• Watch Bielema News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin football head coach Bret Bielema spoke about the Badgers first loss of the season, personnel changes and the upcoming game against Utah State 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 after taking a look at the film on Sunday, defensively, do felt we made some improvements in certain areas. Gave up a couple of big plays, but have always felt defensively, if you just give our defense another chance to play, don't give them a quick score.
To eliminate that problem was positive. Obviously wasn't very happy with the drive to start the second half. We opted to kick with the wind and try to stall them out on that first drive and have them punt and try to create some field position. But they went down and scored.
Our defense took that and responded very, very well to shut them out the rest of the game. I think we were three or four on fourth down stops which was positive.
Special teams, you know, for us to continue to have good signs, we punted way too often, but the seven punts, I thought Drew Meyers doing an outstanding job. Had the one long return get called back. There were two clips on that play.
But something that we have to correct on film, move forward. I was really happy with Kyle French, again continued to kick the ball well on the kickoff as well as PAT, and that will probably get debated for a long time on whether that ball was legal at the end.
As far as the execution, what we asked Kyle to do, I was very, very happy with that effort. Wish we would have got the ball but obviously didn't. And offensively just a lot of things to correct.
One thing I popped on film I thought guys were straining, weren't having great results, but there was some good efforts down the field.
Obviously the way we ended the game gave me an indicator that we didn't quit. I thought the guys really snapped it in there. We went two minutes, probably showed the best rhythm we had all day. It was neat to see Danny (O’Brien) orchestrate that and come out positive on the end.
There's a lot of things he needs to improve on individually as well as several other guys.
From an injury standpoint, the big thing is Shelton Johnson, senior captain, one of our best leaders on defense, unfortunately broke his arm. Had surgery on Sunday.
The good news is I thought on Saturday was going to be a season ending deal. He's a guy that's already redshirted, I didn't want to see that be his last game or his last snap as a college football player. He should be back with us hopefully in six weeks or a little bit less. So that was encouraging.
And then Abby, as we know Jared Abbrederis, extremely tough kid, took a pretty significant shot. The view that I had was on the sideline was from behind. I knew he got high lowed, but I didn't see the impact that the high player had on his chest. And it had some significant damage just from the blow itself. Nothing structurally that's going to keep him out for a long time. Probably the biggest thing keeping him out would be he was slightly concussed.
He's a day by day guy. There's a good chance we could have him this week. If not, expect him to be out there the week after.
Another starter we held out, Brendan Kelly, was very close to playing on Saturday. We took him out there, warmed him up. He just didn't feel good enough to go where we're at. So he missed some time. But other than that everybody should be back there with us. Sam Arneson, who we didn't take out there last week, had significant swelling on his knee and will probably practice tomorrow but should be there for Saturday's game.
So to get to where we need to be, I know there's been a lot of talk out there as well about my staff and where we're going. As of today, officially moved on in the transition at the offensive line position. Brought Mike (Markuson) in in February of last year. Felt very strong about his résumé and what he brought to the table.
I did due diligence bringing him in. But it was at a point on Sunday that I had contacted people early in the morning, made sure that a transition could happen. And I sat down with Mike Sunday afternoon, had a conversation with him and really wished it wasn't going to end the way it did.
But for himself, for us, had a conversation that it just, for a lot of personal matters and some things that are specific to the program, decided to move on and transition.
Mike is a great person, did a lot while he was here, did a nice job for us in recruiting. But for some personal matters, Mike is an extremely a guy that really cares about his family. And I think there's a lot of weighing factors. Mike has a son in high school that I know was pulling on him quite a bit.
His daughter is a freshman in college back in Mississippi and a wife that's back there. I think he's going to make a transition to get back with them and see where the next step takes him. But wish him the best of luck.
I know everybody's got their own foregone conclusions of what transpired. It was really something that wasn't a knee jerk thing by me. It's something we talked about and processed through. He and I sat down together, had a good conversation, talked to him three or four times yesterday, talked to him last night about 9:30. He had a meeting this morning with the people that he needed to visit with. Talked to him after that again today and assured him that anything I can do to help him in the future we would.
