ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- For being in a position group that usually doesn't get too much attention, Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan is one of the most recognizable players in the Big Ten.
From a tattooed mustache on his finger to vehemently defending quarterback Devin Gardner, it seems as though nothing Lewan does is half-hearted. He talked about Gardner, his offensive line and his moped with ESPN.com in this week's Friday Q&A:
Chantel Jennings: At this point in the season, are you happy with the offensive line?
Taylor Lewan: Yes, as far as the last game goes, just pushing the line of scrimmage, those kinds of things. But there's so much more room for improvement. As long as we can keep improving every single week, I'll be happy at the end of the year.
CJ: Do people underestimate how difficult it is to change up personnel on the O-line during the middle of the season?
TL: It's not too difficult. It's tough kind of just -- what are the strengths of Chris Bryant], what are the weaknesses of Chris, what are the strengths of Graham Glasgow], what are the weaknesses of Graham -- kind of just doing a little something to help them in certain situations. With the Minnesota game, I did a lot more vertical sets than I did 45 sets or just kind of helping for that three-technique to come out wide, I put a hand on him if I could. Just little things here and there. I think with this next week we can definitely get more chemistry going.
CJ: How does it change your role when you're working next to one guy for four games, then you start the conference season and it's another new guy?
TL: You'd think it'd be a lot different. But you look back and my whole career here, I've had a different guard every single year. Doing that over and over again you kind of get better at establishing chemistry. As far as these four starts [with Glasgow] and this one [with Bryant], yeah, it was a little different at first but I think toward the end of the game Chris and I got into a little bit of a groove. And it was also kind of different because I was jumping to different positions everywhere.
CJ: You've talked about treating this season as if you were a pro. What has been the hardest part of that?
TL: Your friends and family want to spend time with you and hang out with you and you've got to let them know that right now, this is my job, this is what I have to do. I'm spending hours at a time watching film and people are like, 'Let's go do something. Let's go see a movie.' And that's not where my head is at right now. I'm here to play football and get my degree. I'm big into friendships. I'm a friendship guy. I'm a solid friend. When my buddies want to hang out, I just have to say something simple like, 'I'll watch film and then come hang out after.'
CJ: Has the new diet been hard to adjust to?
TL: The diet is tough. I'm not on as strict of a diet during the season because I need more carbs with just so much energy I'm putting out, all that cardio and weight that I could lose. It's a little more lenient during the season.
CJ: The road hasn't been great to you guys. What will the challenges be this weekend at Penn State?
TL: Just not getting so distracted by everything that's going on. We have such a young team. A lot of guys want to look at everything and soak in everything, but you have to realize we're playing a football game and all of these people are going to be yelling and screaming at you, cheering against you. That should be more fun, more exciting. That's one thing I enjoy about the road -- everyone is against you and nobody wants you to win. All you have are those 75 guys that travel and it's just you and them. That's fun.
CJ: What do you remember about playing there?
TL: I remember my redshirt freshman year, getting in my stance in third-and-long and I could not hear a thing. You could hear Denard [Robinson] yelling, trying to start the cadence, and [center David Molk] is just looking around because you can't hear a thing. I'm yelling at him. Steve Schilling's yelling at him.
CJ: You've taken responsibility for Fitzgerald Toussaint's and Gardner's poor performances. Do you feel that added pressure?
TL: None that I can't handle. It's my job to protect the quarterback. I'd much rather make a defenseman angry or upset with me -- so they come after me and try to injure me or hit me -- than my quarterback or my running back. That's what it's supposed to be. I don't have a glamorous position. I'm here to protect the people around me and that's what I try to do every Saturday. Their success isn't completely based off ours. They're on scholarship, too. They're phenomenal athletes. ... It's our job to get Fitz yards. It's our job to put Devin in a good position to be successful.
And for good measure, since this is Lewan, we had to sneak in a few fun questions...
CJ: Earlier this season you referenced the movie "P.S. I Love You". Have you actually seen it?
TL: I have, I have. Honestly, "Crazy, Stupid, Love" is a great movie to me. If I were to [make that] reference again, I'd probably go with that. I've seen that movie like six times. "P.S. I Love You", that's too much emotion for me. But Ryan Gosling is the man. "Crazy, Stupid, Love" is my jam.
CJ: So many Michigan athletes have mopeds these days. Can you explain that movement?
TL: Oh my goodness. I'm going to have to give full credit to Drew Dileo because this kid comes out and has a scooter. I'm looking at the scooter like this is a phenomenal way to get around -- 75 miles to the gallon, reducing your eco footprint. So I got one. Then a bunch of other guys got one. I think the lacrosse guys really started it, but let's give the credit to Drew.
TL: So much better. So much less tiring. And the hockey guys have my twosie, and they won't give it back.
CJ: If you could go on vacation with any Michigan coach, who would it be?
TL: There's [offensive line coach Darrell] Funk, because he's the funniest man who has never told a joke in his life. He has the most dry sense of humor ever. Do GA's count? Probably [defensive GA] Ernie Lawson. Ernie seems like a fun guy to be around. My best friend back home, his name is Ethan Lewis -- they look so identical it's ridiculous. I don't know. Something about him. I like him. Also, his name is Ernie, too. How ridiculous is that?
CJ: Well, it's probably short for Ernest.
TL: That's even worse.
CJ: Or even better, depending on how you look at it.
TL: Very true. That's true.