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Postgame Quotes: Wisconsin vs. Utah State



Sept. 15, 2012

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Postgame Quotes
Wisconsin vs. Utah State
September 15, 2012
Camp Randall Stadium - Madison, Wis.

Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema
BIELEMA:  Obviously to get a win feels really, really good. Didn't do very well in certain phases of the game. I was excited to see some guys make some plays. Kenzel Doe, one of them, we felt he's been on the verge of doing some nice things.

I remember last year, when we gave him first kickoff return, he was so excited he stumbled over his feet. But that probably would have been a big hit. He's really come a long way in the last year. I think our defense should be patted on the back. Obviously didn't give up anything after that the wheel route that hit on the boundary over there, gave them their first score. I asked Chris and the coaches, just keep the ball in front of us, don't give them anything.

When we turned the ball over right before the half, obviously they converted the touchdown there. We had to keep this guy inside and in front. He continued to make plays once he got out of the pocket.

So some guys did nice things there. I thought our offense, number one reason just to stay ahead of the question. Number one reason I made transition at the quarterback was just to protect the ball.

For us to win at Wisconsin, we can't turn the ball over. And obviously the interception got nullified because of the late hit on Danny. So that was one that we kind of got back as a bonus.

Then that last, right before the half, the ball just keep your hands a lot of traffic in there. He's holding on with one hand and the ball went on the ground. That's when I talked it over with Coach Canada and the offensive coaches, we all felt good about making the transition.

Obviously went through some growing pains. But made transition in the offensive line. We already went over that. But I knew it wasn't going to be changed overnight. I was excited about the progress we made during the week. Hopefully with another week to work it we'll be positive.

The false starts in the first half, only ourselves to blame. They were shifting from a certain shade alignment to a head up nose and getting the guys covered on the guards. When they were doing that they were making sudden movements and made some barks and got a couple of our guys early, got us with two guards as well as a tight end that jumped on that.

I don't think they had a second one. I don't think they had one in the second half. So we were able to get that corrected. But obviously the two holding penalties were critical, especially when we could just take the field that last couple of times and get a first down and hopefully win the game.

Injury wise, Abby was right on the verge of playing. He isn't cleared medically to get out there yet. But feel he'll probably be able to go by next Tuesday, get in a full week of practice and get ready to play a UTEP team. Other than, we had some guys leave the game but they all came back in. And we should have everybody back that played in the game today.

With that, open it up for questions.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  I was trying to play the play ahead. So I don't know what happened. Again, he broke contain. And Brendan and the D ends were all over them. They were in a controlled rush. But that guy, if he breaks the pocket, he'll have a chance. It was kind of a broken play and they streaked down the sideline and obviously they did a great job executing.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  Well, you know, it really wasn't his kind of it wasn't a quarterback game. I mean, he didn't get as many reps. Danny was our starter throughout the week so he got the majority of the reps. So the two quarterback just doesn't get the same type of experience that the other quarterbacks do during, the starting quarterback does. I thought he handled it well.

Didn't have any issues with a bobbled snap. I know he threw his first couple of passes looked clean. I know third down, we wish we could have picked up a couple of those. There were drops that obviously he can't control.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  It's been a difficult week. You try to make it as positive as we can. I just told the group, I knew it wasn't going to be changed overnight. And it's some things that we've got to get straight and get correct.

Again, we can't beat ourselves with presnap penalties or holding calls. Those really made us play behind the chains. But there were some series where we got the things rolling a little bit. Montee on his touchdown obviously looked more of the same that we've been accustomed to seeing. So we've got to get some of those things back on track.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  We'll address it tomorrow. I just felt it was something that we needed to do at halftime to bring our guys around. Obviously we got a W. And we're beginning to move.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  He was sitting in the back. I think I kind of caught him off guard. I talked with the coaches when I went in like I usually do at halftime, I talk to the defense first, encourage them understand we don't want to give up that play, but if we can hold them out in the second half I felt good about where we were going.

