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Wisconsin vs. Penn State
Nov. 30, 2013
Camp Randall Stadium – Madison, Wis.
Wisconsin Head Coach Gary Andersen
ANDERSEN: First of all, I thought Penn State was very well prepared. The coaches did a nice job, and their players did a nice job. My hat's off to them.
It was very obvious that they were pretty well schooled up.
They were pretty schooled up on how to attack us and some things that have seemed to be a little less successful for us the last few weeks.
Got us on our toes a couple times on defense, and we did not react well to that. The key to that whole situation is starts with the coaches and didn't handle it good enough. So that wasn't that wasn't acceptable.
On the offensive side of the ball I guess, if I summed it up, real simple then I'll take your questions is this. Football becomes really hard to play when you can't rush the passer consistently and you can't protect the passer consistently. It's a bad spot to be in.
And on top of that, when they stack 9, 10, 11 guys in the box, depending on the personnel that you're in, and they take away your run game, again, football becomes very, very difficult.
QUESTION: Gary, why the difficulties just getting lined up defensively? At one time there was nine guys on the field at one point. Why was that a struggle?
ANDERSEN: They changed the pace. Honestly, that was very unusual for them. In that personnel group that they were changing the pace was very unusual, something that we had not seen. Didn't handle it well. There is no excuse why we should have been and could have been on the field or in a position to be on the field, but, you know, we weren't.
It starts with the coaches. So that starts with me. It's not the kids' fault. If we've got nine guys out there in that spot, it's coaches have got to be better. We've got to communicate faster. It's got to get from the box down to Coach Aranda so he has a chance to make a call. So not good.
QUESTION: You guys got back in the game, had them in third-and-10 on the long run. Some of us were down on the field. It looked like you were in your one or two down linemen. What were you guys expecting on that play? And did they surprise you by running it?
ANDERSEN: No, the draw wasn't a surprise. The draw is a staple of their offense. They hit it. They blocked it up and did a tremendous job there. You can't be in that position with as good a coach as Penn State has and think that a draw's not an option for them. They're going to be smart and try to run the clock and get the first down.
It hit. It popped on us. We were in pretty much you know, we were up, moving around defensively, but we were gap sound, but they blocked us.
QUESTION: On Michael Caputo’s injury …
ANDERSEN: Michael is a huge loss for our defense, used in every package. Found out on Monday Monday afternoon, I believe it was, that the situation with him was probably wasn't going to be able to play. I believe he'll be back for the Bowl game. He'll be fine.
We've just got to get him back where he needs to be. We're going to take all the precautions with the kids to make sure that we're making the right decisions, and we're trying to make the right decisions with him. But it was a major loss to not have Michael out there.
QUESTION: Coach, uncharacteristic play today.
ANDERSEN: As far as what?
QUESTION: Not having guys lined up, communication issues, looked sluggish…
ANDERSEN: No, I can't sit back and say that we had a bad week of practice. I can't sit back and say I didn't feel like we were prepared. Communication is a tough thing.
I'm going to say it again. I give a lot of credit to Penn State. They put us in some situations today that they did some things offensively and they did some things defensively that they were well prepared. And their kids ended up executing.
So congratulations to them. Maybe one day we'll have another shot and redeem ourselves.
QUESTION: I know how important a win on Senior Day was. You had talked about the difference between this team being a good team and being a great team. How much does this affect how you view the successes?
ANDERSEN: This is a great team. Any time you win nine games, you're going to be in that position to be labeled as a great team, and the opportunity for them to go compete one more time in a bowl game.
It's a tough loss. Losing is unacceptable. And if you're willing to accept it, you're a noncompetitor. And you don't belong at the University of Wisconsin in the football program.
It's a tough deal. Senior Day meant a lot to be able to get a victory for these kids, but I believe they'll bounce back and they'll prepare well for the Bowl game. If there's somebody on this team that doesn't want to prepare well for the Bowl game, then they’ll miss the flight.
QUESTION: Gary, why was the receiver uncovered on the play down by the goal line, and is that the fastest 40 that you've run?