The exciting part for me is I'm able to bring along a guy in Bart Miller that was a GA, brought into the program by Coach (Bob) Bostad. Coached him at New Mexico. Was very high on him. I traditionally like to keep our GAs within house. I like to bring in guys that were former players of mine, or Coach (Barry) Alvarez, that have a tie into the program. But Bart's resume stood out. He was a guy that was away from the game a little bit, came back into it for all the right reasons, made an immediate impact on our players and coaches. I think the guys in the program as well as the ones that have left think highly of him.
I don't know if I would have made the move if I didn't feel so good about his replacement. So give Bart this opportunity to hop into this role and a guy that can maybe marriage the bridge that we need right now especially at the offensive line, obviously where he was how he was coached as a player where he learned his football the last couple of years with us, and being part of Coach (Matt) Canada's offense, the staff, since last January to where we are now, I think it's the perfect bridge for where we're at. As far as Bart's replacement as a GA and quality control, still processing myself through that.
So made the best of a good situation. As a head coach I'm the one responsible for everybody, every player, every coach, every family, every support staff, and just felt that as head coach I gotta make some decisions once in a while that aren't going to be popular. From the outside world looking in may not make all the most sense.
But for me as the head coach internally I know how to win games, I know how to win championships, and the decision I made was one that I'm going to stick with and go forward.
So with that we'll move forward with any questions.
Question: Were there any personality issues with Mike (Markuson) and the players, or was it more technique thing?
Bielema: No, I think personality is what made me attracted to him early on and felt really strong. He's engaging. He's very, very cognizant of the history here at Wisconsin and a guy that is really easy to get along with, which probably made the decision I had to make that much more difficult.
But on the flip side, it's a decision I made just to I think I've been involved with some staff and some situations where in the end I knew directions, whether I was an assistant or even me as a head coach, decisions traditionally are made at the end of the year, and it always drove me nuts.
As a young coach, I really felt I was involved on the staff. My first experience in coaching where there were some guys that really weren't where we needed to be as a staff. And it hurt everybody overall.
So I always kind of said to myself, as I got older, grew into the profession, if I was ever in a position that I knew transition be needed to be made, I wasn't going to be the one that waited until it was comfortable, I was going to make the decision when it needed to be made.
Question: Are you concerned how this would be perceived that there's some level of instability in the program or panic or something like that?
Bielema: Only if you put it there. I think anybody who has lived in this program, open arms. Our players, obviously the most detailed part of it would be the offensive line. But panic is for the outside world. Reality is what I live in. And I think, yeah, I mean it's not a normal thing.
There's probably a lot of things over the last seven years that a lot of people from the outside world wouldn't see it as normal. But I do as a head coach and it's been successful. So I'll stick with that plan.
Question: You said you learned when you were younger that don't wait to make a decision if you have enough sufficient evidence to make it now. Given that, are there still any risks in making this move two weeks into the season with a guy who obviously you had faith in but his track record is a little bit small in some of the
Bielema: I think as all of us in our lives, you go off of what you experience and what you've seen be successful. Again, if I didn't have Bart (Miller), if he hadn't been here for two plus years and seen the side of the world from both ends, I wouldn't have made this decision.
It's made possible because of a guy like Bart. I go back I got my first opportunity, I was a GA and everybody thought I was too young, couldn't believe where we were going.
Basically the guy that I replaced was someone that had coached all around in all different levels, had all kinds of success. But it was getting at that point in his career where it wasn't as clear. So they transitioned me in. I knew what was going on. I was a GA. I knew what was being thought of by the players, the coaches and obviously I think I've proven myself in a very short fashion, was one of the youngest coaches as an assistant, youngest coordinator and one of the youngest head coaches.
I'm not saying that Bart is going to follow that same, but a lot of the things I see are real. I'll be quite honest. Last February, I have a short list of people at all positions, both defensively and offensively I've listed two of our GAs, Bart Miller and Ben Strickland.