And then I went over and told the offense, hey, we can't have the presnap penalties. We've got to be great in ball security. We thought we could wear them down over time. I pointed out there were several times where our guys were in the huddle. The defensive line was behind them on their knees and trying to grasp for air. I thought if we kept grinding, I said in front of the whole group I'm going to make a switch. I'm going to pop Joel in to start the second half. Just gotta be better with ball security. I talked about that directly with Joel. And move forward.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  Yeah, it was a low kick. No question about it. I thought at first he might have hit the laces, but at least the guys upstairs said the laces were to the side, so it was just a low hit.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  I heard it at halftime when I took the headset off. They love to win games, too. I heard them cheering at the end, which is all good.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  Very excited to get a win. I knew that they maybe didn't play as well as they could in certain phases. But I also know it's very hard to get a win. A lot of credit goes to Utah State. I think that's a very good football team that obviously beat and has hung tight with all these other people, all the things we kept hearing about. So we were able to get a win. I think it should feel good.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  Talked about it at halftime. That's when I went over and said we're going to start off on defense. We need to start with something positive. I believe they did get a first down, did they not? They were on the field. It was punt safe for the kickoff, couple critical blocks on the sideline there with the wall return near our bench.

And as the play went on, we just couldn't sustain a drive to run up that clock two or three different times. They just kept going out there.

And when we shanked the punt, I thought they rose to the occasion there, made a couple of critical plays and did a great job. Army actually got x rayed at halftime. I think he thought he broke his hand. A warrior. I believe he's had two hips and one shoulder surgery, just really competitive, really good football player who is holding it together well. I can't say enough positive things about him.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  No, I think it's easy to say. I think the crowd became alive. Our bench went nuts. I think the one thing that this team I have nine seniors. And the seniors are the ones that kind of move into those leadership roles.

And we just don't have huge numbers. I believe on my travel roster, I think I've got 28 juniors. But those guys were sophomores last year and freshmen the year before that. So to get them to play in big environments and understand what it takes to win a four quarter game, this was worth a lot today.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  Well, we're a 2-1 football team that's got UTEP coming in here. We have an opportunity to go on the road, play Nebraska after that. We'll take it one day at a time. I mean, I love winning. But I was also kind of blown away by the reaction from just people last week.

I mean, our guys in house, we just kind of take care of everything and move ourselves forward. But we bounce back. We played a good football team and won. And we'll take it day by day to get ready for Utah.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  Yeah. Yeah, I think, again, a lot of the really good things, the first one was all on the linebacker. I think it was a wheel route with Mike again, and obviously something that we actually went through this morning in coverage.

So it's something we have to protect him on. We've obviously exposed ourselves enough there. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

And what was the other one? Yeah, I thought it was actually offensive pass interference. I asked the ref: How do you want them to play better? He said that both guys were pushing. He wasn't going to call either one but he thought Marcus grabbed the arm at the last minute. I said why don't you call it defensive holding. But that's semantics.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  I thought he was very active. He was very active. You know what, he can't cover that. I don't have to stress that enough. If we put him in that position again, we have problems.

So we've got to protect him in that scenario and make sure that we don't put him in that because he's a really good football player.

But we're asking him to do too much in that situation and take care of the problem. He did cover it later in the game. They tried to come back to it.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  Yeah. No, I think because we got really good kids that stay positive and play themselves through difficult situations. What we went through at a lot of places might have really been utter chaos or panic, as some of you want to say. Our kids just kind of handled the day as it came. 14-3 at the half. We weren't happy about it but go out and play a four quarter game and that's what happens.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  Yeah. Second one wasn't easy either. I can go along with you, man. First and 10 was real good. The second and ones, third and ones, just mindboggling. I think the line of scrimmage was on our side at times a little bit.

The power, the plays that have been a little bit of our bread and butter in the past were Montee was really hitting on some of the inside zones. But there were some of those that would hit one play I know we hit one for eight and we came back and ran it, played two plays later and got knocked in the head for a two yard loss.

We have to start playing on our tempo, stay ahead of the game, and obviously the penalties were really, really critical making us play behind the chains.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  Yeah. I think we just gotta stay true to what we are. We have to finish blocks a lot better. Seemed to be a lot of guys falling off and some of the plays we feel could be maybe major gains, guys are falling off and guys tackling him in the back.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  No doubt. I mean, I've been in this thing a long time. I know to win a game like that, to grind it out at the end, it tests a lot of your character.

Obviously coaches and players have to get I gotta get everybody squared in tomorrow about what we need to do. We'll take it out on the field tomorrow afternoon and really try to clean up any issues we have and move into the UTEP prep.

