December 20, 2010

Byers focused on improving

MADISON - As an outside linebacker, Cody Byers is hoping to maintain any momentum he has generated throughout the season as the team prepares for its trip to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl.

In our continuing bowl prep series, took some time to chat with Byers. The following is a question and answer with the freshman linebacker.

Well, your first years on campus during the regular season came and went, what has it been like? Is it everything you thought it would be?

Byers: Yeah, it was more than I thought it would be, especially making it to the Rose Bowl. I knew coming in we had a great team with great leadership. It's kind of a shock going out and playing Ohio State, being from Ohio, and beating them. But you've really got to give it to the coaching staff and the great leadership that we have as well as the seniors.

Did that game mean a little bit more being an Ohio kid?

Byers: Yeah. It gives you some bragging rights at least for this year. Going back home you have people questioning you and saying, 'Oh, you should have stayed.' It's gratifying at that point.

I'm sure you knew a few guys that play on that team.

Byers: I know a few kids on that team.

Off the field during your redshirt year I'm sure you've been hitting the weight room pretty hard. What's your weight at right now and do you like the way your body is coming along?

Byers: Yeah. I cut down. I was at 228 when I came in and I cut down to about 215 right now. I'm feeling a lot faster than I was when I came in. I'm definitely stronger, also. Coach Ben Herbert is a great strength coach and he's got us working real hard.

Is that a strength of yours? Your speed?

Byers: I'd have to say so, yeah. Being a smart player and playing with speed.

Where do they have you playing mostly?

Byers: Outside linebacker.

Either side?

Byers: Either side, yeah.

Obviously when you're at outside linebacker you have to be pretty good laterally. Are you pretty confident in the way you can read things and move laterally?

Byers: Yeah, definitely. It's a point of emphasis and something I need to improve on, but I'm starting to definitely get quicker. Keeping your shoulders square is the ultimate goal, especially with these huge linemen. Being able to do that and do it fast is ideal.

What's the craziest thing you've seen on an athletic scale since you've been here? What surprised you most?

Byers: Definitely the size. The linemen are just huge. Even our defensive linemen. J.J. Watt is huge. Other than that, I've seen some speed in high school, but you have James White who is quicker than ever. Just the whole college (level), everyone is just better.

You've got some seniors at the linebacker position. You've got Blake Sorensen and Culmer St. Jean. Have they taken you under their wing as a young linebacker?

Byers: Yeah, definitely. They take all of us. They're great leaders and they have a lot of knowledge. It's easy to learn from them just watching what they do every day and how they prepare. Obviously they're great examples since we're going to the Rose Bowl.

I'm sure you played quite a bit of scout team this year, but you still take pride in winning a Big Ten title, right?

Byers: Definitely. If there was no scout team then the offense wouldn't run and the defense wouldn't run. It's our job to get them a good look and while we're giving them a good look (we) need to become better players and use our technique. It has it's plus and minuses, but I've enjoyed this year.

Did you expect to win a Big Ten title your first year on campus?

Byers: I knew we had a good team coming in with great leadership. All summer all we were talking about was, you know, 'Let's beat Ohio State and let's beat Iowa. Let's work hard.' I wasn't expecting anything. I was just letting everything unfold.

What's your relationship like with Dave Doeren and what was it like when he made it known he was moving on?

Byers: Well, first of all, he's an excellent coach. I wasn't really surprised just because how good of a coach he is I figured his time would come. Just like any other job you want to move up in the chain. I've learned a lot from him. It's sad to see him leave because he's such a good coach. I'm confident in coach Bret Bielema because he's definitely going to bring somebody else in that's good. We'll move on from there.

What was coach Doeren saying when he was leaving and when he made it known to you guys?

Byers: First, he thanked us and said he couldn't get this opportunity without us. You know, in some way that's true, but with him being such a great coach his time was going to come.

Was it emotional? Was he emotional?

Byers: I don't know if the emotions have come out yet. They might after the Rose Bowl, but he was definitely happy and we were all happy for him. It's just a great time for him and his family.

You got to get into that gift suite, what did you come out of there with?

Byers: Well we had our options, but I decided to pick the recliner.

I heard that thing was pretty oversized and big?

Byers: Yeah, it's big. I'm going to set it up in my apartment here once I get it.

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