April 28, 2012
2012 Wisconsin Football Spring Game
Camp Randall Stadium - Madison, Wis.
Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema
"I was actually kind of anxious to see how our guys would respond today. This is by far the coldest day that we've had out there. Obviously being here in Wisconsin, it was good to see their reaction. I think the guys handled the ball, especially in the run game. We didn't have any balls on the ground. We didn't have any center-QB exchanges that I remember, besides one bobble on a long snap.
"A couple of guys jumped out today. Melvin [Gordon], obviously a very good football player. The good news about him is we have four years of him. Easy for you guys to see, I thought Joel Stave [did well today]. Joel continues to impress me [with] his maturity, the way he handles it. Obviously, I wish we had that last throw back from the red zone. It'll probably be the last time you hear me say it, but Matt [Canada] wanted to run it and I wanted to throw it just to keep people up. In retrospect, we probably should have run it there.
"I thought our defense played well besides a few busted plays. We lost leverage. There are a lot of young players. I know we just lost six players in the draft and my guess is we'll have another six players sign to free agency. There are a lot of good players moving on, but I think we have a lot of good players coming back, as well as some young ones that will rise up and help us make a run for a third [Big Ten] title.
"Injury-wise, Michael Trotter just has a mild MCL strain. It didn't look to be anything serious. Darius Hillary was a little bit - I'm not saying it's a concussion - but he was a little bit symptomatic, so they kept him out of it."
On Chase Hammond's past health issues:
"Chase is an interesting prospect just because he's so lanky. He's a very athletic specimen. He had surgery on an ankle twice, I believe. Really, at one point they told me he wouldn't be able to play. He's battled back from that. I think he's gotten a little tougher this spring. He's had a constant struggle with his back. The thing about Chase, I think he made some steps this spring in certain times in practice. I'm excited because I think it is there. He's only a sophomore, so he's got a lot of good football, hopefully, in front of him."
On Melvin Gordon's play today:
"We didn't have James [White], we didn't have Zue [Kyle Zulger] and we didn't have Montee [Ball]. A five-deep running back core suddenly got slimmed down to two healthy guys. That was kind of the process of it. I will say that Thomas [Hammock] and I wanted to see if Melvin could grind it out. That's one of the things he hasn't had to do. That's something I was happy to see. I almost think he got stronger as the day went on. I was really excited to see him handle the whole game."
On Jake Keefer's play today:
"I saw him flash. I know he had a run down there backed up. He's a guy that I've been intrigued with just because I think he's playing at an unrealistic position. He's probably more of an inside, but we just want to get him on the field. He's a very intriguing player to me because he's only a redshirt freshman. He's potentially got the size to get bigger or stay where he's at. He's a coach's son that is one of those guys that you know is going to be a good football player."
On if he thinks Joe Brennan is struggling right now:
"Joey's definitely had some flashes this spring that have looked good and some other phases where it doesn't look good. A classic example is I asked him down there what he couldn't take and he said a sack. The ball couldn't come out of his hands. He's got the intelligence, he's got the ability. He has to be able to say, `Here is the play, here is where the ball goes. If it's open, throw it. If it's not, go to the number two.'"
On how he feels about the punting team today:
"We weren't clean on punt protection, and then we started throwing some guys in there that hadn't done that. There were some guys flashing. I thought Drew [Meyer] had some really nice hits today. Frenchy [Kyle French] hit the ball, and those weren't great kicking conditions out there. For him to hit those five in a row and miss the 57-yarder that I think I put him on, that was very good for me to see and I think good for him to experience."
On how he feels about the receivers and the amount of drops made today:
"I let one of them have it pretty good. I let Isaiah [Williams] have it pretty good and moved him from first string to second string and then he caught every ball that was thrown his way. I think it's a mental thing. I mean, it's a physical thing to catch a football, but those guys need to realize it's not just, `I dropped a ball.' That's a first down. That's a touchdown. Those are things that win or lose football games. When you're not in games you need to stress it to them as a coach. Hopefully they came away with that today. I think they looked a lot better in the second half catching the ball."
On if he thinks Joel Stave believes he can be a starter:
"I believe so. Both of those guys, when I told him Danny [O'Brien] was coming on his visit, they said, `Coach, you have to do what you have to do, and I have to do what I have to do. I'm going to train to be the starting quarterback here,' and I don't think either of them have looked back."
