Question: So how does it feel now being the starting left tackle? Did you expect to be there as a redshirt freshman?
Taylor Lewan: “That was the goal as a redshirt freshman. Nobody wants to sit on the bench. Coming into this whole thing, you see the offensive line and you see how much everybody has improved. It has really just been a blessing to get out there and I feel great being out there. I don’t want to leave.”
Question: You talk about last year being kind of difficult because it is the first time you are not playing and sitting on the sideline and stuff. What is the biggest difference with actually getting in the game?
Taylor Lewan: “You’re just way more into the game. Like when you’re sitting on the sidelines…you’re watching a game like Penn State last year where we’re losing pretty bad and you’re sitting there thinking that there is nothing you can possibly due to change the situation. You can do it in practice but right now you can’t do a thing. The biggest thing is I can help change.”
Question: What was it like to have that helpless feeling for someone that wanted so badly to be playing; how hard was that to kind of work through and accept that?
Taylor Lewan: “If anything, I feel like it fueled even more and made me try a lot harder. Working out with Mike Barwis all summer. You guys all know him – he’s crazy. He helped me a lot and just really fueled the fire.”
Question: What specifically did you work on with him to help change things?
Taylor Lewan: “I worked on my strength, speed, just overall quickness, everything about football. Using everything that I have for my advantage.”
Question: Did you get to pick your jersey number coming in and if so, why that one?
Taylor Lewan: “When I actually committed, one of things was that I wanted 77. I actually didn’t even know about Jake Long until my senior year of football. My dad, he was a huge fan. In high school, he was like you got 77, you’re going to wear 77 in high school. I was like, it is a cool number. I didn’t realize I was wearing that and he told me after the season, you’re wearing that because of Jake Long. They are big shoes to fill and I’ll do my best.”
Question: Have you had any interaction with Jake at all since you’ve been here?
Taylor Lewan: “I saw him once. It was at a game, I was standing on the sidelines last year, hanging out and I saw him over just standing there. He is a very large individual. I had my shoulder pads on and he was still wider than me. It was a little bit ridiculous.”
Question: Have you and Craig (Roh) been actively recruiting some great talent out in Arizona and what is your favorite thing about Ann Arbor?
Taylor Lewan: “Yeah. There is a kid that actually went to my school at Chaparral. His name is Andre (Yruretagoyena). He is actually committed to Oregon, so I guess I didn’t do a good job (laughter). Before I was trying to help, call him and Facebook him. Tell him about all the great things. My favorite thing about Ann Arbor…that’s tough. It is just all the different people. You got some weird people out here (laughter). It is kind of interesting to see. You walk down the Diag. You see everybody out there and there are some really interesting people, I love that.”
Question: What is your dad’s name and what did he tell you about Jake Long?
Taylor Lewan: “My dad’s name is Dave. He told me basically that he was the best. That’s what he told me and as soon as I found out about him. I’ve watched him play. He plays for Dolphins. I watched him play the other day and he does it all and that’s awesome.”
Question: Coaches want offensive lineman with a mean streak and they also don’t want penalties. Talk about how you balance that in terms of your own approach to the game.
Taylor Lewan: “If you ask Craig, my senior year, I had no balance at all. I was going out there with at least three penalties a game, at least, on a good day. I think the biggest thing for me was just be smarter. It is okay to be nasty but at the end of the play when the play is away from you and you have done your job, just let go. When I go out there I’m trying to be as mean as possible and making sure nobody is having a good time when they are playing against me.”
Question: Did your dad give you any feedback after the last game with how you play?
Taylor Lewan: “He’s a dad. He is my biggest fan, but he’s also my biggest critic. He told me how proud he was of me and then he told me all the bad things that I did, so it’s all good.”
Question: Did he used to play?
Taylor Lewan: “He did. He walked on…he moved to Canada when he was 16 or something like that and then he walked on to Minnesota and his lung collapsed his sophomore year. So that kind of ended that whole thing, so he tried to play.”
Question: Last year, 1-7 in the Big Ten, do you guys use that as motivation at all now that you are through with the nonconference and you are looking at the Big Ten slate?
Taylor Lewan: “Absolutely. Like Daryl (Stonum) said before, were 4-0 last year at this time and we got to keep our head down and keep playing because we got to change. We got to go back to what Michigan was.”
Question: What about this year’s team? What makes you confident that you guys are going to have more successful in conference this year?
Taylor Lewan: “Everyone is a year older. All the quarterbacks were freshman. Devin (Gardner) a freshman, but he’s playing…they’re all playing like seniors. They are playing like champions and that’s awesome. You got people stepping up, senior, leaders, Steve Schilling is awesome and one guy that nobody ever hears of is a guy named Zac Ciullo, who has been here four years and has never really played a snap, but he is probably one of the biggest leaders on our team. He is there every day and he is one guy that I look up to.”
Taylor Lewan: “Because of his worth ethic, he’s always there. You take a guy who is not on scholarship and he doesn’t get any glory out of this. He is not standing up here like I am right now and he works harder than every other person on this team. He is in the weight room 15 minutes extra and that’s something that I think the whole team should be like and that’s something that I’ve been trying to.”
Question: With Denard (Robinson) hurt but expected to play, do you put even more pressure on yourself and the lineman? Do you have drop back passes to keep him protected?
Taylor Lewan: “I don’t think anybody should change up there game for a person that is behind you. I’m going to block just as hard for Devin, Denard and Tate (Forcier). They’re all my friends. I hang out with all of them. I’m going to do whatever I can to protect them no matter what.”
Question: You talked about how difficult it was last year feeling helpless on the sidelines, but you go into camp and you’re in a pretty tight battle for left tackle that doesn’t go your way. How tough was that knowing that you might not get a change all this season? Obviously that changed for you.
Taylor Lewan: “At first, I was kind of a little bitter about it, but you cannot be mad at another person for beating you out. Mark (Huyge), he’s a phenomenal player. The worse part is when you get phone calls from home and everybody is like, you playing, starting? And it’s like, no I’m not. Like I said, it just made me work harder. I just want to keep working harder and I want to keep getting to where I want to go.”
Question: Did you play left tackle in high school?
Taylor Lewan: “I did.”
Question: What is it about that position that you like as opposed to…?
Taylor Lewan: “I enjoy playing left tackle. I like attention. I’m the attention guy. Ask anybody on the team, I love getting attention and playing offense line, you’re not going to get any but at left tackle might get some here and there, so I’m trying.”
Question: You talked about how you like to be mean out on the field, are you a trash talker at all; what is Taylor Lewan like out on the field?
Taylor Lewan: “I don’t know if I’m a trash talker, maybe more in practice than anything. Just to get people riled up, but in games I really just focus on my assignment and do my thing. I’m just trying to play as mean as possible.”
Question: How do you turn that mean streak on and off? It is kind of an amazing thing to see you guys do sometimes.
Taylor Lewan: “I don’t know how to turn it on. Sometimes, I feel like I just turn off my head and play football.”