March 27, 2010

Experienced Butrym helps defensive line

MADISON - A year ago at this time the Wisconsin defensive line was one of the major question marks for the Badger defense. Then players like O'Brien Schofield, J.J. Watt and Patrick Butrym stepped up their respective games.

Now, with a couple of those same questions lingering again this spring, those returning players will need to elevate their games yet again.

At the conclusion of a recent practice, caught up with one of the experienced defensive tackles. The following is a question and answer with Butrym.

Can you believe you guys are half way through already? It's crazy.

Butrym: It's encouraging. It's really nice that it's halfway through already actually. I'm definitely looking forward to spring break, but you also embrace every opportunity to get better.

Where are you going for spring break?

Butrym: I'm just going home.

Kick back and relax a little bit?

Butrym: Definitely, get away from the grind.

How did winter conditioning go? That was the second year through with coach Ben Herbert.

Butrym: I love Herbs. He's does a great job and is very passionate about his job. He definitely did some things this winter that are football specific, which is encouraging. He talked about lower body and he incorporated fundamentals into a strength program, which is good. It's all about being a football player. You can be a good athlete, but what's more important is being a good football player.

Does it help when the strength and conditioning coach is a former player?

Butrym: Yeah, he's a former player. That's a good thing, too. It's also nice that he played he because he knows exactly what we're going through, the aches and pains with the body. He played here so you have a respect for what he did. You're totally right and we can totally relate with him.

Did you add weight or bulk up?

Butrym: I weigh 290 or 295. I came into winter conditioning about 285 so I put on five or 10 pounds. Nothing too serious.

What did you come into the program at, 230 or 240?

Butrym: No, not like 230. It was like 245 or 250. I've put on, that's pretty nuts to think, but I put on 45 pounds.

In not too long of a time period.

Butrym: Yeah, that's like three years. Geez, that's weird to think.

Do you feel any different? Obviously it's good weight.

Butrym: I definitely feel different because I'm not playing defensive end anymore. I think if I were to go out there I would probably look a little goofy. I still feel athletic, I still feel mobile relative to the position I'm playing. I feel comfortable at the weight I have.

Are you looking to add more? Are they looking to get you bigger?

Butrym: I think I could maintain this weight, 290 or 295 is a pretty good weight for the three technique. I think anything beyond 305 or 310 wouldn't really be healthy for me.

Just talk about last year, obviously you got in and played quite a bit. Is that something you're trying to build off now?

Butrym: Definitely. I got a couple of starts last year and definitely got some valuable experience. That's not just important for me, but it's important for the defensive line. I can kind of pass on some of that leadership and experience to some of the younger guys.

You guys lose a couple of guys like Jeff Stehle and Dan Moore at the tackle position. What did you learn from those guys and how are you passing that stuff on to the younger guys now?

Butrym: You really can't describe it. It's just really a relationship that you build with those guys. It's sad to see them go, but it's also fun to see new guys like Jordan Kohout and Ethan Hemer and develop a chemistry and relationship with those guys. You just work on your fundamentals together and watch film together. That's how you develop the relationship. That's how you develop the chemistry.

In talking with Kohout, he said that you guys have great chemistry out there, you and him specifically. Is that what makes a good defensive line when you have four guys…?

Butrym: Absolutely, well you've got the communication part which is so important. Then you also have the non-verbal communication and I think Jordan and I are starting to get that down. That's not just on the field, you develop that off the field. You become friends and stuff like that because you're around each other so much. It definitely benefits you on the field.

Is he starting to come along now that you are seeing him in year two?

Butrym: He is. He could be a solid starter for us. I definitely think he can be. But he knows he has things to work on. We all have things to work on but he's doing a really good job in there. He's improving on his fundamentals every day and you kind of see his improvement and fundamentals starting to lead to production. He's going to be a great player here.

What has Hemer showed you so far in spring?

Butrym: He's solid. He can be solid. From day one to day seven (at time of interview) he's improved a lot. Physically he's there, not totally, but he's 290 pounds. That's a solid size for him and he's definitely using that to his advantage. He's starting to develop those fundamentals and improve at that. Once he does that he can become a solid player in the rotation.

Going back to Herbert, what would you specifically be doing at your position?

Butrym: Just lower body stuff, but he also works specific fundamentals with hands and does stuff running out of your stance and stuff that builds strength in your lower body. That's just so important to the position.

Do you feel more explosive off the ball?

Butrym: I do, I definitely do. That's not only been a focus of coach Herb's but it's also been a focus of coach Charlie Partridge as well.

Would you say you're farther along in your pass rush or run stopping?

Butrym: That's tough to say. I like to think of myself as a balanced player, but that's a tough one. It's kind of tough to assess yourself. Coach Partridge would be the better one to ask for that.

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