Aug. 2, 2013
• Andersen News Conference | Media Day Photo Gallery
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin football head coach Gary Andersen opened the Badgers' annual media day by holding a news conference Friday at Camp Randall Stadium.
Video of Andersen's media session can be found above, and a complete transcript of his remarks is below.
ANDERSEN: First of all, I'd just like to say a couple of things kind of related to football and the state of Wisconsin. I'd just like to wish good luck to all the programs, the Packers, all the college programs, the high schools. Everybody is starting up. It's an exciting time of year. Best of luck to everybody out there. There's a lot of young men starting up their football careers.
It's an exciting time for all of us. Good luck to everybody in the State of Wisconsin. Everybody is not going to have the season that we want, but right now we all surely hope we do.
Secondly, I would just like one more time publicly, as we finally get to football and finally get to the game to start practices, just to thank everybody in Madison, everybody that's reached out really to the staff, their ability to get moving along in life, I guess, if you will, has been unbelievable, and a lot of that has to do with the support of people in the community, and also the same right back from the University of Wisconsin, from the administration all the way down to so many people have touched our coaches and given them the opportunities to, again, get settles and move into their jobs very quickly.
So I thank everybody who's reached out and been involved with allowing our coaches and staff to get situated and solidified. So we can get to this point today.
Moving on to football, it's an exciting time of year. Again, we finally get to play football and start practicing. I don't know what questions you could possibly ask me today that I have not answered yet. We'll see what we have.
I'm just going to run down a little bit on the summer. Obviously, we're not around the kids too much, but kind of where our kids are and our feeling as we move into it. Expectations coming out of summer, conditioning. I believe the strength coaches will do a great job. We'll all know in about four or five days exactly where those kids sit, but I feel very strongly with Coach (Evan) Simon and his crew where the kids will be.
We expect them to be in shape. We expect them to be really mentally on top of their game, if the kids have done what they're supposed to do and what they say they were going to do as far as prepare themselves in the film room on their own. I feel like I'm sure that's taken place. I'm sure that's happened. I feel very good about that.
That was a big part of what we talked about when we left, was our ability to understand the details of the offense and defense and special teams, and get ourselves in position to -- you're not in game shape today, but you obviously need to be in shape to participate in fall camp.
We'll bring in 105 healthy kids to camp, and it's important to bring in 105 healthy kids, and hopefully we stay healthy throughout the camp. That's always the goal. Be smart the way we practice and try to get them in and out of things. Obviously, we're excited to get going.
There's some times it's open to the public. I sure hope people come out and watch the kids. Especially on the scrimmages. I think there will be fun, competitive times. I think there's a lot of competition throughout the team, and there will be a battle for spots. It should be fun and exciting to watch. We'd love to have you come out when the practices are open and come support the kids, and we open them up so we can let Badger nation in, the Badger family in. It's important for all of us to be there together at certain times.
Excited about that. Position situations, just quickly. I'll be brief here so I can take questions from you.
I feel very good with the front seven. It's going to be nice to get Ethan (Armstrong) and B.K. (Brendan Kelly) back. That's a big part of this defense. It has been for a number of years, which you know. It's exciting to see them. Ethan will be playing the F-linebacker, which is the field side linebacker, so he'll jump in head first and be ready to go. Sounds like from the training reports he's ready and, if you will, put back together again. Here we go with Ethan, exciting to have him. I know he's excited to play and compete.
And B.K. on the other side, he'll be playing the B-linebacker. Exciting to get him back there. He's excited also. He looks great. They're both into some position battles like many other players.
The biggest change is Ethan is really not going to play inside linebacker. He's going to be more of an outside linebacker. I think that's best for him and where he sits in his career, and he fits it very well for our defensive scheme.
A lot of question marks in the back end on defense. That needs to hopefully come a little bit clear quickly. A lot of young men will compete in the safety position. Dez (Dezmen Southward) is the -- obviously, the staple of that crew, and he's been a very good leader since we've been here. His leadership will be important as we continue to develop these young players. Some older players have changed positions in that spot, so we'll see how that goes.
