Sept. 3, 2012
• Watch Bielema news conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin football head coach Bret Bielema recapped the Badgers' season-opening win and looked ahead to the first road trip of the season at his weekly news conference at Camp Randall Stadium Monday.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Bielema's remarks can be found below.
Bielema: Obviously had a chance to review the film on Sunday. Normally, after a win, we'd give out some MVPs. Just didn't really feel we're at that level yet. Offense/defense, special teams and also our scout team, I really thought we emphasized to our guys during the course of the week -- and it was a tough week without school being in session -- and the grind of fall camp, thought we needed to prepare better.
Put a huge emphasis on that on Sunday, got out there, started running around pretty good. Really had no significant injuries from Saturday's game.
Held a couple guys out that we'll probably keep out all year, but everybody should be with us on Tuesday for our first full big practice on Oregon State.
We had an introduction to them on Sunday in reference to Oregon State. Obviously they didn't get to play in their game. So don't have film of this year, but we've got last year's film, all the preparation we put in last year, and obviously all the games after that.
So some good film for us to use from 2011 season. A very good ball club. That quarterback definitely got better. You saw a lot of their young players. I think I read a stat, I believe they played 23 first year players a year ago, ten true freshmen. So they're very, very young a year ago and those guys got better in every game.
And I know we're going to see a much improved football team going out there this year than we faced last year at Camp Randall. And obviously anytime you travel for the first time it's got its own set of issues. Tuesday is the first day of classes as well. So a lot of big firsts coming this week for this team to take on. With that, open it up for any questions.
Question: You mentioned that last week was a tough week at points. A couple of players said they didn't have a real good week of preparation, at least in their eyes. I'm curious, did you see that? Why is that with such an older team?
Bielema: I think players regurgitate what coaches say quite often. What you heard is exactly what they'd been told 15 minutes before you got them.
So I wasn't happy with it. But on the same account you kind of live in the moment and try to be as positive as you can going into Saturday.
I think for all the reasons I just mentioned, the uncertainty of playing UNI, not being able to have a full grasp of what they're going to come out in with a new quarterback and what he was going to bring to the table. The guy a year ago was a little bit different. So some of the stuff that we were preparing for is chasing windmills a little bit. But bottom line we got out of there with a W and that's always a positive.
Question: Looks like on the depth chart there's no more split between (Zac) Matthias and (Kyle) Costigan. Obviously you guys must have liked what Zac did. What did you see on film that you felt comfortable?
Bielema: I think two things, Jeff. I want to say the rep ratio was I think Zac got 50 snaps and when he was down to 14. So obviously just felt good where it was at.
I was very impressed with Zac. I grabbed him Sunday night at dinner. I thought for a first start, he really did a nice job. Especially in pass pro. He bends well. He's athletic. He's big.
Costy (Kyle Costigan), I think, just needs to keep coming out. It was his first game. So we started five guys for the first time on offense the other day; and for us to have the success we did in the first half kind of amazed me as much as obviously we want more touchdowns rather than field goals.
But Brian Wozniak, that one he dropped was the first pass he had ever thrown at him, was a first rep for a fullback for Sherrod (Cadogan) and Derek Watt. And a receiver, I was nervous about who was going to be catching the football other than Abby (Jared Abbrederis). And Kenzel (Doe) made a couple of nice grabs and obviously Jordan Fredrick and A.J. Jordan, I don't think we threw one at him, but there was a lot of positives.
Question: I know you addressed this after the game a little bit, but after watching the film, do you have any concerns about big play potential on offense at all?
Bielema: No, I think I'm probably more encouraged after watching the film. Because during the game it really felt like there wasn't that many.
But I think we counted up 11 hits that were literally maybe a broken tackle or just one more finish to a block. There was a number of them we saw -- what I told our guys on Sunday, both sides of the ball is just cleaning up the details of a finish, finishing off a Mike linebacker that we've got a guy on but we didn't finish it and he could fall off and make a play for an eight-yard gain.
