MADISON, Wis. - Entering Wisconsin's week three game, freshman lineman Peter Konz will be making his first career start at center. With Travis Frederick recovering from an ankle injury and John Moffitt slowly making his way back from a strained pectoral, it will be Konz's chance to log plenty of game reps.
After playing nearly every position on the offensive line throughout fall camp, Konz is finally getting settled into playing the center spot. Following a recent practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the freshman.
The following is a question and answer with Konz.
What was it like to jump in that quickly (last week)?
Konz: To tell you the truth it was nice. I didn't have to go through the pre-stress of okay, what do I do? What do I do? I was thrown into the fire. Sometimes that's the best way to do it. I was excited to get some playing time.
When you looked at the tape on Sunday, what did you see that you did wrong? What did you see that you looked at and said, now I got to clean that up?
Konz: Some of my fits I need to clean up for sure. Some of the calls obviously. I had been practicing left guard, so I was like I better get in the playbook. But, like on John Clay's long run, I had a good fit on that play. Just like everybody else though, I'm never giving up. I think that's really what helped me.
How difficult is it for you, I mean, you're playing all over the line, to just go in there at center? You just got to go with it.
Konz: It's not too bad. Once you get used to everything, it all kind of blends into one. I guess it's like seeing the whole picture so moving around isn't as bad anymore because I really know the purpose of the play.
Did you play center in high school at all?
Konz: No, fifth grade. I did well in fifth grade. The Huskies, we went undefeated.
Was it a little different than your fifth grade memories last week?
Konz: Yeah, a little tougher.
When they first ended up moving you to center here, how big of a transition was that?
Konz: Oh, it was huge. Going from tackle and coming in thinking I was going to compete for the right tackle spot and center was like, 'Oh my God, I've got some late nights here. But, it wasn't too bad because I had done guard before I did tackles so I knew it's not too much different because we do so many double teams that I knew pretty much where I was going.
Do you have a favorite position?
Konz: Starting. Wherever they need me. I can't tell you. After being on the field, that's the only thing I ever want to do again. So, wherever I can get the most playing time.
Was there nerves or anything when you saw Travis go down?
Konz: Yeah, for a split second. Then it's like, 'Pete, get in.' Okay. Scott Tolzien, I'm going out and I'm thinking I got to get in the huddle right away. 'Pete, Pete, we need to get some snaps. Okay, okay. Then the refs come up to us and says okay guys, we got to get it going. Then I start running back and Scott's like, 'No, no Pete, we can take one more.' So after I got in my nerves calmed after the first couple of series.
What was going through your mind the first snap of the game? I mean you got a few practice snaps in, was it, please don't botch this?
Konz: Let me do the right thing the first play because really the first snap helps you a lot. If it's good, you have confidence. You can go in and think, okay, I can do this. I just did it. It's not much different than practice because we've got great guys on the scout team, on the defensive line. I was like, okay, this needs to be good otherwise it's going to be a long day.
How comfortable do you feel now?
Konz: I'm getting more comfortable. They had a pretty good defensive line. They got some tough linebackers. So, after going through Fresno, they have that saying, anywhere, anytime. After going through that, I'm like, okay, if everybody else brings it like this, I'm going to be alright.
We know Moffitt is a guy who jokes around a lot. Did he help you during the game, I'm sure in his own special way?
Konz: When it's game time, it's that switch. It's no messing around. He came up to me after the first series and was like, 'Anything we need to go over, anything you need to get clarified?' And I asked him a couple of questions, okay, and this and this. Because before I was just a guard like I said. I needed to know just some of the different things that we switch up for every game at center. So after I got that down, it helped me a lot. And it made me feel like, 'Okay, I've got Moff on the sidelines looking.' After every series I come and I go, okay, what did you see? What do I need to do? So he helped me tremendously.
This will be a world of difference for you when you actually can practice center all week and get to play center on Saturday. Are you half expecting them to say, hey go play tight end or something?
Konz: Well I have good hands. I think I could be a blocking tight end. I heard Joe Thomas did that. So, I don't want to compare myself too much.
Is the preparation any different this week against the 3-4 than what you saw last week?
Konz: It's different just in how it looks. But physically, mentally, it's all the same. I want to go in there and do my best. Get all the proper fits, make all the calls. This game, I hope to make all the calls a little stronger. I was a little hesitant at first last game. Now, I'm more of okay, these are the linebackers we're going to. This is what we need to do and just have everybody on the same page.
What was the mindset like for you going into the game? I mean, you know you are backing up Travis, but what are you thinking at that point, going into the game?
Konz: Going into the game, I'm thinking, okay, I'm going to get some reps at left guard maybe because the coaches are like, we're going to try you out. When you go in there, you need to take it and go with it, be the best you can be. After that, when Travis went down, it was alright, switch mindsets. I got to play center.
How hard is that?
Konz: After doing it a couple of times, I've done this a little bit. It was easier than the first couple of times. But, it's not easy by any means. You can ask Moff or Travis, just having to go in on a situation like that, it's not easy at all.
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