And when the opportunity came to hire Strick (Ben Strickland), I jumped at it. Had some hesitation, is this the right move, bounced it around for a week or two. I knew things were going to happen in a way that I was going to get him that shot. Since I've hired Ben to where we are today, I couldn't be happier, recruiting wise, the techniques, the way the players have adapted.
And when the decision came to hire Mike (Markuson), Bart was like right there. And I just didn't feel I could name two GAs to full time status and gain the continuity that I wanted recruiting wise, football wise, all that mumbo jumbo. But now as a head coach I realize I probably could have and been just as far along or further along if I had because there wouldn't have been as big a transition.
So I've got the utmost respect, and plus I'll be there, watching, a close eye. I called Coach (Matt) Canada obviously the first two people I gave information to were Coach (Thomas) Hammock and Coach Canada, two guys I leaned on hard for offense. I also told Coach (Eddie) Faulkner and Coach (Zach) Azzanni. Everybody has to step up now. You've got a new situation, a new set of dynamics to the situation. Let's see where we can go.
Question: When you look at your O line, the way it's played, is the talent level the same as it was? Are they being taught different techniques and not adjusting to that, or I guess what's the reason they have
Bielema: We haven't had success, Tom. So for us to have success, we're going to do a little transition. And hopefully that will call forward. We've been very talented. I was with an offensive recruit just two weeks ago. I took in the perspective that over the last three years my left tackle was a first round draft pick to the Bears, and my left guard was a third round pick to the Falcons. My right guard was a first round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals.
My right tackle is now projected to be the first tackle taken in the draft. Possibly Rick Wagner. We had a guy that couldn't start for us that started for the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie. The talent level was there. Where these guys end up is a lot how they respond from the situation forward and what they do moving forward.
Question: You mentioned you hoped that Bart (Miller) could be that bridge. And I think the logical question, because he worked under (Bob) Bostad, played under him, is that what you're hoping, I don't want to say rekindle, but bring back the way that line was coached and the way that line performed?
Bielema: I don't mean to play off the word at all. But I am semi intelligent. When I said bridge, I mean exactly what I mean, a bridge a little bit of what we had a year ago to where we are now.
He can be that guy because he's been taught the techniques as a player but also witnessed him as a coach and also bridges to what we're doing now. And not that there's a lot of differences, but there are subtle changes in communication and verbiage.
There was a lot going on for a 19-, 20-, 21-, 22 year old kid to process. And I think he's really going to bring that element that only he can bring. There's only one person in this world that has that capability, and the fortunate part is I've got the ability to hire him.
Question: Looking ahead to this week's game, how much better do you think Utah State is than most people might expect, and what do you expect from your offensive end?
Bielema: I remember watching Utah State/Auburn, a year ago, a game that jumped out, because I knew they were on our schedule, but also Auburn was defending national champs. And obviously Auburn ended up winning that game.
But it was a dramatic game. That probably raised the awareness of everybody of Utah State. Friday night I watched them during the out of season. Friday night had an opportunity to watch them play Utah, in state game. I don't believe they had won in 15 years. So to see them win the way they did, they've got key playmakers all over the field.
Their quarterback is very gifted. Their running back has been doing what he's doing for a couple of years. Their offensive line, big guys, all 6-5, 300 lbs. guys. They have wide receivers that make plays. Their offense is dynamic, defensively. They have a couple of outstanding players at linebacker as well as corner.
They bring a lot of pressure and create big play opportunities on defense. So I think what we'll have to do is buckle into what our game plan is, be sharp in what we're doing, and be able to execute on Saturday. But they're a very, very good football team.
Question: What did you see specifically in Bart Miller a year ago that you thought so highly of him so quickly that you'd consider him as an offensive lineman?
Bielema: I like stories. And I think his story is cool, being from where he's from, play at New Mexico, play as well as he did there. I think when he came in, you get impressed with people. He's got a tremendous wife. Amy and him make a great couple. They make a great dynamic.
