Wisconsin vs. Illinois
Oct. 6, 2012
Camp Randall Stadium - Madison, Wis.
Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema
"Very excited about our guys today. I thought they put in a lot of good preparation. There was a huge emphasis during the week about playing a four quarter game.
Starting with our preparation and how we handled ourselves, I thought they did that really well. It's good to get a couple guys back.
I thought the way our defense played for four quarters, you could see to get Brendan Kelly back, Pat Muldoon back, some guys up front to give us some pass rush there at the end. Good to get Shelton Johnson. He's not quite there I don't think, but to be able to give us some depth at the safety position was huge.
You know, the game was, I thought, going to be affected by the wind. Most of the time, as a head coach, if we win the toss, we take the ball, but I wanted -- made a decision to defer today just because I thought the wind was going to be a factor. And obviously, kind of the way it closed out, that was a critical part.
I thought Montee (Ball) really closed out the game there at the end. Saw some mojo go in the direction. He had great presence out there on the field.
And Joel Stave again continues to impress me. He doesn't do everything right, obviously will get better with every game. But what he gives us there is really, really something special. That's just going to keep getting better. And I can't say enough about our special teams.
I thought our punter, Drew Meyer, again, today sometimes hitting into the wind was critical with some of his punts and our coverage units were pretty good as well.
With that, I'll open up for questions. I think from an injury standpoint, nobody severe. I think Dip (Tyler Dippel) kind of hurt his shoulder there. But other than that, nothing significant."
On inserting Curt Phillips...
"The package, we've been repping that probably at least four weeks, might have been in our fifth week. We've been trying to get it in the game.
The offensive coaches and myself felt wanted to give Curt (Phillips) an opportunity to get out there and show what he's got. It wasn't anything against Joel (Stave), we were going to do it on the third series, and that's what happened. Obviously it didn't work successfully.
But Curt's a guy that's got a lot of respect in the locker room, a guy that can bring some mojo. He's really got a good attitude and we just want to give him an opportunity to get out there and it's something that we can expand in the future."
On Stave's reaction to Phillips playing...
"Well, the pick was obviously when he got hit, he threw the ball high. But obviously you can take that and spin it however you want. But I think Curt Joel knew all along what the plan was with Curt coming in. We've practiced it all month. So it was nothing really shocking to anybody."
On Shelton Johnson...
"Well, no, I think he just he got cleared on Tuesday to practice. The club that Muldoon had, Shelton had one that was about three times that big. It just didn't feel comfortable. They started narrowing it down. He's 100 percent cleared. I just meant getting reps and doing the things you do during the course of the week."
On Michael Caputo getting the start at safety...
"Yeah. I think Shelton really wanted to see how he felt. He actually hadn't had full contact since the injury. And (Michael) Caputo I don't know specifically if Chris (Ash) made a comment and said let's get Shelton in there, didn't know how the speed of the game was coming at him."
On running backs rotation...
"No, I thought no, I think today was a really good point. Montee and James (White) went in, I believe, on the second series.
Melvin (Gordon) got to play around the edge there. And I think those guys in general kind of knew there were certain personnel groupings where only they are going to be on the field so we practiced the exact looks that we're going to give them during the course of the week.
But, again, I thought it was going to be a four quarter game. And it's kind of exactly how it panned out."
On the offense's production in the fourth quarter...
"They're all important. First quarter and second quarter and third quarter and fourth quarter were all good. It was nice to see our guys kind of take control in the fourth quarter and kind of manhandle the guys up front. I think offensively there were some nice plays that were opening up for I think the play that broke it wide open was James's screen play."
On the deep touchdown pass to Jared Abbrederis...
"Not every time, but pretty close. I agree. I think that play, in particular, and others are really looks that come off our run game, to be quite honest.
It's not just the efforts of Abby (Jared Abbrederis) and Joel throwing it. It's a lot of great looks up front with our "O" line, our fullbacks and tailbacks, tough play to defend."
On UW's punt returners...
"Kenzel (Doe's), he's been real good. I saw that first one; I actually turned away, I don't think I saw the one he put down on the field right before the half. But it was a little tougher day.
I was watching some of those games earlier and saw where there were some games that were critically affected. I think the Northwestern/Penn State game, there was a play where a guy misjudged it, it is a difficult thing with that wind whipping out there."