We've got to get some solid play at the safety spot in camp as we move ourselves into, obviously, preparing for the first game as we move forward.
Linebackers, feel very good about it. We all know Chris (Borland) kind of starts that thing off there at the inside linebacker position, but I think we have some very good players in there. Conor (O’Neill) will do a nice job. A lot of kids are moving around in there that had a very good summer. I'm excited about those young men.
On the offensive side, talked about it many times. Offensive line, some young men have really stepped up and done some good things since we've been here as far as getting themselves in a position to be prepared to play.
Dan at center is huge. We all know my feelings for him through spring. I thought he played very well. He needs to continue to do that.
The rest of the front, there's a couple of question marks as we move through. We're still thin. And the opportunity for the young men to come in and step up and make plays, hopefully, there's a couple of young transfer kids that can come in and play for us. Not transfer kids, but high school kids that can come in and compete and get into the rotation so we can be eight, nine, ten deep, and probably seven or eight that we feel very good about putting out there on the field.
Tight ends, good players. A big part of this offense, period, end of story. Excited about those young men.
Wide receivers. Again, we need Jared that's a proven player, and we need a young man or two to step up there. Kenzel (Doe), I think, has had a good solid spring, and where it goes from there, we'll see with the other young men.
We've got to have some dynamic playmakers at the wide receiver spot to do what we want to do on the offensive side of the ball. We need a third running back to step up. We have two very talented young men back there, and they've had very, very good spring ball. I'm sure they've had very good summers. Melvin and James are very excited, but we need a third back to step up in there.
Watt, I'd really like to keep him at the fullback position and let him learn and not have to move him around to the tailback spot. Hopefully, that can take place. He can do it. He did it some in spring. We'd sure like to get a third tailback and leave him there so he can perfect his craft, if you will, at the fullback position.
Quarterback, what's left to say? We'll see. Here we go. We'll get them out there, and they'll all compete early. We'll get it done.
Special teams, excited about that. Bill Busch and Jeff Genyk will both coordinate. They're going to split up those duties. It's going to definitely help our staff work and function and move through the weeks in a timely manner. They'll do a tremendous job with a high emphasis -- the more games I watch in the Big Ten, special teams are big, big plays.
Hopefully, in six or seven, eight, 10 weeks, we're sitting here and talking about us making the big plays that are changing games on special teams. That will definitely be the goal. That will be the mindset as we go through camp and the mindset as we go through the season.
That's kind of where we sit. From there, I'll open it up to you.
QUESTION: Gary, who do you see competing at the other outside linebacker spot next to Borland? What about Ethan did you like for him to go outside?
ANDERSEN: First of all, with Ethan (Armstrong), I think it's important to him just he fits that position so well. He's athletic enough to run in that position. He's physical enough to be able to get up on the end line of scrimmage and be able to play, and he also has very good football instincts.
To be a really good F-linebacker, he's got to play in space, he's got to play on the end line of scrimmage, he's got to be a quick thinking kid that can react. He's been in a lot of games, and he can do that, and I think he's a very good tackler. So those are the biggest reasons for moving him out there.
I think (Derek) Landisch and (Conor) O'Neill will come in and compete and be very good inside, and trotter will also help us at the inside linebacker position. I felt good about that crew coming out of spring football. I really do. They're all physical. They're tough minded. They're a little different than each other.
They're in the room every day with Dave (Aranda), and I think that's a huge advantage for the defensive coordinator to be in the room with the middle linebackers. That's kind of how we've done that. Feel good about it, and we'll see where it goes.
QUESTION: Coach, can you talk a little bit about your early impressions of Melvin Gordon and how excited you are of getting him a little more involved this season.
ANDERSEN: If you watched Melvin last year on film, it was obviously his extreme speed. His ability to be a game breaker is there. If you get the ball in space, it's going to be very tough to handle. He's proven that at the highest level playing in this conference. You've seen it. It didn't just show up one week. It showed up week in and week out.