And same thing with some safeties and support people. We were right there on the verge. I think the first play of the last series, if you hit, we had a little iso to the left and it was blocked up as clean as anything we had all day. And Montee (Ball) about broke that thing.
He was one step away from making that thing go to the house. So I think a little bit of detail and finishing up and also having our guys understand how much and how hard it is to finish, to make those big plays happen.
Question: You mentioned you're nervous about the wide receivers. But obviously Kenzel (Doe) showed you enough in practice for you to put him out there. I'm curious: What has he shown? And also it seems like that little coming across the middle sort of suits his game given his size.
Bielema: Yeah, I think he's very good in the slot and creating under routes. Sometimes you can't see him, which is a positive. Not because he's going overly fast, but just because he's short. But he is quick.
He can make quick decisions. Make quick cuts. That last first down that they got, he got vertical. He was going sideways and all of a sudden got vertical real quick, which I think is attributed to his athleticism.
We like to use him in the slot, also on some bubbles. We didn't get one of those in the other day. And the other guy I was pleased with was Jordan Fredrick. I know he had a couple of plays he wants to take back. But those two together, I thought, were a nice surprise.
Question: Did you see the buses around the city with Montee's (Ball) face on it and what did you think about it as another ploy?
Bielema: I first saw that on the e-mail forum. I haven't seen the bus. I've seen pictures of the bus. A couple of months ago, when they said they were going to do it, I wanted to see what it was going to look like. It's good.
I'm sure a lot of people are taken aback by it when they first see it; but if it brings more publicity for Montee, and obviously on Saturday, I found it amazing that 120 yards, three receptions 100 whatever it was, 50, 60 all-purpose yards with a touchdown is a bad day. I guess we'll take those bad days whenever they come.
Question: You guys didn't play a true road game last year going into Michigan State and Ohio State, do you think it impacted going into those two tough environments, and how much do you think it will help you this weekend?
Bielema: The kids that went there last year, hopefully it will. But we'll change up some things in practice this week. Obviously this is going to be a -- I think it's almost a three and a half, four-hour plane flight. That's going to be a different environment for us.
Obviously we're leaving a little bit early on Friday. Make it a longer day of travel. And one of the other components that we gotta work with, just because of the dynamics of Corvallis, we're actually staying about an hour away from the stadium. So we have a long bus ride on game day, which in all my years of being head coach here, we've never come close to that. It's one of the complications of being at that site.
Question: After the game, both you and the players expressed disappointment in different things that happened during the game but actually obviously happy that you won the game. How do you walk that line this week being positive if the guys don't hang their heads about the things that went wrong?
Bielema: I was pretty upbeat Saturday after the game. I definitely was strong about being able to finish out games. I made reference to two other games in the world of college football where I think maybe the apparent better team didn't really finish out a game and lost because of it.
I gave our guys on Sunday the speech: Every college football weekend, half the teams in the world of college football lose, and that's just fact.
And so for us to be able to get through that game and win it, because there's a lot of teams in this country that if put in that exact same situation would lose that football game.
And the fact we didn't, set enough positives. I made point and reference to the great news was our defense wasn't great there in the end of the third and fourth quarters, but when they needed to, they came up with a play and made a fourth down stop, which gave it to our offense.
If our offense scores one first down, more than likely is going to win the football game. Little did I know the first play was going to go for a first down. So we ended up needing to score two or get two first downs, which they did.
And that to me is a very, very positive thing to build off of, especially when offensively you started five new guys including our quarterback who had some pretty good numbers. I know obviously we want to be able to convert more touchdowns, but there was a lot of positives to be taken.
The other two -- to me Wisconsin football is not turning the ball over and being penalized fewer than your opponent on a minimum at all purpose. And those two things came through as well.
Question: Since Oregon State didn't play a game and obviously you did this past week, can you quantify an advantage that you have in that regard?
Bielema: Well, whether they had played last week or not I really do believe that a team, especially maybe as much coaching transition as we had, can really make big jumps early for positives if you have good coaches in the room, which I think we have.
