is that what you like to see as an offensive lineman?
Konz: I do. I like when our guys get into a little bit of a scrum. No one was hurt and it's football so you're going to have a little bit of tension. You've got two big guys like that that kind of want to prove their dominance. It's good to see and it really strengthens the team. You get the strength of the defensive line trying to yell at the offensive line and the offensive line yelling right back at him. It really creates strong bonds that way.
So the offense and defense bond together? Is that what you're saying?
Konz: The offense and offense and defense and defense. Then after practice I see guys saying, good work. I remember me and Jordan Kohout during practice in the fall we would be cursing things that you can't say around your mom. Then afterwards we were like, 'Thanks for making me better.' It's kind of sappy, but it's the truth. I appreciate somebody going hard rather than taking a block or just going through the motions.
So if you were a betting man, who would you bet on with Carimi and Watt? That's a pretty big heavyweight battle.
Konz: I'd bet on Carimi because I'm on his side. He's our offensive lineman.
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