Led by Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award candidate senior MIKE IUPATI (6-6, 330), the Vandals boast…
2 MINUTE DRILL: OL ADAM JURATOVAC
LINK: ADAM JURATOVAC, 6-3, 293, Sr, OL
Q: As a redshirt freshman and sophomore you were starting right guard. Last year you got moved to the defensive line. Can you tell us why that move was made, did you like it on the defensive line, and what did you take away from that experience, playing defense? We know you played both ways in high school, right?
AJ: "Yeah. Definitely. I moved to defensive line because that's what the coaches and I felt was the best place for me to help the team, whether it was to just help the offensive line by getting them better or helping add some more depth on the defensive line, and it was definitely an experience. It was definitely a lot different than high school. A lot faster, and it's a little harder when you don't know the snap count, either. I found that out during board drills. Really, I just took away the experience of how hard the other side works. The defensive line is working really hard, and it's one of those things that you can't really just look at from a distance. You have to actually be engulfed in the philosophy they're going in. They're really hard workers."
Q: I know sometimes when guys change back and forth from O to D they kinda help each other. Did you pick up anything for blocking that you could use on the O line?
AJ: "I definitely figured out what the defensive line is doing to fight the blocks of the offensive line, and that helped me. I found out how to counter what they were trying to counter us with; so it's all pretty much a game of chess. You've got to figure out what they're trying to do and try to prevent that and then you know they're doing the exact same thing."
Q: This year, in spring drills, you're back at the top of the chart at right guard. How does it feel to be back on the offensive line?
AJ: "It feels good to be back on the offensive line. I missed it, but definitely it has that uneasy feeling because every practice is a different day and anything could happen. There are a lot of guys working hard out there. Like Tevita. He's doing a really good job. He's picking up the offense really fast. This is his first semester playing football in a year I believe. Tyrone Novikoff is over on the second string at right tackle right now, but he's getting a lot of reps at right guard as well. We're all just pushing each other. It feels really good."
Q: I know you're kinda the old man on the O line. Can you just tell us about the line around you? You will have a new center, a new left tackle, and lots of competition in the depth chart. How is the line coming together in your opinion? Can you assess the development so far this spring?
AJ: "Well, I'm the old man…my birthday's tomorrow, April 10."
Q: It is?
AJ: "Yup. I'm turning 22; so I'm finally getting over that hill (laughing). But talking about the other guys on the offensive line. Bryce Sinclair and Irvin Stevens - - I came in with them in 2005, and Bryce has improved tremendously since freshman year. You saw the big leaps he made last year, and this year he's even better. Irvin, he was backing up Adam Korby for the past four years. He's pretty much a prototype of Korby. He does the movements the same, sees everything as well, if not better. The left side: Mike Iupati – you can't really say much about him that you all don't already know. Matt Cleveland, it's good to have him back. He's definitely a force on the offensive line. It's a shame that he got hurt last year, but (knocking on a wooden bench) he's doing a really good job this year."
Q: How about the depth on the O line? Has it improved during your career at Idaho, and do you think the line overall is going to be deeper this year than it has been in the past?
AJ: "Oh, definitely. I mean, look at it. We've got me, and this is going to be my fifth year and I have two years starting under my belt so far. You have Bryce who has two years as well and this is going to be his fifth year. Then you have Irvin who was backing up one of the best centers in the WAC, and he's coming in really good. You have Mike Iupati who was second team all-WAC last year, and Matt Cleveland. He's someone to watch. He's definitely someone to watch. I feel like right now we have the strongest offensive line that we've had in the past fives years. The WAC had better watch out!"
Q: How about the second unit, the guys that maybe red shirted last year or played scout team or walked on. How are they looking in practice? How are they picking it up?
AJ: "Tyrone Novikoff is looking really good, and Bilal Liggins has taken a lot of big strides. He's filling both guard spots as well ...hey, Brian Wilson is going to surprise people in the future. He's got a strong punch. He's the quickest guy on the offensive line. You can tell from the board drills."
Q: No more of ‘when one guy goes down we've got about four position changes?' You've got depth in positions?
AJ: "Exactly. Then you have guys on the twos that can play more than one position like Tyrone Novikoff. Last year he played both right tackle and left tackle and also right guard; so right now he's backing up Bryce, but he can easily move into left tackle or right guard as well."
Q: Is there anything that the line, as a group, has come together and said "We need to improve" from last year? Is there anything in particular the line is most focused on improving from the 2008 Vandal line?
AJ: "Definitely. Our goal is to be the best offensive line in the WAC. Coach Finn instills that into us every meeting, every time we break, every time we meet up. We always start out: ‘What's the goal for the year? To be the best in the WAC.' I feel that all these guys have that vision. Everyone really wants it. Bruce and Irvin have been here. This is going into our fifth year. We want to get that last championship. We want to go to that bowl game and everything that comes with it."