(He is) Very mature beyond his years. I think the years he spent with the Blackhawks, just that whole element he's able to go into another dimension and still come back out of it.
I think he was hungry to coach. It's very apparent. It was fun to build a relationship with him with Coach Bo (Bob Bostad) here as well as when he left, and to see him kind of come out of his shell a little bit and help during the transition.
I actually put him on the road last December and January as a recruiter. When I lost a number of coaches, I was able to put him out there, the detail of his notes, the way he approached that side of it was very telling.
Now I've also told him, he's worried about nothing but football right now. I don't need another recruiter. But it just gives me an indicator what kind of person he is. I'll give him credit. Last night he addressed the guys immediately. As a GA, you kind of have a different role. You can kind of be a buddy/coach, and he was emphatic about last night listening I love where we're at, and I love the relationship we have, but from this point moving forward it changes.
When I took over, I remember Coach (Hayden) Fry telling me, hey, you can't wear blue jeans anymore. Why don't you wear your glasses more often and try to shave more often. Just try to look more dedicated to the task. And Bart's been that way from day one. I didn't have to have that talk with him. So I'm excited to see where he can go with it.
Question: He was listed as a quality control what are his responsibilities and how big of a jump is it going to be?
Bielema: You know, that's kind of semantics. The NCAA I don't know if anybody followed through with it the NCAA changed the rule in August and used to be able to have two GAs and now they passed it to four. He used to be a quality control, which was… you didn't have to take classes and couldn't be involved in certain aspects of coaching and recruiting. But now with four GAs that's kind of eliminated.
He's been really... a GA now is just an underpaid coach. As a GA, you, by NCAA rules, can only make the same as a scholarship player. So that changes the dynamic and you can't go on the road and recruit.
Question: You talked about going through your due diligence when you made the hire of (Mike) Markuson in the first place. I'm curious, what does that encompass and how difficult was it at that time when you lose five other assistant coaches and still trying to wrangle up your recruiting class as well?
Bielema: I think it's well documented. Don't need to go into it here. That time was one of the most chaotic and hectic things in the world professionally I've been through. But I felt good about it when I got done.
I sit here today and talk about the transition we're going to make. So obviously it didn't work out the way I would like. But I wouldn't go back and do anything over again. I felt confident about where we were then.
I have kind of a five step process that I always go through. I followed through with that. And fortunately for us it's been very successful. I hired six new guys. I feel very good about the five that are remaining.
And I've hired guys in the past that I've had for a year, the NFL takes them or they get promoted. I've had a lot of guys move on here to different promotions. I think we're batting a pretty good percentage. But I'd love to be a thousand percent, sure.
Question: What was (Bart) Miller's reaction like when you had the talk with him and was he surprised by this?
Bielema: Yeah. I didn't tell anybody. This is something I processed through my mind. You guys have never been recruited by me, that I'm aware of. But one of the things I always tell recruits: When you make a decision, go to bed on it. Sleep on it. Tell your mom and dad. Tell your circle of trust. I always use the reference of "Meet The Fockers", always talking about the circle of trust. Everybody's got that group.
And for me, I reference those people. Kind of made a decision, had some conversations on Sunday morning with administration, the people I need to talk to when I'm making a move of this nature.
And I went into the office, processed what we normally do a Sunday. But then the first two people I told in my hallway, I went to Matt (Canada) and Thomas Hammock and brought them down, told them literally five minutes, just explained where I wanted to go, the direction I wanted it to go, how I was going to go about it, made sure they were comfortable with it, because they have to live in that room. And they were taken aback. I don't think they saw that coming, but explained why I was going in that direction.
Brought Mike (Markuson) in, had a very civil conversation, one that I think we both will take with us for a long time. I am a person that realizes that when I hire and when I relieve people of job opportunities, it changes their life forever. It's something I don't take easy.
It's something... it weighed on my heart very much. But I think that's also part of the reason why we've had success. I'm never going to make a decision or delay a decision that I can, that I think will help us win football games.
