April 10, 2009

Schofield emerging as leader

MADISON, Wis. - As the lone returning starter from a defensive line group that struggled at times last season, senior O'Brien Schofield seems to be a logical choice to become a defensive leader. Factor in solid play from last fall as well as a strong spring camp, that leadership may already be taking form.

At the conclusion of Thursday's scrimmage, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the defensive end. The following is a question and answer with Schofield:

You guys were out there today (Thursday), and you didn't let the offense score a touchdown there at the end of practice. What does that say about this defense right now?

Schofield: It just shows us that we can do it. It doesn't really say too much because we only did it once. I think it was important because now we know we can do it and the coaches expect us to do it all the time. That's a big challenge, but I think we can do that if we come out here with as much energy as we did.

Is that the type of thing that you can start in spring and it will carry over to the summer and then into the fall?

Schofield: Yeah, I think goal line and red zone area is a mentality. You got to know now that your back is against the wall and you can't let them in. Anything, a field goal at worst, but you really don't want that. We think turnovers and you got to be that much more focused on your keys and what you have to do.

You guys were super vocal today, is that just something that when you build everyone up it gets you playing at a higher level?

Schofield: Yeah. Today we just came out here with energy. We were real flat. Sometimes when you get in your move and get in your groove, you talk a little bit just to get in the offenses head. But, it helped us out in the long run.

Last year you guys struggled in the red zone quite a bit, does it become psychological at any point?

Schofield: Yeah, it's all mental. In the red zone you got to be that much more focused on what you have to do. It's very critical. Any mistake, any false step or a missed tackle or misread, it can be a touchdown and it can hurt the team. So, I think the coaches are putting a lot of emphasis on whoever can get the job done focusing in the red zone, that's who is going to be on the field.

That attention to detail is something you guys need, you'd say?

Schofield: Oh yeah, man, that's what the coaches preach all the time and it's important. Even from the classroom to the weight room to here, the field.

In general, you guys lost three starters from the defensive line last year. As the only returning starter, do you feel like you have a leadership role that you have to embrace?

Schofield: I do. I look to those guys Chap (Jason Chapman), Newk (Mike Newkirk) and Matt Shaughnessy, they are unbelievable players. I just took all the knowledge I could from those guys coming into my senior year knowing that I could be that guy. It was important that I just lead by action first before I become vocal. At times when I had to be vocal, I was. I chose to take the role of showing action first. I think I will be more vocal after spring ball because I felt like I had to prove myself again to those guys. Even though they've seen me play last year, it's always important to let those guys know you're on all the time.

Do you kind of like what you're seeing from the defensive line this spring?

Schofield: Yeah. Oh man, they are giving great effort, they're trying. Whatever coach is teaching, they're working on it. It's good to see improvement everyday from certain guys. Some guys take a few steps back, but when you see those big personal gains, it's real good.

Has anyone stood out more than the others?

Schofield: I think Anthony Mains, he's coming along. He kind of was a guy that wasn't into it at first. Something sparked there. He's been doing pretty good. J.J. Watt is a freakin savage. He is a savage man. I like to see him play and just dominate people. Everybody has stood out on certain days, but consistently I would say J.J. Watt and Patrick Butrym. Yeah, they've done pretty good.

A lot of the big questions coming into the spring was how the defensive line was going to shake up. Last season, you struggled against the run a bit. Do you listen and put any stock into that sort of stuff? Does it motivate you?

Schofield: Yeah it does. One good thing about this d-line that we have right now is everybody has been coached by coach Charlie Partridge. Some of the other guys had two other coaches before coach Partridge. It's hard to sometimes break tendencies and habits that you learn from other coaches. It's good that we're all going to be on and have the same fundamental technique.

Coach Bret Bielema mentioned it the other day about how you and Josh Oglesby got into a little scrum there. Is that something you like to see out of Josh though?

Schofield: Yeah, sometimes I talk trash to him just to mess with him because he used to come off like it really didn't matter. Just to see him get tough with me, I like that. Sometimes I'll just pick with him, just because. Because when he gets mean, that's going to help us in the long run as a team.

So there was no malicious intent? (joking)

Schofield: He's a big dude. He's a big dude. (Laughing)

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!