Q&A with Illinois offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic

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Q&A with Illinois offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic

Ryan Lankford (12) and Simon Cvijanovic (68) celebrate after Lankford scores a touchdown at the orange and blue spring scrimmage at Memorial Stadium on April 12, 2013. 

Ryan Lankford (12) and Simon Cvijanovic (68) celebrate after Lankford scores a touchdown at the orange and blue spring scrimmage at Memorial Stadium on April 12, 2013. 

Ryan Lankford (12) and Simon Cvijanovic (68) celebrate after Lankford scores a touchdown at the orange and blue spring scrimmage at Memorial Stadium on April 12, 2013. 

Ryan Lankford (12) and Simon Cvijanovic (68) celebrate after Lankford scores a touchdown at the orange and blue spring scrimmage at Memorial Stadium on April 12, 2013. 

Illinois is 3-4 (0-2 Big Ten) at the midway point of the season. The Illini offense has been one of the lone bright spots early in the season, but the offensive line has allowed 22 sacks in the team’s first seven games. The Daily Illini sat down with offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic to take stock of the team during the bye-week.

The Daily Illini: What do you do during a bye-week?

Simon Cvijanovic: Coach gave us a lot of time off just to get our feet back under us. Right now practices are a little bit shorter which will be easier on guys who have been getting a lot of reps in a lot of games. The guys who haven’t played as much are staying out there and doing extra and more realistic-look stuff that they normally wouldn’t be doing. 

DI: Do you feel like you have more of a drive to get back to a bowl game after having a taste of it your first two years? 

SC: I feel like there definitely is. Most of the team has experienced a lot of losing in the past three years, so we’re really hungry and the younger guys are too. Most college football players come from high schools that are winning programs. They know to win, they want to win, the guys who have seen a lot of losing want to win – we all want to win.

DI: What are some of those cultural differences between high school and college football? 

SC: My high school was considered a “football high school” or a football powerhouse in Ohio, although I guess every high school in Ohio thinks they’re powerhouses (laughs). But it was more of school first, football second. Here, it’s definitely football first. You put a lot more time into football and a lot more time into football than anything else in your life, so that’s definitely different. 

DI: Does your role change very much with a Reilly O’Toole and Aaron Bailey playing quarterback instead of Wes Lunt or is your job strictly just “protect the quarterback” regardless of who’s playing?

SC: You saw what he (Aaron) did against Wisconsin. It definitely changes how we protect and how we block, because the guy can move around a little more. When he can move a little more, we can move a little more, because everyone else is moving a little more on defense. It makes everything move a little different when the defense has to be honest for a quarterback read and has to be honest in the pass rush lanes when he can take off and run if a guy isn’t open downfield.

DI: As the weeks dwindle, what does each game mean for you now as a senior?

SC: You feel the clock ticking and the hourglass slowly getting full at the bottom. You feel a little more pressure to win as seniors because that’s all the chances we have left. We’re not going to have any more. I want to leave a mark, I want to be a winner.