Football: Select Player Interviews


By Daniel Whitehead for WVUsports.com
April 17, 2012 09:09 PM
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - WVU football players address the media following practice on Tuesday, Apr. 17.


OFFENSE
Running Back Shawne Alston
On spring practice
I think anytime you get to go out and participate in all of spring practice it’s just an opportunity to get better. Being that I was able to come out and practice this year, I definitely got better, and was able to help my team a lot.

On his advantages on the field
I’m a little bit bigger than the other guys, and my thing isn’t really beating people to the outside. I’m more of a physical type of guy, and I try to keep my legs moving on contact. It’s something I’ve done over the years when I’ve played football. Breaking tackles and beating down the defense – that’s just my gift.

On the progress of the offense
I think our offense has improved. It’s our second year into the system, and people understand it more, and the coaches don’t have to do as much teaching as they did last year around this same time. I think we’re becoming better as an offense, and our defense is becoming a better unit.

On the potential of the running backs
I feel like the sky’s the limit. We have three good, quality running backs that could probably go anywhere in the country and play – that’s always a plus. I think the coaches have to do a good job of rotating us, and putting different people in during different situations – that would just make the offense float.

Offensive Lineman Jeff Braun
On looking back at the Orange Bowl
It’s nice to be able to go back and take a look. I think I had a pretty good game, so I review the film and learn from it. I’ve watched it at least seven or eight times. I love it. Whenever I’m bored at home, I try to take another look at it. But you’ve got to get rid of it eventually.

On switching back to the right side
It helps, because I’m right-handed. My right foot is back a bit, my right hand is down, and that’s where I was earlier in my career as a right tackle. I think it’s a better fit for me.

On being healthy for spring ball this year
I knew what I had to do from an X’s and O’s standpoint, but it’s nice to be out there and actually do it. Now I know what to expect, and I know what the coaches want us to do. With the reps I’m getting, it makes it a lot easier to get out there and do it.

On changes on the defensive side of the ball
It’s a huge difference. You have to change up your technique for a four-man down line. That’s all we see now; last year it was the three men to line up against. Getting reps during spring is helping me prepare for it.

On the status of the offensive line at this late point of spring camp
We’re getting better. We have a good feel for the X’s and O’s, and we’re learning to be the most physical group that we can be. We’re getting better at putting people on the ground. Now it’s just carrying it over from practice, carrying it over to the summer program and just getting better

Offensive Lineman Pat Eger
On this spring compared to last year
We’re feeling good. We’re coming together as an offensive line. We make mistakes one day, and then try to get into the film room the next day, and try to correct those.

Everyone’s honestly trying to get better every day; the two’s push the ones for their spots every practice, and every play. We’re really trying to get out there, and get better as a unit every time we step on the field.

On Saturday’s Spring Game
I’m so excited! I’m so excited to get in front of the fans, because I know they are all super, super excited about seeing what this new defense could do, and especially if the offense is going to come back right where they left off at the Orange Bowl.

On the Offense Line
We’re a lot older now. (Quinton) Spain and I are the youngest ones, but the three middle guys are upcoming seniors. Those three have so much experience in the middle, and I started O-Line last year, and Spain played a lot last year. As we start playing together more, and more, we’ll get more confident together, and it lets us get out and play fast and physical.

On the fans of Mountaineer Nation and going into the Big 12
It really helps us out a lot knowing they’re behind us that much. Since this state doesn’t have a professional team, we have the following like a pro team and to have the kind of support we have from our fans is amazing.

Offensive Lineman Joe Madsen
On how he helped with recruiting visits
I’m able to tell them about the great experiences I’ve had with the team. When we eat as a team, I can tell them that the chicken cordon bleu’s are the best thing ever. I’ve had a few friends that I’ve been able to keep in touch with.

On his recruiting trip to WVU out of high school
My trip was awesome. I was with Ryan Stancheck, Greg Isdaner, Mike Dent, and a few others. I looked at those guys and knew they could be in the NFL, so I really looked up to them. It was crazy. Coach Dunlap came over to my house, talked to my parents and everything went very well.

