March 23, 2011

Pound-for-pound strongest?

MADISON - Bret Bielema may have gotten a little carried away when he said sophomore left guard Travis Frederick was squatting 780 pounds. First of all, there are certain cars that barely weight that much. Second of all, that number is simply absurd.

To think that one man could lift four or five times the weight of an average person is simply unbelievable. Trying to get to the bottom of everything, took some time to catch up with the projected starter.

The following is a question and answer with Frederick.

First of all, how did your winter go?

Frederick: It went really good. We really have a strong group and the way that we worked really helped. Coach (Brian) Bott was really helping us out. Everybody's numbers were as good or better than they were during the summer. It was just a huge jump for us.

I was talking to coach Ben Herbert during the pro day event and he was telling me it was the best winter conditioning he's ever been a part of. Would you agree with that?

Frederick: I agree. As far as our group it was really great. Coming up here everybody worked. Generally we do the stages, there are six stations, and you do them all. Generally, once a year, we do it twice because somebody isn't going as hard. This year didn't ever have to do that, which was great. That just showed how hard we worked when we were doing it. They also added some new stuff at the beginning.

It was more difficult but we still worked as hard. I think that's kind of the identity of this group as a whole. We don't have a lot of big mouth guys or a lot of guys that are stepping up and being these big vocal leaders. There are a lot of guys that are just going out there and working. I think that's how the coaches have recruited. I think our group is a group of workers. We're going to go out there and work and hopefully outwork the competition.

It's a little bit cliché, but when you lose a bowl game, especially the Rose Bowl, you always talk about it leaving a sour taste in the mouth. Is there any truth to that and can you see that a little bit throughout winter conditioning?

Frederick: Yeah, absolutely. Guys want to go and they want to achieve. One of our goals over the winter and spring is to stay hungry. We can't be good just going to a Rose Bowl. We want to win a Rose Bowl. We want to win a national championship. To do that you've got to work. You've got to work all the time. There's not a day off because you can't have that. Everyone understands that. We don't necessarily need that sour taste in our mouth to go out there and work. I think that's the great thing about this group.

Looking back at last year when you were redshirting, was that hard?

Frederick: Yeah, it was difficult, but then again it was really good for me. It was easier for me to do it having played the first year. I knew what to expect and I knew how much better of a player I was becoming in that time off. Playing game you kind of have to do what you have to do to get the job done. I think you lose a little technique in there. For me to go through the whole year of practice after basically already knowing the technique and being able to fine tune it for a whole year and never having to take a step back playing the game. I think that's really helped me. I don't really have to think about that anymore.

Was it also a matter of maybe stepping back and seeing the big picture? You had a bunch of veteran guys there that maybe would prevent you from cracking into the rotation. You could redshirt and maybe you'd have a shot this year.

Frederick: In the beginning when we kind of talked about doing it, and even before we talked about it, I kind of saw it coming a little bit. Obviously we had some great players playing last year and I think it was really what was best for me. The coaches kind of had that plan and they had that plan for a long time. I didn't know that, but I think it really is what's best for me. I was able to step back and look at the offense as a whole, which was really good, too. I learned more about the offense and more about defenses and how to recognize things. That really helped.

I kind of hinted at it a minute ago, but you guys were pretty veteran across the board at basically every position last year. This year, it's a little bit younger.

Frederick: It's a little bit younger but all of our guys have experience. You look across the line, minus the three freshmen that redshirted last year, everybody has played in a game. Everybody knows what to expect and everybody is doing it. We take so many reps out here in practice. At offensive line we try to get as many reps as we can. We're always working. We work through the break and everything. Everybody is just ready to take that next step and step in if they have to. I think we are young, but I think there's a lot of experience there. It's kind of six in one and half a dozen in the other, but I think that the experience is going to show. I think people are going to see that there is more experience than there are young guys.

Who are going to be the leaders, especially at the offensive line?

Frederick: At the offensive line we're not necessarily going to necessarily have one particular leader. Last year we had two very strong leaders in (John) Moffitt and Gabe (Carimi). They stepped up and showed us how to do things. This year we have seniors in Josh Oglesby, Jake Current and Kevin Zeitler. All three of those guys are a little bit quieter and with Josh being hurt he hasn't been around as much.

