April 7, 2010

Zeitler sees improvement up front

MADISON - When it comes to the right guard position on the Wisconsin offensive line, the Badgers are pretty set. With Kevin Zeitler set to embark upon his junior season at the position, it seems as though UW will be in good hands as the offensive line continues to make improvements.

Now, with spring camp back in full swing, BadgerBlitz.com had an opportunity to catch up with the junior right guard.

The following is a question and answer with Zeitler.

More than halfway through spring camp is it going as well as you thought it would? Are you doing some of the things you set out to do?

Zeitler: Yeah, I've done some of the things I set out to do. I want to keep improving and getting better throughout these last couple practices.

What are some of the things you need to improve on that you would say and maybe the coaches are telling you, too?

Zeitler: I definitely need to keep working on my pass blocking, intensity and finishing. There is probably a little bit of everything I can work on.

When you look back at last year, were you happy or impressed with the way you performed? Obviously there is still things you can improve on as you say.

Zeitler: Well during the game you feel pretty good. But after you watch the film of the whole year and you see yourself you realize you made a lot of mistakes. You weren't as high up there as you thought you were. That makes you motivated to keep working, especially here (in spring ball).

What does it say to you, coming in as a true sophomore and getting to play as much as you did, when you started every game and performed pretty well, does that give you confidence moving into spring ball and your upper class years?

Zeitler: The experience is definitely nice and it does show that you do know what to do to the upper classmen. So it's definitely nice to have that.

You were talking about the film a minute ago. Does coach Bob Bostad point everything out? He doesn't let anything slip through the cracks.

Zeitler: No, coach Bostad is a perfectionist and he will not let you let anything past.

Is that the way it needs to be at the offensive line? I mean, a couple inches off and you're giving up a sack.

Zeitler: Yeah, you pretty much said it right there. We can't make mistakes, even little ones. We have to make sure everything is sound so the plays work.

Is it tough to be an offensive lineman? You guys hardly ever get glory and the only time you get any notoriety is when there is a mistake and somebody comes through and gets a sack or something. It's kind of a thankless job.

Zeitler: Yeah, but that's what we're used to. All the glory we need is when we get a touchdown and win a game. That's all we need.

It kind of helps when you've got a guy like John Clay back there and you can open holes for him and know that he's going to hit them.

Zeitler: Oh yeah.

Obviously you guys had a lot of talent last year, a lot of experience and a lot of shuffling around. How good can this offensive line potentially be?

Zeitler: Potentially? If everyone keeps working and everyone gets their job done it could be a very good line. We've just got to keep working every day and not get satisfied and listen to coach Bostad. We'll see how it goes.

Were you surprised with the way you guys were able to gel together with all those rotations last year with some injuries and perform pretty well?

Zeitler: That was kind of a pain last year, but regardless, everybody trusted everybody and knew that they knew what they were doing. There was a lot of film watching and a lot of coaching. Coach Bostad helped make everyone understand so by the time game time rolled around everyone knew what they were doing.

You are kind of seeing it again this spring, too. With John Moffitt and Gabe Carimi, well he's back now, but early in spring camp you guys were pretty young again. How does that translate to the field and how does that translate as far as depth to you guys?

Zeitler: It just keeps building the depth. There is just so much potential. If any one of us gets hurt we'll have a quality guy who can come in and play right away that knows what they're doing. It's going to be a great value, especially if the season gets rough.

What about the versatility, you've got a guy like Ricky Wagner who plays left and right tackle and can move all over the place. Do you guys practice that type of stuff?

Zeitler: Yeah, coach Bostad definitely wants us to be versatile in case of injuries. He always wants the five best linemen in no matter who they are. It's always good to make sure you can do it from both sides.

Is that the way you prefer it too, just having the five best guys out there?

Zeitler: I want the five guys out there that will give us the best chance to win.

How would you describe your game? Would you consider yourself a pit bull? What do you call yourself when you're out there and taking on blocks?

Zeitler: Well my mindset is just to keep going and don't make mistakes. Just keep going the entire game, do your assignment and run people over. Make it as big of a hole as you can.

I was talking to Josh Oglesby a little bit earlier and he said that Casey Dehn was standing out quite a bit. Have you thought the same thing? Has anyone stood out to you so far on the offensive line?

Zeitler: Well Bill Nagy is back and he's doing a good job. Gabe Carimi is dominating again and he just came back. With younger guys, I'm impressed with Dehn, Ryan Groy and Zac Mathias. They're each doing their own thing that they're good at and they're each performing pretty well.

Have you seen some of those guys like Groy and Mathias starting to click a little bit more as young players getting in there and starting to get the schemes a little bit better?

Zeitler: Yeah, I think they're understanding the playbook better. Spring ball is a better chance for you to pop in and for younger guys to get to know the playbook. You can definitely see improvement.

It's kind of crazy that there are only six practices left. It's going by pretty fast.

Zeitler: Yeah, it's nice, but at the same time we only have six more to get better and that's our last chance before fall camp. You kind of wish you had more.

Collectively as a group, are you seeing improvement so far? At least through the first nine practices or whatever we're at?

Zeitler: Well, from the first day I did. Today, was a little slower as everybody tried to get back. I think we were all a little out of shape from all that home cooking. But overall, yeah, I think so. As long as we keep building up these last few weeks we should be fine.

It's got to be exciting going into fall camp. It seems like you have a bunch of guys at this unit that just want to get better. That's obviously going to lead to some things in the future.

Zeitler: Yeah, I think so. Just keep improving the last couple of weeks of school and all through the summer. If they keep the attitude and wanting to improve everyday we'll see how camp goes. It should be a good season.

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