November 29, 2009

Clay using fumble at NU as motivation

MADISON - The past week has been one of trials for Wisconsin running back John Clay. After his fumble late in the game at Northwestern, the sophomore admittedly claims he still loses sleep. But, still in all, the talented tailback received some consolation when he was named Offensive Big Ten Player of the Year last week by the league.

Following a recent practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the Big Ten's best offensive player. The following is a question and answer with Clay in which several topic, including the award, the fumble and Hawaii, were discussed.

Well Thanksgiving must have been a little different this year with the Big Ten Player of the Year in the house.

Clay: (Laughing) Yeah, you know, I just feel blessed that I was able to get that award. I can't do anything without my offensive line.

You were a unanimous decision. What did it mean to you when you heard that?

Clay: It felt real good. That unanimous decision, I guess coaches saw what I was capable of doing and how I was producing out on the field. I feel very honored by that.

Is that something you maybe expected (the award)? Was it a personal goal coming into the season?

Clay: No, not really. I wasn't even worried about the offensive player of the year. I was worried about helping my team out in as many ways as I could and try to have a winning season.

You've been in the program a few years too. How did the strength and conditioning program, with the way it was changed up, help keep you pretty healthy throughout the whole year? How did that help?

Clay: A lot. I was doing extra workouts. I was doing pool workouts and doing running work on treadmills just trying to get my body ready just to keep running the ball and just being healthy for the season.

Going back to the Northwestern game. I'm sure you don't like talking about it, but the fumble, how tough was that on you?

Clay: You know, it's still hard for me to sleep when I think about that. Just thinking about all the little stuff I could have did. I was watching film with my coaches and what would have happened if I had the ball in the other hand instead of the inside hand? Or, what if I went to the right hole instead of cramming it to the inside?

Is it something that you've just got to try to move past?

Clay: Yeah, that just adds fuel to the fire. I can use that and hopefully I'll have a good game in Hawaii and use that as my motivation.

What happened, did a guy get a helmet right on the ball?

Clay: I ran right into the back of Mickey Turner when he was blocking for me.

And that just jarred it?

Clay: Yeah.

Were you fighting for extra yards?

Clay: Yeah I was, it was third and two or fourth and one. I was just going to jump over top of him and as soon as I was jumping in the air, I had the ball down low and I ran into the back of him and it flipped out.

Moving forward to Hawaii, you've got to be excited heading out there, but it's got to be a business trip, too?

Clay: Yeah, it is a business trip. We're there to see the atmosphere there and the whole different culture, but at the same time we've got a game that we've got to play and we've got to stay ready for that.

Have you started scouting them?

Clay: Yeah, we've been starting in on them. They've got guys that are big up front. They've got good linebackers that are big that are going to fill the holes and the gaps. Also, I heard it's senior day there so it's just going to be that much more emotional for those guys.

I was talking to the Sports Information Director and he said you guys were going to be flying right there. With an eight hour flight, the time difference and with the weather being really warm, is there any concern that cramps could be an issue?

Clay: Yeah, that too, but that's why we're starting now with staying hydrated and practicing in here (McClain Center). You really can't simulate how hot and what the heat is out there, but just being in this closed environment there's a lot of sweating going around in here.

Is there a Big Ten team that is similar to Hawaii defensively?

Clay: There similar to a lot of defensive teams. They're like a Big Ten school. They have good defensive linemen and have good linebackers. They've got good corners and they run to the ball real well. They're really athletic on the defensive line front.

I don't know if you saw at all last week, but the UW basketball was jumping around and swimming with dolphins. Are you guys going to be doing anything like that?

Clay: I don't know about that (Laughing). I probably won't be going into the water too much. You might see me on the sand here or there, but nothing in the water.

Are you going to wear a grass skirt at all, maybe do some hula dancing?

Clay: Nah, probably not. I'll watch everybody else do that.


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