After injuries forced Utah to spend most of last season playing defensive tackles that weighed just 240 and 265-pounds, the Utes focused on building size and depth along the defensive interior. The result has been a young but talented group that will push each other for years to come. After a disappointing spring, Dave Kruger surprised everyone with a strong fall camp and is in the mix for serious playing time in 2009. How far has he come, what was the biggest change in his play and when did everything start to click for Kruger? UteZone caught up with the promising young lineman and found out.
"That whole group of young defensive tackles really shows a lot of promise," head coach Kyle Whittingham said. "Latu Heimuli, Sealver Siliga, Lei Talamaivao, David, Jeremiah Tofaeono, LT Tuipulotu. We've got a lot of depth and they are all very young. Just from spring ball David has made tremendous strides."
Defensive line coach John Pease agrees with Whittingham. "David has come light-years, light-years. He's a different player from what he was in the spring. He knows what he is doing and he's effective. He's a big strong young kid and we really like him. He's relaxed now. He's not all uptight, nervous, and tense. He's playing loose and just playing football. He's not over-thinking, he's just playing football."
UteZone: You have come a long way since spring. What is the biggest change?
David Kruger: I'd say coaching. Coach Pease has helped he out a lot. Not only coaching but more experience and maturity. After spring ball I worked on my technique a little more and I don't know, it started clicking.
UZ: When did the light come on? Was there a specific point?
DK: It just came on the first day of fall camp, I don't know what happened everything just started clicking. I felt better about my technique, keeping my gap, it all just started clicking.
UZ: Coach Pease says you are more relaxed. Is that true?
DK: Yeah. I feel a lot more comfortable. In spring ball I was really tense, like I said I didn't have a lot of experience so I didn't know what was going on. Fall camp I'm a lot more relaxed and I think that has helped a lot.
UZ: Is it as simple as not over-thinking and just playing football?
DK: Exactly. Not thinking because of knowing the plays. Not thinking about the plays; where do I go, what do I do, its more knowing exactly what I've got to do and just doing it.
UZ: How much farther do you need to go? What do you need to improve?
DK: Everything. I've still got a long way to go. I need my technique, I've got the defense down but mainly technique, making plays, and getting experience.
UZ: What is your weight at now and what do they want you at?
DK: I'm at 265 right now and they want me at 270.
UZ: What's it like having a brother playing in the NFL?
DK: It's awesome, it's hard to explain just watching your brother on TV playing with a great defense and seeing him making plays out there is just awesome. I don't know how to explain it. Even playing with him on this team and seeing him go far is a great thing and it helps me out on the field. He's a good influence on me.
UZ: What are we going to see out of David Kruger in 2009?
DK: Hopefully you'll see a lot. We'll see what happens, we've got some great d-tackles and hopefully you'll see me out on the field.