April 15, 2013
• Watch Andersen News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin football head coach Gary Andersen met with the media Monday to offer an update on his team's progress and look ahead to Saturday's 2013 Wisconsin Football Spring Game.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Andersen's remarks can be found below.
ANDERSEN: Going into the last week of spring ball. We'll have a scrimmage today, probably a short scrimmage. We'll try to get it somewhere between 70 and 80 snaps. Kids were excited to get the weekend off. With the weather and the way it was, we gave them some time to hopefully have fresh legs. We'll hold a few kids out today that will not scrimmage, and some other young men will have very limited reps. This is a big day for a lot of young players in our program, an opportunity for them to shine.
Then we'll get to Wednesday, just a normal practice, a basic, fundamental practice that we'll get through, and then we will obviously have the spring game on Friday.
I'd love to see everybody come out today. The more the merrier, I guess. Same with Saturday. We're looking forward to the spring game. There's going to be a lot of events tied to that, and the kids are really excited about the last week of practice.
Away we go. From there, it hasn't been that long since I talked to most of you. So fire away with the questions that you have.
QUESTION: You've held some kids out, in particular, some veteran kids on both sides of the ball, more on defense, I guess, and your quarterback race probably won't be settled until August, but do you have a better idea now than at the beginning of spring what you'll be able to do offensively and defensively next season.
ANDERSEN: I think so. There's some real key pieces of the puzzle that aren't out there, especially on defense, as you guys know.
We've seen the film. Those kids have played a lot of football in a lot of games, and they'll absorb the information they've gotten through spring. We talk to them all the time about mental reps, mental reps, and I think those young men have done a great job of doing that. They're chomping at the bit.
Right now Beau (Allen) would love to go practice, but he's not going to. And B.K. (Brendan Kelly) is right there real close. I feel good about the group of kids, understanding who they are physically, understanding where we're at mentally. The challenge now is to make sure we get everything we possibly can on film, keep bringing along the young guys, and move ourselves into summer.
I don't feel much different than I felt like we can do this or we can't do that as I felt at practice one. I feel like these young men fit the team well. They're excited about it, and they're ready to move forward.
QUESTION: What's your assessment of how the offensive line has progressed this spring, and who has stood out most among those guys that have been able to play?
ANDERSEN: Dallas (Lewallen) has done a really good job. He's had to do so many things, so many reps, so many different spots he's been at. I think as a corps and Ray (Ball) is another one. Ray has come a long way. He's a backup right now, but Ray has battled every day. Those two kids come to mind.
Obviously, (Ryan) Groy is the leader of that crew. He's done a tremendous job of being a senior as being very unselfish. Because the numbers were so low, he's had to play guard. He's played tackle. He's been out there taking snaps. He's just been an awesome leader and really what you want as a coach.
How they've progressed, I think they've come along. The group seems to be bonding together. Some of those practices are a grind for those kids, and I think Coach (T.J.) Woods has done a good job of putting them in the individual, getting them through the individual, working the reps, getting better on the things they need to get better at, but yet also saving them for the live drills so they can compete at a high level.
They've seen a lot of defense, and it's your goal in spring on offense and defense is to especially your first year, is to get everything on tape, if you will. The majority of your offense, the high majority of your defense on tape so you can teach from it in the summer, and the kids can teach themselves as they go through summer.
So that's, obviously, we've got a whole season of blitzes basically coming at them at times, and that's hard to deal with. Those kids have done a good job of keeping their head up, not making excuses, and battling through it. I think we pass protected much better the last two practices, and the physicality has gotten better throughout the spring.
QUESTION: Gary, you talked after a recent practice about the flexibility your multiple tight ends could give you, but whether it's out of necessity or out of choice, do you think you can throw the ball to your running backs and have that be an effective asset of your offense next year?
ANDERSEN: I do. We've talked about that, and I think our screen game will continually develop. That takes reps and timing. But James (White) has very good hands. Melvin (Gordon) can catch the ball well. He's missed a fair amount of spring, but I think he'll be back and be ready to go.
So the screen game and then also putting them out there at the wide receiver situation because you're in certain personnel groups. Defenses have a harder time reacting to get skill on the field. James runs very good routes and has very good hands out there. So I do see that being a big part of the offense as we move through fall camp and into the season.
QUESTION: Gary, some programs make a big deal out of the size of their crowds for spring games. How important is that to you?
