Oct. 20, 2010
MADISON, Wis. -- Peter Konz is gregarious, Kevin Zeitler is not.
Kevin Zeitler is reticent, Peter Konz is not.
Odds are, you know where this is going.
Konz is the starting offensive center, Zeitler is the starting right guard.
Konz is from Neenah, Zeitler is from Waukesha.
Every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. (“Maybe 12:15, if we’re feeling good,” Konz says), they show up at the McClain Facility and lift weights together for 45 minutes to an hour.
Konz pushes Zeitler.
Zeitler pushes Konz.
“Kevin pushes me more because I’m a little weaker than Kevin,’’ Konz said. “Whether it’s squat, bench, hang and clean, we’re usually close to the same numbers. We just love to grind with each other.”
The offensive line pairs off for these weight lifting sessions. Since Konz and Zeitler were both in the same 2008 recruiting class, they have partnered up. Seniors Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt make up another tag team. UW strength and conditioning assistant Brian Bott usually oversees these groups.
You can imagine how competitive it can get between two-man teams. “We always make sure that Brian tells us that we’re his best group, whether he believes it or not,” Konz said, laughing.
You can hear that laugh for miles.
Zeitler might even hear it in his sleep.
How dissimilar are Konz and Zeitler?
“Very,” Konz answered. “I’m more of a talking, singing kind of guy. Ask Kevin.”
Zeitler slowly nodded his head.
What is Konz’ favorite song?
“I sing the ‘Kevin’ song,” he said.
Picture the 315-pound Zeitler rolling his eyes.
“Whatever song is on the radio, you put in the word 'Kevin,'” explained Konz, who, unprovoked, broke into a chorus of “Jingle Bells’’ substituting "Kevin" for "Jingle." Somewhere dogs are howling.
“I drive him nuts,” Konz confessed.
But there is a method to his madness.
“He gets angry,” Konz said, “and he goes and lifts a big weight and then I try to make him even more angry by lifting a bigger weight than he has just lifted and then he lifts a bigger weight than I have just lifted … that’s really our dynamic.”
There is one catch.
“He has done that -- Kevin song -- ever since my freshman year,” Zeitler said with a sigh. “He doesn’t do it for anyone else. He just does it for me. I don’t know why. But he does like singing.”
And it all works for this odd couple. “It’s a blast,” Zeitler stressed of their friendship. “We lift, he sings, and we tick each other off. He keeps it light and he can distract you from the tenseness.”
Zeitler’s mailing address is the weight room.
“I guess so, I like being in there,” he said. “It’s where you can improve and get better. I didn’t start lifting until the summer before my freshman year of high school. And I really didn’t take it seriously until halfway through the year. That’s when I realized to get to college I needed a scholarship.
“I really wanted to play college football and I became obsessed with lifting weights throughout high school, and it has just stayed with me. Putting up big numbers makes you feel good – like you can compete with people. And then it comes down to what you can do on the field, but it is a boost.”
The unassuming Bott, one of many unsung members of Ben Herbert’s staff, has earned the respect and trust of all the lifters with his no-nonsense approach to in-season lifting.
“People would assume if we lift as hard as we do, we’d be dead for practice, but, honestly, I feel great on Tuesdays,” Zeitler said. “We get all the individual attention that we need. B-Bott is a great guy who makes it exciting. It’s probably the most intense in-season training I know of when you’re squatting 500 pounds, but my body feels great. A lot of us think it’s insane, but it’s working.’’
The UW offensive line has its work cut out for it. Iowa’s front four is among the nation’s best. Adrian Clayborn, Karl Klug, Christian Ballard and Broderick Binns are returning starters though Mike Daniels has already begun to make a name for himself. While the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Clayborn is a consensus All-American, the 6-1, 275-pound Daniels leads the team in TFLs and sacks.
“They’re good at what they do,” said Konz, who was asked what comes to mind when he thinks of the Hawkeyes. “Corn-fed boys. I think of guys who are well-disciplined, guys who are big and strong. I don’t necessarily think of the fancy, big recruiting types like Ohio State has. I think of guys who are more like our style, guys who come in and are disciplined and are willing to work hard.’’
Konz was recruited by Iowa. So was Zeitler. His first recruiting letter came from the Hawkeyes. Both visited the campus before opting to stay at home. Zeitler was on the traveling roster as a freshman.
“It’s loud,” he said of Kinnick Stadium. “But we just have to go and do what we do. We have to stay focused. The fans are right on top of you, and it’s going to be really loud so we have to know what we’re doing when we get out there. They’re probably the best (front four) I’ve seen on film.”
Can the Badgers sustain the momentum generated from beating No. 1 ranked Ohio State?
“I think so, because it’s a feeling that never really leaves you,” Konz said. “We want to reproduce it. We did it last week. Why not this week? As if it wasn’t enough to win that game (against the Buckeyes) because people thought that would be the validation. Now, obviously, it’s, ‘OK, can they do it twice? Or was it a fluke?’ Expectations are once again high and we look to meet them.”