His ability to transform his game from the fly sweep series, where a lot of his big plays came last year, to being in and running the power "O" successfully and understanding what it takes to get two or three yards and get the first down versus looking for the home run every single time.
I think he made steps in spring moving towards that. I was proud of him. He became more physical. He became more downhill. His ball security definitely improved as he went through spring, and he battled through an injury. All those are huge positives in spring football for Melvin. I think he's going to be a tremendous complement to James as we move forward.
Big, big part of our offense again, explosive player, and a good teammate.
QUESTION: Gary, a lot of the players yesterday were tweeting about getting iPads and getting the playbooks on them. How important is that? Is that something new that you wanted to bring this fall?
ANDERSEN: It's a big step for us. Technology is important. The biggest challenge, probably for the whole football team with the iPads, is the head coach learning how to do it. That will be a definite challenge.
It opens up a lot of windows, communication on a day-to-day basis. For instance, right now, the camp schedule is sitting there. The young man opens up his iPad, and there it is. He doesn't have to worry about putting it in his locker or wherever it's going to be.
They can go home -- the challenge, as I told the kids, as we go through and move through this with these iPads, if it you practice on Tuesday and you go back and come back at 6:30 in the morning for meetings, and you haven't sat down and watched your practice on your iPad and watched you personally and go back through that, then it's really a waste of money.
It's not just to watch and scout teams, it's to watch you and help you prepare and gain a huge advantage maybe at 10 to 10:30 at night before you lay your head on your pillow and whatever you're doing, to gain an advantage for yourself personally, which in turn is going to gain for you on the practice field.
It's big when it comes to watching other teams, watching opponents, watching cut-ups, but it's a huge advantage, not many teams have it. We're very appreciative of the opportunity that's been given to us by the university to get those.
QUESTION: Coach, whether it's spring or whether it's been the last few weeks, on the outside, you appear to be calm and have an even keeled demeanor, but can you describe what the emotions are inside you as you get ready to start your first practice, get going with the first camp and your first season with Wisconsin.
ANDERSEN: Very excited. Anxiety kind of builds up as you go through, and it's different. The difference from spring ball to fall is I feel like right now we are a family. I think you're trying to build the relationships, all the things we talked about that you're trying to do in spring and going through that first semester.
Right now, this is the 2013 team. They're ready to roll, they're excited about that opportunity. I'm excited about that opportunity.
I'm an emotional guy, and the more we're together, the more you're going to see that. I always carry my emotions on my sleeve kind of, maybe in a good way and maybe in a bad way both, but I am very excited about the opportunity to get to the first practice and move through every day. Every day counts. It's an exciting time for myself, the staff, and I think the kids are ready to roll also.
QUESTION: Coach, what will that second or third receiver opposite of Jared (Abbrederis)have to do to win that job?
ANDERSEN: I think the big thing is, if I say that and sum it up in it a sentence or two, it would relieve the strain from Jared being double-teamed. That's got to be number one. It's not going to happen unless that young man can make plays.
So we've got to have somebody we feel good. I'm not going to say he's got to be able to stretch the defense and be this great route runner. He's got to do something down those lines. We want that, but in the end we've got to have a play maker. We've got to have somebody on third and nine that's going to get nine yards and an inch if that's what it takes to get us the first down.
We've got to have somebody that's going to be able to catch contested balls. Going in the backyard and playing catch is one thing. Now getting yourself in position to make a big play when you've got to have it, and it's a contested ball, and there's four sets of hands around the football and our two hands have to go up and get it somehow, some way. That will be a big key factor to it.
I'm not going to say it has to be a super-fast guy or this unbelievable route runner. There's kids in this program that can do it. If they put in the time and wrap their arms around the situation, I think we'll have success. The key is going to be have they prepared themselves enough to allow Coach (Chris) Beatty, Coach (Andy) Ludwig to now get involved in their lives on the football side of things and mold them and get them fine tuned so they can play at the highest level.