Like I said, I've seen a lot of coaches make this decision at the end of the year. They probably knew it sooner than I did, they don't want to cause the waves. And I'm not one that's afraid of high waves.
Bart --I don't think I can exactly use the phrase he said. But he was very, very surprised, and then suddenly changed to excitement.
Also then I said, hey, this is just a process. We're going to get together later in the day. Talked to him probably two or three times yesterday. Had a nice visit with him this morning. He hit the ground running. And I know nobody's going to log more hours in that office than Bart Miller in the next three or four months.
Question: You only have a few days to fix a lot of things. Do you sense any sense of urgency from the team?
Bielema: Yes. I thought Sunday we actually didn't take the field because the Ironman was going on. We would have had to be confined indoors.
I felt we needed to get through all the tape, be very precise in our learning, and get a little jump on Utah State. So we did a film session on them Sunday night.
We give them today traditionally off. But I've seen a lot of players up in the hallway. By NCAA rules, only allowed 20 hours a week. We always reference, guys that want to come in and do a little bit extra. I've seen more guys up there in the last 24 hours than I've seen. I think that urgency is very much there.
Question: Did you have a chance to talk to the offensive linemen specifically as a group, and was there a sense of excitement or anything of that nature?
Bielema: Yeah. Not to give you the exact timeline, but I'm a big believer in being up front and honest with people. So we had a team meeting. Didn't say anything there because defensive guys were in there.
We broke down to offense/defense. At that time I usually let the coordinators take it. I address the entire offense, made them aware of what the situation was moving forward.
I can read eyes and I can read reactions while that's going on. I can't watch essentially 50 guys. But I could tell the reaction. And then we go from that into position meetings.
So when they broke and went into the offense or the offensive line came down, I'm sitting in the meeting room waiting for them to come in, close the door. I had a conversation with them, just me and them. Bart (Miller) wasn't in the room.
I explained why I was making the move, the expectations I had to move forward. Turn it over to Bart. And then a lot of the O linemen stopped through today and a lot of guys up to see Bart and also went through my office.
So 24 hours or less into this thing, I'm excited where we're at. Kind of, again, mixed emotions, because I didn't want it to come about this way. But to make the best out of a bad situation, I think we're on top of it.
Question: When you look at the situation as a whole, what's the worst case scenario that could happen now?
Bielema: We don't get better. If there's now, realize I'm not naive to the fact that you can't we're not going to turn into what we've fortunately been able to accomplish in the past overnight.
But we're going to take some baby steps. And my guess is we're going to have a great amount of change in a short amount of time. It wasn't like they were doing everything horribly.
There's some things that we've got to clean up. We've got to get communication, execution and assignments cleaned. And Tuesday's practice will be a good indicator for me.
The adjustments and corrections we'll make to get to Wednesday will be a better indicator, Thursday, Friday. Saturday we've got a tremendous test. We've got a defense that likes to move around. They're quick, agile, athletic speedy. So it will be a tremendous challenge for our guys up front.
Question: You referenced the hit on (Jared) Abbrederis earlier. As someone who sits on the rules committee, what was your view of that hit and should it have been flagged?
Bielema: I think that's a great question because here I am as a head coach, I watched the play but because of my viewing I never saw the front side of it.
People made reference to it after the game to me. And I believe our trainer, Mike (Moll), sent me a shot or somebody sent me a shot of a pretty apparent sternum shot with the helmet. And I forwarded it on to Big Ten.
Hey, you guys know in this profession as fast as it's coming at us, you guys always have the benefit or ability to watch replay. When it's happening live, I can see why an official doesn't see it maybe as clean or gets spun around.
But I think the officials overall have done a tremendous job of trying to increase the awareness of those types of situations. All we can do is continue to get better. And I know that crew will. It was an excellent Big Ten crew.
The umpire, the guy that stands behind the linebackers would have the cleanest views of that. I believe he was rated one of the best umpires in our league last year. I felt good about that. Other than the end of the game replay, I think that was probably the only call I didn't agree with the whole day.
