March 26, 2010

Kohout likes development of defensive line

MADISON - Often times coaches and scouts say the biggest strides made for a player at the collegiate level occur between year one and two. For Jordan Kohout that time is now. And with a chance to secure himself a role in the defensive tackle position, he is intent on making the most of spring camp.

At the conclusion of a recent practice, caught up with the redshirt freshman defensive tackle. The following is a question and answer with Kohout.

Well, you've reached the midway point of spring camp. Are you starting to reach some of the goals you set out to accomplish?

Kohout: …I did just that yesterday and it carried over a little bit today, too. I'm getting better everyday so it's a big help.

Is that the way you approach spring camp? Just approaching it day by day?

Kohout: Exactly. I think last year I had a problem with worrying about external stuff and not focusing here so much. I'm really focused on the moment here. It's really approaching it one play at a time just like coach Charlie Partridge always stresses. It's working real well for me.

Was there kind of a barrier you had to break through last year? Was there a wall that you hit?

Kohout: Yeah, I think so. All of a sudden it just clicked for me. All of a sudden there was a moment where I was like, 'This is what I need to do.' It worked for me from there out.

What went into that?

Kohout: I knew something was wrong with me because I had a lack of focus sometimes. I started meditating quite a bit. I do that and that always helps me keep my mind focus on the task at hand. That's what it is. Live in the present moment and that really works for me.

How did winter conditioning go? Did you bulk up at all?

Kohout: Oh yeah, I'm up to about 290 right now. I was about 275 at the end of bowl prep. So I put on about 15 pounds and I'm feeling really good. I feel quick. We did a lot of great stuff with coach Ben Herbert in there and it was great to see that he was expecting a lot out of me this year.

It seemed like last year, and talking to the guys about it, that he made it really competitive during the winter.

Kohout: Competition brings the best out of you. Guys want it. If it's got some stake or some meaning to it, it's going to get the best out of guys.

Where have you improved the most that you've noticed throughout the first couple weeks of practice? Is it explosiveness off the snap?

Kohout: I think it's just my footwork and recognizing plays and being able to read the guys in front of me. Knowing how to react and stuff is really helping me.

You were here early for spring ball last year. How do you like the set up as compared to last year? Obviously you had spring break a little later…

Kohout: I love it now because last year spring ball was such a grind for me being my first spring ball. Now it's going to be nice where it's two weeks and then we get a week off to rest our bodies. We'll come back and we'll be fresh and ready to go.

Are you going anywhere for spring break?

Kohout: I'm staying home. I miss my family quite a bit so I'll just hang out with them.

So far on the defensive line have you been impressed with some of the guys?

Kohout: Yup, I've been impressed with the way Ethan Hemer is coming along. Actually, I've been really impressed with the way Anthony Mains stepping in at defensive tackle. He only weighs about 230 pounds and he's actually holding his own in there sometimes. J.J. Watt, Louis Nzegwu, I mean, everybody. I'm just impressed with everybody and the way we're improving as a unit together.

Warren Herring is doing a good job for a freshman, too. He's making some plays in there, which is pretty nice.

Do you advise him at all after going through an early spring camp last year?

Kohout: Yeah, we just watched film earlier. His footwork needs a little work so we're just trying to help him with that and kind of focusing frame by frame what we need to work on together.

What are some of those things? Where do you need to improve?

Kohout: You can always improve in every aspect of your game, but probably more consistent footwork and being able to recognize the pass quicker and using my moves and a different repertoire of moves for pass rush.

A lot of the time when they talk about a young player they say the biggest strides are made between year one and year two. Are you starting to see some of those?

Kohout: Oh definitely. For myself, I can't even compare myself to what I was a year ago. I've improved so much. It really has made a big jump.

Is that in all areas? Mentally, physically?

Kohout: Oh yeah, definitely in all areas. I think being in college for a whole year and realizing what it takes and the mental aspect of it. I think it also helps when you feel like you're an important cog to the defense. It makes you feel like you want to be in here and you want to be a part of it.

Playing with the No. 1 unit, is that giving you confidence moving forward? Especially going into the summer?

Kohout: It was nice knowing that the coaches can trust me and I can be in there, do the work and make plays. Coach Partridge, he was telling me that he knows I can make plays and I finally started showing up yesterday (Monday) which was really nice. I'm proud of myself and just have to keep moving forward every day.

Does coach Partridge have it wide open? Anyone that plays the best can maybe make it into the rotation?

Kohout: In all honesty I think we're going to have a decent rotation. Ethan Hemer is coming along nicely. Patrick Butrym and I are coming along nicely. We want to have eight guys that can play so we can have a good rotation. Whoever can play is going to play.

Is that key, especially as the season wears on and people start wearing down?

Kohout: Yeah, it is going to be key. Defensive tackle is a tough position. We need guys who can step up and we need guys that can back us up and also make plays just like we can.

Would you say you're better in the pass rush or run contain at this point?

Kohout: Right now probably my run is a little better but my pass rush is coming along. I think I made a sack today and a few pressures. It's definitely getting a little better every day.

Do you see potential in this defensive line to be a solid group?

Kohout: I do. Last year people were saying the same things like the defensive line is weak. I remember watching some of our guys last year, even though I was on scout team, I still saw them develop during fall camp. We're in the same boat right now. I think if we keep progressing and find what our identity is, I think we'll really be good contenders.

It's got to be helpful when you've got guys like J.J. and Patrick who have been around for a few years.

Kohout: It is. Me and Patrick are really developing a good chemistry on the line. We kind of both recognize how we both play and being able to almost kind of predict how we're going to act so we can play off of each other. It's really helping a lot. J.J. Watt, we're both growing good friendships and it's really nice seeing the defensive line clicking like that right now. We just need to keep developing our chemistry and keep developing our identity.

Have you seen anybody impressing you on the offensive side of the ball?

Kohout: Jared Abbrederis is probably the one that jumps out at me the most. He's a walk-on guy and he's really making plays out there. He's really working hard.

It's like a daily basis.

Kohout: I know. It's like, 'Where did he come from?' He's really jumping out to me. Bill Nagy is really impressing me coming back from his foot injury. He's looking good. The offensive line is improving, too. Josh Oglesby is really looking aggressive and I'm probably forgetting a lot of people I want to say.

Zach Brown, everybody is looking good.

It's got to be an exciting time. Spring ball is a good time to get better as a team.

Kohout: It really is. We've got some stuff to work on but I feel like we're improving every day. During the two-minute drill at the end there, there were times when we looked good, but there were some instances when we just fell apart. We just need to be consistent across the board. Every play everybody has got to do their job. You've got to strain and want it more.

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