QUESTION: With so many new plays and formations on the defense, how nice is it to have three seniors up front that can hopefully guide any young or inexperienced guys?
ANDERSEN: It will be -- that's big. I feel front seven on defense -- I'm going to say this. We'll walk in front seven on defense, my guess is there will be a good solid two-deep of ones. You've got Tyler (Dippel) back in at the defensive end. There's so many kids rolling through there.
It is important to have the experience that we have, to get Beau (Allen) back there, and all of a sudden now Warren is going to be that much better. (Bryce) Gilbert has that much of a chance to turn up and be better at the nose guard position. There's a lot of competition there. We need solid, two deep.
To answer your question, I think the experience there is deep. The challenge is what you said, not just on the defensive front, but to allow the young kids to be prepared, to be able to execute at a high level on defense, wide receiver, wherever they need to be every single day, and they can't do that if they're not mentally ready.
Hopefully, the Big Brother program, as we've gone through summer, has allowed these kids to get into the meeting room, let them understand who we are in the weight room. Let them understand what the expectation levels of them are on the field. Most importantly, they've got some Xs and Os in their mind that they can go out and be able to play at a high level.
We'll take the last 15 minutes of the first five practices, and it will be reserved for not all newcomers, but young players in the program. That's an important 15 minutes to impress, and hopefully a couple guys coming out of that can get themselves on the traveling squad or even better as we move forward.
QUESTION: Gary, you mentioned(Brendan Kelly and Ethan Armstrong at those outside spots, but I know Dave says he likes to use a lot of guys. Who would the guys be?
ANDERSEN: Vince Biegel and Jesse Hayes are going to play crazy in that situation. They want to be on the field. They got a little bit of a head start scheme-wise because they played all spring. They'll get some shots there.
(Michael) Caputo is back. Whether it's going to come back and be at safety, he's going to come down and play the F linebacker, they're kind of in the mix as we go through there. It's going to be very, very interesting.
Joe (Schobert), he deserves to play after spring. He came in. He played the F linebacker. He started it inside. He moved to F. He played some B. And everywhere we put him, he just simply made plays. So he's going to be right there with Ethan, and it's going to be interesting with him at the F linebacker.
He's young. Obviously, didn't play a lot last year, involved on special teams and did some good things. But he's a very athletic young man, and his expectations of himself are high, which I think we all know that if we know him at all.
That's a handful of kids, and we'll see what the young guys can do. I don't know what's going to take place.
Can Alec (James) come in, and is he prepared to involve himself in that? That ball is in Alec's court now.
QUESTION: Coach, whether it's the freshmen coming in or transfers that you have, guys that will be trying to compete for jobs, more mental, physical, what are you looking for most to see if a guy can play right away and compete for a job?
ANDERSEN: First of all, by position, if you look at a young man, he's got to be physically able to handle it. You don't want to put him in a bad position to have him not have success early on just because he's not strong enough, he's not big enough. So the skill position kids have a better opportunity to come in and compete right away, and they are expected to do that.
We'll look at those kids early. I would say the next thing is mentally can they handle that? When I say it's not just the Xs and Os and understanding, are they going to be able to handle camp, the fatigue of it, the Division I grind, if you will?
Football is not a convenience sport. You don't wake up and say this is going to be a good day and a fun day to play football. It's really hard to do sometimes. That's an adjustment that's much harder for some kids than others, and that is a challenge for the youth to be able to deal with the grind.
They'll be good day one and two and three and four, and then we'll see as we go through it. Can they handle it mentally, and can they handle it physically? I can't say one is more important than the other. Both of those have to be -- for us to put a young man out there at a young age or as a newcomer, we've got to believe he's going to support and help the rest of his team to victories.
QUESTION: Coach, are you pleased with how the coaching staff that you kind of assembled, some that you knew before, you had two holdovers here with (Thomas) Hammock and (Ben) Strickland. Are you pleased with how they've kind of come together the first summer?