QUESTION: (off microphone)

BIELEMA:  I was actually on the other line getting ready for desperation kickoff return, something we rep in case they hit the field goal.

As a head coach, you kind a gotta be ahead. It's like I called the timeout on the second down because we wanted    we wanted to run a field goal block which is desperation, which means you're sending everybody, because you know they have to kick the field goal to win.

But I wanted to have them go over that, which they did. I thought the coaches were ahead of the game. We went over it during the second down. We knew they were going to run the football and get a stop, and thankfully it worked out. And obviously the kicker missed it.

Junior LB Chris Borland
On the defense allowing no points in the second half:
“We performed well in the second half — we needed to.”

On the defense overall through three games:
“There’s a lot we can improve on. But you like the work ethic, you like the heart. We always fight, you know just out always playing our best. Guys are showing a lot of resiliency, a lot of effort throughout the entire game. And that’s something you can build on. That’s something that you have to have.”

On winning a close game:
“Initially when (the field goal) sails wide, you feel great. But then just minutes after you start to think about what we need to do better. Because that’s not going to get it done this season — that effort.”

RS Freshman QB Joel Stave
General feelings about the game:
“That was the most fun I’ve had in a long time, that was really exciting.”

On having to calm himself down before starting the second half:
“I was pretty fired up taking my first couple snaps, but after a few you start to get into a rhythm.”

On if he was surprised when told he was going in the game:
“A little. I was told at the beginning of the week — as with any week — basically to be ready. And if they called my number I’ve got to go play well.”

On his nerves taking snaps in the game:
“Definitely different than taking a snap in practice. But you know, just trying to do my job and not let the nerves play a factor.”

On how much of a character builder the game was:
“That was huge, we really needed that.”

Senior RB Montee Ball
On the offense’s performance:
“It was a lot more comfortable, a lot more opportunities for me to be one-on-one, which I need to focus on and be better at. But we didn’t expect for the offensive line, with one week of preparation with the new coach, to come out and part the sea every single play, but you can clearly see a difference.”

On a slow start to the first half:
“What we just need to focus on now in practice is starting fast off the bat. And that’s really what (we) leaders are focused on.”

On what the difference was from the first to the second half:
“Urgency. Urgency and everyone looking around for someone to make a play, and Kenzel Doe took it on his shoulders.”

On if he was surprised by the quarterback switch at halftime:
“I had no idea about it until I was out on the field. None of us did until (Joel) Stave ran out there. Our coaches do a great job preparing second- and third-string players for situations like that.”

On what a game like this does to boost a team’s confidence:
“Honestly all I can say from this game is you can see that we had a little identity — we found our identity a little in the second half.”

On his reaction to the missed field goal at the end:
“I honestly thought it was going in. From my angle I thought it was going in, so I put my head down until I heard everyone screaming and shouting that it was wide right.”

Senior LB Mike Taylor:
On success of defense this year vs. lack of offense success:
“Last year we were lucky with Russell Wilson, we had a good offense last year. This year it’s going to be a little different and the defense is going to have to play a little better this year and if it comes down to the defense we have to be reliable and do our job out there.”

On the success of the defense so far this season in limiting points:
“The season is still early. It feels good to hold their offense and get off of the field, and get off the field on third downs. It feels good to be able to play that way, but the season is still early and we just have to keep getting better.”

On if the coaches applied any extra pressure to win this game:
“Anytime you’re out on the field there is pressure. In a close game like that there is going to be pressure and the defense has to rise up and make plays and get their offense off the field.”

Junior DB Dezmen Southward
On the emotion of the defense in the second half:
“We felt like we were playing OK, but we felt like we weren’t doing enough. We really wanted to come out and put our stamp on this game and show we can be a defense that can win games, and I think we proved that today. We didn’t play perfect, but we played with heart and we never lost heart and it showed in the second half, we came out and we really worked. To keep a team like that off of the board, it’s definitely a confidence booster.”

On the long completion that set up the field goal attempt:
“That’s a tough moment. That was a great catch by the receiver, but we have to be a little bit better in coverage. The quarterback got out of the pocket, which didn’t help. We still have to be better and find a way to get that ball down, because if we do, the field goal attempt is never even in the question. We still got the win, so I’m happy with that.”

