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Postgame Quotes: Wisconsin vs. UMass



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Postgame Quotes
Wisconsin vs. UMass
Aug. 31, 2013
Camp Randall Stadium - Madison, Wis.

Wisconsin Head Coach Gary Andersen
First of all, Division I games are hard to win. It's a tremendous victory. To get the first one of the year underneath your belt is always good.

We were able to play a bunch of kids, especially in the second half. UMass played hard. They battled from the first snap to the last snap. That's exactly what we saw on film from them last year. My hat goes off. We have a lot of respect for that team. They're going to be a good team.

Did a lot of things good today. I have a tendency to want to kind of lean to the other side on that, but I thought the offensive line was definitely worth noting in the protections and the run. Tight ends were also involved in that. Fullbacks were involved in that. The backs ran hard. They ran very, very well. We threw the ball good in the second half, which is great to see.

There was kind of a defining moment, hopefully, of this football team, I think with these kids, with six minutes left in the game. Going to put Curt (Phillips) in the game, and Curt comes up to me and says, “Coach, let Bart go take those snaps. He needs the repetition.” What else do you say as a coach other than that's a tremendous kid, unselfish, and excited about being part of this team. So I couldn't leave this desk here or podium without mentioning that.

Defensively, they swarmed the ball all night long. I thought they did a nice job. Very impressed with them overall, lot to work on, especially in zone coverages, a little bit of communications. They were solid. They were physical. They're throwing the ball quick, and it's in and out.

Over on special teams, I would say we were just okay. There's definitely room for improvement in that area.

QUESTION: On whether the first play of the second half was called by offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig …

ANDERSEN: Yeah, it's 100 percent. Coach Lud’s call maybe the offensive staff discussed that as they came out of halftime. If it's up in the air and it's close, Abby’s (Jared Abbrederis) going to come down with it most of the time. We underthrew the first one, but it was a good call. Two great players connected, unbelievable protection on it.

Joel (Stave) wants to sit back all day and throw the ball. We wanted to emphasize it in the first half. The inconsistency in the throw game in the first half was not just Joel. It wasn't just the receivers. It wasn't just the tight ends. It was a combined effort, other than I thought he had protection, which was great to see.

We kind of amped that up in the second half, and players make plays. Players win games. No magic to it.

QUESTION: On having confidence in the passing game …

ANDERSEN: Yeah, we need to. You're not going to catch every ball, and you're not going to throw it. We did a pretty good job of that today in the short and in the deep. The middle, I'm sure we're going to have more involvement with the tight ends as we move forward.

That was a big time play. Any time you can take the pop off the defense and score touchdowns or get yourself in position to score a touchdown in the red zone is big.

QUESTION: On the importance of the defense getting a shutout …

ANDERSEN: You know, I think they showed a good amount. They weren't overly aggressive, but you could tell it means a lot. I've been in those spots, and it's hard when the head coach flips over and says, “Okay, let's unload the bench,” when there's a zero on the scoreboard there.

But if you had seen (Defensive coordinator Dave) Aranda on the last stop when they got the second, third down conversion, he was pretty fired up. He wanted that zero.

Dave is the same way as I am. He wants to get that zero for the kids. That's something that's a statement to hold a team to no points. I'm sure they're proud of it as a defensive group of kids, and they should be.

QUESTION: On gaining momentum after Melvin Gordon’s long TD run …

ANDERSEN: Yeah, it was going back and forth a little bit. We had opportunities, and we didn't convert. Playing good on "D," but we needed to make that play and get us going and headed in the right direction. He hit that, and it was blocked out well. I think it was Ted that made the last block on the edge.

After that, you're going to have a hard time catching Melvin. Once he gets his shoulders square, he's pretty fast. He needs to look back at the jumbotron and see where those guys are coming from behind. It's easier that way.

QUESTION: On splitting carries between James White and Melvin Gordon

ANDERSEN: No. I love them. They're again, they have no agendas. They're not sitting there saying, “I want the ball. It's going to be my rep, my series.”

