Catching up with Mark Asper
One of the biggest questions coming into the 2011 Oregon football season was how the offense would deal with losing three starters (center Jordan Holmes, left tackle Bo Thran and right tackle C.E. Kaiser) on the line. Would the Ducks lose a step after leading the nation with 47 points per game in 2010? Those concerns turned out to be unwarranted, as Oregon heads to Colorado with an even higher scoring average (48.7 points per game) and an offensive line that looks to be as cohesive as ever. Senior right guard Mark Asper has been instrumental in this renovation in the trenches and the Emerald caught up with him after practice this week.
ODE: I don’t know if you saw this, but The Oregonian had you as the midseason offensive MVP. Are we going to see a Mark Asper for Heisman campaign?
MA: I was going to say, do I get some kind of like midseason plaque, a piece of paper, gold star, anything? Yeah, David Paulson told me that the other day in the shower and I just told him, “Who’s fabricating these lies?” I’ve got to tell my wife to quit writing on those sports blogs.
How do you feel about the offensive line now? It seems like you guys have come together pretty quickly this season with a lot of newcomers and shifts.
Well, yeah, I’m proud of all of our guys and our effort and what we’ve done. But the process started, you know, Jan. 23, I think is when we came back. We knew this is what we were going to have to do, we knew we had guys leaving. It wasn’t something like a surprise,. we picked our heads up in August and reported to camp and looked around like, “Oh god, we don’t have that many people. Where’s Jordan at?” We knew this was going to happen and so people got in the weight room, people got in the film room, people got after it all summer long. So I think Coach Kelly’s mantra about the way you prepare enables you to perform well. I think we did that all summer long and we put ourselves in a position to do good things. And as a complement to that we have good running backs that don’t go down on first contact and put yards on the board that make us look like we’re doing a good job. We have good, smart quarterbacks that don’t take stupid sacks and get rid of the ball, that are mobile and get out on the edge and also make us look good. So I think it’s a good team effort on offense that we try to help the backfield and the backfield tries to help us.
At the midseason point, how are you feeling physically?
The car still runs. There’s some dents in the frame work, but the car still runs. And that’s what everybody experiences. There’s probably not a guy anywhere in the country that’s taking significant reps on Saturday that isn’t a little banged up or a little tired, a little sore. So you have to be disciplined to go to bed early and come in and get treatment and sit in the ice tubs and work out all those kinks, and come in and get good work in when it’s time to get work in on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The way we do things here makes it so that the body has a little bit of time to recover before we have to throttle it up, and I think we do a good job of trying to keep everybody healthy in practice. We practice smart; we’re not going out to try to kill anybody in practice, we’re about using good technique, using good form and so that helps keep guys healthy by the end of the season. And the more healthy guys we have later into the season, the more successful we’ll be.
You’ve been here for a while now — is there anything different in terms of treatment that you’ve picked up on to try to keep yourself healthy?
I do the old man thing, you know, like Michael Jordan used to do. I put ice bags on my knees. As soon as I get done with practice, I go in there and I get two ice bags and I just set them on my knees for 10, 15 minutes and that seems to keep them pretty fresh. And then I don’t ever shortchange the stretching or the flexibility, the core workout stuff in there, because I think that plays a big part. If you can stay flexible, it prevents a lot of injuries.
Jumping to some completely random topics, I’m curious to know who on the team has the most “out there” music taste. Anybody listen to some really strange stuff?
No, I think there’s the traditional representations all over the place. You know, we have a lot of reggae for the Polynesian guys and we have a lot of hip-hop in there. Every once in a while, we’ll turn on some country music and we’ll get booed quickly. Even at practice, we try to play some music that doesn’t necessarily have an up-tempo beat or have a high bass thump in it and it just doesn’t seem to make it into the playlist more than one day (laughs). Not a whole lot of heavy metal, heavy thrasher rockers or anything like that, but there’s a pretty good blend.
What are you into? Anything you’ve been playing a lot lately?
I dug out my John Denver CD, because we’re going to Colorado. I’ve been going to Rocky Mountain High on the way to practice (laughs).