ANDERSEN: I love to have I'd love to have 80, 90,000. It would be perfect. But it will be awesome, however many people come out there. I don't think it's overly important. I think it's important that the fans that can come, there's a lot to do. It's obviously a spring day, hopefully, and it will be great to see everybody come out.
It's great for the kids. It's great for the fans. It's going to be a true game when we talk about it. A lot of people asking me, is it a game? Is it not a game? It's offense versus defense. But it is a game. It will feel much like a game. It's true scoring. If it I at times need to maybe skew the score to keep it close, then I might have to do that. We'll make it fun and entertaining for everybody that's out there.
Everybody that can come, we'd love to have them come and be part of it, I know that much.
QUESTION: You've been coaching for a long time. Are there any nerves for you being a coach and being on the Big Ten Network for the first time and fans around the country being able to see you coach Wisconsin for the first time?
ANDERSEN: No, not at all. Just another workday. I think, if there was any nerves, those nerves were gone the first couple days of practice. I'm excited for the spring game, though. It's great to get out in that atmosphere when there's fans around and has a game day atmosphere, game day feel to it. It's great for the young kids.
There's a lot of young men that are going to be on that stage and not running down on a kickoff or playing a couple of special teams plays. They're going to be a starter on offense and defense. So I think it's great.
QUESTION: The last time you have guys until fall camp starts up. What are you hoping [ no microphone ].
ANDERSEN: I can talk loud. You want me to just talk loud? I can do that.
Really what I expect to see from the kids is what I've seen from the kids the whole spring is come out and compete at a high level, have a lot of intensity, put a smile on their face, and fly around and make plays. I think that they since spring has gone on, they've built themselves up. How important is this team we're together the next three or four years. A lot of people look at spring ball and put on the brakes and be extra careful. We're going to give everyone a chance.
[ No microphone ].
ANDERSEN: When the team is ready, we'll play. It is a challenge to get those young kids ready to play mentally and physically. Just because a young man is ready to play physically doesn't mean he can walk into the Big Ten and play on this stage mentally and be able to handle it. I think it takes a special young man to do that. When the defense is ready to be able to handle the academic grind and football grind, we'll let him have an opportunity to go down and play and make plays for us.
I think it's always a little bit worrisome that you're going to waste a year, and you come back, and all of a sudden at the end of the year the kid played ten snaps, and he's run down on kickoff and made two tackles. It's hard to look at that.
So it's not a perfect science, but we will play him if we can.
QUESTION: You had to bring Coach (Jeff) Genyk in on short notice. How do you think he's adjusted this spring?
ANDERSEN: Jeff is a veteran. He's done really, really well. We match up very well in our beliefs, and he jumped in head first. It's broken down pretty cleanly, and ironically enough, what he's used to and what I'm used to as far as timing and special teams and the amount you get in practice is very similar. Done a good job, taught it well. Bill Busch is going to be highly involved in special teams as well. He's going to take the punt return all by himself, and they'll take the field on blocks. We've got a lot of help on special teams, and Jeff is doing a good job.
QUESTION: At the beginning of the season, you said your hope for spring practice would be 15 consistent practices. Do you think that you've had that so far despite injuries and everything else?
ANDERSEN: From a mentality standpoint, I would say yes. Day three, I thought was our worst practice our least consistent practice. Ever since then, you always worry, when they go on spring break and come back, but the young men came off that break and did a tremendous job, and we've gotten better.
The way I gauge that is the way I feel about how they're moving around at practice, which has been good, but on top of that, I look around and say, are the kids moving along within the scheme? I think we have moved along.
And the third part of that to me is always is there give and take? Offense having success? Is the defense having success? Not a lot of crossover on special teams, mainly drills, but that's definitely taken place, where the offense will have a day and the defense will bounce back. That's made it consistent.
And we've also competed every single day, which was one of our other goals, and had winners and losers almost every day. Sometimes it's hard to make that up when they don't have pads on.
They've done a good job, never perfect, but they're a good practicing team to this point.
QUESTION: Gary, will fans get a chance to see all of the quarterbacks on Saturday?
ANDERSEN: Yeah, everybody will get reps on the whole football team. That's important to me in the spring game. The young man that's come in and put in the work, he deserves to get out there in front of the fans, his family members, whoever may come, and it's on TV. So every kid will get reps, a lot of them. Same thing I always say, don't count your reps, make your rep count. It might not be too many, but they'll all get an opportunity to play.
