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Postgame Quotes: Wisconsin vs. Northern Iowa



Sept. 1, 2012

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Postgame Quotes
Wisconsin vs. Northern Iowa
Sept. 1, 2012
Camp Randall Stadium - Madison, Wis.

Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema
Opening Statement:
"I was very pleased to get out of a game like that -- a four-quarter game -- without having any injuries. I made reference to our guys and told them that any win is a good win, but on the same account, what we learned today is probably one of the most beneficial teaching tools we could ever secure. A lot of credit should go to Northern Iowa. I've said it before, but I think they are probably the best FCS team we've faced. I could see that before we even played them today.

On the flip-side of it, our guys probably played three quarters of very good football. We kept it pretty clean, I know we had two penalties early, but not turning the ball over was good to see. I thought for a first-time quarterback (Danny O'Brien), those numbers were very impressive. One of the things we always try to stress is trying to create touchdowns, not field goals, in the red zone. So we have to modify that, but bottom line we kicked the field goals which hadn't been a standard in our fall camp.

There are a lot of things we will correct moving forward. To get that one with a win -- I see it all the time in college football -- I walked in the locker room at halftime and I saw it on everyone's face, and if you let a team hang around they're going to get back into the game and get more than you want. From my point of view as a head coach and my twisted mind, it couldn't have worked out any better. We'll take these corrections and we'll move forward -- get ready to play an Oregon State team. I know they didn't play this week so they're going to have the advantage of film, but I think good teams make great improvement from game one to game two and that will be our mission."

On RB Montee Ball's performance:
"To finish the game the way he did, there wasn't going to be anyone that was going to deny him -- I don't care if that was UNI or Nebraska, or anyone else that's left on our schedule -- he was going to secure that win and you could tell that. I thought he had a huge catch too. You guys have been questioning me about what he's going to do to improve. We really want to utilize his hands in the passing game and I think today was a great example of that. It's hard to shake your head at 120 yards -- overall that was a pretty good effort."

"I thought that was vintage Montee. He was engaged, he was eager. I saw him in pregame warm-ups and he slapped me as hard as I want to be slapped. So I thought, `OK, I think 28 is ready to roll.' I think there are some good things up front for us to learn. We were getting some hats on hats, but we weren't really finishing the way we needed to in the fourth. It couldn't have been any better -- it really couldn't. "

On his first impression of QB Danny O'Brien in a live game:
"I know that Coach (Matt) Canada is like every other quarterback and coach that I've met -- they want perfection -- and there's going to be some things that he sees after watching the film that he could pick up, but overall he made some great decisions. I think that completion to (Jacob) Pedersen on third down was crucial. He waited for Pedersen and saw the play open up -- we gave him the protection and he hit it. The only way you learn that is by doing it so I think a lot of positives there. And then just the way he handled the clock there in that last series -- there's a lot of teams that screw that up and he did a great job of managing that."

On the offensive strategy and execution:
"I think Matt (Canada) had a good game plan. I know we had a couple of sprints and we thought that we'd be able to run the football a little bit and obviously we were able to do that. I was happy to come in at halftime and see that we were up 46 snaps to their 15. That's Wisconsin football, if we snap the ball 80 to 90 times offensively, it usually means we're playing our kind of football."

On UNI's two big pass plays that resulted in TDs:
"It was the same play. The great thing is, there was a mistake made by one of our best players and he'll be able to take that in coaching and move forward. It's just a great lesson for our defense that every play matters. I'm going to hear it tomorrow in the staff meeting, `You take away these five plays and we played a great game', well you can't. That doesn't happen in college football so we'll take the positives and move forward."

Senior RB Montee Ball
On getting back into game mode:
"It was challenging, it was challenging at first. But other than that, I'm ready to tackle film of Oregon State and get after it."

On if getting hit is `like riding a bike':
"Yeah, it's true. For as many years as I've been playing running back, and once you get hit the first time, second time, then you're right back in it."

On being nervous because it had been so long since he had been hit:
"Yeah, I was a little nervous, but that went away after that first snap."

On the offensive line:
"Well, each position, each group has a lot of room for improvement. Obviously, we made a lot of mistakes out there as a team. But the great thing about it is we won and it's a lot easier to correct mistakes after a win."

On QB Danny O'Brien:
"I think Danny did a great job for his first time at Camp Randall. It's difficult to play here for your first time. Good thing he's on our side. But I think he did a great job with leadership."

On how much the game serves is a teaching tool:
"It's an eye-opener, an eye-opener for us all. Speaking from the offensive side, it's just keeping the foot on the gas. We have to keep the mentality of the attack."

Junior QB Danny O'Brien
On getting a win in his first start:
"We'll take it. It's a win. There is no such thing as a bad win. I think there are some things that I have to clean up, but for the most part, I think we did a pretty good job in the passing game and the running game, and like I said, you take a win anytime you can."

On whether or not he was feeling any nerves:
"I was pretty excited coming out of the tunnel. I got goosebumps for sure, and I kind of had to calm myself down. I had a missed throw early that I thought I could've hit, but I got in the groove right away with these guys as we got rolling."

On the offense settling for field goals early:
"You take advantage of the ball in the red zone and score. Especially early on we had two drives where we got in there and got field goals, and you know that can't happen consistently if you want to win every game. We have to score and really take advantage of those drives."