Q: Let's go with the number one O line. Is there anything that you guys as a group so far seem to be doing better than last year's number one O line did, or is it pretty comparable?
AJ: "Right now, it's kinda early to tell in spring ball, but you already tell…we just finished our seventh practice right now and we're already picking up things without even talking to each other. I remember during the practice on Tuesday. We didn't even put in this call, and the defense ran a blitz where we had to pick up a man on the offside. Bryce and I didn't even say anything to each other. We just knew that we had to break the rules and change it; so it's good to see that there's the nonverbal communication that we both know where we're supposed to be and we can trust each other. That's definitely a big improvement over what we had in the past."
Q:: What are your strengths as an offensive lineman? What do you do best?
AJ: That's kind of a loaded question. [smiles]
Q: In your own opinion.
AJ: "In my opinion, I feel that I'm a relatively good pass blocker and I'm a good run blocker when I keep my pads down and everything, but that's what I need to work on. Work on keeping my pads down, keeping my feet moving, and just finishing blocks. I want to have more guys end up on the ground rather than just running them back."
Q: Are you going to be doing any special teams play this year?
AJ: "Oh, yeah. Kickoff return. That's my baby right there. Definitely gonna set the wedge. Me and Oga are going take turns taking the wedge this year so we get a better look. We're gonna lay a lot of guys on the ground."
Q: What are your expectations for yourself personally as a senior? What are your goals for this coming season, for you and for your team?
AJ: "Right now my goal…I'm graduating this semester, this spring, and I'm already enrolled in a couple of grad classes for the masters in accountancy so academically my goal is to finish the master's in accountancy before my college eligibility is up. I have football to thank for that, coach Akey and the Idaho Vandals. On the football aspect, we just expressed it. You try to be the best in the WAC. My goal for me personally is to be the best offensive lineman I can be and help out the team as much as I can, and no matter what role that puts me in, whether it's special teams or with the offensive line or even with the defensive line as you saw last year, I just want to help out my team in any way I can. For the team, I just want to see us do as well as we can. We came really close last year to winning a lot of games. I just want to see us punch through that barrier and start ending up on the other side of the column."
Q: How do you think this team – as a team, not just the offense or the O line – compare to last year's?
AJ: "This team is the most talented team I've been with. I know that you hear that a lot, like every year, but honestly we have a lot of guys who were freshmen last year who are doing big things such as Preston Davis. He got a few passes in Fresno. You saw a lot of good sparks from him, and he's coming in as a sophomore with a year under his belt. You see Max Komar. He's really stepping up this year. I feel that his improvement just from last year to this year is a lot greater than the other years. And you have Nate Enderle. You have a quarterback battle going on right now, too."
Q: How about speed-wise?
AJ: "Speed wise? We're quick. We have a stable full of running backs who have a lot of experience now. It's not just Deonte. It's Corey (White), Princeton (McCarty)…all those guys. You have H-backs that can run and they can grab passes like Daniel Hardy."
Q: Let's talk about your academic side. You said you were going to be in accountancy and you're going for a masters. Talk about grade point averages, what you've done with your studies, what your ambitions are, internships, and so on."
AJ: "Last summer I actually took an internship at Washington Mutual's headquarters (in Seattle) in the tax compliance department. One of the people got laid off because of the mortgage crisis that happened last summer and we still had to file the taxes for 30 subsidiaries of Washington Mutual; so I was given all that work. While the other interns were grabbing coffee for people or making Excel spread sheets, I was filing taxes for all these subsidiaries trying to find deductions and everything. While they (the other interns) were all complaining about they weren't doing work and wasting their time, I was just over my head. The learning curve was vertical. I definitely learned a lot about taxes and accounting in general doing that….Like I said, I'm finishing up my undergrad degree in accounting this semester. I'm walking in the spring. "
Q: What's your grade point average going to be when you walk.
AJ: "Overall it's going to be like a 3.4, 3.5. It could have been better, but….I made a goal with my parents and my advisors and my brother that I am going to get a 4.0 in the masters in accountancy. Doing my masters, I am going to get a 4.0.
Q: Beyond that, once you've got the masters in accountancy, what does it look like for Adam?
AJ: "Actually I'm taking the LSATs this summer to try to get into law school, and hopefully we'll see where that takes me because I kinda have aspirations to get my JD and then get my LLM which is a master's in tax…it's kinda like a PhD, a little bit. We'll see how that goes…Once I get my law degree, I kinda want to…I'm really interested in taxes. As uninteresting as that sounds, it's something that really interests me. After you get the JD you have the opportunity, if you want, to get an LLM. It's a one-year program. A masters of law in tax; so I've got a lot of school ahead of me."
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