Question: You said you know when it's time to make a move with a coach, even if it's in the beginning of season when you make it. I was wondering, how long had you been thinking about making this move, and when did it first creep into your head? And how much did Saturday's result make you decide?
Bielema: I had an unusual entry into the world of college football. When I was named the head coach, I worked the entire year with Coach (Barry) Alvarez was able to draw conclusions on and he gave me full ability to keep or retain or move on anybody off that staff. So I had six months kind of in a way to process what I was going to do with my original staff.
And from that point forward I've made a lot of decisions. I've moved some people on. I've kept some people here. I've promoted from within. Those decisions are never made overnight.
If I have a decision that I'm going to move someone forward, I try to make it as painless as possible, and let them know very much in advance where I stand with them.
You're never going to be a head coach. Unless you break something from an NCAA rules, or you have a conduct that I can't contain, you're going to have several conversations with me on where we're at, where we need to go and how you need to go about it.
So I make it very apparent every day in the staff meetings, we talk about if I have a coach that outright breaks the rules or does something to violate NCAA rules, they won't have a leg to stand on. I'll move forward in a very short fashion.
Football wise, I'll have conversations all the time: Hey, I wish let's think about this. I'll have a private meeting, sit down with the coaches. So it wasn't an overnight thing. I can't say as I've got an exact deadline on when it happened. But I felt Saturday night, flying home on the plane, long plane ride, sitting on my couch Saturday night, I think I went to bed late, just processing where it was.
It was early to rise. And I knew the direction I needed to go. And that's something hopefully we're going to be able to capitalize on.
Question: Specific to Saturday's call, the end of the game, is your biggest concern with that burden of proof in terms of indisputable video evidence overturn; and also in general what's your confidence of the replay system?
Bielema: You know, I have all the confidence in the world. I think Bill Caruso does an outstanding job. He's been on the job I think it's the third year. Coming from the NFL, he's brought so much experience and knowledge. Just really in our league, in particular, the officiating has jumped 110 times in the right direction.
The replay is something that you are never going to be happy with when it goes against you. I think to have such a significant play last year with Michigan State and then this year with the way we had we had some good rhythm going, man, and I would have could have never should have put ourselves in that position, but we practiced that play so many times.
And I know Kyle French, I don't know if he has the highest GPA on our team, but he knows what 10 yards is. And he's probably pretty close.
I don't want to offend him, but he might be a 3.95.
He was fairly confident it went 10 yards and everything else. The thing that I think I just asked for clarification and we'll put the dynamics in motion, is was it indisputable, because the thing I said right away to my coaches is we were already calling plays. The ruling on the field is it was our ball. It's going to have to get overturned. There's so much mumbo jumbo in there. I've got a lot of still shots people have forwarded me information. All we have to do is improve to make sure next time it's not even close.
Question: Did you get more of an explanation from the Big Ten or the officials about that call?
Bielema: No, it was a Pac 10, Pac 12 crew up there. So no.
Question: At one time it looked like Michael Trotter might be your next free safety after Aaron. When he didn't get that job, how did he handle it? And could you talk about his progression?
Bielema: That's a great point. Michael's a kid that came in, was very impressive to us. We thought about playing him as a true freshman. I believe he got mono if I'm not mistaken two weeks out from camp. Was late coming in.
Last year I felt very, very confident about him. I think he pulled a hamstring. The one thing about having a twin, whatever one of them does, the other does it five days later. Marcus (Trotter) popped his hammy. Michael did five days later.
Mono part I wasn't too sure about. We’re high on Michael is he's very conscientious, always being in the right spot. He hopped into that game you have a two score game, and suddenly became a one score game. He played very, very efficient. Very confident in what he's doing. He's got athletic ability. Mom and dad raised a great kid that I know he wants to have success. So I'm excited to see his preparation this week and see how he goes to work.
Question: Looked like Dallas Lewallen was warming up with the number two offense. How close is he? And if he is close enough, do you make a move there at right guard?
Bielema: He was actually cleared last week. That was his first time back being fully cleared for a full week of practice since last spring, I guess it was. So or even last fall.