So I really think for us to have the ability to go, the jump from game one to game two is huge. I'm not going to lie. I would have loved to see them on film and they're probably saying I wish they had played. But there's certain parts which I just don't like, that he's saying it's probably to our advantage and spinning it 50/50.
So I think because we came out of it so healthy, that's a definite positive for us.
Question: You mentioned after the game that you wished you could have got Melvin Gordon involved a little bit. Do you approach that the same way this week, let the score of the game dictate how you can get him into the game?
Bielema: We had a plan -- the first time we were going to try to get Melvin to touch the football was on the kickoff return.
We tried to have that happen twice. And to his credit he made two really good fielding decisions to not catch those two balls and let them go in the end zone for touchbacks. One was very close to being out of bounds.
As far as that was, I don't think -- you can ask Melvin himself, I know he was disappointed in getting in the game, but he also understood why. Montee (Ball) got a lot of work. So probably try to trim that off a little bit, but we just -- I think Thomas (Hammock) and the offensive coach had a great plan because Montee had not been through a full scrimmage yet. We wanted to get him extra amount of work.
Question: You obviously have plenty of film on Oregon State from last year. Based on what you know from watching them last year, what do you expect from them this season?
Bielema: I think offensively one thing you saw them settle into when they went with the freshman, No. 4, all year was they went to a lot of 11 personnel, three wide, one back and one tight end.
Obviously they lost a good tight end a year ago. They got their other guy coming back. So they had a little difference in personnel than they had prior years.
Felt more comfortable there. Defensively, they're very, very gifted in the back end. They got a couple of guys up front. Those freshmen defensive ends are a year stronger. They've been through it. They learned how to play physical football.
And I guess there's going to be a big jump in them. And their linebackers are very good players. So number one for them, whichever (James) Rodgers that was, he made a lot of plays for them. Glad he used his eligibility up. But they have the strength of their team I would say would be their wide receiver corps. Three or four guys that really can run. And obviously the quarterback got a lot better.
Question: Did Oregon State not playing last week impact the normal film exchange that goes on? Because they had no film to be able to send you. So do you still send them film?
Bielema: No, I did not send them film. And I had to go through a little bit of a process there just to secure our film. Today's world, you know you used to have -- I remember when I was a GA, we used to have to run to the airport and wait for a delivery, you get the VHS.
Now it's literally by the push of a button, you can send your entire season. So we had to go through some things just to guard from anybody hopefully sending our film to them.
There's no way you can guarantee it. I think in today's world, but I've been assured by the Big Ten office that that wasn't going to happen. And, of course, we informed Oregon State and our video director reached out to them after the game on Saturday and said we're not sending this film obviously because we didn't get one on them.
Question: Talking about your pass rush, talked after the game about how you got kind of close but no cigar a bunch of times. What do you have to turn pressures into sacks and where do you expect it to come?
Bielema: Two things. I think Jeff -- Chris Borland and Brendan Kelly both at times got really, really close; and obviously Chris forced that first fumble and he was lightning quick out of that spin.
I think those two guys hopefully will keep getting better. This is the first time Chris had done that really full speed against good competition.
As far as the other guys, there's a play where Ethan Hemer takes a guard and just transfers him and plants him right on his back right in front of the quarterback.
I think our guys are finding out what their strengths are and they're going to hopefully get better. David Gilbert, I know Coach (Charlie) Partridge had a nice conversation with him about getting on the edges of guys more.
He was trying to take on too much flush right down the middle. I do think when they hit us with a couple of screens early on, guys became a little more tentative.
We have to be able to do both well. So as is the case with any pass rusher, I don't care who it is, it's not necessarily your first move, it's how quick you can move your second. That can get you home and hopefully get better with time.
Question: Everybody talked about Montee (ball) being rusty. In fact, he acknowledged afterward. What about Gilbert, David, do you think he was going through some growing pains out there?
