April 9, 2009

Konz focuses on assignments

MADISON, Wis. - One of the more intriguing position battles of the spring is one many did not expect to take place. After manning the right tackle spot for several games in 2008, Josh Oglesby seemed to be one of the up and coming studs of the offensive line. Instead, Peter Konz has given Oglesby all he can handle during spring ball.

Following Tuesday's practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the freshman lineman to discuss his play this spring, battling Oglesby and his improvement. The following is a question and answer with Konz:

To start, how would you say your game compares right now to where it was when you came to campus last fall?

Konz: A world of difference. Obviously being on scout team, I got all the work in with the first d last year so that just helped with my basic technique with footwork, where to place my hands. Now that I finally have time to sit down, watch a lot of film during our free time and during film study, I'm really able to get in the playbook and understand all the plays. So now I can go 100 percent because I know exactly what I'm supposed to do instead of hesitating.

You kind of see that playing out on the field, too? You and Josh are having quite a battle this spring, switching roles once in a while?

Konz: Yeah, oh my God, it's tough because everyday you know you want to have a really good practice. If one thing goes wrong, it's huge just because we're in such a tight battle.

I've noticed this spring that anytime anyone on the line jumps they are pulled out immediately. Are they putting more focus on the attention to detail?

Konz: Definitely. It's always an expectation, especially for the o-line. We're supposed to be aware of the whole field. We've stressed first level, line, then linebackers then safeties. We're just kind of realizing, 'okay, what are our responsibilities?' If one guy moves up or one guy moves back, how does that change? We just got to be aware, all within a couple seconds of the snap. So, we're definitely hitting that hard in film.

Just talk about last year, you guys lost three guys that graduated and are taking their talents to the next level or whatever they're doing. How are you going to replace those guys?

Konz: I guess the right thing to say is you never do replace them. I miss those guys, but we kind of form a new identity now. Those guys, they were strong, they were tough. Now we got a little bit of a different style. We're not as big but we still have the size. We're just trying to find our identity in practice and we're really trying to express staying low. Those guys were able to physically dominate. Right now, we're really stressing technique.

In spring ball, I know you don't want to hurt anyone, but is it kind of hard to hold back when you're not wearing full pads all the time?

Konz: You never hold back. Coach Bob Bostad will be the first to tell you. Do not hold back now because you'll hold back in a game. Definitely not. Just be smart about it. If we're in shorts, you're not cutting guys, you're not taking them out at the knee, and you're trying to stay up. But with pads full go, guys get injured. It's football and we got guys to back them up. So we know we can go 100 percent and we can all get better.

We talked about it a little bit ago, but when you're switching in and out with Josh with the starters, does that kind of give you some confidence?

Konz: Definitely, it's coming from the coaches. It's like, 'okay, we know you can do this and we expect you to do this.' It gives me confidence because okay, we know our expectations, higher level, I can do this, I can go out there and try my best and I know this is what they're looking for.

Last year when you were on the scout team all fall, did you anticipate you would be making this kind of impact in the spring?

Konz: Honestly, not really. I didn't really know what was going to happen with our positions, who was coming in like Travis Frederick just came in. All I knew was I just wanted to get better. This whole spring they've been stressing get better as a football player and we'll get better as a team. So I knew as long as I did my job, we'll all get better.

Is there more emphasis on the team as compared to last year?

Konz: Definitely, a lot of people saw a disappointing season. If you were here in the early 90's you wouldn't say that, but we definitely want a more team atmosphere because it starts getting fun. You start having fun and you practice harder, you get with your teammates, you start practicing harder, you get better and better and you start winning more games. All the little things.

Moving forward, there are six practices left, so what are you hoping to accomplish the last week and a half here before the spring game?

Konz: Oh I've been thinking about this a lot actually. I want to make it so I have all my assignments down. If I have to get to a backer I want to make sure I get to him. I want to make sure I have my helmet on the right side, just those little things here and there sometimes you miss, I just want to get all the assignments down 100 percent because that's what we need in the season.

When you are out there blocking, who's the toughest guy on the defensive line?

Konz: J.J. Watt. He's just physically the toughest. He doesn't always have the swim move, but he can just physically hold you right inside and stalemate you and push you back. So, you definitely have to make sure you are aware of who you're on every time.

It seemed like he definitely benefited from that new strength and conditioning program?

Konz: Oh we all did. I noticed right away that my back was a little weaker. In high school, I never worked on my back. Coach Ben Herbert gets us going in here and when you are run blocking, a lot of the strength comes from right back there. So all of us, we're seeing a new level of hitting.

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