On James White making a big play...
"It was great. All of our guys, but James is the guy that last week I knew we would in retrospect I made the comment to Coach (Thomas) Hammock making the offensive guys, I don't want to be talking about not giving reps on Sundays, I want to see it happen Saturdays. And obviously to get him involved and hit that play was critical.
I was giving Devin (Smith) -- I thought he was going to score. I saw the break that he was going to get, the out route, I thought he was going to streak down that sideline; but he kind of lost his footing there and came forward. Obviously anytime he can turn turnovers into points, it's huge."
On the team's mood after a win...
"Very encouraging. I told our guys, too, made an emphasis before the game today. We prepared well all week. And guys have gotten into it.
And Matt Shaughnessy was our guest captain. He came back last night and gave a great message about taking advantage opportunities. When things don't go wrong, it's really somebody testing you and see what your response will be.
And I made a special plea to our guys today to have some fun. You guys will see him, I don't know if anybody ever crosses Ray Ball, but our guys make huge fashion statements on game days. They all wear their shirts and ties.
Ray Ball comes in and he has this nice collegiate look. And everybody I just kind of made him stand up and everybody took notice, we all laughed. I said: That's my point today. We work way too hard and put in too many hours not to enjoy this. Win football games and have fun doing it. I thought that really came out today. I think our guys enjoyed playing in the fourth quarter, especially."
On the play of the defense in first half...
"You know, Tom, like I said, that wind was playing tricks out there with the kicking game and stuff. I knew our defense could play well.
Obviously came alive on a couple of plays up inside. I've been stressing to our defensive guys and I give a lot of credit to our staff if we can just line up and play and make them earn every inch they'll be hard to score on because you've got some plays, there's a couple plays where 44 (Chris Borland) comes out of nowhere and makes a huge tackle. Same thing with 53 (Mike Taylor). We've just got too many good athletes that can run. If we keep the ball in front of us, eventually we're going to make that defensive stop."
On the importance of being able to throw downfield...
"Yeah, you know Nebraska had a couple of plays, we had some key plays that went deep. And actually Joel throws a pretty good deep ball. So I think that those things to defend, what we've got to be able to do is set it up, but we also have to execute the run plays that come with it as well."
On kicker Kyle French's field goal...
"Yeah, that was huge. Might have been the biggest play for anybody on the field today. I believe that was a 48 yarder.
And Kyle has been good in camp at times. Just at times seems to mis hit it, but I thought it was a huge confidence boost today. I have a lot of faith in Kyle and hopefully it's going to be a lot of good kicks moving forward."
On getting pressure on Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase...
"Yeah, we did. I think two things, Tom, that I said it right away because I mean it: When you have defensive line depth, that helps your pass rush instantly. Those guys were getting after it third and fourth quarter. Their quarterback's a good athlete. But we knew we wanted on keep them in the pocket and be able to move it around. We did some bring pressures, some five man pressures that I think were critical as well."
On Tyler Dippel's play...
"Yeah, Dip's (Tyler Dippel) a high motor guy. Watching the hit film this morning. He had a huge sack a year ago in that game. Dip is he makes me mad a lot, but he's probably one of my favorites just because as hard as he plays. He's kind of a fun kid to be around, kind of a knucklehead in certain ways. It's kind of one of those things where he brings some energy, plays a lot harder than others."
On similarities to last season's Illinois come-from-behind win...
"You know, it didn't pop into my mind. I get it except for our game a year ago, if I remember, we couldn't do anything the first half, and we were able to do a few things at least in the first half."
On the play of Montee Ball...
"Yeah. He got stronger. He's been right there. I've said it before. NFL personnel come through here, they haven't been down on him. They've been impressed with how quick, how agile, how strong he looks, and to finally get some yardage was really, really positive for him and obviously to find the end zone is nice as well."
On the referee's injury...
"I think -- I don't know for sure -- but somebody told me that Ray Ball ran into him. That's one guy you don't want to run into would be Ray Ball, besides him looking nice in his sweater and tie. I think that's what happened. It was kind of like when they were running out for the PAT field goal.
On Wisconsin's last offensive series of the first half...
"I thought we were being a little aggressive. We called timeouts to get the ball. That's why we called a timeout when they failed to convert on third down, which stopped the clock, which gave us the ball. We go two minute offense.
