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Postgame Quotes: Wisconsin vs. UTEP



Sept. 22, 2012

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Postgame Quotes
Wisconsin vs. UTEP
Sept. 22, 2012
Camp Randall Stadium – Madison, Wis.

Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema
Opening statement:
I told the guys in the locker room, nothing comes easy to this group.  I was very excited for today to get here because I thought we would truly find out what kind of guys we have and for us to play well in the first half, we didn't put 'em away, gave up the field goal at the end, you could feel the momentum swing to their sideline and obviously on the drive when they scored and got within 4 I thought our offense made a huge statement to drive down the field and James to get it in the end zone, there were key plays there, third down and passes that Joel did a nice job with.  A lot of new guys getting opportunities, Montee, don't know anything medically but I was happy to see Melvin and James respond as positively as they did and really there wasn't anybody looking around our team knew those guys could handle the work load and Stave to get the win and his first start, obviously he wishes he had that one back, but to respond the way he did and throw those balls deep in the first half, I thought he did a good job.

Our defense did a great job, we weren't going to let anything go over the top of us, I thought Marcus tried knocking it down and he will take a huge learning step.  I was happy with Jack Russell, he popped in there and did a nice job of picking up where we put him in for Kyle and did a nice job on the kickoffs and young guys getting out there, Lance Baretz, Jake Stengel move caused that last fumble, new guys, Injury-wise, David Gilbert, I don't think it's going to be anything too severe, and Tyler Dippel got a leg whip there he thought, but knowing him, he will be back. Kelly should be back next week, he was on the very large of it this week.


BIELEMA:  I thought Joel    those particular plays obviously signed plays, play-action, that's his game. He should be able to convert those.  I thought some of the critical plays were some of the    I always say this, you guys have heard me say about quarterbacks we have had or compete against.  Great quarterbacks are the guys that can make plays when there isn't an answer, and he made some scrambles and plays in the first half that kept drives alive and I think that's huge for him confidence-wise for him to move forward because everything is not always going to be as clean as you want.  


BIELEMA:  Well, they're 3 1, it's not where we want to be but I told our guys the other day, going into this week we were 2 1 and it could, 3 0 but it could have been 0 3.  We responded as best as they could, we continue to work with them and grow.  Our kids, I think, and coaches are learning every day in our program because you know this is the first time I've gone through this rodeo with six of my guys, too, so it's a learning curve every day.  There has never been anything looking around big eyes, whoa is me, feeling sorry for yourself, our guys just keep working and go moving forward.  


BIELEMA:  Where do we get better?  We moved the ball, not just running the football, in the passing game you saw some things very, very positive, Abby was open on the two huge throws but just to throw the ball and catch it and complete it, it is a big deal, that was positive.  There were too many critical penalties, I thought our after at times, I know Chris had a personal foul for hitting the quarterback, inexcusable and off sides as well, I think there was one on defense, but to rebound the way he did, bat that ball out of bounds, that's the last thing I told that hands team he was yelling that as they walked out, you can always bat that ball out of bounds and that's what he did.  So I thought there were things that worked better today.  

BIELEMA:  Absolutely.  Yeah.  We definitely did.  I think we got cleaner on offense as far as what we wanted to do, game plan, pregame, by that I mean not pregame today but during the course of the week came up with numbers that we would want to get Montee and Melvin and James all involved.  There were sets I know you saw before Montee went out that involved just Melvin and James and that's a set for them to get reps and opportunities.  The good news is we've    we haven't showed a lot of the things that we have been working on so I think there are nice things that can come down the line that haven't been shown net.  


BIELEMA:  It's a tremendous challenge to go on the road and win the way you want to in this league so that's an opportunity that we have in front of us.  We get better every week, the team has the right attitude, like I said I don't have any worries about the way guys handle their work during the course of the week and we will see where we are Saturday.  


BIELEMA:  What do we do with the kickers?  Jack took the job and we'll see where he is.  Kyle has done some things but we can't have those lapses.  We can't spot the ball on the 35 yard line, one last week and one this week and the good news is Jack is confident and he made the kicks today, getting hang time on those kick offs, he had four kicks Thursday night and he was confident he was going to make 'em all so he did a good job.  


