One of LSU's defining traits is their big linemen, regardless of what side of the ball they're on.
UCLA football right guard Atonio Mafi and defensive lineman Datona Jackson will be two of the Bruins matching up with those imposing Tiger linemen, and they talked to the media about what they expect from Saturday's game. Mafi also touched on his continued transition from defense to offense, and Jackson detailed his big interception versus Hawaii last week.
When did you find out you were starting? Overall thoughts on performance?
I found out sometime during the week, but honestly, we rotate a lot at guard so it doesn't really matter as far as we're all getting playing time and we're all just trying to help the team. And it felt to be pretty good to be up there, finally back on offense, felt like high school again, back to the offensive side and it felt really good to be playing O-Line.
Rewarding to see Charbonnet and Brown succeed?
Man, those two backs, they're as good as any back in the nation. Our job is just try to get them to open space and you guys can see what they do. They're great backs, and definitely just getting them to the second level and just let them ball out. The film doesn't lie, those are some really good running backs.
Looking slimmer? Weight and training changes in transition to O-Line?
Right now, I'm at 356 as of this morning. I'm feeling good and I just want to keep getting in better shape and just continue to play to the best of my abilities, that's kind of the goal right now.
LSU defensive line unlike anything you've ever faced in college?
I mean, obviously every team in – everyone in Division I football has a scholarship for a reason, so everyone's good and you can expect they're at their college for a reason. So I'm excited to play for sure, they definitely present a good challenge for us and we're just excited. We've had a good week of practice, we've been working hard, communicating and it should be fun.
Ever miss the defense or your old position?
No, not really. I mean, defense is fun, you get a lot of recognition, you get to make tackles and stuff, that's cool, but being on the field when you score a touchdown, there's nothing like it. It's really fun having to be there with the boys, with the running backs. And I don't know, something about offense is just more appealing to me, personally. I like blocking and I just find it more fun to play. No hate against no D-Linemen or any of the boys in the other room, my roommate's still playing D-Line, Ty. But offense is, I just feel like, is a better fit for me.
Completely moved on emotionally and mentally to O-Line?
Yes sir, definitely I'm all in on offensive line, I'm not looking back at defense, those my first two years here, all in on offense for sure.
D-Line feel like you abandoned them?
Oh no, no. It's all love. Obviously, they're doing just fine without me, you can see last year's performances and last game, last week, they didn't skip a beat or anything, so it's all love for sure.
Confident in how much you've picked up O-Line or still learning?
I think coach Frye and the other boys, the room has definitely caught me up to speed very quick. Obviously, every week, there's always a chance to get better, but I can't be more grateful to the boys: Jon Gaines, Alec, Sam, Paul Grattan, all those boys that have been playing O-Line for a while, they really took me under their wing and helped me even though we're the same age and everything, later on in our years, but they're helping me out, getting me used to the position. And I'm feeling good, I feel good with where I'm at right now. Obviously there's so much more that I know that I can achieve just listening to the boys and to coach.
Jumping on the Charbonnet Heisman train with Bo Calvert?
Yes sir, for sure. Yeah, he's got my bid. I mean, if I had a vote ... Zach got it for sure.