On playing a close game:
"(UNI) is a good team, and you have to credit our defense, when they got rolling, we were able to stop them. You never want it to be so close, but it was a good gut-check time. But you will always take a win when you get it but we just have to get better."

On playing in front of the crowd at Camp Randall:
"It was an unbelievable home atmosphere to play under, and I finally got to see what Camp Randall is really like."

On watching the final defensive stand from the sideline:
"You know we were just trusting them. We were ready, obviously, if we had to go on the field in a two-minute situation to score. But you know you have a lot of faith in them, they are mentally tough guys, and they kind of got the defense rolling on a few plays and I think you have to give a lot of credit to them for stopping them right there and winning the game for us."

Junior LB Chris Borland
On the defense's performance:
"I think we are a little bit disappointed with our performance. We played well through three quarters, but we definitely have things to work on."

On putting pressure on Northern Iowa:
"We did alright. We didn't bring the pressure like we have in the past, but I thought we did a pretty good job at consistently bring pressure."

On pressuring the QB:
"It's not my biggest role, but I like to help when I can."

Junior C Travis Frederick
On RB Montee Ball:
"I think, as far as up front, we didn't play as well as we needed to to open things up for him. I don't know what his stats were or anything like that, but from my perspective he was playing well -- he got a touchdown."

On potential frustration from Ball:
"I didn't notice any frustration out of him. I don't think there was a lot of frustration out of anybody. I think for us, it's just about going out and doing our job. And sometimes things fall through, but you have to be able to look forward."

On improvement:
"Just learning from what we did this week and we'll bring that forward next week and be in better shape."

On how far the team has to go to reach the level of last year:
"I think even if you look back to last year, you can see the growth that we had. And I think that's something that happens every year. The first game isn't usually the greatest game you've ever played. But you get better the second game and you get better the next game."

Junior TE Jacob Pedersen
On his takeaway from the game:
"We have some things that we need to correct. But give Northern Iowa credit. That's a team that doesn't back down, that fights all the way to the fourth quarter. We need to come tomorrow and find out what happened on film and make those corrections."

On Danny O'Brien's performance:
"He was good with the ball -- no turnovers. He was accurate, got a few touchdown passes. I thought he played really well. He commanded the huddle, and that's what you need a quarterback to do. He was smooth with his throws, he didn't rush anything."  

On whether he noticed any nerves from O'Brien:
"No. It's just like any one of us. It's the same game. Danny's the same way -- different place, same game. It's good to see."  

On whether the offense settling for field goals in the red zone concerned him:
"It's the first game. We'll get those things worked out. We're always one guy away. It comes down to finishing, and we'll get it right."

On Montee Ball's performance:
"He worked hard for every single one of his yards. That's disappointing for us as an offensive line and a tight end -- we've got to open up more holes for him. But give it to Montee -- I don't know how many tackles he broke and first downs he gained just by pure effort. So give it to him, he did it by himself today."

On whether the close score is concerning:
"Obviously it's not what we wanted coming in. We snuck out with the win, but we have to make all the corrections now."  

On whether the game will be beneficial in the long run for the team:
"Most definitely. Now we'll be able to go back to the film, and we know we'll have things to correct. But next week we'll come out hungry, we'll fly around, and we'll have a different sense of urgency around us, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Junior RB James White
On settling for field goals in the first half:
"As an offense, you want to score on every single drive and you don't want to score field goals. So that's something that we'll work on tomorrow. It's a lot of things that we'll need to correct."  

On the running game overall:
"It was a little bit of tough sledding today. They didn't shift as much sometimes as we did, but other teams might use that, so we'll need to make some corrections."

On the final score:
"It was a close game. There are a lot of things that we can learn from this game, so it's kind of a good thing and a bad thing. It gets us used to close games, and teaches us not to take anything for granted. We're not too far away (from getting back to last year's level)."

Northern Iowa Head Coach Mark Farley
On the performance of his defense:

"I was very pleased with our defense. I think that Wisconsin is one of the most powerful running football teams there is in the country. We anticipated that, we knew we were going to be on the field for a long time. The object was to not let them score touchdowns and give up field goals, and that's what we did. I thought we had the patience and the toughness to stay the whole drive and not give up the big plays, except that one time when they hit us in that fourth quarter with the long pass, but otherwise we didn't give up the "big play" per say."

On if he was surprised by the team's defensive effort:
"No, they didn't surprise me, but there were questions coming in. We always believe in what we do at UNI and we believed, but at the same time there was nothing to show for it. So we had to line up with this group of players to stop the best running football team that we thought we were going to be up against and try to do it here in this environment. I think we did a great job today."

On his team's play in the second half:
"When you play a team like Wisconsin, you can draw all the X's and O's that you want, but until you can line up and beat them at the line of scrimmage, you have no chance. And we started winning the line of scrimmage, I thought our offensive line started to protect and gave Sawyer (Kollmorgen) time, and I thought our receivers started to make some great catches for him and finishing plays. The factor of them starting to stay with the play longer from offensive line to receivers, and Sawyer starting to make the throws, I think everything started to come together."

On his decision to go for it on fourth-and-4:
"I went for it right there because if you talk the talk and walk the walk -- I'm talking about believing in the group -- they have to get the call that we believe in them, too. We called the timeout at that time, I was really looking at the eyes, and they believed. They wanted it. And if they wanted it, it's on them to make the play. And they went out and made the play. It had a lot to do with the fact that it's a total team effort from the coaching staff responding

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