To see what Corey did tonight, that's a big part of it. We're very lucky to have three men at that position who are good football players.

James and Melvin are a tandem. I believe those two kids are going to work together very, very well all season long.

QUESTION: On walking out of the team tunnel for the first time …

ANDERSEN: Yeah. It was that's a special moment. You kind of say you're not going to be emotional when you talk about it and whatever, but when you get into that moment, when you're walking down that tunnel because I walked up that tunnel, I don't know, 50 times since I've been here. There's not one time I walked up and hadn't really thought about how one day it's going to be the first game.

Today was the first game. It was special to me and will be forever.

QUESTION: On Derek Watt’s injury …

ANDERSEN: He's okay. I think we'll have to see and evaluate him. I would expect him to be back. We'll know more tomorrow.

QUESTION: On taking any teaching points from the victory …

ANDERSEN: We talked about it's always a much better environment when you win and you can teach with a "W." Some guys say you can coach them harder when they win. I don't believe that statement. These kids want to win. They want to be good. They'll be studying that tape tonight on their iPads, I promise you.

QUESTION: On what he said to QB Joel Stave at halftime …

ANDERSEN: I didn't say anything to Joel. I looked at the quarterbacks and looked at the wideouts when we were walking in at halftime. I said, “Let's challenge ourselves to throw the ball and catch it because we can.”

I didn't grab Joel and say anything specific to him. I just kind of challenged the offense to say, hey, “We can throw the ball. We've done it all camp. We did it during the spring. Let's throw the ball and catch it and make plays.”

They did a tremendous job. All that credit goes to the kids. They figured out a way to get it done.

QUESTION: On the performance of true freshmen Sojourn Shelton and Corey Clement

ANDERSEN: Yeah, Sojourn went up and got that pick. Ethan (Armstrong) thought it was going to be his. Sojourn went up and got it. I thought they handled the moment well, which you worry about. Corey didn't get into the game until late third quarter, fourth quarter, whatever it was, but he handled it well. He was ready, and that was a credit to him. He did a nice job of making some big runs and almost got him a couple touchdowns.

So job well done by that young man and Coach Hammock getting him into that spot. Sojourn, I thought, handled it as a starter good. Those kids on the outside for UMass, I thought, ran pretty good. They challenged them with a lot of different coverages and some different things he was doing.

He was not starry eyed. He was ready to go from the first snap. Credit goes to Sojourn and Coach Strickland for handling themselves the way they did and got him ready to go.

QUESTION: On the play of Corey Clement

ANDERSEN: Yes. His physicalness is impressive. He's one of those guys you look and think you made a nice play on defense, and he hops up with a three, four yard gain. He's done that.

The challenge for him is going to be when you're in the position to throw the ball. You've got to protect. You've got to come up and take the next step. He's working through that, and Thomas will get him there.

QUESTION: On the punt return look …

ANDERSEN: Today it is. We might have done something with Abby (Jared Abbrederis) late in the game or in the second half if he didn't take the shot he took early. Just being a little cautious back there. We need to time that up better. At times it looked great. At other times it didn't look real good.

They did kind of catch us off guard with a whole completely new punt formation that they had never showed before. We had to do some scrambling on the sidelines to get that fixed. I thought that Coach Busch handled that pretty good.

QUESTION: On the team doing ‘Jump Around’ …

ANDERSEN: Yeah, I want to have fun. I don't think there's anything wrong with having fun in the game of football. Everybody has fun in the moments. We'll see how that goes and probably depends on how you're playing a little bit sometimes. How happy are the ‘Jump Arounds?’ Hopefully that can continue.

QUESTION: On the differences between James White and Melvin Gordon

ANDERSEN: Before fall camp, I really felt like it was more James inside the tackles and Melvin on the outside. That was just from watching tape a year ago. I really thought Melvin got his pads down today well. James always runs with his pads well. And they both had the ability to break it down outside.