I think over the winter we saw this group develop into a group that works together. It makes sense because on the offensive line all five of you have to work together. So having one leader isn't necessarily the best thing. All five guys have to work together. I think the way our group works just works together to accomplish the goal. I think that's kind of where our leadership lies, in that strength of unity.

Coach Bob Bostad does a great job of leading, but you don't necessarily even need somebody under that. Everybody kind of knows where it is. Like I said, those guys aren't super vocal. Kevin leads by example. He's that guy that outworks everybody and his technique is incredible. You see that too with Ricky Wagner. He's going to be a really good player and he's not necessarily the most vocal guy.

Peter Konz has kind of stepped up a little bit, but like I said, as a whole I think we work well together.

You talked about a couple of the younger guys like Robbie Havenstein, how are they coming along. And Casey Dehn, too.

Frederick: Those guys are coming along really well with strength and conditioning. Casey Dehn took a huge jump over this winter and I think that's really helped them come along. Not only that, now they're more confident to play. Dallas Lewallen is playing with the two's right now and I think big Rob is playing with the two's. Those guys are moving in and getting the chance to show who they are. Spring ball is the best time for that. When I came in early and played with the two's it helped me immensely. Just playing and just getting reps is what's going to help those guys. I think both of those guys are going to be really good player. Casey Dehn is going to be a good player as well.

Kind of going off the field, but you're a double major now.

Frederick: I'm a double major now. It's interesting, but what's nice about it is my computer science major almost fits into the computer engineering major. It's like an extra four credits or something. With computer engineering you have to take so many electives that have to be a certain type. You can take computer science classes for those electives so you can kind of, if you do it correctly and I've been looking at it for a while so I've kind of planned it out, it looks like it's going to work out. Hopefully.

So you're a junior as far as school goes?

Frederick: Yeah, this is my fifth semester so I'm a junior credit wise.

Is it going to get tougher as you move along as far as class work?

Frederick: I can't decide. Some of the prerequisites for me are kind of out there. With computer engineering and computer science a lot of the stuff you do is computers and more of the physics of the electric and things like that. So chemistry and some of the math classes that I'm not going to be using quite as much are a little more difficult for me. Now we're starting to move into the things that are really interesting to me. It will be a lot more programming and a lot more hardware design. I think that's going to help me out just being more interested in it. You go home from football at the end of the night and it's hard to get the motivation needed to study. But if it's something that you like doing it's easy to sit down for me and right a game or whatever you're doing.

Yesterday at his press conference Bret Bielema was talking about you squatting 780 pounds?

Frederick: I heard this rumor. I was approached at the beginning of practice and they asked, 'Did you tell somebody that you did this?' That's absolutely not true. That would be incredible.

That's unfathomable. You can't even think of that.

Frederick: I don't know where he comes up with these things. But no, I think that he just inflated the number a little bit or misunderstood. It's not quite that much. I'm not really going to go into specifics, but it's not quite there. I'm doing my best and I'm a lot stronger than I was even over the summer. Over the summer I gained a lot and through the season. I feel pretty good.

Are we talking 100 pounds off, 200 pounds off? If I set the number at 500 are we higher or lower than that?

Frederick: I'd say higher than that. I'd say we're probably about 100 pounds off from the 780.

That's still ridiculous. It's unbelievable. That's more than two and a half of me. That's unreal.

Frederick: You know, it helps on the field. It really does. I can see the difference. We've done a lot more squatting and a lot more front squatting and power cleans. I can really tell. I can really feel it on the field. I feel way more explosive and I can feel it in my legs.

Do you have something to prove this spring and this year?

Frederick: Absolutely. First of all I need to earn a spot. That's the first thing for me. I had a spot and I know what it's like to play and I also know what it's like to sit out and watch. I don't want to do that anymore. I want to earn a spot. From there, I want to take my spot to the next level. I want to play as a much better player than I ever have before. I want to show people that I'm ready to play in the Big 10.

The following is the audio file from the interview:
Frederick, (3/22)

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