Postgame Quotes: Wisconsin vs. Northwestern




Nov. 27, 2010

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Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema
Opening Statement:
“First off, I’d like to thank the fans. They’ve made it special all year long from the first game to where we are today. I had a feeling that as we went through our work-week this week, the way the guys were focused, it was going to be a special day here in Camp Randall. Obviously that came full circle. We’ve been able to have a lot of success here in Camp Randall, and as much as I believe it’s the players on the field, it’s just as much the people in the crowd, in the stands. The way they bring energy to the stadium is second to none.”

“Our guys played extremely well. I thought, offensively, we’re clicking and playing very, very clean football, error-free. Taking care of the football and moving ourselves forward. Defensively, we were very opportunistic today. I think we talked about that during the course of the week and saw that come full circle. Our special teams have been solid. We gave up the kickoff return and we have to rectify that, but today didn’t happen by chance. This is done through recruiting, it’s done through development, through strength and conditioning program all year round, and a belief in a certain type of kid that fits in here at Wisconsin that’s going to have academic, athletic and social success. To see it come full circle and win a championship is pretty special. I did tell the guys in the locker room that we didn’t need to wait 10 years to repeat this day. I think we have some good youth in the program, and we’re excited about the future of Wisconsin football.”

On whether he ever doubted the team being able to accomplish this championship:
“Not really. Leaving the locker room at Michigan State, I didn’t need to jump this crew. I didn’t need to beat them up or berate them after losing that game. I think they all left that locker room and knew how special this team could be and really have been unwavering since then. They have tremendous faith. They really buy into what we’re selling as coaches. There’s never any questioning or doubting. It’s just, ‘Let’s go out and do it.’ Today, at the hotel, kind of had that same feeling as Ohio State, just, ‘Let’s go, let’s get out there and play football.’ I would love to play another two, three, four games with this crew just because they love playing football. They are very good at it, and they enjoy it. These guys really enjoy playing. You don’t ever want it to end. This is a special group chemistry-wise, personality-wise.”

On whether he has any doubts about the team’s bowl destination:
“Not really. I think we played well enough today that we’ll continue to stay where we’re at, maybe move up. I really believe that right now, the way we’re playing, we’re playing as good as anybody in the country. Over the last couple days, you were able to watch people play all around this country, different leagues playing, rivalry games and stuff like that. As a football coach, I can sit back and say that we can play with anybody and play with confidence and keep moving forward.”

“Wherever it is, this is going to be a special bowl-prep, and our kids will enjoy every day of it. Wherever we end of being and whoever we end up playing, it will be fun.”

On if J.J. Watt has his vote for the league’s defensive player of the year award:
“In the league, there are a lot of good players out there, but J.J. is, at his position and what he has done for our defense, I can’t say there is anybody in our league that is comparable.”

“J.J. has great instincts. He has the ability to anticipate plays, knocking down balls, running down plays from behind. He plays 100 miles per hour with a huge heart. One of four finalists for the Lott award (the Lott IMPACT Trophy), and if anybody is playing better than him, I’d like to know. He’s fun to be around, and I’m excited to get another game with him.”

On what the victory today means to him:
“It means a lot. It’s a championship. It’s a symbol that you are one of the elite, not only in our conference, but also in this country. I understand, as a head coach, we’re put on a level every day in our job, in our profession, to have success, and for us to be able to come full circle, especially after we lost to Michigan State, people were going to just write us off or do certain things. The way these guys battle and the way they have resolve is just phenomenal.”

On Wisconsin’s offense:
“This is pretty good. I think they are very well-coached. There is a good core of offensive players that are very good. To see them have that success, it’s going to be hard to beat this offense.”

“A lot of times, offenses will misfire or get a penalty, do something that causes them to not be as successful as they could. But our guys are great in the red zone. They very seldom turn the ball over.

On Montee Ball’s play:
“From the first time we met him, I remember him coming in my office and the smile that he has. He’s playing with such confidence. He’s faster than he’s ever looked. He’s strong, breaking tackles. He’s a very patient runner in our scheme in how he allows plays to develop in front of him. He’s playing very, very well.”