BIELEMA:  Well, we didn't want to play him in the kicking game, so he knew he would be there offensively and he's a smart player.  I think we can put him in certain situations but you saw Ken come up with a third down play today.  The more people concentrate on Abbey the more it allows others to open up and Jared is a phenomenal football player.  Yeah, he did.   

Q. (No microphone.)

BIELEMA:  Yeah, he did, I don't know if it was a full concussion, I'll let the doctors decide that, but Montee gets a lot of attention because of the person he is and all those guys knew that 25 gets ahold of the football good things were going to happen, and he is a guy that's going to be a special football player.  


BIELEMA:  Not to gave away the game plan but they had to be the way they popped up and I was happy with him.  He went out there and executed, he pulled the field goal on that left hash and didn't feel the way we were going to go at that time and Jack had been doing well, and he kicked it.  


BIELEMA:  There was only one play out there that I didn't like, and that was the pick.  He obviously would like to take it back.  Joel had a practice on Wednesday he had a few things go wrong, and he came back on Thursday and I thought the guys helped him get into position, and Danny and Curt were out there giving him as much advise as anybody.  

He's going to be a good quarterback.  He's tall, athletic, he's smart at the line of scrimmage, he doesn't hide things.  When he comes over to the sideline he tells you the truth what he really sees, and as a coach you can make that better, if a kid is telling you something that he wants to avoid getting yelled at or corrected in the right way, he tells it the way it is.  


BIELEMA:  I actually didn't talk to him about that, I let Matt    I flipped over to defense but I didn't see the play that happened on the side lines.  


BIELEMA:  I think two things, Montee had gotten reps the first three games and just, you know, to go into a Big 10 season we didn't think he would be able to do that for the entire season, but also you just watched 25 and 20 practice.  They're very, very good players and spread the wealth, get it around a little bit and it will help Montee in the long run to know those guys can come off the bench and do good things.  


BIELEMA:  Just because in my coaching career we have never lost a nonconference game, I got to believe that    is that what you mean    


BIELEMA:  Yeah, opponents.  When you schedule these games they're scheduled so far    obviously UTEP wasn't but a certain amount, you get teams when they're good, and we got that I thought Utah State last week was a very good football team, you have seen the teams they bet and what happened.  I was watching the Oklahoma game three weeks ago, and I thought oh boy here comes another one.  It's made us better, and the good thing is we have been in some 4th quarter games and these teams that are routing people and that stuff, that's worth it's weight in gold to be able to say that.  


BIELEMA:  Yeah, Ethan is warrior.  He doesn't always look the prettiest, but he's always in the right place, he's intelligent, a great character kid.  He ran in the middle of my drill the other day, and I got on him pretty good, and it said    and it was classic humor.  He's a fun kid to be around.  He benefits as a hockey player, all around athlete, he's good at staying on his feet.  He never is on the ground, he's got good balance and I think that gets him in a lot of plays.  


BIELEMA:  Not at that point.  I thought Jesse Hayes did a nice job, too, guys rolling in there, having some fun with it.  I thought Charlie Partridge my new line coach did an outstanding job.  He's piecemealing guys there together.  I was giving Bo heat coming off the field there, he finally got on the scoreboard with that sac.  He has been impressive in fall camp.  


BIELEMA:  You know what, Tom?  Those interior linemen you don't know how well they played until tomorrow's field but Costi, he's engaging, as far as before the game and everything he puts in a lot of preparation, overtime, he's thirsty for knowledge, and I think the linemen liked having him in there.  


BIELEMA:  Yep, yep, absolutely    I don't want to give you guys misinformation but it didn't do me any good to say that we were going to start a first time guy at right guard, so the only time I will fib to you guys is if it's in the best interest of our team and I don't mean to upset anybody.  


BIELEMA:  I know.  


BIELEMA:  Yeah, he was a guy there at the end, and I wrote Chris a note last week.  He was the featured guy on our program cover and he's an unbelievable football player, but obviously everybody had their own opinion whether I should move him, and obviously you can tell he's a really good player in the middle there, and he's making good plays.  