ANDERSEN: I really am. We've had quite a few activities for the coaches and different get-togethers with the families. It's been great.
Another important part of this puzzle is the wives and the children that are involved. This group of wives has really meshed well. I think they're excited. They're veterans, which is important for the wives. They understand the drill.
But this coaching staff, they go about their business. As a head coach, it's nice when you're in the office, and for instance, a couple days before camp, and we've got to go fly across the country for some media things we do a couple times. I don't bat an eye that I know things are getting done in the office are the things they're supposed to get done in the office.
From the recruiting side, the offensive side, the defensive side, the special teams, taking care of the kids in the program, which is always the number one priority, it's happening, and I'm proud of the way the coaches have handled that. It's a veteran staff. That's the way it should be, and that's the way it is.
QUESTION: Gary, when you talk about recruiting, you talk about selling Wisconsin's academic reputation. You mention that a lot. I'm just curious, do you see much of a connection at all to a kid -- might not be the smartest kid, but he grinds his way through the classroom. Do you see any connection to that and whether he'll grind on the practice field for you?
ANDERSEN: I would agree. I'm not going to -- it's important for me to always say, when we're at Wisconsin, all we've got to do is show people things. We don't have to sell this program. We just have to show them who we are and what we're about.
It's the same on the academic side of things. If a young man really cares about academics, and it matters to him, he's going to walk in and understand that's powerful. That degree is a powerful thing to have for the rest of your life, and it really does -- it truly matters. It's going to be here for a long, long time, and it's been here for a long time before we got here. I know that. It's a special thing to have.
The ability to grind is important in academics, and when I say that, we'll take a young man and have expectation levels of GPAs. So if I expect to be at business school, for instance, you know, maybe I have to be a 3.7 GPA. I don't know. I'm just throwing numbers out, what it has to be. If my goal is to be that, he has to grind away and get that done whereas another young man, speaking quite frankly, if he's at a 2.8, 2.7, that might be he's giving you all he's got academically, and that's a grind for him.
I think identifying kids that will grind academically, you can't just set a standard and say, okay, this is what we are and where we'll be, and you've got to hit that. It's identifying what they can do, what are they capable of, and then holding the candle to it.
Grinding in the classroom is something you have to do here if you're going to succeed. I think it does carry over to the football field and does carry over to the social life. I think in turn it helps you win games.
QUESTION: Coach, you said you wanted to find a third running back with moving Jeff Lewis to safety, Vonte Jackson being injured and wanting to keep Derek Watt at fullback. It sounds like Corey Clement and who are going to be competing for that spot?
ANDERSEN: Corey has big shoes to fill, it seems right now. We'll try a couple young men in those spots as we go forward, but Corey is big in that situation. He has a purpose. He came here for a reason. We're never going to play a young man when he's not ready, but that's the guy right now. We're looking to jump in there and say, are you going to be that third guy? If he can, he can. If he can't, then, again, as always, you will adjust. That may require a position move.
That's what all those long staff meetings we have is to make sure we're putting the right kids in the right spots. But right now we're expecting that to be Corey's show, and we'll see if the young freshman is ready to handle it. It's a lot of pressure, but that's one of the reasons he came to Wisconsin.
QUESTION: How does a third running back manifest itself in your offense?
ANDERSEN: Well, number one, you're going to have to be able to -- I foresee Melvin and James being on the field together at times in this offense. So there you go, there's one and two, and you're one guy away from having that package with you, if it you will. We've got to have three quality running backs. This is a running offense. It's a powerful offense. It's a grind.
And you've got to understand that you've got to have multiple reps as you move through. I think there's enough room for three backs to get reps at times. If there's two highlighted kids, if they stay fresh all year long, what a great opportunity for Corey to learn watching those kids go through it, and if he can get the travel experience, if it was warranted to give him that, and get in on some special teams and get into some offense, that would be, in my opinion, a productive year.