Bielema: I do. Especially when he sat back and watched the film. One of the areas we thought he might be exceptional at is pass rush. He'll get a lot better in a short amount of time.
The one thing I love about David, he came into my office last night, grabbed a gumball, and I said: What do you think? He goes: I think I'm about ready to get a lot better in a hurry. And that's him. He's very coachable. Very athletic. He obviously looks the right way. So hopefully he'll be one of those guys, like I was making reference earlier from game one to game two makes a big jump.
Question: I know you guys wanted to be cautious with Mike Taylor in camp but seemed like he wanted more practice time. Do you think he needed more in camp?
Bielema: Obviously on a couple of plays we wish he would have been able to play certain things better. But I think the great news is Mike Taylor is a phenomenal football player who right now can't wait to get back out there and play again in a live game.
I just walked through the office right now; he's up there volunteering, putting in his own overtime, trying to get himself more prepared for this game. And my guess is you'll see a nice comeback from him.
Question: Just so I'm straight, you mentioned a couple of plays, obviously the one is the wheel route out of the back field. Is the other one the fourth and four?
Bielema: The second one, the second wheel route?
Question: Is the other one the fourth and four, though? Because he blitzed on the other touchdown.
Bielema: The other one was a breakdown in the assignment. It wasn't Mike's (Taylor) guy. Just overall there was a couple of things that didn't result in big plays. But he wishes he could have -- we call them critical errors, mental errors.
And Mike also, you know, when you're preparing for an opener like that, those guys kind of get a lot thrown at them in a variety of different ways and not everything carries over. So just football awareness and getting to see things over and over.
Question: You guys got beat on the blitz on that one touchdown. And I'm just curious, as a former defensive coordinator, when you give up a big play like that, do you have to fight the tendency to say I can't do that? If we're going to give up a big play, I can't try to put extra pressure?
Bielema: Talking about the first big hit, the wheel route. It was a one-man breakdown. So obviously the other thing is that it was a missed tackle by Dez (Dezmen Southward) on should be a routine play going out of bounds.
Just didn't respect the play there as much as we had. And I think the thing defensively what we stressed to our guys more than anything is there's 11 guys on the field and if 11 don't play the correct call or don't play the correct technique, bad things are going to happen and that's exactly what happened.
Question: So the plays on defense that we talk about being the big plays, how correctible are those assignments and how correctible is it?
Bielema: They're literally correctible immediately. Especially the three scoring plays, just there's one obviously on the pressure.
The other one was the wheel route that got out, the guy playing behind the ball. The third one was letting a man come inside him down on the goal line. And Ethan (Hemer) was in a position there.
So I think those three scoring opportunities are ones that you gotta take, realize why they happened. Fundamentally, we take a period on Sunday. It's a ten-minute corrections period where we go through. And obviously those three were adjusted. But there's about 10 to 12 plays in every game we've got to be able to do better and that makes you better for the next week.
Question: Before the season Ethan Armstrong talked about going through the emotions after being injured last year, there were times thinking why me, maybe thinking of quitting. What have you seen from his journey being carted off the field to being back playing now?
Bielema: First of all, he plays with a lot of passion. He's an intense competitor. He's that way every day in practice. He's that way in the game.
The other thing is he's really, really good. Maybe because of those things in the past hasn't been able to play as fast as he is right now, I've been impressed just athletically, he looks as fast and as sudden as Mike Taylor and Chris Borland. We all know they can make plays.
I think that's the part that's kind of fun to see is, hey, this kid's a really good football player and he's only a junior. I think it's going to get better every game.
Question: We saw Derek Watt catch a couple of balls. How did he grade out as a blocker?
Bielema: He didn't get a lot of opportunities. I believe he was only in on 14 plays, maybe. And there's a play that stands out in my mind where he went in and blew the guy up, really created separation.
But because he didn't stay on him, the guy fell back in and made a play about six yards down the field. That's what I was saying earlier. He got in there, had great contact, he's on the right guy. But he disengaged and then that person can fall back in and make a play. I think you'll see a big jump for him there particularly and Sherrod as well. I think both of them will have big games in this second game.