ANDERSEN: Yeah, that was I don't have again, that personnel package has never been split out. Never seen a receiver come out of that. It's not an excuse. It's inexcusable. Person on the edge of the defense has got to be prepared to be able to play, and they did a nice job.
Their coaches on offense, they got us today in four or five different scenarios and situations. That's an unacceptable play. Couldn't get down there in time.
QUESTION: On the offensive play-calling mix …
ANDERSEN: Pass as opposed to run for us?
ANDERSEN: As far as our offense, I couldn't tell you what it was. I would be guessing if I said anything. I would think it's going to be skewed a little bit as you went through, if I just put it in my mind just what I think the game was.
It's you know, we didn't run the ball well tonight. Whatever the rushing yards are or per carries or whatever it may be, there's no explosive runs. That's two weeks in a row where you can’t sit back and say we ran the football well. We don't have explosive runs, and we've got to have explosive plays somewhere. When you don't have those explosive plays, again, football gets very hard.
We've got to be able to throw the football with consistency with play calling, with consistency with the guy delivering the ball, and consistency catching it. And we got in a position where we had to throw the ball there late today and did some good things, but that's not who we are. We need to play better.
QUESTION: Gary, how do you sum up the regular season? I know it's a little difficult today, but your senior leadership and just what these guys did for you going forward into the Bowl game.
ANDERSEN: I love this group of kids, unbelievably proud of them. You know, they had nine wins again, very tough to do. Their ability to walk in and allow us to be involved in their lives. There's a lot of great memories there for me, and there always will be.
This will not define this football team for me. They defined themselves to me a long time ago with their toughness, their grit, their want to, the direction, leadership they've had to bring the young kids along.
Those young kids better get it real quick. There's some pretty powerful kids that walked down that tunnel tonight for the last time that won't be there. So they'd better figure it out. This team is going to go down in a special place in my heart forever.
QUESTION: With can you do with them crowding the line of scrimmage? Should you have had some opportunities down the field to hit those?
ANDERSEN: We have to. We have to. That's the bottom line. That is the identity of where we are right now. If we're going to give up those big plays down the field on defense, we're going to let them crowd the box, and we can't make the big plays on offense, you'll turn yourself into a real average football team real fast.
You know, that means a team that we played was better than we were, and that was definitely the case today with the Penn State team.
QUESTION: What did you tell your seniors in the locker room after the game?
ANDERSEN: A few things, same things I said. I was proud of them. Winning nine games is hard, in my opinion. That makes you a great football team. A lot of teams in this country would love to have nine victories, I'll tell you that much.
They have a legacy. It's a special legacy. But they have unfinished business. We're going to come back. We're going to go to work. We're going to prepare, and every person on this football team better understand that we're going to prepare for a Bowl game, and we're going to go and expect to win. We're going to have a good time, but we're going to expect to win a Bowl game.
Those are things that every young man in the locker room needs to understand and be excited about the opportunity to compete one more time together.
I also told them that I'm very happy I get to coach them for whatever that is, however many more weeks it is, to try to get them ready to go win a game.
QUESTION: That BCS carrot has been out there. How disappointing is it to remove yourself from consideration?
ANDERSEN: It's tough. I think it meant a lot to those kids to be in that spot and have an opportunity to play in the BCS. That puts you in the elite of the elite if you get into that scenario. That's not going to happen. So we'll move forward. Such is life.
The way we played today and the way I coached them, obviously, we don't deserve to have that opportunity. So it's gone now.
QUESTION: Gary, you mentioned not being able to get much pressure on their quarterback. That said, how do you think he handled the situation with your defense and his ability to make plays against you guys when necessary?
ANDERSEN: Their quarterback?
QUESTION: Their quarterback, yeah.
ANDERSEN: He did a nice job. He did. The one down the field he got hit, and the ball got right there. He's a special kid. He's a very talented young man.
I think their coaches did a great job coaching. Obviously, Coach O’Brien is calling it out there for them now. He calls the whole offense. So he got us to where he wanted us a few times, and we got schemed up pretty good by a very good football coach, and they took advantage of it.