Obviously you have I think two first downs. And at the end there just trying to run the clock out because we weren't going anywhere and there was like eight seconds."
On Derek Watt...
"Very athletic, that catch he made over on the sideline, just as a side note, our trainers grabbed me, said that all indicators for that Illinois play were very, very positive.
Everything was checking out, at least the information I was given. But that was a big time catch, a big time play. He's got tremendous, tremendous hands. Very gifted, a kid that I think his upside is just unbelievable."
On the running back rotation...
"Defer to them. I don't see anybody that's mad or upset. I see a lot of guys that are upbeat. They believe in winning football games. One of the things I love about our tailbacks is they're really good players, but obviously they're very good people. They just want to get better and make themselves improve."
Senior LB Mike Taylor
On whether having fun was a key to the game:
"I think that's the key -- take care of your job, do your job and just have fun and fly around. When you're having fun it makes for better tackling."
On where the Badgers thought they would be able to take advantage of Illinois' offense:
"I think just the games we've played before, they run similar plays and we've learned over the season that teams are going to run on us and we just corrected that."
On getting pressure on QB Nathan Scheelhaase:
"Yeah, we got a little bit of pressure on him but there were a few plays where he scrambled and it hurt us a little bit. But I think for the most part we did a good job of covering and getting to the quarterback."
On watching the offense play well in the fourth quarter:
"It was fun to watch. Seeing that as a defense, you want to get back out there and play. And seeing the offense score, you want to get back out there and get the ball back to them."
Redshirt freshman QB Joel Stave
On how much fun the second half was:
"Really fun. It's always fun playing football, but when you're playing football well, it makes it that much better."
On how the deep passes were able to open up the ground game:
"That's a play we work on in practice and we have to capitalize when we get it and I think that really does help open up the running lanes."
On what opened up the offense in the second half after struggling in the first:
"Balance I guess. Not necessarily focusing just one thing, just staying patient -- keep running the ball, keep passing the ball and be confident that we'll get things going.
On the series with Curt Phillips in the first quarter:
"I mean that's something we work on with Curt going in -- doing some zone read stuff. And that's part of our offense, and I don't mind at all coming out."
On getting hit when he threw his interception:
"Still can't let that happen, regardless if I'm getting hit or not."
On if going in and out of the game shakes his confidence:
"No, it's something we talk about, and I understand that's something we might do and it is something we ended up going to today. That doesn't hurt my confidence at all."
On James White turning a short pass into a long touchdown run:
"The play with James -- that makes my job a lot easier when I can dump it 10 yards over to him and he takes it 60, 70 yards for a touchdown. That's really fun to see."
Senior DB Devin Smith
On his interception:
"They were on our side of the field and they were in a potential area to score. So it was a third-down play and we caught man coverage, and it was one-on-one backside and I had a good feeling that they were going to go back side to me. So I just anticipated a route and, as soon as he set his feet, I dove at the ball."
On getting grief when he fell after the interception:
"I thought it was low so I misjudged the ball until it got there. And then as soon it was there, I kind of just fell instead of just running for the touchdown. But next time I'm in that situation, I'll make the play. I was more focused on making the catch and getting the ball back for our offense. But next time I'll be in position to make the play and actually go score."
On how satisfying today's performance was for the defense:
"It was a great performance for the defense because of the fact we finished the game, a full four quarters. And not just the defense, the whole team as well. I think that's a great game and we took a step forward. Illinois is a team in the Leaders Division with us and I think it was very important to set the tone for the rest of the season and we just needed something to spark us for the rest of the season and I definitely think this game helps out."
Senior RB Montee Ball:
On the offense's midset after the first half:
"There was a lot of frustration, knowing what we're capable of doing and not doing. So, that's why we drew up some Xs and Os at halftime and came out in the second half and executed."
On the offense coming alive in the fourth quarter:
"If everything goes as planned, if we end up where we want to end up at the end of the season, we'll look back at that fourth quarter."
On the feeling of the team after the win:
"So much excitement. Let's give credit to Illinois for making us sweat, they did a great job. But we were supposed to come into this game and do what we did. It's just a great feeling overall right now."