On defensive mentality after the long pass completion:
“No one hangs their head. We went out and tried to get the ball back, and when we didn’t, we did our best to block the field goal, and when we didn’t do that luckily it didn’t go through the uprights. A little bit of luck, but we definitely worked our tails off and I think that showed.”

On what the win means for the confidence of the defense:
“I think confidence-wise, as a defense, we just have to keep building on what we have been doing. We’ve been keeping people off of the board. We may have given up a decent amount of yards, but what do yards matter if they don’t have a ton of points? We just have to keep working towards keeping people off the board.”

On what the team learned:
“We’re tough, we’re tough as heck and we have a ton of heart. To go into halftime and to hear some of the boos coming from our fans, that’s not the greatest feeling in the world. But, coming out of halftime we really showed what type of team we really are. We are a team full of heart and we’re never going to give up.”

On Kenzel Doe:
“He can be a really explosive player. He reminds us of a David Gilreath, to an extent that he can make some plays. He’s quick, he’s shifty and he can run.”

On Kenzel Doe’s punt return touchdown:
“It was huge. No matter how many stops the defense was getting, what does that mean if you’re not getting points on the board? And that was explosive and it changed the momentum of the game, after that we got a stop and our offense scored the next possession. It completely changed the momentum; it was a game changer.”

Junior QB Danny O’Brien
On being pulled from the game:
“I’m going to have faith in whatever they do as a coaching staff and I am glad that we got the win because it’s a team game.”

On his starting job:
“I was in a similar situation last year, and we will talk about it. I am staying positive. I have been in this situation before.”

Sophomore OL Rob Havenstein
On how the offensive line played during the game:
“I think we definitely took a step in the right direction. We played more physical. We had a pretty good week of practice, but obviously it is still not where it needs to be. It’s still a win, but I don’t want to win games just because someone missed a field goal.”

On wearing down the Utah State defense:
“I’d like to think we were. We played a much more physical game than we had in the last two games, and that is obviously the goal every single time we come out. We want to wear down the defense and I think we ended up doing that a little bit today but obviously we still need to improve on things.”

On practice last week:
“Nothing changed too drastically, you know obviously with the coaching changes there was a little bit of adversity there. I think we just attacked practice with just a different mindset. We came out and we played more physical. We worked on more fundamentals, more footwork, and getting in the right spot and finishing."

Sophomore WR Kenzel Doe
On the play that lead to his touchdown:
“I saw that he kicked a line drive and it was wobbly, and right when he kicked it, I looked to see if anybody was on the side. I said if there is nobody on the side, I am just going to catch it and take off with it. The defense just turned around and started blocking each other and I saw the punter trying to catch me, so I just cut against him because I knew he wouldn’t transition in time to catch me.”

On the opportunity to run back a touchdown:
“I have been working so hard just trying to get an opportunity to just get my chance on the field. I had been working all summer just catching punt returns and I finally got my chance today.”

Utah State Coach Gary Andersen
Opening Statement
"Obviously, an extremely tough loss, no question about it. We had an opportunity to win against a quality opponent. We expected to win when we walked in here, we didn't get it done and they made one more play than we did. It was a tough, physical game -- defensive struggle. Special teams play was the difference at the end."

On Utah State's defensive effort on Montee Ball:
"I thought the defense played well tonight on a tremendous running back. They give him the ball a lot, and they should give him the ball a lot, and I’m sure they will continue to give him the ball a lot. He seems like a great kid and he got some yards, but I thought we were physical with him at the point of attack for the most part and I think we were able to control the offensive line."

On his strategy at the end of the game:
"We were going to be aggressive for a couple of plays, we didn't have any timeouts so you have to be a little strategic. We were going to take a shot on the one, the first snap the corner played off, Chuckie (Keeton) made a nice play, I didn't see it, I don't know what the call was. It is what it is now. Whatever I say isn't going to change anything, but we were going to try to score there and see if we could get a touchdown. If not, we would get to third down, get up and spike it and kick the field goal."

On Kenzel Doe's punt return:
"It was huge, it was the flip of the game. We made a couple big plays, they made some big plays, it goes back and forth. It's a huge play when you get the special teams to play for a touchdown."

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