As much as they were different then, whatever, six, seven months ago, I think they've become more of the same. They both have good speed, good vision. They're physical guys when they need to be. I was proud of them today.

QUESTION: On scoring on four players longer than 50 yards …

ANDERSEN: Big plays are huge. If you can take them in the run game or get them in the throw, obviously, that's a big part of the offense. Our goal is to have a certain number of big plays every single game versus how many snaps you go against and how many snaps you snap the ball. Obviously, we got that down.

Big plays are big. Long drives that are grinding long drives are kind of an identity who we want to be at times and kind of wear people down, have statement drives, if you will, that allows you to be able to run time off the clock, do all the things you want to do. Those big plays are big for us.

QUESTION: On mishandling the center-quarterback exchange …

ANDERSEN: Yeah, huge negative. We haven't had one for I was I snapped the ball a lot during camp, just kind of hanging around with the kids and enjoying it and whatever. So I stopped doing it, and we haven't boffed one since then. I haven't had a ball snap bobbled in practice for a long time.

There was two of them today, and they have to go away. We'll continue to evaluate that and look at it, but ball's on the ground twice. It didn't cost us today, but if it continues, it will, and it will cost us a football game eventually if we don't get it fixed.

QUESTION: On the atmosphere of the game …

ANDERSEN: Loved it, awesome. You get in a lot of special stadiums as you go through your career. This is my first game here. During the first three quarters, you kind of get caught up in managing football game a little bit. But in the fourth quarter you look back, and you know, it's a special, special place. I'm learning that more every single day.

QUESTION: On being nervous before the game …

ANDERSEN: Absolutely. I was nervous, uneasy, whatever. I'm like that every single game. I think, as a coach, you're always in that situation to where you worked so hard and you want the kids to do so well. If that doesn't come with nervousness, I don't know how it could be.

QUESTION: Did you sleep?

ANDERSEN: I slept really good. Yeah, I did. I always sleep good, though. I sleep better in the hotel room beds because I don't have two Great Danes sleeping on top of me. It makes it simpler. I've always slept good before games.

QUESTION: On putting Bart Houston in nthe game instead of Curt Phillips …

ANDERSEN: I did not. I didn't even think about it. That was all Curt, and it's a pretty powerful thing, for me anyway. I don't know what anybody else thinks about it. I told the team right after, and I think it affected our team in a very positive way.

QUESTION: On the offensive line …

ANDERSEN: It will be good. Hopefully, the answer we come with, we still believe we have nine guys that can turn around and go play, at least eight for sure. That's where we want to go, and that's the direction we're headed.

It looked like they played pretty good. We'll evaluate the film. We kept them healthy, I hope, and we'll get to game two.

QUESTION: On getting Tanner McEvoy some reps at wide receiver …

ANDERSEN: Yeah, Tanner's situation right now is we want him to go out there and practice and continue to get him on the field and hope he makes some plays for us. And to throw in a game when the game is on the line, but it's a good start.

To even jog out there and block and do the things and run people off, it's just good to get your feet wet, and he was able to do that.

QUESTION: On the team singing ‘On Wisconsin,’ after the game …

ANDERSEN: Well, we knew the words, but it's kind of hard to time it up. We need to do better. Maybe we need to get the band over here and kind of get on the same page. But it took a minute.

I would not say we were game ready on singing On Wisconsin at this point. We've got a ways to go.

QUESTION: On his belly flop during fall camp …

ANDERSEN: Yeah, I think my second one might have been better. It was interesting. So I got coaxed into that. What do you do? 100 kids yelling at you to do a belly flop, you do a belly flop. Peer pressure.

QUESTION: On preparing for next week’s opponent, Tennessee Tech …

ANDERSEN: Solid week of practice, first of all. It's going to be another challenge. It's a spread team, as we worked on quickness through the summer. We'll spend a couple days evaluating.

They scored, I want to say, 50 plus points this past week. I saw a late score, and it was 40, something like that. They had a big victory.

