Sept. 7, 2004
Think Joe Lobenhdahn was excited to be back on the field Sunday after missing almost a full year to injury? The junior linebacker, named a captain by his teammates in the spring, dropped Fresno State's Dwayne Wright for a one-yard loss on the second play of the game and never looked back. Lobendahn was a one-man wrecking crew against the Bulldogs, racking up 16 tackles, including five for loss -- one short of the Huskies' single-game record. The Honolulu, Hawaii, native also forced a fumble, broke up a pass, and notched a 10-yard sack to lead a UW defense that surrendered just 11 first downs and 262 total yards. After starting twice as a sophomore in 2002, Lobendahn was expected to be a key figure in the Huskies' defense last year, before a knee injury against Idaho shut the talented junior down after just two-plus games. Now with two healthy knees beneath him, Lobendahn will be on every opposing offensive quarterback's radar in 2004, and will likely contend for postseason honors. GoHuskies.com correspondent Michael Bruscas caught up with Lobendahn at the Huskies' weekly press conference, to find out firsthand what makes the Hawaiian junior tick.
GoHuskies.com: How was it being back on the field?
Joe Lobendahn: "It felt great. It's been almost a year. Just being out there with the guys, the fellas, playing football -- it's something I can't really explain. It's just amazing."
GH: Were you surprised with how well you performed?
Lobendahn: "In a way. I just wanted to go out there and do my thing. It turned out pretty good. I came out with some high stats, and hopefully I can do that every game."
GH: How would you rate the defense's performance as a whole?
Lobendahn: "I'm excited to play with them for the next 11 games. Our d-line, I give them a lot of credit. They did the job for me. They held the linemen -- they didn't really even touch me, which is good. I was just running free and running to the ball. Our secondary did great, too."
GH: How does your knee feel?
Lobendahn: "It's great, it feels normal. I don't really think about it. The only thing that bothers me is my brace. It's really uncomfortable."
GH: Does the brace slow you down much?
Lobendahn: "I'm not sure, maybe a little. When I take it off, I feel free."
GH: How difficult was rehab?
Lobendahn: "It was hard, trying to get back to normal. You start at top shape and then you get hurt and you're at the bottom and you have to work your way back up. It was intense. I did all I can do and this is who I am right now. I had to work on flexing my quad, building the muscles around the knee. I had to work on my quad, my hamstring, my calf. Single leg squats, just concentrating on that leg."
GH: What's it like to be the only team captain who is a junior?
Lobendahn: "It's an honor. Larry Tripplett was the only junior, too, in 2000. I'm going to try and lead the team to the best of my ability and show them what I can do on the field."
GH: What is it like to play with so many other Polynesians on defense?
Lobendahn: "It feels great, it feels like I'm back in Hawai'i. My whole life I've been playing with a lot of Polynesians up front which is fun. I can communicate with them and we fight together. It's a much stronger unit. I'm excited to play with those guys."
GH: What brought you to Washington in the first place?
Lobendahn: "Right when I came here I just felt like this was home. I had family up here and I had a brother who went to Eastern Washington. The people here are great."
GH: (Former Husky) Olin Kreutz went to your high school, did you play with him at all?
Lobendahn: "I knew of him. I trained with him my senior year coming up here which helped me a lot."
GH: How do you spend your free time?
Lobendahn: "I just go home and watch TV. Go out and watch movies, play games, play Xbox."
GH: What games are you playing right now?
Lobendahn: "Madden. Football games."
GH: What team do you play as?
Lobendahn: "I'm the Ravens. I like the defense; I like to play with Ray Lewis. He's the man."
GH: What are some of your favorite TV shows?
Lobendahn:" I really like reality shows. `Real World' and `Road Rules.' `Newlyweds,' all that. It cracks me up."
GH: What was the last movie you watched?
Lobendahn: "Actually it was last night. I saw `Paparazzi.' It was good. If I had media following me around all the time I'd probably do the same thing he did."
GH: What have been your favorite classes?
Lobendahn: "I like communications. I didn't really do too well, but I liked the class. Hey, I tried. Oh, Swahili. That's a fun class. Everyone takes that."
GH: Can you speak much Swahili?
Lobendahn: "Not really -- I know the basics, like, `My name is ...' and, `What is your name?' But I'm not really fluent."
GH: What's your favorite sport besides football?
Lobendahn: "I like watching basketball. I used to hate baseball but now I like it. It was just boring, because I didn't really know it. Coming from Hawaii you don't have any professional teams. But now living here for a couple years and growing up with the Mariners, I like watching it."
GH: Do you have any superstitions or pregame meals you like to eat?
Lobendahn: "I usually eat eggs, some hash browns and bacon, that's it. And if we lose I do something different. Take something out."
GH: Well, whatever you did last week, don't change it too much. You had a heck of a game! Thanks for your time, Joe!