MADISON, Wis. - Lance Kendricks really started to make his name known a season ago. However, an injury at Michigan State sidelined the talented H-back for most of the remaining schedule. Fast forward, though, and Kendricks is completely healthy and ready to make an even bigger impact for the Wisconsin offense in 2009.
Following a recent practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the junior tight end. The following is a question and answer with Kendricks.
First of all, how did summer conditioning go for you?
Kendricks: It went well. I definitely think I got a lot stronger and faster. From the previous summer, I didn't feel like I got as fast, but this past summer, I got a lot faster.
Can that be attributed to the way coach Ben Herbert did things?
Kendricks: Yeah, I think we did a lot more speed work which helped out a lot.
Have you noticed that at all out here in fall camp? How do you notice that?
Kendricks: I'm just able to run routes a lot fast and I'm not tired.
So you're saying you have a lot better stamina than you did in the past.
How is that going to help you throughout the entire length of the schedule?
Kendricks: I think those long drives, we're definitely going to have long drives with us running a lot. I think that will definitely help, especially when we get towards the red zone and I still have that stamina. I'll have to run some good routes to catch some balls.
Do you guys feel like you are pretty gifted as far as the wide receivers and tight ends?
Kendricks: Yeah. I think we have a lot of playmakers on our team, especially at wide receiver. We got Nick Toon, Isaac Anderson and Kyle Jefferson and Maurice Moore is making some good strides.
What are teams going to have to do to stop you in the red zone?
Kendricks: I don't know. I guess play a lot of zone. I don't know, but hopefully we're a lot more lethal out there than they are.
That's got to get you a little bit excited for the season.
Kendricks: Yeah, I am. I'm definitely excited.
As one of the older guys at the position, and with a lot of young guys like Jake Byrne, do you kind of take them under your wing at all?
Kendricks: Definitely. Jacob Pedersen, he plays the H, so when he has troubles with things, I help him out. Brian Wozniak, he's coming along very well. When he has trouble lining up or just with a block or a route, we help him out especially when we're in the film room.
How often do you watch film?
Kendricks: Every day.
Do you see them starting to progress a little bit?
Kendricks: Yeah. Like coach said earlier today, what we do out there, the improvements show up on the film.
Are you kind of excited for their future?
Kendricks: Yeah, I see Wozniak making a lot of good plays the last three or four days. So definitely for him. But, everybody is coming along. We get Jake Byrne back to get some practices in. So, we'll be good coming up.
Have you guys started talking about team goals at all?
Kendricks: Not yet. We did over the summer, but not this fall yet. I think we're supposed to do it sometime this week though.
What do you think some of them will be if you want to give me a sneak peak?
Kendricks: We always go with keep our trophies. I know that's always one. You know, hold onto the axe and try to get the pig back from Iowa. Always make our big games big and win them. That's always another one of our goals.
Are there ever any positional goals?
Kendricks: Yeah, we try to be team leaders, or offensive leaders. When things are going down, we try to be the ones that step up and make things work.
Is that something more tailored to you and Garrett Graham as guys who have been around for a long time?
Kendricks: Yeah, but the coach tries to make it known towards all the tight ends, even the young guys. When we're in there, we've got to be on because if somebody else is off, at least we're on.
How would you assess the way Garrett's been practicing so far?
Kendricks: He's been good, real consistent. That's one thing I've noticed about him. He didn't practice much today (Tuesday), but hopefully we'll get him back tomorrow.
How much does he free you up when he's on top of his game?
Kendricks: A lot, because every third down, they're like 'Watch Garrett, watch Garrett.' So, a lot.
Does that kind of make you excited when you see him playing well then?
Kendricks: Yeah, definitely. It gets me going. So, it gets the whole offense rolling.
Finally, on a personal level what are you hoping to accomplish this year?
Kendricks: Make a lot of big plays. I know last year, I had an opportunity to, but I got hurt. Just go out there and make every play I possibly can.
When you finally got back to football contact after your injury did it take a little while to get that trust back in it?
Kendricks: Not really because I didn't have to get surgery. So, it just heeled on its own. When I was able to go, I was able to go. My leg was a little weaker than it was before, but we got back up. Spring ball was good.
I don't know how traumatic that was, but do you ever have flashbacks or anything, does anything remind you of that when you're on the field at times?
Kendricks: Not really, because it was kind of like somebody slipped right into it. It just kind of happened by accident I don't know. But, no, not really.
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