April 20, 2013
2013 Wisconsin Football Spring Game
April 20, 2013
Camp Randall Stadium • Madison, Wis.
Head Coach Gary Andersen
ANDERSEN: Productive day. It was a great crowd, first of all. Sunshine out there. Everything was positive. We stayed healthy, it looks like, which is always a big worry. A lot of young kids got reps.
We're basically missing six starters right now on the defensive side that didn't play a snap today, and four or five on the offensive side. So it was a tremendous day for those young kids to get in and compete at a high level. And some experienced players shined out there.
It was overall very productive, got exactly what we wanted out of it. Would have liked to have more special teams. I think in the future we will. Just where the numbers are at and the direction that we're moving, I want to make sure we're as prepared June 9th when we walk back in here for summer as is possible, and I think we got that accomplished today.
QUESTION: Gary, you've talked all spring about wanting to throw the ball better, catch the ball better. You didn't have Abbrederis today, but it still appeared you were able to throw the ball through the air. Especially with Stave, was that as good as he looked all spring?
ANDERSEN: Yes. I thought Joel was poised today. I thought he it wasn't perfect, but it doesn't have to be perfect. They caught the ball good for him. I thought we were getting in and out of our routes better. Protection was much better.
I will say this. Defense today was very vanilla. Offensively, we were very generic, and defensively, we were very generic. We did throw the ball, bottom line, and we did catch the ball better than we have all spring, and that was very encouraging.
QUESTION: What was the reason to be generic on defense, Gary?
ANDERSEN: Just it's on the Big Ten Network. That's the biggest reason.
QUESTION: Could you critique Phillips as well, please.
ANDERSEN: Yeah, I think Curt had good demeanor. The turnovers were down. He was poised. He had composure, like he's had and you would expect from a cagey veteran, which he is. Threw the ball. He got some balls down the field and did some good things. He probably had a couple he'd like to get back, but so does Joel.
Positive performance, really. I hate to look back at just one day, one performance, but I think this last week, if I look at both those two, we're moving in the right direction with just feeling comfortable with what's going on.
QUESTION: How much of a running component do you look for in a quarterback?
ANDERSEN: Depends on his really on his skill set. If the ability is there for him to make some plays with his legs, we'll allow him to do it. I believe the young men in this program can do that. So the ability to have a touch option in the future will be there for us without question.
The read zone, you've seen that. You saw that two or three times today, and they don't have to go 80 yards when they do that. It's just the fact that you have it that causes some problems for people. The young men in our program have the ability to do that.
QUESTION: You've talked about trying to find a big play wide receiver after Abbrederis. I know there weren't a ton of big plays, but did Kenzel show you a few things?
ANDERSEN: Yes. Kenzel's want to is very apparent. He's crafty. He showed good hands, and I think he's continually, again I go back for about a week now he's really shown solid hands throughout practice. Whether it's routes versus error or it's a competitive situation, he's done a very nice job. He's hard to tackle.
But his love for football brings a smile to my face every day.
QUESTION: Coach, one of those groups that's been missing some of the players is linebacker. I was wondering if you could critique the linebacking group's performance and if anyone in general stood out to you today.
ANDERSEN: I will say this. Vince, really the last two practices I sat down and evaluated Wednesday's practice, and he jumped out at me, and he did again today. Made a couple big plays, came around the edge. He looks like he's just playing with more confidence, and he's kind of just letting it rip a little bit. So he shined for me.
But that whole group of young linebackers has had so many reps. There's so many you cannot put a price tag on repetition in spring, and we've kept the other guys healthy. So it's going to be a good group of inside linebackers, good group of outside linebackers. I'm excited to get B.K. into that outside linebacker crew in the fall. It will be fun when he gets out there. I know he's excited to get that going too.
QUESTION: Gary, the day you guys scrimmaged out in the cold and the rain, the kickers didn't have a good job. French hit a couple today. He's had a solid spring overall, but did he need to hit a couple today after that rough scrimmage?
ANDERSEN: Yes. I think it's always good to get him in that position to have to kick in front of fans. Now he's obviously done that, and he's done it on the biggest stages there are.
But I agree with you. He has been consistent, and he has had a good spring, and the numbers would prove that if you tracked them all the way through, which we do. He's kicked the ball well. He had a bad day in the rain, and that's something we could learn from and he'll learn from. We need to help to make him better in spots, and he needs to work on that also, and we will.
It was good for him to go out there today and put a couple through. It's a little windy out there, and it didn't bother him, and he put it right out there.
QUESTION: With chains being out and Melvin getting a lot of reps today, what kind of stood out with Melvin and maybe some of the other running backs?
ANDERSEN: Melvin, the tweak of the ankle through spring slowed him down, but it didn't slow him down mentally, which really was impressive to me because the day he came back, he was in the offense. He knew the offense. There wasn't MAs, or wasn't missed assignments, which was a credit to him because he was able to prepare while he's going through an injury.
Once he got back, I felt the last three practices he's really gained some momentum. He looks fast. He looks quick, and that carried on today. He ran with a good pad level today too. There was some suddenness to him. He got out and made some people miss on the one down the sidelines, which was a really nice run. Had some physical runs. So it was a pretty complete game out of him.
Watt's been good. He's been battling his ankle also, and it was hurting him today, but he just kept on going through it. It will be nice to get those numbers built up when we get into the fall, that's for sure.