QUESTION: Gary, you mentioned your big brother program. What do you think Curt Phillips can do for (Tanner) McEvoy, and the fact that they're competing for the same job. Is that delicate at all?
ANDERSEN: Yes, and I want it to be delicate. Those situations are going to arise very soon, and somebody is going to turn around and win the job, and there's a relationship that's built, and it's a competitive situation.
We ask these kids to compete at the highest level every single day, and there is going to be a winner and a loser. There is going to be a first team. There is going to be a second team. I don't expect it to be easy to deal with, but it has to be dealt with.
We're not going to shy away and put Curt with somebody else because those two are competing at that position. A quarterback is always unique. It's a different animal. When you're talking about number of reps and the starter and all the stuff that comes with it. Curt will handle it very well, and I expect Tanner to handle it very well. We'll see how Tanner handles the move forward.
I know how Curt is going to handle it. Curt has been through so many situations and so many scenarios in his career in Wisconsin football, the state of Wisconsin is so important to him. He'll handle everything the right way.
QUESTION: I know there isn't much more you can say about the quarterback battle at this point, but do you feel like Tanner is coming in here having to play catch-up just because Joel (Stave) and Curt have been here before, or is it more of a clean slate just because there's a new playbook for everybody involved?
ANDERSEN: Oh, no, he's definitely -- hopefully, he's closed the gap. He has to shrink the gap between what he knows and what the other guys know.
And Joel and Curt have been on the practice field for 15 practices. They had the three weeks when they were still in school. I know they worked hard at that point to continue to see what they did right and what they did wrong. Their challenge is, like everybody else, to understand the details.
Tanner has a lot of ground to make up just like any junior college kid does. How much Tanner has handled that since he's been here, we're about to find out.
QUESTION: With the Big Ten titles -- I'm sure you've heard it year-in and year-out here -- do you feel any pressure going into your first year to -- with what they've accomplished here in the last few years?
ANDERSEN: No, I don't feel any pressure at all. I know the young men on the team have high expectations, the coaches do. Wisconsin football has high expectations of themselves. I think we need to understand exactly where we sit and the position we're in.
To get back to where we want to be -- and everybody in the Big Ten wants to get to the same place. They all want to get back to the Rose Bowl. To get there, you're going to have to play at a high level, and .500 in the league, I don't think, is going to get you back to the Rose Bowl. The bottom line is last year that championship game was an unbelievable football game. They were physical. They were tough. They were well-prepared. They did what they had to do.
But to get back into that game is the challenge. You've got to win. You've got to win on the road. You've got to protect your home turf. You've got to play at a high level. And so many of these games, again, go back to one possession, which in a good league, that happens. Some leagues, maybe they're not as good, and one team just runs the table and kind of blows everybody away in the second half and away they go.
I'm not saying it's easy, but it's cleaner -- not so fast in the Big Ten. Just watch the games. So you're going to have to be able to make 10 special plays if you want to be a great team. Somebody has to make those ten special plays.
These kids expect to win, and I think it's great. It's awesome to walk into a program and these kids expect to win. When they jog out of the tunnel every single day, and there's not one ounce of them that's intimidated by anybody in the country and will never come out of the tunnel and be intimidated against anybody or intimidated by anybody. And we expect to win.
Does that mean you win? No. A lot of that has to do with experience of winning close games, and there's also a lot that can go into losing close games as far as moving yourself forward as a program, and the fact these kids have accomplished so much is, I think, a huge positive.
QUESTION: Gary, from what happened with Montee (Ball) last year and Tanner this year, do you put more emphasis on maybe protecting these guys when maybe they're not on the football field.
ANDERSEN: The key thing is how -- understand your surroundings always. Understand where you're at, the direction that you're headed. Do we educate them on it? Yeah, we talk about it all the time and try to make sure that kids understand their surroundings.
They also have to understand who they are. They're football players at the University of Wisconsin, and that's a pretty powerful thing to be. You've always got to remember that.