On if he was happy with the attendance today:
"I knew it was going to be a tough draw just with the timing of it, being at 4:00 and after Crazylegs [Classic]. And then Mother Nature didn't exactly cooperate. I appreciate all the fans that did come out there. I know the School of Human Ecology will benefit greatly from it. There was some pressure out there. I think the kids knew there were people in the stands and they wanted to perform well."
Sophomore QB Joe Brennan
On how he would describe his spring season:
“I thought the spring was productive for me. I’ve made progress throughout the spring. Today was a really rough day for me. I just didn’t really get things going.”
On the competition for the starting QB position:
“You always have that competitive nature in you. As an athlete you always feel like you can get better. You always want to be the best at your position no matter what sport you’re playing. You always think you can get it done. We all need to compete to be the quarterback this year, and we’ll just see how things happen.”
Sophomore WR Chase Hammond
On his chemistry with the quarterbacks:
“With Joel [Stave] it’s been great, we’ve been mixing very well. Actually on the touchdown catch, we’ve been changing some things up and that went well. With Joe [Brennan] it’s a work in progress, but overall we’re getting on the same page. We’re all trying to improve and make sure that everyone knows what’s going on.”
On his performance in the spring game:
“I just showed that when it’s time to play, I can make plays. I think that’s been big on me. I may not always have the best practices but that’s what practice is for, to get better. When the media’s there, your family’s there, everyone is there it counts, and that’s when it’s time to make plays and show what we’ve learned throughout this spring and throughout the weekend. I think that I just showed that I’m capable of that and the coach may like to give me a chance.”
On possibly finally getting an opportunity:
“That is one thing that me and [Matt] Lepay and those guys have been talking about. We come in and they asked me ‘How do you feel about this spring?’ I told them it’s do-or-die for me. I’ve been hanging out for a while up here, and I’m kind of tired of that. I’m ready to play. I’m feeling great. My body’s feeling great. [Strength] Coach [Ben] Herbert has got us getting stronger in the weight room so I’m feeling good about that. I’m going to try to put on a few pounds this summer and get a little stronger.”
RS Freshman RB Melvin Gordon
On the running back situation in the spring game:
“With James [White] and Montee [Ball] not going today, we got a lot of reps. We knew we were going to have to get them and we took full advantage of them.”
On having more experienced players, like Montee Ball in front of him:
“Having a Heisman finalist in front of you helps a lot. Any time he sees me messing up, or anything I need help on, I just go to [Ball] or James [White]. They know what to do. Montee [Ball] gave me some tips before I got out here, and it helped me out there today.”
Sophomore RB Jeff Lewis
On his performance this game:
“I felt like I did alright. We all got better today, came out and did well. The offensive linemen were doing a great job. Overall I think it was a good day. Since Montee [Ball] and James [White] were out, I [was able] to get a lot of feedback from them on the sidelines.”
On what he think he needs to improve on:
I’d say I should run a little lower and get more physical.
Junior DT Ethan Hemer
On how he thought the team did as a whole:
“I think it was a good way to end the spring. We made some jumps as a group and also as a team. I like the progress that the younger D-line made. The progress that we made in the spring is just a tip of the iceberg of what this team is capable of.”
On the difference between last spring and this spring:
“We switched some things up on defense, so that was a little bit of transition, but the biggest thing is confidence. I consider myself a seasoned vet, and it makes for an easier practice.”
Sophomore K Kyle French
On leg strength now compared to fall:
“Working with [strength coach] Brian Bott is very beneficial. We have done a lot of quick muscle work, and I’d say I have added on at least three to four yards to what I was last year.”
On kicking conditions:
“This is where the mental side of kicking really plays a big role. It’s really hard, but very important, to not worry about the conditions around you.”
Freshman QB Joel Stave
On what to do to prepare for the fall:
“As a quarterback you can really improve on all aspects of the game. For example: arm strength, accuracy, footwork, watching film, learning about the offense. I now get a chance to go over everything I have done and solidify everything.”
On when Danny O’Brien arrives:
“I want to play, so I will continue to compete. It’s still an open competition and I am going to continue to work.”