QUESTION: Gary, at cornerback, a big question mark obviously. What have you thought of our corners all spring and today? Did Shelton Sojourn do some good things today?
ANDERSEN: Yeah, Sojourn, he has really competed all spring long, and the way he's handled the adjustment coming from high school has been impressive, not just on the field, but off the field. His life flipped upside down, and he's handled it very well.
I credit the other corners, who have kind of put their arms around him and made sure he was moving in the right direction. Sojourn was good today. I think he got his hands on two or three balls. He'd like to pick them all off, but if he was that good at receiving and catching, he'd probably be a wide receiver. He's playing very well. I'm happy where he is.
The corners as a whole have really progressed, worked hard. It's a work in progress. He always had a very nice spring. He's been very, very consistent. P.J. gets better. The list is not real long with those kids, but I think they have competed day in and day out, and techniques, moving to man coverage, moving to playing dog coverage, blitzing sometimes doesn't sound like a lot, but it's a lot to put on a kid's plate. They've got better every single day, I believe.
QUESTION: Over the past six weeks, we've been able to follow a printed out schedule of what you do day by day. Can you give us a sense, now that spring's over, what goes on, why the next two months are important, and what goes on in the program the next couple of months from here.
ANDERSEN: Number one right now is finish academically. That will be a stress point. Coaches are gone. They're on the road back and forth. We have to be able to lock our minds and say, we're going to finish the semester the right way and get our grades where they need to be. That will be important.
Secondly is to use these next two weeks to get into the weight room and formulate our plan for the rest of the semester. We won't just say, hey, take two or three weeks off. We don't have time to be able do that. So we'll get our lifting in.
And we'll also use the next three weeks to still kids will get out there and throw the ball on their own, which we need to do that. We need to throw and catch as many times as we can between now and when we'll line up and play. That will be the points of emphasis.
For me, myself, the coaches have already had their evaluations of each young man on the team. If not, it will take place tomorrow. It's their meeting where they sit down and evaluate them in lots of different areas, and then I get the opportunity next week to sit down with every young man on the team and have an exit meeting with him.
It will be good for me because it's a time now I know the faces and the names. I look forward to those meetings.
QUESTION: Coach, Joe Schobert has been looking for a home position wise since he got here. What do you like do you think he finally found a home?
ANDERSEN: Yes. Outside linebacker for sure. I can't tell you whether he'll grow to be a field outside linebacker or the B outside linebacker. He has a good talent, nose for the football, very smart young man, and he's had a very solid spring. Very happy he's in this program.
QUESTION: Gary, just looking back on the 15, 16 practices you guys have had, are you pleased? Is this kind of what you thought it would be when all that's over?
ANDERSEN: Yeah, we're in a good spot. You're never going to get everything you want. You're never going to have it perfect. We wanted consistency. I think we got that. We wanted effort. I think we got that.
Day three, as I look back, is probably our worst day. We came back off a week of spring break that I've never done that before in my career, have a spring break right in the middle of spring ball. Kids handled it unbelievably well, and we really rolled in a good way, I believe, once we got back off of spring break.
It was a good spring. Excited to continually move forward. I wish we'd have had some more numbers in some spots, and the young men that were injured, hopefully, we get them all back. So it was productive.
QUESTION: Do you think you got through the worst of it with the offensive line? How much better do you think the offensive line can be in the fall?
ANDERSEN: I think the strength by numbers will be better for sure, and they have to be. We've got to be able to get into a practice situation and practice scenario where we can build a quality travel team and then build a quality service team for the defense. So that's going to be a work in progress. That work starts tomorrow in recruiting with the coaches again to get out there and try to up those numbers.
They'll improve. Watched tape again the other day and evaluated the offensive line, and I go back to practice 1, 2, and 3 and sit back and watch some of practice 12, 13, and 14. Pad level's better. I think use of hands is better. That's what you would expect. You would expect those things to be taking place.
It's good for me to stand in the back in those scrimmages. There's good communication, which tells me they've got an idea of what they're doing and the direction they're headed. I expect them to be a quality offensive line in the Big Ten.
QUESTION: You mentioned getting Brendan Kelly at the outside linebacker spot. I'm not sure that's going to be much of a transition for him. What type of player do you expect at that spot when he comes back next year?
ANDERSEN: When you flip on last year's tape and you watch him, he's aggressive. He plays very, very hard. Defensive end, have my hand on the ground, not have my hand on the ground, it's not going to affect him at all. I think he'll hop in there and do a very good job. He's a talented young man, and he's played a lot of football. He's excited for that opportunity to get one more year back.
He'll be at the B side linebacker side without question. He'll also be highly involved within the nickel packages and the cowboy packages. When we do get the four down pass rush scenarios, he'll be a big part of that, but he'll also be a big part of the base package too.
QUESTION: You took a couple shots downfield, didn't connect. Is that quarterbacks, wide receivers? Where do you put that?
ANDERSEN: From where I saw, I probably couldn't answer that question honestly with you. We're going to take those shots, though. We believe we've got to be able to get those down the field two or three times a game. Whether it comes through play action or comes through straight drop back or we see something in our coverage, we're going to take those shots down the field.
Today I don't know quite why they didn't connect, but when Jared's in there, we've got a pretty good chance, if we get it close, we're going to get it connected, and the other young men will continue to work at getting better at it, better at throwing it and catching it.