In the Trenches with Elliott Zajac

Nov. 5, 2002

Perhaps no member of the Huskies' football team has had a rougher 2002 season than senior guard Elliott Zajac. Expected to be the veteran leader of a young, improved line, Zajac broke an ankle during a fall scrimmage and was forced to sit out Washington's first four games. The captain returned to the lineup only to endure losses to Cal, USC and ASU, before being sidelined again by the injury. With just three regular-season games left in the senior's career, including this week's home finale with Oregon State at Husky Stadium, Zajac knows that how he and his teammates respond to the adversity they currently face will determine the legacy of the 2002 Huskies. The team is a bit of a rough spot right now, what's wrong? We're not giving up the ship, are we?
Elliott Zajac: 'I don't have any quit in me. I think that's why I'm a leader and was voted captain, that's my job. Everybody has to look inside themselves. Every time someone wants to point out a problem, they just need to look in the mirror. That's what I think every time something goes wrong with us - we're not doing this or we're not doing that, or we're not getting it done. We're definitely not getting it done, but before I say anything, I just look in the mirror. You do what you've got to do.'

GH: Is it be nice to come back to Husky Stadium after the disappointing road losses?
Zajac: 'I think it's going to help us to come back home, but I refuse to think we lost those two road games because we were away. We're looking forward to being home and turning things around. It's definitely going to feel a lot better not having to fly anywhere. One of the advantages is the home crowd. We have got to make changes within ourselves. We have got to find a way to win, period.'

GH: Is there anything specifically that the team can do to turn things around?
Zajac: 'I don't think there is. Everyone needs to look at themselves in the mirror and say, 'I need to get better. I'm going to do what I've got to do to improve, from Sunday to Saturday.' As long as everybody on our team does that, we should come out with the win.'

GH: Alright, let's make this personal, then. What does Elliott Zajac need to do?
Zajac: 'I need to find a way to heal, get it to where I don't have to worry about my leg, to where I don't have to think about it. I have to move my feet better, find a way to get better pad level, and come off harder. I've got a lot to do and a short time to get there.'

GH: You mention your leg needing to fully heal - obviously, you're playing on it, but where do you think it is on a scale of 1 to 10?
Zajac: 'It's probably about a seven. I'm not a guy who hides behind excuses, but as far as myself, that's what's eating me away the most, as well as the fact that we're 4-4. At the same time, though, I can't give absolutely everything I have because I have an injury that's hindering me. I don't want to think about it, and I don't want to have excuses, but the fact is I have a leg that's just not healing, and I've got to find a way to get that healed. I'm going to find a way to do that so I can improve on the field and play better, for myself and for this team.'

GH: On a separate note, I saw you walking around campus the other day and you had a bunch of pretty ladies with you. I've seen the same thing with some of your fellow linemates, too. What is it that O-linemen are doing to get the ladies?
Zajac: (laughs) 'I don't know. You just have to be nice and loveable; girls seem to be attracted to that. They like to give us hugs because we're so big. It's kind of enjoyable.'

GH: TBS picked up the UCLA game; is there any difference playing a game when it's televised?
Zajac: 'There's no difference. There are TV time outs here and there, but honestly it doesn't really make a difference. Hopefully our team isn't thinking about whether our game is on radio or TV. That should be the least of our worries.'

GH: Is there any one sportscaster that you would like to have announce one of your games?
Zajac: 'A game that I'm in? I think the funniest would be John Madden, just because he talks about the O-linemen. He always talks about how fat they are and how they sweat. He kind of makes it interesting - I mean, he's Captain Obvious with some of his announcing. It would be pretty entertaining as far as drawing some attention to the O-line; he's the only broadcaster out there who really does.'

GH: You could talk about the importance of the O-line if you were an announcer! Whaddya say?
Zajac: 'Definitely not. I don't think I'm quick-witted enough to be a broadcaster.'

GH: You did just call John Madden 'Captain Obvious,' though ...
Zajac: 'Yeah, but he's got a lot of respect through the country as far as what he's done as a player and coach.'

GH: True, but can you really respect a man who takes a bus everywhere he goes?
Zajac: 'I know a lot of guys who are afraid to fly; they have to take those pills just to get on the plane. There are a lot of guys who have that fear, and he's one of those who can afford to drive a bus everywhere.'

GH: Do you fear flying?
Zajac: 'For some reason, I don't; it's no big deal to me. I don't feel safe up there, but I don't fear it.'

GH: Earlier you were chilling out listening to your CD player; that seemed to keep you calm. What are you listening to these days?
Zajac: 'Country music, it's all I listen to. I'm a country boy; it's soothing to the soul. Right now I've got John Michael Montgomery in there. There's some Tim McGraw, but I like the older country: George Strait, Merle Haggard, some of that stuff. I don't really like a lot of what's coming out.'

GH: Not even that song by Kenny Chesney called, 'They Think My Tractor's Sexy?'
Zajac: 'Oh, I like Kenny. The newer songs are cool, but they're not my favorites. Kenny has some really good other songs, but one of my favorites is George Strait.'

GH: What if John Madden and George Strait announced football games together?
Zajac: 'That would be really interesting! I'd have to try to play my very best game!'

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