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December 29, 2012

Hroniss Grasu


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Question about No.42 on Kansas State.  What have you seen from him?
HRONISS GRASU:  Very fast.  Very fast player.  Kind of like all front seven.  They get off the ball very fast.  He gets off the ball very well.

Q.  (No microphone.)
HRONISS GRASU:  Never seen someone like this guy.  He's not that big of a linebacker.  He actually reminds me of Michael Clay, how smart they are as a football player, how well‑prepared they are for the offense they're going to face.  They just fly around, get out there.

Q.  (No microphone.)
HRONISS GRASU:  It is surprising.  I hope people don't think that he's a really bad student.  He's a great student.  I don't know what happened to him in the classes.  It's tough not to have him here because he's a senior, he has great leadership skills.  We really miss him a lot.
Like we had Carson, John, Avery Patterson, we have a lot of depth on this team, we'll pick up the slack.

Q.  With those experienced seniors leaving, do you feel you now have a bigger leadership role?
HRONISS GRASU:  Yeah.  I felt that a lot during the beginning of the season, even when Carson playing, Ryan, Cody.  The experience I had last year in camp really helped me to be a bigger leader and more experienced.

Q.  If there was one thing, the one game that the Oregon offense sputtered on, against Stanford, is there one thing you can take out of the Stanford game and learn from and apply to this game?
HRONISS GRASU:  I've been thinking a lot about that Stanford game, what went wrong.  It pretty much went down to who was more physical.  They were more physical than us.  I have a lot of respect for them.
We can't make that mistake again because Kansas State plays very similar.

Q.  How badly does your team want this?
HRONISS GRASU:  We want every game really bad.  We look at every game like a Super Bowl.  That's how we got ready for this game.  When we were in Eugene two weeks ago, our mentality for each practice was as if we were getting ready for a game in three or four days.  I think that's what made our practices the way they have been.  We've been having some pretty good practices.  Really excited about this game.

Q.  How much different does this feel compared to being a freshman starting in a Rose Bowl against LSU?
HRONISS GRASU:  Last year as a freshman, I was in awe of everything, Oh, my God, we're really here.  Going into the game, I knew I can't play like a freshman, I had to play like a senior.
This year taking more of a leadership role.  Last year we had big‑time leaders.  I listened to what they did.  This year, I'm trying to be an example of a leader.

Q.  Give me a quick scouting report of the Kansas State defense.
HRONISS GRASU:  Their front seven very fast, very talented.  What they do isn't anything too complicated.  It's pretty simple.  But what they do, they do very well.  They've won a lot of games.  I don't see them changing anything they do on their defense.
They just get off the ball, especially No.4, Arthur Brown, best player I've seen this year, smartest players.

Q.  Centers and quarterbacks have a special relationship.  Has Marcus exceeded expectations you had for him back in August?
HRONISS GRASU:  He lived to every expectation he's had for him.  He's a laid back type of guy.  Anytime you're around him, he's going to give you a positive energy.  Shows on the field.  He doesn't make too many mistakes in the game or in practice because of the attitude he has, the way he gets ready for every game.

Q.  Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich works primarily with the quarterbacks, but you cross paths with him.  What is he like and how does he compare to Coach Kelly?
HRONISS GRASU:  They're all great guys.  Coach Helfrich is a fun guy to be around, especially at practice.  You can joke around with him.  He jokes around back, so it's fun.
It's an honor to be able to play for Coach Helfrich and Coach Kelly.  Thank them for the situation they put me in to be able to play as a freshman and this year, too.

Q.  There's so many rumors surrounding your head coach going to the NFL.  How are you dealing with that?
HRONISS GRASU:  He's our head coach right now.  That's the only way I can look at it.  I'm going to play for our coaches right now.  Right now, it's Coach Kelly.  I won't look too far ahead of it.

Q.  You talked about the K State defense.  They have three guys up front, all‑conference linemen.  How much do you welcome the challenge of facing a line like that?
HRONISS GRASU:  It's awesome.  This is like the perfect type of game that offensive linemen want to play against.  They don't do anything exotic or complicated.  They do old‑school, smash‑mouth football.  It's going to expose who wants it more, who is more physical.
Really excited the way our offensive line has been preparing, being physical.  It's going to come out to a good matchup of who is going to be more physical.

Q.  Is this one of the tougher defensive lines you faced all season?
HRONISS GRASU:  We expect that.  But we've played some in the PAC‑12, especially the Stanford game.  We have to go back and see what we did wrong against such a physical defense.  We have to learn from that game, use it to our advantage in this Kansas State game.  Kansas State is very similar to them.  They just get off the ball and play as hard as they can.
They're well‑coached, too, so their technique is very good.

Q.  Is it hard for you to prepare for such a physical line?
HRONISS GRASU:  No, not at all.  Our scout team has given us a great look, our scout team.  D‑line and linebackers are playing as hard as they have all year.  A lot of credit goes to them.
It's just getting off the ball, being physical.  We can't leave them unblocked.  We got to get on them.  They're always prepared, kind of seems like they know every play we're going to run.  Crazy.  Be a good test for us.

Q.  10 years from now, how will you remember Kenjon Barner?
HRONISS GRASU:  It's crazy how this whole year has gone.  It's kind of like we've known each other for a long time the way this year has gone.  We've become so close.  It feels good.  He's a senior.  Big‑time runningback, University of Oregon.  I'm just an offensive lineman (smiling).
It's great to see Kenjon and Marcus being so close.  They come down and sit with us and eat with us.  They treat us very well.  They make us feel welcomed.  That's what makes us want to block for them as hard as they can.  If Marcus gets sacked or Kenjon gets tackled in the backfield, for anybody we take it personal.  But Kenjon, the way he jokes around in the locker room, he'll treat you the same way.  It's great.
So 10 years from now, going to miss him.  Hopefully we're still in touch, really good friends.

Q.  So he's a superstar without the superstar persona?
HRONISS GRASU:  Every time you see him, you never notice that happening.  He's fun to be around, great energy.  It's fun.

Q.  If Chip Kelly were to leave, what would his legacy be?
HRONISS GRASU:  I don't know.  Honestly, I haven't been thinking about him leaving at all, so it's hard to answer that question.  The way we've been taught here is live the moment, win the day.
As of now, Coach Kelly is our head coach.  If I look too far forward, I'm going to be thinking about that, not having good practices.  I just try to live the day, live the moment.

Q.  Is that part of his legacy?
HRONISS GRASU:  It's not just win the day, it's in life, too.  Anything we do, there isn't one week he hasn't talked about greatness.  In my head I was thinking about greatness like Michael Jordan or Mohammed Ali.  But he said greatness is being better than yourself, your previous self.  Tomorrow if I did something better than I did today, that's kind of being great.  I'm going to take that to heart.

Q.  Your first game was at LSU?
HRONISS GRASU:  Cowboy Stadium.

Q.  From that perspective, is everything easier after that?
HRONISS GRASU:  Everything.  That game makes the rest of my career easier.  I try to look at every single game the same way.

Q.  But that's a huge event, your first game.  So it's the SEC, right?  You haven't played another SEC team since then, but you played Stanford.
HRONISS GRASU:  They're just as good.

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