They're going to come in, I'm sure, with tape. They're going to have us on tape, so they'll be able to evaluate.

Again, every game we prepare for is about the Badgers. It's how we get ourselves in a position to be ready on Saturdays. I thought we handled it well to this point, but we've got to be ready for another challenge tomorrow. .

QUESTION: On how he celebrates a win …

ANDERSEN: I go home and hang out. That's just me. I'm low maintenance. A few people come over. We'll sit back, and believe it or not, we'll probably watch some football and not do too much. Those days go quick. It is important to enjoy them, and I will enjoy them. I got my brothers here and some family members.

We'll bring the coaches over. Hopefully, they'll all come over to the coach. We'll just enjoy it for a few hours and get right back at it tomorrow.

Thanks, you guys. Go Badgers!

Senior LB Chris Borland
On finally being able to implement the new 3-4 defense in a live game:
“It was a lot of fun. I think we could kind of sense the confusion on the other team’s side, and any time an offense is confused, they’ll be playing on their heels a little bit. It was good for us that we were able to be aggressive but still not show a lot.”

On what percentage of the new scheme was revealed by the defense today:
“There are a lot more (wrinkles) coming. I don’t know if I can put a percentage on it. (We showed) a very small percentage today.”

On what he thinks the defense needs to work on going forward:
“I think we can get more pressure on the quarterback. Today they were running a lot of three-step (drops), which made it hard. But (getting pressure) is something that we predicate our philosophy on, and it’s going to be big for us to get pressure all year.”

Senior RB James White
On what having three 100-yard running backs says about Badgers' offensive line:
“We have a great offensive line. We have a lot of confidence in them. There’s a lot of change this year, but those guys work hard every day at practice, so we have the utmost confidence in them. They get the job done each and every week.”

On QB Joel Stave scoring a rushing touchdown after White’s long carries on UW’s first drive:
“Hey, I congratulate him. I like to see everybody score here. You always want to see your teammates score and cheer them on. There is no better feeling than watching your teammates score.”

On how the Badgers can improve their running game:
“There are always ways to improve. We’ll probably go watch film and see ways we could have gotten more yards in the running game. You always try to find room for improvement and come out the next day and try to do better.”

Sophomore RB Melvin Gordon
On having three running backs with 100-plus rushing yards:
“We just tried to come out here and compete. We made it a competition in our room, so we’re just out here competing with each other and having fun, that’s how we look at it.”

On if the good-natured competition between Gordon, White and Clement is with production:
“Yeah, like I said, we compete. We competed every day in fall camp. We competed out here today to see who did the best. We all did around equal, all ran for like 100 (yards), so that’s a pretty solid day for us and our defense did well, so it was a pretty solid day for them too.”

On the holes they had to run through:
“They were pretty nice. The safeties came down so we had to adjust a little bit, but as far as getting through the transition goes, the guys set it up pretty nice for us.”

On if the running game could get much better than Saturday’s:
“We can always get better, so there’s always room for improvement. We’re never content where we are, so we’re going to get better and so is the offensive line.”

On if it was nice to let the game come to the running backs:
“Yeah, it was great. Just the way things happened and how they did. Our coach always tells us to start fast, finish strong, and I feel like that’s what we did today.”

Senior WR Jared Abbrederis
On coach Gary Andersen’s halftime message about the passing game:
“He just said we’ve been doing it all camp, let’s just go out there and just show everybody what we can do. All fall camp we’ve had a lot of success, we just have to make sure it carries over into games. So we’ll make sure next week to have a good game.”

On if he could have envisioned a better home opener than what the Badgers did offensively:
“Yeah, I could envision a better one. We came out in the first drive, went all the way down and scored a touchdown, so that was good. But then we kind of cooled off, so we have to keep the pedal to the metal there and not really let up at all. It was good the way we bounced back in the second half and really just a great game overall.”