QUESTION: Did you just adjust with what you saw in the pass protection issues and having to make the change with Ryan (Groy) going to left tackle?
ANDERSEN: Yeah, we were just getting beat. It was tough sledding out there at times. They got a very good player out there. We tried to do some chipping. We'll be okay. We got tough kids, and you got to try to put the right kids in the right spots to be able to make the plays.
It's no excuse. Injuries are out there. Situations are there. We'll get better.
QUESTION: Gary, what explanation were you given after not being granted that time out?
ANDERSEN: They just said they didn't see me. I guess I didn't get there in time. I wasn't fast enough.
Senior WR Jeff Duckworth
On the disappointment of not getting the victory on Senior Day…
“Very. It hurts to go out like this, but we just have to battle back.”
On the senior class’s disappointment…
“You just don’t want to end things like this. I mean, last game here. But we did accomplish a lot in this class, so we just have to look at the positives.”
On Penn State’s ability to keep Wisconsin redshirt sophomore quarterback Joel Stave off balance…
"They’re Penn State. They came in here expecting to win. They made plays when it mattered.”
On whether or not the offense felt out of rhythm today…
“A little bit. At times you got things going, and then you get a tipped pass and an interception. It kind of sets us back.”
On whether or not it’s hard to enjoy a good performance individually during a loss…
“Yeah, definitely. You want the win over anything.”
Senior RB James White
On how bad the team wanted to win on Senior Day…
“We wanted it real bad. Like you said, we knew we had a great opportunity in front of us. Had a chance to probably go to a BCS game if we won today. I mean, we just weren’t in rhythm today and we weren’t playing Wisconsin football.”
On whether or not he thinks it will be hard to get motivated for an upcoming bowl game after failing to reach BCS Bowl…
“No. I don’t think it has to be tough to be motivated. Like I said, we want to go out with a win as a senior class. And for the season as well. We haven’t won a bowl game since I’ve been here, so we’re definitely going out to get a W.”
On the lack of big plays in the running game in the last seven quarters…
“The defense, they’re putting a lot of guys in the box, and having safeties down in the box. So it’s difficult to run the ball when there are safeties down there. So we have to be able to throw the ball and capitalize on the opportunities we get to throw it down the field.”
On the most disappointing thing to come out of the offensive performance today…
“Just not capitalizing on the big plays that we had. And the chance to make big plays, including myself. We had to make those opportunities, we were playing a good team.”
On how hard it is knowing the opportunity to play back home in Miami, Fla., is out of the question….
“Yeah, that would’ve nice to finish it off back at home. But we still got one game left, one game to be with this team. We still have a chance to be a great team if we got out and win a bowl game.”
Sophomore QB Joel Stave
On whether or not he expected to throw as many times as he did…
“No, that’s not really how we’re built to operate. But, you know, if that’s how the game’s going, that’s how we have to do it.”
On whether or not he would’ve like to have some of his early throws back…
“Yeah, definitely. Couple throws, kind of getting tough to find a rhythm there at the beginning of the game. But we kind of started to get going starting in the second quarter. Started feeling a little better. But yeah, it wasn’t a great start for me offensively.”
On his throw that ended in an interception from Penn State sophomore cornerback Trevor Williams…
“Yeah, it just sailed a little bit. And that can’t happen, not in that situation out there on the field.”
On the offense’s inability to find a rhythm…
“I mean, that’s kind of how it was. Just a herky-jerky day. Sometimes we were moving the ball, we were moving it smooth, getting it up and down the field. Other times, we’re putting ourselves in tough positions, third-and whatever. I thought we did a pretty good job of converting a few big third downs. But we just have to be able to maintain drives.“
Sophomore K Jack Russell
On his thoughts when the last field goal was made…
“Honestly, I don’t even remember. I don’t think anything was going through my mind. I just kept my eyes back and swung up and through.”
On how he felt after he made it…
“I was pretty excited knowing that I gave the team an opportunity to come back and help win this thing. Just knowing that I could help the seniors as best as I could. I knew it came off well. I got a little bit under it but I knew I hit it well enough and that it was straight. I didn’t see it until the end and it was just a little bit of a breeze that knocked it down toward the end and it started coming back but I knew it was a good kick and the group gave me a little bit of reassurance after it.”