So we talked to the kids about it. We talked to them about a lot of things -- social media, understand what's going on in their lives, the direction that they're headed, where are you, where you headed, basically, and are you making the right decisions in life every single day on and off the field.
Big cities, small cities, 40 million people, there's going to be issues. It's unfortunate now that there's been two incidences, but this is an unbelievably safe community, and I think we all know that. Hopefully, that's the end of it.
QUESTION: It seems that defensive coordinators, the stereotype, they fit into a yeller, screamer, motivator guy, or maybe a mad scientist. Where does Coach Aranda fit in, and how is he a reflection of your coaching style or belief?
ANDERSEN: He's the maddest scientist, and he doesn't reflect my coaching style hardly at all. I'm much more emotional, especially when I was a little bit younger. Kind of hurts to move like that these days. I can't move around as quick as I used to.
He is a lot like Andy (Ludwig), I would say. Their ability to -- they're going to dissect. They're going to look. They're going to see, but the way the kids respect them is pretty special to me, and it was different when Dave came in.
I remember last year, he basically at one point was saying, hey, you know what, guys, we need each other. It was halftime of a game. I forget what game it was. We all need each other. I need you guys right now. You need us as coaches. And I think that is, in a nutshell, what he does is he gets them to believe that and gets them to understand. Getting to believe is not the right word.
That's what has to happen for a defense to be great, and he goes about it in his way. It's unique. It's very interesting to watch.
But when he needs to get after them, trust me, he'll get after them. As far as our defense, scheme-wise, it's definitely a mix of what Dave has had experience with, what we continue to learn every single year, and what I believed in for a number of years. And then the key to that is to put that all together, mold it, and get the best 11 kids for that season out there on the field.
QUESTION: Talk about the importance of special teams to you. What do you emphasize, I guess, on special teams that makes it? Do you try to create turnovers, hit home runs? Where's your emphasis?
ANDERSEN: First of all, the biggest emphasis we have is every coach is involved. Every coach will take great pride in coaching, whether they're coaching number three and four on the kickoff team or the right guard on PAT, or whatever it may be. They'll take great pride and will take complete responsibility, just as they do for their position groups in dealing with that special team. The coordinators will have a lot of help.
I think that's one thing we do that's different than a lot of places, and that matters.
But you place an importance on anything in football and how you meet it and how you practice it. When I say that, the meetings in special teams are just as important as special teams meetings. The practice time is just as important as offensive and defensive practices. We miss a field goal in practice, and it's a big deal. It's not just, oh, line it up and kick it again, and away we go. It does matter.
We don't put our hand on a ball in a punt drill when we're trying to get blocks. It's a big deal. It's graded. It's repetitive. It's talked about. And, again, we'll put the best 11 kids we can on the field.
You'll see a lot of starters. I prefer not to play starters on special teams as much as possible, but when it's needed, we'll definitely do that. It's a great opportunity obviously for the young kids to grow and develop also.
QUESTION: Coach, along those lines, last year Melvin and Jared Abbrederis and Kenzel played big roles in the return game. Do you see it sticking that way in terms of talking about the starters and things like that?
ANDERSEN: Yes. I would say those young men will be involved in the return game. We'll see how much. A lot will depend on a couple of young kids as they come in. They said, when we recruited them, that they can catch punts. We'll see when they're at Camp Randall and the ball is up in the air, we'll see how they do.
I expect those three to be highly involved. Pick your spots, be smart, but, yes, they will be involved in the return game.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for Coach?
QUESTION: Have you had a welcome to Madison moment?
ANDERSEN: A welcome to Madison moment? You know, one of the neatest things I've done, and I think the staff would agree with that, is we went on a cruise out on the lake a couple, three days ago. That was pretty special. I've never been out there, and just to go around there and see it. That was probably the biggest welcome to Madison moment. So, yeah.
Thank you, guys. Appreciate it. Go Badgers.