The only time he gets in trouble is when he tries to do something he didn't need to do.  He had a hit today that would have been a big hit, and he blitzed the wrong guy and as a true linebacker, the plays come to you.  You play your scheme, inside out to the football, the way you're supposed to flow to the football, and you will make plays.  But he has a knack for it, to bat it out of bounds the way he did at the end of the game is freaky.  


BIELEMA:  Absolutely.  I've been telling the defensive coaches since that first game when we gave up three scores, "Just let our guys play" if they make a first down, okay.  Just get the first down and play another set of downs, don't give 'em the freebies, like that last play.  We just can't allow that to happen and expect to beat good people.  


BIELEMA:  Well, yeah, right hand quarterback so rolling right    


BIELEMA:  Those are designed plays.  We're just trying to make    a lot of times you do things that    he can throw it good to the left, though, that's one thing    as a defensive coordinator, it used to drive me nuts you would chart an offense and they would have 75 boot legs to your defensive left and none the other way and I know it's difficult but it can be done and he's been able to do that.  


BIELEMA:  Absolutely.  The offensive coaches had a good game plan.  Those guys have been grinding it out and everybody is throwing bombs at them and telling them they aren't doing what they need to do.  They designed some nice things.  UTEP defensively you could see their eyes weren't in the right spot all the times, and we were trying to create misdirections, with motions and giving it to them, not giving it to them and in the play action, we knew it was going to be there and those don't    we didn't just draw those up on the sidelines.  Matt developed those during the week, and knew we would be able to have match up issues.

RS Freshman QB Joel Stave
On his performance:
“I thought I played alright. Some good, some bad. You just learn from the bad stuff. There are some things I would like to take back, but all in all, I thought I played well today.”

On junior WR Jared Abbrederis returning from injury:
“He’s a really good player. He runs fast and makes good runs, so we have a lot of trust in him that he will get open. It is really nice being able to throw to him.”

On the difference that knowing he was the starter made:
“That helped. I got a lot more reps in practice this week, and just seeing things throughout the whole week and playing the game throughout the whole week, it really helps knowing you are the starter.”

On the support he receives from his fellow QBs:
“They have been really good. Me, Curt (Phillips) and Danny (O'Brien) all get along really well. I think we all help each other. We always talk about what we see and what we think could be good. I think we just really get along well.”

Junior LB Chris Borland
On the defense's performance:
“We had good effort, but it was inconsistent. We did let up that big touchdown at the end. There were a couple plays here and there that you can’t give up going into conference play, so a good effort, but we can improve.”

On his 12 tackles and two sacks:
“The numbers are nice, but I think it was a similar effort to what I have had every game. Those sacks, the D-line did a great job of flushing when we were in our third-down package, they just came to me. And tackles are tackles. It is not necessarily a better game with more tackles but it did feel good to put out a performance like we did today.”

Freshman RB Melvin Gordon
On his increased touches after Montee Ball left the game:
“The way our coaches coach us, they coach us for opportunities. They coach us all the same, so if someone does go down like Montee did today, the guys behind are ready to step up.”

On his fourth-quarter touchdown run:
“Those guys blocked it out real well, there was nothing but green there, so I had to take it in for the team.”

On what the performance against UTEP does for the team’s confidence moving forward:
“It boosts us all up. It boosts me up, it boosts the offensive line up, the tight ends, the receivers, doing their job out there and it’s getting us mentally ready for Big Ten coming up.”

On Joel Stave’s demeanor in the huddle:
“He sounded confident, he said his plays, and he went out there and made plays.”

On the improved play of the offensive line:
“Those guys have been working hard. I know they’ve improved, you can clearly see that today. We improved as a team. Those guys have definitely been working hard.”

Junior RB James White
On getting into the game:
“It was good. As soon as Montee (Ball) went down, it was mine and Melvin’s turn to come out there and help lead the team to victory.”

On the game plan going into the week:
“We did a lot of two backs stuff on the offense. We did a lot of different stuff with lining Melvin or me up at wide receiver. A lot of play-action in the game plan.”

On how this game speaks to the depth at tailback:
“We have a very talented backfield and everyone has confidence when we’re out there on the field — always trying to make a play. And Coach (Thomas) Hammock, our running backs coach, told us to be ready at all times and I feel like we were ready today.”

