September 2, 2010

Burtym not surprised with progression of tackles

MADISON - Patrick Butrym is the defensive tackle retuning in 2010 with the most game experience. In fact, of the five guys (Ethan Hemer, Jordan Kohout, Beau Allen and Eriks Briedis) Butrym is really the only guy that has seen any sort of playing time.

So entering fall camp, it was clear there were question marks surrounding the position. Now, with the season opener approaching, it seems some of those questions up front have been answered.

Before the Badgers head out to Las Vegas, had an opportunity to catch up with Butrym. The following is a question and answer with the junior defensive tackle.

From the start of camp to where you are now, are you surprised with the way you guys came together especially at defensive tackle?

Butrym: Not really. I've been working with these guys since the spring and we've all come a long ways since the spring. We've all come along. I'm very pleased with the way we're progressing but there's no question that we're not where we need to be yet. We'll continue to progress and we'll continue to work very hard.

Would you say the position was a question mark coming into fall camp after losing three seniors?

Butrym: It's always a question mark. You always need to replace guys with guys who graduate. Guys eventually are going to graduate and you know you're going to have to replace them with guys that have really never played before. That's just the process and how things work. I'd say we're reloading at that position. Obviously we don't have as much experience with those guys but we're definitely going to progress and they're going to fill in just fine.

Is the rotation up to your standards? Are you happy with the guys that are going to be in there?

Butrym: No doubt about it. Jordan has done a really good job so far in camp and Eriks Briedis has really come a long way and I'm really pleased with the progress he's made. Ethan Hemer has been very, very solid. They're all going to be solid contributors. Then you throw Beau Allen in the mix. He's been impressive so far in this camp physically as a true freshman. He's much further along than I was at that age. He'll contribute, too. It's going to be nice to have those guys out there.

What do you think when see guys as developed as he is? When you came in, you had to put on weight.

Butrym: He won't have to put on weight, he might actually have to lose some. I'm just kidding. It's amazing. Everyone's body is different and you kind of need to tailor your game to your body. He's definitely a power guy and I'm more of a finesse guy. I'd say you definitely have to play physical at the position, but you have to play with the cards that you're dealt and Beau does that well.

You can't say enough good things about Ethan Hemer, a walk-on, who just comes in and busts his tail. Have you been impressed with him?

Butrym: No doubt about it. He's going to be a solid contributor this year. I look forward to playing next to him and I have a lot of confidence that I will be. He will get a lot of good snaps and he's going to make plenty of plays this year.

There's a pretty proud walk-on tradition at this school isn't it?

Butrym: No doubt about it. Jim Leonhard, Chris Maragos, Luke Swan, J.J. Watt was once a walk-on, Joe Panos. You just look back at the guys. Hemer could fall in line with those guys as well if he keeps working. He's going to play as a redshirt freshman as a defensive tackle. He's going to get a lot of reps.

Obviously you've been in the program for a while. When you see a guy like Briedis, whose been in the program for a while, too, was there a time when you noticed that it maybe started to click for him?

Butrym: In the spring. I definitely noticed in the spring. He started to stop making mistakes that he was making. I think once he started to learn from the mistakes and when somebody coaches you and tells you to do something and you actually do it, I think that's when you can start to make strides and become a good player.

When you saw that did you encourage him?

Butrym: Oh, Eriks and I have always been good friends. I've always tried to help him along the way. Some guys just developed slower. He developed slower but he's picking it up now and he's going to be a contributor this year, too.

Talking to Jordan about the offensive line, and it's so clich to say it when you go up a good offensive line that it's only going to make you guys better, but its true isn't it?

Butrym: Oh no question about it. I'm really glad that they run the offense the way they do because it's a physical scheme and they're going to run right at you. You really can't mess around and it forces you to be a tough guy. The individuals on the offensive line are really good players and they're going to have a lot of success this year. I'm glad that I had the chance to go against these guys.

Is it hard to gauge if you guys as a unit have a rough practice? Maybe you think they're just that good…

Butrym: No, you never make excuses like that. You always have to look at yourself and see what you're doing wrong. Usually it's teams that lose games and not win games. You have to capitalize on people's mistakes. They're very good, but sometimes you have to bump your level of play because you're going to be going against players just as good as them. They are probably one of the best offensive lines in the country.

Are you guys hoping to pick up the run defense where you left off last year?

Butrym: I'm not worried about that. I'm just worried about the 2010 Badgers.

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