MADISON - Antonio Fenelus has been a stalwart for the Wisconsin cornerback position for a couple of seasons now. If for nothing else, Fenelus has been a model of consistency throughout the dozens of games he played in.
Now, entering his senior season as the teams bona fide No. 1 starter, Fenelus is hoping to close his final spring camp by improving on the little things that will help him become a better player.
At the conclusion of Thursday's practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the veteran cornerback. The following is a question and answer with Fenelus.
Well, 11 practices in, how would you assess the way you're playing so far?
Fenelus: I could be playing a whole lot better, man. I'm just trying to work on getting better every day. I think I've been pretty good.
What are some of the areas that you're hoping to improve or that you're focusing in on?
Fenelus: Just trying to be more physical at the line during press technique so I can disrupt the receivers routes.
Are you doing more pressing this spring?
Fenelus: Yeah, I'd say we're doing a whole lot more pressing than we did last year. I like it.
Is that just because you guys are more capable or more of the new coaching style?
Fenelus: I think it's just the way we're running the defense. Coach Chris Ash is letting us press outside and cover three, rather than not being able to be aggressive on those short routes.
Did you press at all in high school?
Fenelus: Yeah, we pressed every down in high school.
That suits your style of play?
Fenelus: Yes, it definitely does. I just played that all growing up, just man-to-man coverage.
What are some of the advantages of that as compared to playing off like you did last year?
Fenelus: When we played against TCU we played a lot of cover three. We ran a lot of blitzes out of cover three just to stop the run, but we couldn't be aggressive during those short routes they kept running at us. It allows the corner to get up and be physical. We still can get some blitzes in.
Do you guys watch a lot of film from practices this spring camp?
Fenelus: Yeah, we watch film almost every day. We're just trying to keep getting better and learn from our mistakes.
How would you assess the corner play in general this spring with you, Devin Smith, Marcus Cromartie…?
Fenelus: I think we've definitely gotten a lot better as a group. Me, Devin, Cro, Peniel Jean and those younger guys just want to get better. You can tell. So that's what I like about those younger guys.
You've been around for a while now. Three straight years with three different secondary coaches, has it been tough?
Fenelus: No, you just learn to adjust just like you do with the weather coming from Florida. You just adjust to it. You've just got to play. It's football.
You must like the difference from 70 degrees the other day to 40 today (Thursday).
Fenelus: I have gotten used to it just being here freshman year and going from -12 to 76. I just had to get used to it in order to survive here.
You were obviously one of the more consistent players at the corner position last year, is that one of the biggest topics or themes that you guys as a group collectively are trying to do this year? Is it all about consistency?
Fenelus: Yeah, that's what our whole defense is based on. Just being consistent. If you can be consistent you can be a great player. You're learning from your mistakes like I did in previous years. I just don't want to mess up on the same things.
How do you find consistency? Is it just avoiding mistakes? Is that how you do it?
Fenelus: Yeah, it's just learning from your mistakes. If I messed up on this play yesterday then I don't want to do the same thing today. It's not getting yelled at and stuff like that, it's just getting better as an overall player.
Is it a pretty slow process? Does it take an entire spring camp to do that?
Fenelus: It goes by real fast. I wouldn't really say it's a slow process. He (Chris Ash) teaches us to start off fast and get better every day. I wouldn't really say it's a slow process.
You've got just over a week left until the spring game. Are there any goals that you set at the beginning of spring camp that you're getting close to reaching now?
Fenelus: Just getting better, man. I just want to be a better player than I was last year. I want to learn from some of those mistakes, like when I gave up two touchdowns last year and why I gave up those touchdowns. It's just not being in that same position.
Are there any receivers on the other side of the ball that are standing out to you?
Fenelus: Marquis Mason. If he tries he's going to be a great receiver. He just needs to put a little more effort in. Jared Abbrederis is getting a whole lot better. He was a redshirt freshman that was just stepping in and now he's trying to get that starting role and a leader on the offensive side of the ball.
How did winter conditioning go for you? Did you add weight at all?
Fenelus: Yeah, I put on a couple pounds, but I usually put on weight in the winter. I usually play at 185, but right now I'm at 195.
So you'll probably get back down to 185? That's where you're most comfortable?
Fenelus: Yeah, especially with summer workouts.