On the confidence he has gained in the last few games…
“I don’t really know how to calculate how much confidence I’ve gotten, but like I’ve been saying I’m happy that I’ve been able to do my job for the team, especially the seniors. It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t come up with a win tonight.”
Sophomore RB Melvin Gordon
On the struggles the team faced today…
“I think we didn’t make enough plays on third downs. I thought we ran the ball well, I thought we ran hard. We just couldn’t convert on third downs to stay on the field to keep it going. Penn State did a good job with keeping us on the sidelines. I don’t think it was a problem with us running, we just couldn’t really get the third downs we needed today to stay on the field and get the ball down the field.”
On what slowed the team down today…
“We weren’t making third downs, and when it’s third and long you have to make those plays. I thought James and I ran the ball well. We ran hard, physical. I played with a lot of emotion today. Just more plays went their way when it came to throwing it in the air.”
On seeing additional players in the box today…
“They were, on the powers it was a little clustered in there but we knew it would be like that. If we got out the back end we knew we would be gone as well. A lot of us played well today but hats off to them.”
Senior DE Tyler Dippel
On the disappointment of tonight’s performance…
“Obviously you go into every game expecting to do your best and play well. Obviously it was a tough loss. There were a lot of plays we wish we could have had back. I think big plays are what killed us this game. Whenever you let a team have big plays like that, it is hard to win the game.”
On why Penn State’s draw play on third-and-long late in the game was so successful…
“It was just a good check. They checked to the draw. We had a blitz coming off the edges and it just kind of opened up wide open for them. It was just a good check, a good call. I think we were more expecting a pass, for them to try and get a first down and run the clock out, kneel the ball and end the game.”
On how the Wisconsin defense tried to make Penn State uncomfortable…
“I think a lot of the times they were checking to max protect. They were protecting the backside with the running back and tight end. A lot of times we were running four-man or three-man rushes, which is tough to get pressure when they have six or seven guys blocking. After that, we decided to start calling a few, mixing up our calls, calling a few blitzes. I think we were getting there, we were just a step late.”
On why the defense sometimes had trouble lining up before the snap…
“A lot of the times we were trying to wait until the last second to see what they were going to end up in. The way we had our substitutions, we had a couple different packages and that caused a lot of guys to come in and out. When we are calling plays, that can happen, but I’m not going to blame anything on that. I think it was just more so guys trying to get ready fast and the speed of the game.”
Senior ILB Chris Borland
On why the defense had trouble tonight…
“They went up-tempo a few times. That is something we hadn’t seen on film and we had to adjust to. Other than that, they were just checking plays, catching us in man, catching us in zone. But that wasn’t the reason the score was what it was. We underperformed, we didn’t execute. They made more plays than we did, and it is as simple as that. It was really frustrating. It was the worst performance of the season, by far, and at the worst time, so it is just terrible. It is disappointing. It is supposed to be a special day. We have a great senior class and it stinks to go out this way, but we still have one more game to play. We had a good week of preparation, had a good plan, I think it was just a lack of execution. They made more plays than we did and I thought the quarterback played well, their running backs ran hard, we just needed guys individually and as a team to play better.”
On how Penn State’s wide receiver was left so open for the touchdown before the half…
“We had a personnel change, from our regular to our big package. Coach tried to call timeout, but for whatever reason we weren’t granted it.”
On how difficult it was for the defense to not find their rhythm…
“We didn’t really get in a rhythm on the first play or the first series, from that long touchdown on. We fought back, but it was too little, too late.”
On why the late-game draw was effectively executed…
“It was a good call by them. We still should have stopped it, I believe. They had us when we were in a pass-rush state of mind. They had a little delay draw.”