Question: You mentioned after Saturday's game how impressed you'd been with Danny's (O’Brien) performance that day. Did he surpass your expectations coming out of this game having four completions and four dropped?
Bielema: He did a lot of good things. I think he'd be the first to tell you, I think I shot him a text Saturday night, said proud of you, appreciate it, gotta keep going forward.
He already had several points he wanted to make better. Good news was on the sideline I thought he was engaged. He was really positive and, hey, I didn't see this, I did see this. Routine things that people take for granted.
That big hit on Abby (Jared Abbrederis), times a guy is streaking like that, the quarterback gets excited, overthrows him by five yards. Hit him right on the money.
I thought the other critical play for me personally was the third and 18, whatever it was to Ped (Jacob Pedersen). He knew the route and the concept and he knew the coverage and he was patient in the huddle.
Sat there, waited for it to come open. And Ped obviously did the three yards on his own. If he went to a shorter read or quicker read, it wouldn't have been a first down. And he knew what he wanted to do to keep the chains moving.
And the play with Woz (Brian Wozniak), obviously we'd love Woz to get that catch, but he threw it low and he put the blame solely on himself. A lot of positives.
His first touchdown throw was huge. He knew he was going to have unblocked pressure coming to his right. Knew he had to get out of it. He waited for Abby to get out of his break and laid it up there nicely and those things, you just can't take those things for granted.
Question: How has it been going with Jordan Kohout since he's been back around the guys the last couple of weeks?
Bielema: Been great. Specifically I was kind of watching him on game day. Popped into the coach's locker room and then Sunday he was up there, Coach (Charlie) Partridge has a lot of different little things for him. And I sat down with him and I asked him how he was doing because I knew that was going to be a tough one not being out there for the first time.
He said he was struggling during pregame just because of the music and that's how when he used to kind of get ready on his own. And you know he's been very, very good at what we've been asking him to do.
We'll take him on the road with us. Got a nice benefit for him and Zach Davison, two former players, very conscientious kids that are helping us now, huge roles in recruiting -- I'm sorry, in staffing just because they're really good at tasks. They give them certain things to look at and certain projects to work on with the opponents. And both of them are doing an outstanding job.
Question: Anything jump out at you the first week of Big Ten play about your fellow Big Ten brethren?
Bielema: You know, I kind of get tunnel vision. Obviously you watch the games going on during the course of the day. But everybody had success except for one.
Obviously Penn State. I know Coach Solich very well and I know Coach Alvarez knows him, felt it was probably the strongest team he's had. Before all that stuff going on we knew they were going to have the toughest one.
But I said it earlier, I mean it, half the teams in the world of college football lose every weekend. To escape it with a win, no matter what it is, keeps you moving forward, keeps you on a positive track.
And I felt bad -- the two I look at right away are my former coaches. You felt bad for obviously Coach Chryst and the situation that goes on there. But my guess is those guys will bounce back in a hurry. And Dave (Doeren) playing Iowa, I knew he had a lot of hopes and aspirations. But sounded like -- I haven't seen anything on that game, I just saw the final score.
Question: You said afterward no injuries, no significant injuries. Did anything change over the weekend?
Bielema: No. I'm trying to think. Duck (Jeff Duckworth), he had a little -- didn't even get it checked out. Felt like a mild ankle sprain. Came in more today. We held him out of Sunday.
We held Chris (Borland) out of Sunday. I think we might have held Abby (Jared Abbrederis) out. But everybody should be good to go tomorrow. And we normally do that on Sundays, guys that have -- we kept Ethan (Armstrong) out of it because of wear and tear.
Sometimes -- the way we practice, we practice on Sunday and then we give them Monday off. If you can give a kid 48-hour window to get healthy, has lots of recurring effects down the road. I think our month of November, what are we, like 26-2 in November? We've got a ridiculous stat. And I think a lot of it is because of what we do preventive in September and October. I really feel strong about that.