April 21, 2009
With the departure of starters Juan Garcia, Casey Bulyca and Jordan White-Frisbee, there are several jobs up for grabs on the Husky offensive line. One player who has emerged as a contender to earn one of the starting spots is red-shirt freshman Drew Schaefer. Schaefer, a local product from Sammamish, Wash. (Eastlake HS), has practiced with the number one unit for most of the Spring Football practice sessions. GoHuskies.com correspondent Jeremy Cothran recently caught up with Schaefer.
GoHuskies.com: After redshirting last year, you've made a big climb up the depth chart? What is the reason for your success?
Drew Schaefer: A lot of it comes from the new strength coach and the new strength staff that came in. The offensive line, we were in as a unit at 6 a.m., four days a week. A lot of the hard work, strength and conditioning and speed came together during then.
GH.com: There's been a lot made of the weight the offensive line has lost during conditioning. What kind of workouts were you guys doing?
DS: We spent a lot of time on speed and agility, and our overall conditioning. We met with a dietician, and we changed our diets a lot. So we kind of knew what foods to avoid and what foods would help prepare us better for workouts. In the end, it paid off.
GH.com: What kind of things have you cut out of your diet?
DS: A lot of junk food, a lot of the dressings on salads and eating more lean meat. It's not necessarily changing your diet, but making changes in taking out some of the bad foods.
GH.com: Have you noticed much of a change in how you perform during workouts?
DS: Yeah, definitely. It definitely fuels you and gives you a lot more energy. These workouts are pretty grueling, and if you don't eat right, you're not going to be able to finish them, let alone be 100 percent.
GH.com: The tempo of the spring workouts has been different as well. Has that been hard to adjust to?
DS: It has. The first couple of weeks, it was really hard to adjust, especially from where the coaching staff had come from and their expectations. It was hard to make that adjustment. Eventually, once we got the hang of it, we were able to build off of it.
GH.com: For Husky fans that have not seen you play, what do you consider your strengths as an offensive lineman?
DS: Definitely speed. That's one of the reasons I'm out here, my ability to get out to the second level and my ability to get out there on screens and run. It really makes our offensive line more dynamic and more explosive.
GH.com: On the flip side, what do you consider one area of your game that you need to work on the most?
DS: I can improve on my run blocking, especially down on the goal line. Competing in the Pac-10, you have to be strong enough to go against 300 to 315-pound defensive tackles. So you need to be able to move them.
GH.com: What has it been like working under Dan Cozzetto so far?
DS: I like him. He knows his stuff. If you listen to what he tells you and buy into what he says and his schemes, there is no way you can't be successful.
GH.com: How hard was it to take the scheme from last year and then buy into Cozzetto's scheme? Was it a difficult transition?
DS: Oh yeah. You're cleaning everything you learned before and you have rebuild an entire offensive line. There's a lot of rules, a lot of checks and a lot of schemes you have to memorize. Just now, as we're getting into these practices, we're starting to get a grasp of it.
GH.com: You grew up here in Washington. What is your favorite overall memory from Husky Stadium?
DS: I guess one of my best memories was a game that wasn't a win, but when USC came up here and we took them down to the wire in the fourth quarter. The atmosphere and the stadium and the intensity of the players, I definitely saw that and thought, 'This is where I want to be. We can make this place one of the Top-10 programs in the country.'
GH.com: What are your impressions of the upcoming season and what do the Huskies need to do to get back to becoming a winning program?
DS: We need to be more physical. Yeah, we want use speed to our advantage, but you can't just rely on getting to the edge. When it comes down to the fourth quarter and late in the game, you have to be able to run inside the tackles and get those yards, so that's what we need to work on.
GH.com: Have you noticed that tone here in spring football?
DS: I think each day we're getting more and more where the coaches want us. As far as physicality, I think it's getting better every practice, especially as the speed of the practices pick up. Collisions are getting bigger and hits are getting harder, but I think there's always room for improvement.