Senior WR Jared Abbrederis
On how disappointing it feels to lose the final game of the regular season…
“It doesn’t feel good. Obviously we wanted to go out with a win, especially at Camp Randall. I have a lot of great memories, it has been a long couple of years, and a lot of good times we’ve had. Just so many things come to your mind. You want a victory the last time you go on that field. I think that is just what hurts the most. Obviously we wanted to win for a bowl game and things like that, but when you think about it all and that is the last time you will be on that field, you aren’t able to come out with a victory, that hurts a lot. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s not the way we wanted to finish, but the good thing is at least we have one more. I am glad I get to play one more game with these guys. This team means everything to me and I think all the seniors would say the same. So we want to get a win and have a good taste by the time we get out of here. It was really tough.”
On if the tribute to the seniors makes it difficult to focus at the start of the game…
“Possibly, you have a lot of emotions, but we are able to turn the switch on pretty quickly. Maybe that first series when you have the ball it just didn’t seem right. You have your family out there, you have your emotions, you are thinking about all the times you have had on the field, the fans, you are thankful for everything. I think it made it a little bit tough, but we turned the switch on.“
On why the offense struggled to find it’s rhythm tonight…
“We had some battles, but we just weren’t able to take advantage of a couple of the shots we took and things like that, and that is what really hurt us. I feel like we got in a rhythm, we just weren’t able to finish drives and I think that was the main thing. We moved the ball pretty good for a lot of drives and then we would just stall or something would happen.“
Penn State Head Coach Bill O’Brien
On Penn State’s ability to come back after last week’s disappointment...
"We’ve said the same thing for two years, I mean these are the type of kids we have. First of all I give a lot of credit to Wisconsin, I think they have a really good football team. (They are) tough, I think they are coached very well, I have a lot of respect for Gary Anderson and his career and what he has done here in his first year at Wisconsin. It was a tough game, but yeah our guys practice hard, they love to play and you know I can tell you flat out that they took offense to the fact that they were 24-point underdogs and that nobody even in-state college thought that they could win that game except for the kids in that locker room and the coaches in that locker room. So I think that those kids took it personally. You know, you take those things personally. It’s just the way it is, that’s football. I feel really good for the seniors that they were able to go out on a winning note.”
On how he addressed Wisconsin being the favorite by such a large margin...
"Flat out, I addressed it head on. I thought it was ridiculous. I thought that Wisconsin was a very, very good football team. I thought that they had a great year and I thought that we were close in some games and we had shown some resilience and we had some good players, and that we matched up pretty well and I don’t know who makes those lines, I’m not allowed to talk about betting but, it seems like a lot of you guys felt like that was the right line, and you’re wrong. I try to educate these guys about the media, you know because I enjoy talking to the media and I think these guys do too and I think one thing that these guys understand is it doesn’t matter what any of you think. With all due respect, you guys are great writers, you guys are awesome, but it doesn’t matter what you think relative to that football team. It doesn’t matter one bit what you think, it matters what they think, and I think that’s what they understand and they showed it tonight.”
On (Christian) Hackenberg’s performance...
"I’d have to watch the film, but it seemed like he stood in there pretty good and he understands the pocket better and I thought he did a good job of delivering the football and being accurate with the football. He’s a good player, you know he’s a good, young player and I think that if he continues to work he has a chance to be really good.”
On Allen Robinson’s performance...
"He made a lot of plays again tonight. I think even the plays that he didn’t make it helped, because there was the threat of him making a play and I think that always helps in the running game, which it was very hard to run the football tonight. You can’t say enough about Allen Robinson. He’s an excellent football player, a great guy to coach and a great guy to be around.”
On Penn State changing their strategy in order to play well on the road...
"I think it has to do with how you define playing well on the road. We’ve lost, so clearly if you define it strictly by that, we haven’t played well on the road, but we’ve been in a lot of close games on the road. We’ve been down on the two yard line and fumbled the snap, we’ve had two-minute drives and didn’t come up, we’ve missed field goals, we had bad field goal snaps and that’s not playing well on the road, and that’s not good to do that but I think we were close, I think we were close to playing well on the road if we could eliminate those mistakes. We didn’t eliminate all of those mistakes tonight, but we eliminated enough and our defense hung in there and played a whale of a game and our offensive guys made enough plays to win the game.”