On his thoughts as the clock was ticking down:
“It’s cool. It’s a fun place to be around. It’s an environment that is second to none. I think, because we’re the only state school, it’s the Badgers on Saturday and the Packers on Sunday. To have so many people wish you good well, just coming off the field there and everyone is so happy. We do have good kids. It’s really neat to be in the locker room and really enjoy every hug that you get and every smile that you have. I don’t think that a lot of coaches in college football get to have as much fun as I do.”


Junior DB Aaron Henry
On what a Big Ten championship means to the team: 
“It truly means a lot to everybody in our locker room, but I don’t think I can truly put it into words. We’ve worked so hard in the off-season. Even in previous years, we’ve been working for this. Coach (Barry) Alvarez built a foundation here about championships and Rose Bowls, and Coach B (Bret Bielema) has done a phenomenal job. Hats off to all of our coaches, our fans, our teammates. It’s truly been a memorable year.”

On what it feels like to be Big Ten champions:
“It’s an elite class. Nobody can take that away from us, nobody can take this memory away from us. All of you will always remember this and all of my teammates will always remember this day that we did win the Big Ten title.”


Freshman RB James White
On how the win feels:
“It just feels good, knowing that we had a great team going into this season and just going out and performing the way we have been all season. It’s great to see the success we’ve been having.”

On the significance of the moment:
“Everybody probably dreams about playing in the Rose Bowl, about playing in the national championship, things like that. Having the fans storm the field, showing their support out there, we know we have the whole state of Wisconsin behind us and plenty more people. We just try to go out there and make everybody happy.”

On the team's bowl destination:
“I mean, I guess things just have to play out the way it is. Hopefully we are going to end up in the Rose Bowl, or even the championship game. We just have to keep praying, keep practicing and keep moving forward.”


Sophomore RB Montee Ball
On being prepared for the opportunity he got this season:
“It’s human nature to start doubting yourself, and that’s what I started doing at the beginning of the season. I just told myself I had to keep practicing because, when they call on me, I don’t want to go in and embarrass myself. When they call on me I need to make sure I go in and produce.”

On the offense’s recent production:
“We play Wisconsin football. We practice hard and coach emphasizes that we need to carry that into the game. I give credit to the offensive line. They did a great job. Once again, they created holes and I didn’t want to let them down.”

On becoming faster this season:
“I most definitely would say that the game has slowed down for me a lot. I give credit to them (the coaches) for practicing us hard in practice. Without practice, none of this would be possible.”

On what made the difference for him this season:
“Me going into practice more hungry. I wasn’t doing that at the beginning of the season and last year. I made sure I was going to do that this year.”

On the competition between himself, John Clay and James White:
“It’s definitely a healthy competition there. We push each other on the sidelines saying, I’m going to get more yards than you, just to keep each other rolling and keep pushing each other. It’s a good feeling. They’re like brothers to me. They’re both great players.”


Senior OL John Moffitt
On when the Big Ten championship started sinking in:
“Well I didn’t know about the Rose Bowl until after, for sure, but probably when we hit 70, I thought, OK, we’re safe. I have a little bit of paranoia; I think it comes from my coach.”

On the team playing its best football of the year down the stretch:
“We have one more game. But yeah, I think we have been peaking. We just need to keep it going this next month and keep getting better.”


Senior TE Lance Kendricks
On the defense today:
“It feels very good, going into our next bowl game. It’s comfortable knowing they can score points and get turnovers.”

On what’s changed since the team’s loss to Michigan State:
“Just confidence. I think the O-line is playing great and it branches out from there to the receivers and Scotty (Tolzien). Once the O-line plays great, we’re all playing great. As long as the defense is playing good, I think it all carries over.”

On the passing game today:
“We have playmakers all over the board. We deserve it.”


Senior QB Scott Tolzien
On how special the Big Ten championship is:
“It was special. Really we started this back in January, coming off last season, and that’s what makes it special, being able to do it with all the guys you’ve worked so hard with. There’s been a lot of unpretty hours in here and meetings, and practice, but it’s nice to have it all pay off.”

On the success of the passing game today:
“I think it starts with the running game, and kind of always has. Even a prelude to that, just the way the offensive line has been playing. They really got the ship rolling early and it really makes it easier on the passing game.”