Wide Receiver Ryan Nehlen
On the Gold-Blue Game
It’s really important. We’ve put a lot of time in through the winter and spring beating each other up, so the spring game is a way to conclude everything and show the fans what we’ve improved on and give them a good show.

On WVU Children’s Hospital benefitting from the game
The WVU Children’s Hospital is a great place. As I’ve been here the past few years as an athlete, I’ve been able to visit several times and see the kids. It’s great that the proceeds go to it – it puts things in perspective.

On traveling all over the Midwest for Big 12 games this season
I’m used to going to Pitt, Cincinnati and other places that are pretty close. I’ve never been to Texas – it’s going to be fun to go there in back-to-back weeks. It will be fun to go to Texas and Oklahoma. It’s going to be fun to travel all over, especially in my last year here.

On what the receivers are working on at this point of the year
We need to keep on working on our timing with the quarterbacks and being on the same page with each other. We’ve been working on that the entire spring. Getting on the same page with the quarterbacks is what’s most important at this point of the season.

On what he’s improved on this year compared to last year
I’m trying to improve on every aspect of my game. I’m getting better at running my routes, and especially working on blocking. We have to be able to block in this offense.

On being on an offense with several names being placed on the Heisman radar
It’s a lot of fun. We have a lot of weapons on this team. There are some special athletes out there, and it’s fun to be a part of, for sure.

On being completely healthy
It feels great to be out there. I’m running out there and trying to make a lot of plays. Everything is going well so far. It was frustrating at times to be injured last season, but I’ve persevered through it. The best part about the spring is being able to put yourself in a good position. You work your butt off in the winter time and put yourself in a good position in the spring. We have expectations as an offense, but we don’t focus on that too much. We just go out and work hard and good things happen.

DEFENSE

Linebacker Jared Barber
On Saturday’s Spring Game
I’m very excited. It will be my first spring game. I went to a lot of spring games while a recruit, and it looked like a lot of fun, and allows people to come out and see everyone. I’m excited to be out there on the field, and in uniform.

You approach it as a practice with it being the first spring with the new coaches, and you also approach it as a game to have fun with the guys. You have to prove yourself as well - there’s no spot set in stone.

On the progress of the defense
I think we’re getting better right now. Obviously, there is a lot of stuff to work on. Once fall camp gets here, we’ll definitely cover a lot more, but for the information the coaches have given us, I think we’re doing pretty well.

On Coach Patterson
It’s a lot different than Coach Casteel. They’re two totally different coaches, and you have to get used to it. He’ll (Patterson) still gets after you, and yells at you a little bit, but if you do something wrong he wants you to see what you did wrong. I like the change; he’s a good coach, and we learn a lot from him.

Defensive End Will Clarke
On the progress of the defense
We’re being a consistent team overall. As a defense, we’re trying to be more consistent, and trying to make as many plays as we can in practice.

On playing against WVU’s offense
We get more comfortable and trusting the scheme, knowing that it actually will work, and can work – and that the guys actually buy into it.

On the team’s development this spring
Everyone’s been so ambitious to work. It hasn’t been a thing where only the older guys work or the younger guys work. Everyone as a whole is willing to work.

On Saturday’s spring game
Well, the past two that I’ve played in, we’ve always had certain expectations, and it always turns out differently from that. I’m just going into it with an attitude like it’s a regular game.

Defensive Back Darwin Cook
On less run support, more pass coverage
I like it a lot. We still have to prepare for the run, but we’ve mixed it up a bit. We play a lot of man coverage, more than we did last year. We’ve got more two-down, three-down and four-down, so in coverage, we make sure no one gets behind us.

I’m getting much better at my pass coverage. We’ve put a greater emphasis on it this season, so I see some improvement.

On disguising plays
Some of us have been playing together for some time, so we can do a good job of hiding what we’re doing. We’re better at talking to each other on the field, and we know what we’re talking about on the sidelines.

On the 3-4 defense
I think we’re picking it up pretty fast, and we’ll be ready for the fall. I’m surprised with where we are right now for having a new defense. I can’t put my finger on it; we’re just going out there and making plays.


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