Nose guard Tim Anderson took some time to answer some questions. He was asked what the key to spring ball is.
"The key to the spring is just getting better in any and every way you can," Anderson said.
Does Anderson notice a big difference between the beginning of this spring as compared to last?
"No, I really don’t think there is much difference," he said. "We came in this spring and we’re starting just like we did last spring. Starting at square one with fundamentals and going each day and try and get a little better."
The senior All-American candidate is done thinking about what the team accomplished in 2002. He wants more.
"The one positive thing about the team right now is that we’ve kind of forgotten about what we did last year," Anderson said. "We realize that was last season and we’re going into this season and everyone’s got the same record and no one’s going to worry about what happened last year."
Does Anderson and the senior class want to leave their mark on the program? They have the opportunity to be remembered as one of the great senior classes ever at OSU.
"Oh definitely," he said. "I think any senior class across the country should want to leave a mark on their program. We are going to do our best and have a little fun while we’re at it."
What is Anderson’s opinion on the 2002 senior class?
"They were a group of incredible leaders. Guys that were willing to take chances and put themselves on the line. When you have guys that do that, you are going to have a lot of guys try and step up and help them out. It’s contagious."
With so many seniors on this year’s team, is there a chance there might be some power struggles between the players?
"I don’t think so," Anderson said. "We’ve been playing together for a while. This will be our fourth year together and we all know each other really well and I don’t think that is going to be a problem at all."
Has the coaching staff outlined specific goals for the team?
"I think it’s pretty clear what we want to accomplish and what our goals are," Anderson said. "We want to repeat as national champions. Everybody knows that and we know what it takes to do that so now we just need to do it."
What are the benefits to spring ball according to Anderson?
"The spring is good to work on stuff that you don’t have time to work on during the season," he said. "The little things that maybe you need to get better at. As far as D-Linemen go, run protection, pash rush and that kind of thing and this gives us a good chance to work on that and not have to worry about a game coming up. It’s a good experiment time, a time to try out new things and moves and that type of thing."
Defensive end Will Smith is another All-American candidate on that defensive front. With Darrion Scott and Simon Fraser expected to be healthy for preseason camp, just how good can this D-Line be in Smith’s opinion? Can it be the best in the nation?
"I think we can," Smith said. "We have all the tools, we just have to put the tools into effect. Everybody has to step up and play their best. I think we definitely have the talent there to be the No. 1 defensive line in the country."
Smith says he is excited to get back out on the playing field. What does he like most about the start of spring drills?
"I’m just excited to get the championship over with and work on next season," Smith said. "It’s a new start with the start of spring practice today and I was excited to get out there and get to work."
Is it a breath of fresh air to be back on the field?
"Yeah, absolutely," Smith said. "The winter conditioning is hard and no one likes it and now we get to go on the field and do what we love to do."
How important is it for the seniors like Smith to assume leadership roles this year?
"I think it’s very important," Smith said. "We have a lot of seniors in this class and I think everyone wants to step up and be the best leader on the team and show motivation and be an example to the younger guys and go out and win football games next season."
Smith says he’s not worried that his teammates will get complacent due to winning the title.
"Everybody knows that’s over and done with," he said. "We won the national championship last year, that’s good, but we’ve got to move on. We can’t dwell on what happened in the past."
How does Smith and Co. keep the hunger after reaching their ultimate goal last year?
"There is always going to be hunger if you’re a football player," Smith said. "A lot of people said we couldn’t do it last year and now they’re saying we can’t repeat. There was a lot of close games last year that they said we should have lost and we’ve got to approach this year with the goal of winning every game again and take it one game at a time and show everyone that we are the best team in the nation once again."
What does Smith want to take out of the spring? What are his goals?
"I just want everybody to get better and get better myself," he said. "Get in shape and get ready for the summer and work on what you need to work on for next year."
The Bucks will be a much more experienced team this year as opposed to last, but Smith has a different viewpoint.
"Last year we had a lot of guys that started their whole career and this year we have a lot of young guys that are hungry to show the public what they can do and I think that is going to help the team," he said.
Does Smith find himself talking more in practice and helping more players out now that he is a senior?
"We all help each other out, help the younger guys," he said. "The coaches look up to us to help them because players can’t really relate to the coaches sometimes, so they try to relate to the players as much as possible."
Of the young defensive linemen, who has caught Smith’s eye? Who will be ready to contribute this fall?
"I think they all have a big upside," Smith said. "We’ve got Jay Richardson, Quinn Pitcock and Joel Penton and they all can be starters. That’s how we’re going into this season. We want eight starters on this defensive line."
Does Smith expect to see a much improved offensive line this spring?
"It’s too early to say. There is going to be a competition between the offense and the defense and we’ll know by the end of spring how that O-Line is doing. We’re going to be fighting for the red jerseys. We’ve had it all three years that I’ve been here, so there is going to be some good competition this spring. We want to keep them and I know the offense wants to take them away," Smith said.
What is Smith’s take on the DBs and linebackers? Some fans are concerned about them.
"I feel good about them," he said. "Everybody played a considerable amount of time last year. The coaches feel comfortable and now they’ve just got to go out there and learn the defense more and play."
Looking back, can Smith say for sure that he made the right choice to come back for his senior season?
"I never reflect too much on what I did in the past. Obviously, I’ve got to move on I can’t dwell on the past. I think I made the right decision, but it was a win-win situation. I can come back next year and graduate and then go to the NFL."
Smith’s reaction to being in Mel Kiper’s early top five for next year’s draft?
"I heard about it," Smith said. "It’s nice to know that people know you are out there and think that you are among the best."
The Buckeyes used a six-man rotation on the defensive line last year. Can we expect some shuffling this year too?
"Yeah, I think we’ll rotate this year again," Smith said. "That’s what spring football is all about. You’ve got young guys that have to go out and prove themselves and show the coaches that they can have confidence in them."