On what is working so well for the offense:
“It’s the same thing. It starts with the offensive line. They’ve been tremendous and teams have been loading up the box and they still figure out a way to handle it. It’s something that kind of flies over some peoples’ heads, how special that group is.”


Junior DE J.J. Watt
On his feelings after the game:
“We’re Big Ten champs and there’s no greater feeling in the world than right now. It’s unbelievable and I’m loving every single second of it. I hope the fans are enjoying it, I know they are; I hope the state of Wisconsin is enjoying it, and everyone, everywhere in this state enjoys it. This is unbelievable. I can’t thank the seniors enough; I can’t thank the coaches enough.

“I can’t put into words how awesome this is right now. I’m really enjoying every second of it.”

On soaking up every moment:
“When you have a chance to win a Big Ten championship, that doesn’t come every year, that doesn’t necessarily come every decade. It’s a special moment and a moment I’ll remember the rest of my life. It’s a moment my family will remember the rest of their lives and I wanted to cherish every single second of it.

“Badger fans have been so good to us all year and we’ve tried to give back as much as possible. That moment was just a culmination of everything that’s happened all year. Our team has fought so hard and the fans have been so good and it’s just been unbelievable. That moment was a moment for me to just look out and realize what we did. Now we have a chance to go play in the Rose Bowl against a great opponent and just have some more fun.”

On his defensive effort today:
“I was just trying to have some fun. It’s the last game of the year at Camp Randall, so we have to give the fans a little bit of a show. Our offense always puts on a big show so on defense we had to put on a show as well, and we did that in a big way.”


Senior DB Jay Valai
On performance over the past couple of games:
“It’s been a frenzy out there. We’re all just having fun, flying around out there. It’s just unbelievable to play with a defense like this. If a guy gets hurt, someone else steps in. We had to get ready for this game. Last year we got embarrassed by Northwestern and we had to get some redemption, and we did today.

“This is a crazy feeling. I don’t know how we scored 70 points. The thing about our team is, by halftime we were up, but they scored, and we were angry as you know what, because everyone has to earn what they get. Like I said, I love what we’re doing on defense and the whole team in general.”


Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald
Opening Statement:
“It’s tough to win a football game when you turn the ball over six times and seven there at the end. When we do, we got to pick each other up and obviously our defense didn’t do that today. Very disappointed in our effort from the standpoint of taking care of the football is our No. 1 objective of the game, and we didn’t do that. So you give a football team a short field, give a good team momentum at home, you pretty much beat yourself. They played well, we didn’t, congratulations to them. Fifteen critical practices coming up for us, work a little bit with the guys tomorrow, we’ll take off Monday and then right back to work on Tuesday. We’re not taking any time off. This team can’t do that right now. We’re not in position to take any time off, we got to keep grinding and keep working to get better. There were some positives I saw but the negatives far outweighed them.”

On J.J. Watt:
“He’s a good football player. He’s a great football player. Like I said, I know how you want me to expand on some superlatives, but he’s a tremendous football player.”

On the Wisconsin defense’s responsibility for team’s turnovers:
“They were really responsible for it. They were active up the field. Two of the turnovers looked like they were off of sacks, pressuring the quarterback and obviously we have to protect better from that standpoint.”

On Northwestern’s freshman quarterbacks:
“I think they’ve got to take care of the football. It’s not a magical deal, we’ve got to get rid of it on time, we’ve got to protect. The first play we’re open and it goes right off one of our guys and (the Badgers) get an interception. We’ve got to pick each other up. We’ve got to get off the field. We can put all the blame on those guys but it’s not fair, it’s not just those turnovers. We got a chance on defense to go and get (Wisconsin) off the field but we just didn’t do that. We’ve got to play better. Guys just have to do their jobs.”

On stopping Wisconsin’s offense:
“For us, right now I wouldn’t have turned the ball over. I would have executed better on third down and gotten off the field on third down on defense. I thought we played pretty well in the kicking game today and gave ourselves a chance that way but, unfortunately, a disappointing performance. It’s my responsibility, got to get them to play better.”

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