Junior WR Jared Abbrederis
On practice this week:
“Tried to bring some energy throughout practice, and I was just hoping to get out here and be with my teammates.”

On the connection with QB Joel Stave:
“I thought he did a good job. He made some good plays, he threw the ball well and I think he can just keep improving.”

On opportunities opened up by UTEP’s coverage schemes:
“Our coaches did a great job this week with the game plan and I think they called great plays today. Coach (Matt) Canada did a great job.”

On his touchdown reception:
“I think the line did a good job, first off, of protecting -- running backs picking up whatever blitzes they had. And then obviously Stave threw a great ball and I was hoping to get open and catch the ball for a touchdown.”

On the running game and how it helps the passing game:
“When they’re blocking, the DBs can’t really tell if you’re blocking or running the route. And I felt like the running backs did a really good job creating holes. And I thought the line did a really good job moving the (defensive) line so I thought we did pretty well.”

On where the team is heading into Big Ten play:
“I think we’ve grown up a lot. We can obviously keep improving -- there are things we need to fix up as we go onto Big Ten play -- but I think we’ve grown up a lot these past four games, and I’m excited for what’s in store for us.”

Senior LB Mike Taylor:
On how ready the team feels for Big Ten play after the non-conference schedule:
“I think the four teams that we’ve played presented four unique challenges and helped prepare us for Big Ten play, and Nebraska coming up. I think those are four good teams, four good games that we can learn from and use going forward.”

Junior DT Ethan Hemer
On the start of Big Ten play next weekend:
“We’re definitely looking forward to it. It’s been awhile since we’ve gotten to play a Big Ten game. Everyone is excited. We’re going to enjoy this win, but come tomorrow, once we watch the film on UTEP and put it to bed, then we’re right into Nebraska prep. I’ve never been to Nebraska, so I’m personally definitely looking forward to that experience. I’ve heard it’s a wonderful atmosphere. Guys are ready to prove something to the rest of the Big Ten, that this is a team that’s for real.”

On the non-conference schedule:
“I would describe this non-conference schedule as a growing and learning period. I think that on both sides of the ball we had guys step up, guys get exposed a little bit, coach had us fix some things. Overall, I think it was a non-conference schedule that we needed. We need to have something like this to wake us up and realize that we have a long ways to go. Our preparation is only going in increase, we’re only going to get better as time goes on, and we’re all looking forward to next weekend.”

On improvements he’s seen over the first four games:
“All across the board, at every position. So far I liked what I saw in this last game from the defense. There are little things here and there, but there is no reason why we can’t be an elite defense.”

UTEP Head Coach Mike Price
Opening Statement:
“Well. We blew that one. Great football team, great football program, great football history. We didn't play well enough to beat them, we can't make that many mistakes; we made all kinds of mistakes. We cannot continue to play on this level and expect to beat anybody, let alone a great Wisconsin team that's going to be better. Their quarterback showed a lot of toughness, their team showed a lot of toughness. They made plays. They beat us fair and square all the way around, no question about that.”

On Montee Ball and the other Wisconsin running backs:
“I thought they were always pretty good. They looked like they had speed and we hope he's not hurt. He's a true All-American. We knocked him around pretty good.”

On winning the turnover battle:
“We've been good on turnovers except for the last kickoff return, we fumbled that. But our quarterback is taking care of the ball and our running backs are taking care of the ball, and I'm very pleased with that. You can't be successful unless that's happening. We had a goose egg up there every time, which was great, until the kickoff return. Our offense has turned the ball over one time in four games.”

On being able to respond after the second quarter:
“We weren't moving the ball and we couldn't run very well. We didn't have many yards in the first half running the football and I thought our backs came back in the second half. We got some runs out of them and broke some tackles. All along we said that was a good fundamental defense. It wasn't hard to figure out what they were doing, it's the way Wisconsin is. It's the way they are, it's the way they will always be. Either way they're going to be, you just have to beat them.”

On Richard Spencer:
“I think Richard Spencer is seriously injured. I don't know how banged up we are, but I know we lost Richard Spencer.”

Out for the year?
“Yes, probably.”

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