On how the running game opens up the field:
“Credit to our line, they did a great job opening holes for James (White), Melvin (Gordon) and Corey (Clement), all of the great running backs that make plays happen when they have the ball in their hands. We just have to make sure, they’re going to get their creases, they’re going to get on the second level, so when we they get to the third level with the DBs, we’ve got to make sure we have our guys covered so those long runs turn in to touchdowns every time.”

Freshman RB Corey Clement
On being able to find the end zone in his first career game:
“It was a lot of weight off my shoulders. As a freshman you always want to make a statement as soon as you get to touch the rock. I thought the first play was a disaster because of the fumble, but I tried to make the best of it and pick it up, just trying to make my first (touch) positive. I couldn’t ask for a better blocking scheme from by offensive line, and Coach (Thomas) Hammock gave me the best opportunity I could ask for.”

On how scoring a touchdown at Camp Randall felt different from scoring touchdowns in high school:
“It was actually the best moment I’ve ever felt. I’m used to about 1,000 fans at a game, but to see the big sea of red once I entered the end zone, it was just crazy. Everybody was cheering and all I could do was smile.”

On hitting 100 yards in his first game:
“It was great. I didn’t actually know (about hitting the century mark). I was just trying to play the game, and do what I had to do to help out my teammates. Yards weren’t really a factor, touchdowns weren’t really a factor. It was just about providing a victory as we left the field.”

Senior OL Ryan Groy
On what he thought of the offensive line’s performance:
“I was very happy with the performance. Obviously not giving up any sacks was a goal going into the game, and we succeeded in that. As far as blocking schemes, we played pretty well. It wasn’t great, and we have things that we can improve going forward.”

On paving the way for three running backs to clear the century mark:
“We take a lot of pride in that. Obviously our No. 1 goal is to run the ball, being a Wisconsin offensive line. Whether it’s three backs with 100 (yards) or one back with 300, we’re happy either way.”

Senior DE Ethan Hemer
On how the team performed today:
“Solid. It was a solid performance all around. The first game is kind of tricky because you are not really sure what the team is going to throw at you and you are watching film on last year’s team, not this year’s team. I think this game allowed a lot of young guys to get in because the older guys took care of business. I think there is a lot of good learning film out there for us now. I feel like our defense was solid.”

On what it means for the defense to pitch a shutout:
“It is a good feeling to get that zero. Zeros are rare in college football nowadays so this is one that we are going to enjoy but we still know there is stuff for us to correct on film.”

On what it was like to take the field in a season opener:
“It is pretty cool. This year felt different. A different entrance, but it was nice. You try not to get complacent with it or used to it because you have to keep reminding yourself it is a pretty special feeling.”

Freshman CB Sojourn Shelton
On what it meant to get his first career interception:
“It felt really (good). I went into this game wanting an interception. My first varsity high school game I had an interception and that was my goal coming in now. I just wanted an interception in my first college game and having it felt pretty good. I was pretty excited and amped up and just extremely happy. It was just a turnover for the defense. Turnovers as a whole defense is what matters most, not who has it.”

On what he needs to improve on going forward:
“I just want to get stronger, reading a lot more keys, be better on film and just know what is coming my way. I just need to get stronger, moving forward, one game at a time. When we play Arizona State and teams in the Big Ten, players will get a lot bigger and more physical and I just want to continue and build my game. I know I can, the strength coaches here are amazing.”

Sophomore QB Joel Stave
On the importance of the quick touchdown strike to open the second half:
“It was important, not just for me, but for the whole offense. We didn’t play as well as we would have liked to in the first half, so to start out like that is great for us. That one (play call) is one that I know we can get the offense going with and when you have a chance to take a shot like that, I really enjoy that.”

On what James White and Melvin Gordon mean to the offense:
“Those guys are special players. With those running backs, they have huge big-play ability so we just have to give them creases and I think the offensive line has done a really good job of that.”

On the importance of Jared Abbrederis being able to get behind the defense:
“He is great to have in the offense. He runs great routes, he is really fast, so when he gets behind the defense you can usually count on him coming down with it. He has that big-play ability also. With his speed, I can throw the ball out in front of him and he can go get it.”