Junior RB James White:
On whether this game gives him confidence for the future:
"I definitely boosts my confidence a lot. Just knowing the coaches trust me at any time."
On the dominant second-half rushing performance for UW:
"Just having as much talent as we have in the backfield is really helpful in keeping the defense off-balance. We celebrate with each other, cheer for each other, and just hope that we're all successful."
On whether the game showcased the amount of talent in the UW backfield:
"It showcased it a lot. Each and every one of us can do different things, but we can also do some of the same things. We can really keep a defense off-balance."
On his 62-yard touchdown reception:
"It was a screen call, and it was the first time we've run it this year. They showed kind of a pressure look, and I knew I was going to be wide open. I just got in my spot and looked ahead and it was wide open. So I just ran straight ahead."
On the importance of his touchdown reception:
"It was very important. It kind of helped swing the momentum in our direction a little bit going into halftime. They had the momentum for the majority of the first half, and that catch really helped us out and probably gave the defense a boost too."
On running behind a solid offensive line today:
"They were working really hard as usual, so I just tried to focus in on my keys."
On whether the Badgers wore down the Illini in the fourth quarter:
"We know in our offense we can really wear a defense out, especially the way we play. We can keep running, running, running and then throw it over the top like we did to (Jared) Abbrederis. So we can be very unpredictable."
Junior WR Jared Abbrederis:
On his long touchdown reception:
"We went play-action, (Joel) Stave sold it well, and obviously the running backs did well too (to set the play up). The safety bit down and I was able to get behind him and get open."
On whether he asks for the ball:
"I never ask for play calls. I know he's going to call plays that he thinks are good. He knows that I'd like to have the ball, but we have a lot of playmakers on our offense, so whoever gets the call, I know they're going to make a play."
On how important the run game was in setting up his long touchdown catch:
"We'd been cracking the safeties all day, so he just thought I was coming in there to crack him. He kind of tried to move out of the way, and then I just ran right past him. When we have a good run game, it helps out the play-action passes."
On whether he thought he'd be able to get into the end zone:
"I had to work for that one. I saw (the defender) coming and I had to slow down a little bit for the ball just because (Joel) Stave didn't want to overthrow me since I was so wide open. I had to make sure I got in because I didn't want to get caught, but it was close."
On the offense moving the ball well in the fourth quarter:
"It felt really good, especially that it was at the end of the game made it a little bit more special. Being able to finish the game, especially after last week, when we had a bad second half, this week it kind of switched. We didn't have the greatest first half, but we came out in the second half and the defense played really well today, but it was good to see the offense move the ball, especially when it counted."
Illinois Head Coach Tim Beckman
"I was proud of the way we played the first half; we didn't come out what we needed to do in the second half. I know that this football team is hurt, there's no question about that. We just have to be able to respond when something doesn't occur the way that we want it to occur. It kind of snowballs on us, and we have to learn to react in a positive way and keep on fighting for four quarters."
On DB Terry Hawthorne's injury:
"Great news, a blessing, great news for Terry. The CT scan was negative and he will be on the flight back home with us. That's great news. I rushed to see him when he went down, because I saw that he was down. I think he came off the hash, we were running a blitz from the field, and he came off the hash and tried to make the play."
On his team's play in the first half:
"I thought the leadership for the first half was outstanding. We have to learn how to respond and respond in a positive way, instead of a negative way, and letting things snowball on us. That's what we are fighting to try to achieve. I think at times in the first half; there were some things that might not have occurred our way that we wanted it to occur. But we stepped up and kept on performing, and we haven't done that for four quarters in the last three football games."
On QB Nathan Scheelhaase:
"He's more healthy, there's no question about it. We've got to be more consistent on offense, that's a major key. I thought that Nathan was back to himself and playing at 100 percent."
On stopping Wisconsin RB Montee Ball:
"After you look at the end of the football game and the points that were giving up, I do think that for a half we played good up front, no question about it. We gave up some big ones there at the end of the football game."
On adjustments made at the half:
"We talked to them about playing the way that they were playing, because we were playing pretty good the first half. We had to make some adjustments on the offense to try to utilize our offense better. It comes down again to not responding to plays, and that's what we've got to do. We've got to learn how to respond, if it's not a good play like a shanked punt or something like that scenario, we've got to react in a positive way instead of letting it hurt us for the remainder of the game."