December 16, 2010

Lewallen learns from veterans

MADISON - Just a few short days after Wisconsin knocked off Northwestern to clinch a share of the Big Ten title and a trip to Pasadena, head coach Bret Bielema wasn't shy when talking about several young players.

During his discussion with reporters, the fifth-year head coach made special mention of Dallas Lewallen, the scout team offensive player of the year. Now, with bowl prep in full operation, BadgerBlitz.com had a chance to talk with Lewallen.

The following is a question and answer with the freshman lineman.

Obviously you've been through a full year now and I know you weren't playing, but talk about what it's been like. Has it been everything you've thought it would be? Maybe better, maybe worse?

Lewallen: I'd say it's probably better than what I thought it was going to be. A lot of it is just learning. I've had this whole year and I've learned a lot. From when I first came in for summer workouts it was about getting introduced to the playbook. I've learned a lot. Once fall camp started it was a tough thing to overcome, but once you got through it it was kind of a relief. It was good to have that on your resume.

The tough thing to overcome was the redshirt?

Lewallen: I wouldn't say that too much. I was kind of in favor of it because I knew coming in they had a whole group of returning starters on the offensive line. It's a great group of guys to learn behind. They did a great job of teaching me everything and even coach Bob Bostad. It was a good time.

What's it like playing for coach Bostad? You see him in fall camp and it's evident he's a fiery guy. He lets you know when something isn't right.

Bostad: Yeah, that's for sure. When it comes down to it whether you like it or not it's a good way to be. It's a good way to coach people. He expects the best out of you and that's the way coaches should coach.

Is he one of the better coaches you've had?

Bostad: Yes, I'd say so. I'd say he's up there.

It doesn't ever get frustrating when he's yelling at you guys? Obviously he wants the best for you guys and that's the way it works.

Bostad: Yeah, you've kind of got to get used to it, I guess. Either that or it helps you not screw up as much. He teaches us really well. The mistakes you do have, he will yell at you. But it's all worth it in the end.

Are they working you at guard?

Lewallen: Yes, right now I'm playing guard.

What side? Either side?

Lewallen: I'm really just working on both sides. This past week, with the practices we've had, I've kind of been switching off. I'd say overall I've been at left guard so far.

When you look at the guards on this team you look at John Moffitt and Kevin Zeitler. They're kind of feisty guys and guys that are willing to get in there and mix it up. Is that how you characterize yourself? And do you need to have that to be an effective guard?

Lewallen: I think so. Really, with any offensive linemen that's the thing you need to have, that demeanor. When you step on the field, if you're kind of a nice guy off the field you've got to have that switch you can turn on. When you get on the field you've just got to be able to get your job done. If somebody is in your way you've just got to say, 'Well, that's too bad.'

It's kind of an outlet for you so to speak. You seem like a nice guy.

Lewallen: Yeah, I think people probably think I'm a pretty nice guy. When you go on the field you've just got to kind of change your emotions and attitude towards everything on the field.

You look at the offensive line and some of the more flamboyant and more outrageous characters on this team are at that position. That's just the kind of attitude you have at that position.

Lewallen: Yeah, a good example would be John. He's a good guy. He's an awesome guy and a pleasure to be with this year.

What have you learned from a guy like him and the Outland Trophy winner in Gabe Carimi?

Lewallen: A lot. Probably the biggest thing, not only those two but all the guys, is just their habits. Their habits in the weight room, on the field and watching film. It's not always the things they tell you but just the things you watch and things you keep with you. When it's your time you step up.

I'm sure those guys have pretty good work ethics. You don't become as good as they are without one. That's just got to rub off on you, too.

Lewallen: Exactly. You learn from them and you learn from your mistakes and you can take it from there.

I wanted to congratulate you on the scout team of the year. Is that pretty exciting for you and what was your reaction when you heard that?

Lewallen: Thank you. I thought it was pretty awesome. I kind of had a feeling at the award show when coach Bostad walked on that it was going to be one of the offensive linemen. I was kind of thinking of something in my head I could say. It was quite an honor, too.

What did you wind up saying?

Lewallen: I thought it would be a good thing - I don't think I answered the question he asked me - but I thought I'd give a shoutout to coach (Kevin) Kane and coach (Ben) Strickland and all the work they put in this year getting the scout team ready week to week. And to coach Bostad for helping me with stuff I can carry over from practice and congratulating all the defensive linemen, the defensive ends, for really being as talented as they are and helping me get better.

Those guys don't take a day off against you guys. As scout team, you guys have got to go up against a lot of tough players.

Lewallen: That's true. You've got to kind of turn it up and be ready to go out there and play.

I know you won't be playing in the Rose Bowl and you didn't play at all this year, but behind the scenes scout team guys are what make this team tick. You have to take pride in winning a Big Ten title even though you weren't on the field.

Lewallen: Yeah, scout team guys are definitely a big part, I feel. It really kind of comes down to those guys. I wouldn't say we're irreplaceable, but we do play a big role I'd say.

It's got to be exciting getting the chance to go to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl. It's what a Big Ten champion does.

Lewallen: I feel really privileged my first year to have experienced that. I'm sure it won't be the last time I experience something like this.

Do you want me to put that on record? Is that a guarantee right there?

Lewallen: I will just look for good things in the future. That's all I'm saying. (Laughing)

Obviously bowl prep is kind of a head start on spring camp. Is that a good way to look at it and maybe get that developmental work and do some good Wisconsin on Wisconsin stuff?

Lewallen: You could say that. Definitely, there's going to be a lot more reps for the two's and three's in developmental work. All that time off and not having to play the one's and two's all the time kind of spring boards you into spring ball. You just get a lot more reps, learn the playbook and get used to the plays and everything. It helps a lot.

Is it a good change of pace instead of scout team work?

Lewallen: It's a change of pace for sure. Scout team, it's about getting the reps and once you get out there going against the other guys. It's kind of like a little quicker pace.

I hear you guys were able to get into the gift suite over the weekend. What did they have in there?

Lewallen: There was a bunch of stuff. Most of the guys went with the oversized recliner. It was leather and pretty nice. Actually, in the middle of it, I changed my mind. When I changed my mind I was going to go with the recliner but I got a TV for the apartment for next year.

Nice. How big is it?

Lewallen: It was a 22-inch, but I think it will fit nice in my bedroom.


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