QUESTION: Been mentioned a couple of times about your spring game being on the Big Ten Network. Everybody's game is on the Big Ten Network. Are you watching other teams in the Big Ten and their spring games? How much of a benefit is that, if at all, seeing the competition?
ANDERSEN: I don't know how much of an advantage it is, but if you don't think I watched every second of those games that I could, and I've got them all DVR'd too, and my DVR works now too, so that's another good step in the right direction for me. Give me something to do on those summer days.
You can't help it. Get to see some personnel and give you an idea of the team's identity. I'm sure this spring game for us will be dissected by every team we play. In those terms, we will be fairly generic on Saturday. We're not going to show everything out there.
But at the end of the day, it's football. I'm glad I have them. I'm excited to sit back and watch the games on the couch.
QUESTION: Gary, how's the transition been with Evan (Simon) in the strength and conditioning program, and why was it important to bring him along?
ANDERSEN: First of all, why was it important to bring Evan along? Just we're right on the same page. I say it again and again and again, but Evan's care factor for young men, which is a high, high priority for me day in and day out, is as good as I've ever been around from a strength coach and really from a coach in general. He has a big care factor.
It goes way deeper than just getting them big and fast and strong. The strength coach has spent more time with each young man in the program than the assistant coach does because he's down there every single day.
Also, the staff has really fit in with each other, and it's worked very, very well. I think from that standpoint, that's why it was important for Evan to come with us.
How has it gone? I would say this. The biggest difference that I see in our young men as far as their ability to prehab to avoid rehab. We use those terms all the times with the kids. We see them doing a lot of the extra stuff. Many of the things that Evan has brought, and he goes out and really stresses himself on learning what can we do if the young man has a shoulder, has a hamstring, whatever his deficiency is, we want to do a great job of helping him to prehab that to avoid rehab.
Those are things you can never put numbers on, but the kids and Evan and his staff have done a great job of developing that identity in the weight room. We're in and out of there. It was really different for the kids. The first couple of weeks, the time frame is fast. It's an hour. That's all they get in the weight room. That's all they need in the weight room.
They're not going to sit down and talk to each other. We're going to work and get out and get around in the day. That's an adjustment, but I think they've adjusted to that now. There's always more than one way to do things, but that's just how we do them.
QUESTION: Gary, you mentioned many times since you were hired the importance of getting to know the players as people and let them know you're not just a coach. I assume at some point in your career, as a player or a young assistant, that was instilled in you, that you realized that was important. How did that come about?
ANDERSEN: No question. Coach (Ron) McBride. And I was lucky down in that area. Obviously, I played for Coach Mac, and he gave me a job as a position coach, and I was able to be with him a number of years at Utah. His ability to be able to touch me as a player, his ability to be able to touch me as a coach was really why I'm coaching today.
Coach Mac is a big, big part of it, and he always did. He told us how it was. He put it on the line. He was always there for us. As I go through my years of coaching, it is about the kids, and it will never, never change.
QUESTION: In general, what do you think about the quarterbacks you've inherited now that you've worked with them three, four, five weeks?
ANDERSEN: It's definitely coming around, and anybody that's watched the practices know that Curt (Phillips) and Joel (Stave) are getting the most reps. We went through six practices up to spring break and then reevaluated and sat down and saw where we were at. That's where the majority of the reps are going right now.
Each quarterback, as any position, has their ups and downs, their positives and negatives. What we're looking for right now are those first two kids with the ability for the offensive line, the tight ends, the wide receivers, the running backs, to look that quarterback in the eye and say, I know you're going to get this done for us. We'll make plays. You're going to have the ball in your hands. Just get it to the right one, and we'll get the rest of it done.
That's a real confidence factor, and it's always a work in progress in spring football. But those two young men have done a nice job. The other guys are battling, and it's hard. Like I said at the beginning of spring, I said to all the quarterbacks, not everybody's going to be happy.
We have been in constant communication with them and know where they stand, and we're trying to make sure that everybody is in a good spot. Next week we'll sit down and meet, and we'll make decisions from there with them.
MODERATOR: Anything else for Coach?
ANDERSEN: Thank you, guys. Appreciate your time. Go, Badgers.