On how the offense played better in the second half:
“I think as an offense we just really came out stronger and more physical. We moved the ball in the first half, we just couldn’t get in the end zone. When we get down in the red zone we need to come away with points and that is what we were able to do in the second half.”

UMass Head Coach Charley Molnar

Opening statement:
 "I'll just start off and I'll make some statements. No. 1 is nothing can describe the feeling that I have inside or our football team has right now. We came out here to Madison to win the football game and we knew it was going to be tough and we knew we needed to play near-perfect football in order for that to happen. And obviously that wasn't the case. We had our share of missed assignments, pre-snap penalties, turnovers and missed tackles. And those things all added up to the afternoon that you saw. Is our football team better than it was a year ago at this time? Absolutely it is. Does our scoreboard show it? I can't tell you. All I know is this, Wisconsin is an awfully good football team. We're not there yet. I can't stand there in front of that group of men and say `We're an awfully good football team.' I can say this, at some point in the future this season, I'd like to be able to stand in front of them and come into one of these news conferences and say `We've become an awfully good football team.' But this afternoon we're not quite there yet."

On the timeout that was called before kicker Blake Lucas made a 47-yard field goal and later missed:
"Well, the clock was ticking down and we could tell our center wasn't aware of the clock down and our special teams coach and I were looking at the clock and we had to make a decision really fast. We were right on our kickers limit for that day. And if we take a 5-yard penalty, now we're out of field goal range. So, he makes it after the timeout and that's just like the NBA when that stuff happens too, you know? He should've made it the second time just like he made if the first time, really."

On the amount of penalties:
"You know, if it was just the freshmen making those mistakes, I wouldn't like them and I could sit here and say we'll overcome that soon enough. But it was disappointing when some of the upperclassmen made those mistakes. They didn't play with the poise that you expect guys that have had 20-some odd career starts to things that you wouldn't expect them to do."

On whether or not he expected more blitzing from the Badgers' defense:
"They had a number of pressures, they were bringing an extra defender quite often. For the most part we picked it up. We didn't see their whole package, not necessarily because we're UMass and they're Wisconsin and they're saving it for the Big Ten. This is their first game as a staff and I think they just want to grow incrementally and be a master of their defense and then take the next step forward next weekend."

On what impressed him on the Badgers' defense:
"Well I just thought how active their safeties were, how good they were. They were really good football players. Especially No. 7 (Michael Caputo), he was around the ball and on the line of scrimmage all day long and we just couldn't take advantage of that."

On how pleased he was overall with how his defense handled the Badgers' offense:
"We had some individuals that had a good day. We just couldn't get anything really sustained. And most of it, again, was self-inflicted wounds with all due credit to Wisconsin, they were awfully good. Even if we were running on all cylinders, we would've been hard-pressed to get 10 points. But with us not running on all cylinders it made it, as you can see, impossible for us."

On how tough he thinks it is to defend the Badgers' running game:
"Their running game has been honed over two decades. Recruiting a certain profile, offensive lineman, running back, tight ends, you honestly, you could've been watching 1992 or 1988 Badgers with Coach (Barry) Alvarez with the same plays, just different guys doing the same things. They have a good grasp, I think their coaching staff did a very good job on offense of maintaining continuity within the system. I don't know what terminology they're using, but those guys felt very, very comfortable running that offense today."

On allowing big plays:
"Some of it is you're in 1-on-1 situations, and sometimes you're guy wins and sometimes their guy wins. And today their guy won more guys than our guy did for whatever reason. Is he more talented? I don't know, I think he's one of the leading receivers all-time in the Big Ten, so he's a pretty good football player. We were still playing with a pretty young guy out there, and some of the matchups you could see our guy just wasn't able to make a play on the ball. He was with him step-for-step but just couldn't quite make the play. Maybe four to five weeks or maybe a year from now, it would be a different story, but today, we just weren't ready to do it."

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