And I know he was excited to get out there. There is a chance he could play this week. We'll get him in normally and, like I said, maybe a field goal PAT. But just to throw him into anything other than a live rep, I just don't want to do it.
We'll see how he handles this week. It's like Vince Biegel. Vince practiced last week, looked really good running around, doing a lot of individual things. But I didn't want to burn his shirt this past year, wanted to see how he came out and practiced this week. So there's a good chance you'll see him out there. Reggie Mitchell, same deal, those two freshmen, as well as Dan Voltz and we got Reggie Love in the ballgame last week.
Question: Coming off this decision and the coaching change and the ways the games transpired, how concerned are you about the confidence of this team maybe being shaken, and what do you have to do to guard against it?
Bielema: Great question. I know the majority of our guys, I realize we've got first year players we've won a lot of games.
I pointed out to our guys, hey, in my seven years as head coach, I think I'm 25 and 1 in non conference. I was trying to chase Fielding Yost at 41 0. Didn't know if I was going to get there.
It was interesting to me, after one non conference loss, people think maybe I don't know what I'm doing. So I find that very challenging, to say the least.
But I think on the flip side of it, our kids know and understand if you don't play the way that we prepare, we don't play Wisconsin football for four quarters, you can lose to anybody.
And it was stressed a week before with UNI, went on the road into a hostile environment. Obviously Big Ten teams haven't played well out there for a reason. We don't execute the way we want to for four quarters and bad things can happen.
I think a quick reminder to our players is you go out, play with confidence, go out, prepare the right away and know the game plan, good things can happen.
We'll make sure the plan is, if anything, a little bit more on the simple side, a little bit more on the basic, a little bit of ability to process what's being called and be able to play fast and physical.
Question: You mentioned what Utah State can do, especially offensively. If I remember correctly, Andy Buh has some experience. How much do you go to him and see what they were able to do successfully against Utah State in the past?
Bielema: Big time. I typically leave the coaches alone. On Sunday, we meet as a staff, let them have Sunday in their entirety and Monday morning to watch film on their own. I'll meet with the defensive staff today at 4:00, get a perspective on what they see, what I see.
That's the way we've done it in all my seven years. I can't really answer that. Although, when I hired Andy, I said: Hey, plus we play Utah State. He's got some ideas.
Andy is a very gifted coach. That onside kick, that's all him, it's something he brought to the arena here, our football complex, brought these, he's in charge of kickoff coverage. And I thought that execution, design and concept was a little bit of an indicator how good a football coach I've got there.
Question: A lot of focus on the offensive line. But are you getting what you need out of the wide receivers to get defenses to back off the line of scrimmage a little bit?
Bielema: I'd say a big hit came when Abby (Jared Abbrederis) went down; he's our most gifted at that thing. But we've got to find ways to create exactly what you're talking about: Guys to get open, off the line of scrimmage. Some guys that pressed us up, realized that we have to get better at doing that, whether it's by motions or alignments or shifts.
But I do feel we've got a group in there that's hungry. Coach (Zach) Azzanni, my new wide receiver coach, works their tail off. I have to back him off a lot of times just on how demanding he is and move them forward.
It's a hungry room. I was excited because some guys got some reps. Duck (Jeff Duckworth) continues to play. A.J. (Jordan), I'll give A.J. a lot of credit. Here's a kid, every time I saw him last week he was blowing his nose, had the worst cold anybody could ever have and never missed a day of practice. Competed very, very hard. I think that throw he missed at the back of the end zone there, the next one he'll catch.
And you just hope a person processes moving forward. We should get Chase Hammond back out there. That will be a good thing to see. He practiced a little bit last week. But it reaggravated that foot. On Wednesday we backed him out. I said let's hold him until Tuesday of this next week. And I know he's itching to get out there.
Unfortunately, Isaiah Williams, a guy that we dabbled with a little bit, is actually seeing a specialist today, he re-aggravated his groin and looks like he'll be out for a significant amount of time.