August 11, 2008

Ballard excited for sophomore year

As a true freshman, Christian Ballard gave the Iowa defense a spark last year as the Kansas native played with a lot of energy in spot duty. Now, Ballard hopes to bring that type of intensity on every play this season as he heads into camp as one of the starters. Ballard talks about last year and what he learned, how good the defensive front can be in 2008, and more.

Q: What's it like coming into this season starting out at the top of the depth chart?

BALLARD: It's exciting, but we've got to come in here for pre-season camp knowing that nothing is given to us. I've got to work hard every day and bring some intensity to practice to show I deserve a starting spot.

Q: Has it helped you knowing that Adrian Clayborn is going through the same thing on the other side?

BALLARD: Yeah, it's nice to know that. We're both going to be sophomores and we can kind of bond together. It's good to have somebody in my class that's going through the same things I am, and Mitch King and Matt Kroul are going to be there to help us.

Q: What were some of the things you learned from the playing time you got last year?

BALLARD: I just learned that you've got to go hard every play and the things you learn in practice carry over to the field.

Q: What's it like to have guys like Mitch and Matt lined up next to you knowing that everyone holds them in the highest regard. Does that motivate you even more?

BALLARD: Definitely. I can't put all the pressure on Mitch and Matt. We've got to pick up the slack from the two seniors that left before us and we just need to keep the intensity up. But it's good to know that they're there to help us. If we have any questions on the field or get confused, they're there to help us out.

Q: Last year you played in spots here and there. How much different is your role coming into this year where you might play every down.

BALLARD: Well, that's definitely going to be a challenge. The Big Ten is not easy. It's going to be a lot harder than it was last year, but we're going to keep looking to bring the intensity. We need to bring all that energy that we had from last year and carry it over to this year. That actually helped us out a lot last year and if we can keep it up, I think we can be really good this year.

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