Sept. 16, 2013
• Andersen News Conference
MADISON, WIS. -- Wisconsin football head coach Gary Andersen met with members of the media Monday at Camp Randall Stadium to review the Badgers' game at Arizona State and look ahead to Saturday's Big Ten opener vs. Purdue.
Video of Andersen's media session can be found above, and a complete transcript of his remarks is below.
ANDERSEN: First of all, proud of the way the kids played at Arizona State. It was a very competitive football game. None of the possible effects, as far as the travel, the heat, none of that stuff was a factor, which we hoped for, which we expected as a staff.
I know the kids expected the same. They did a tremendous job of handling it. They played very tough. It was a great crowd to play in front of. It was loud. It was a great college atmosphere.
So we handled all those situations very well. I'm proud of the young men, the way they went through the trip and the way they competed. So that is a huge positive going on the road for the first time.
As far as a couple of the situations that we can maybe put them to bed right out of the gate. The situation at the end of the game, I guess our situation in communicating with Coach Alvarez, communicating with the Big Ten and everything that's out there is the bottom line is all we're really looking for is accountability in the situation and an opportunity to let the kids finish the game, which has been said many times, let them be the deciding factor. So that's the important part of that.
So we'll see. The Big Ten will handle it and Coach Alvarez. I'll work with him and have all the other comments on that as we continue to move forward.
The other question that continually seems to be getting asked as we go through is as far as would you do it again in the exact same situation? My answer to that question is absolutely yes. It's thought out. It's a process. It's practiced many times. The process changed this year by three seconds when there was a three second runoff to obviously get a spike off. So it used to be 15 seconds (as a cutoff to center the ball and get a spike off).
Coach Lud (offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig) does a great job of teaching it. I think we executed it the right way. We have a teaching tape of the exact scenario last year, Nevada San Diego State. San Diego State takes a knee. There's 15 seconds left. They get up and they spike it, and there's still 3 seconds left on the clock to be able to kick the ball. The Nevada defensive lineman jumps on the pile just like they did at Arizona State. So it's an exact replica. Obviously, the outcome was a little bit different.
So I think we handled it well. There was 18 seconds left, and you all know the rest. That's kind of where it sits. But I'm proud of this football team. Excited about next week. Excited to get home. It's going to be great to get home. I think everybody's a little edgy. Everybody's a little excited.
Coming back home, first Big Ten game, all that is there. I think our kids will bounce back well. That's life lessons that can be learned. You can only control what you can control, and that is a challenge, and that is the mindset of all of us in the football program right now. And we're excited to get into the meetings, evaluate the film, work on getting better. We have plenty to work on, but we did do some great things.
I thought on special teams we won the game, as far as what we look for grading out the special teams side of it. They made some huge plays. Obviously, there was a touchdown that we were able to get on special teams. There was an executed fake punt that was executed very, very well by the whole unit. Chris (Borland) was a big part of that, obviously, but that was a huge play in that football game to give us an opportunity to keep the drive going late.
I thought we punted the ball okay, covered it well, and we obviously made a field goal we needed to, and that ball came off his foot very well. Frenchy (Kyle French) did a nice job of getting that one up and having some confidence in himself.
So we'll move forward. We're excited to get going. Questions.
QUESTION: Gary, one thing Joel (Stave) did say about that final play afterward was he thought the fact that he went down, he got up too quickly, he probably would have done it a little bit differently. Then when he put the ball on the ground is he supposed to put it on the ground or give it to an official?
ANDERSEN: That's how it's taught. The bottom line is this: technically by rule, the way I understand the rule first of all, let's make it real clear, he did take a knee. There's no question on if he took a knee. Watch the film. It's there. It's very clear.
Secondly, by rule, he doesn't have to take a knee. You render yourself defenseless in those situations, that is the rule, you do not have to take a knee.
Thirdly, the idea of putting the ball on the ground is to give the officials the opportunity to get the ball spotted quicker and cleaner. The officials were wherever they were, but they weren't there to turn around and get the ball. That whole process of Joel looking around behind them, walking back there, where am I going to put the ball? How am I going to put the ball? That takes time. That takes valuable seconds and moments.
So was he instructed to do it the way he did it? Absolutely, yes. And the teaching tape I referred to earlier would show him to do the exact same process, which took place from the way we taught him during camp and all through spring football.
QUESTION: Who has the tougher challenge this week in turning the page and putting that behind him and looking ahead? The coaches, yourself, staff, or the players?
ANDERSEN: Me, absolutely. When I get in these situations I've already told you what I guess what I'm looking for, and it's not what I'm looking for personally, it's just I want to be able to use the moment to be able to move forward as a coach, put the players in the position to let them understand the situation.
But it's just very different the way it ended because there's no you can't say, hey, we had a chance to execute and we didn't. So it's different for me. I've never been through this situation.
But any time I go through adversity as a coach, the best thing for me is to get out there on the field with the kids, and that will be no different today. To get into the team meeting. These kids will bounce back. They're tough minded. They deal with adversity very well. I believe as a staff we deal with adversity very well.
But there's so much on the line with 12 guaranteed opportunities, it's tough to deal with. But moving on is a big part of it, and it will not be a factor on how we play against Purdue.
But I would put myself at the top of the totem pole as far as struggling to get over really any loss or any adversity that we face as a program. It's always a personal challenge of my own to handle that the right way, and this is no different.
QUESTION: Gary, at this point, what would you need to hear from the Pac 12 officials to make you feel any better?
ANDERSEN: Just what I said, just simply just accountability. What the situation was. That's really all I'm looking for. Because there's nothing else I can look for.
Ideally, you'd like to say, let's go get on the airplane and go kick it and see what happens with their PAT field goal block and our PAT team. That's not going to happen. So that's unrealistic.
But just review the situation. I know that Mr. Delany and his people will do a great job of evaluating the scenario. The Big Ten will do it. Coach Alvarez will obviously be highly involved. I'll be involved where needed.
Just some closure, I guess.
QUESTION: You and your team have obviously spent a lot of time with each other since spring camp, but have you learned anything more after this adverse situation about the group?
ANDERSEN: Well, these kids have been through like any football team. I got asked the question, this team has been through some tough losses. Any team that's competitive in a big time conference is going to have some good days and going to have some bad days. When you look back, how many people go undefeated?
You're going to face adversity. These kids have faced it. They're senior oriented. They've been through some tough football games. They've been through some great football games and some great moments.
What I continue to learn from them is their preparation. The way they handled the locker room, the way they carried themselves after the game was good, especially through our upper classmen.
There's a lot of young kids on that airplane ride on the way back that there's a couple young kids that need to learn some scenarios, some situations on how to react. Not really in a negative way, in any way, shape, or form, but just how you move on and how you prepare yourself for the next adventure, which is obviously the next game. They'll carry themselves well. They have so far.
Have not seen them. Sunday is our day off. We had meetings this morning, but those are just position meetings. So I'll see them this afternoon. But the way they reacted on the plane ride home, waiting in line to get on the plane, getting on the bus after it, 6:30, 7:00 in the morning, they'll come back focused.
They're on a mission, and the first quarter of that mission is over with. So we've got to move on.
QUESTION: Gary, you mentioned in the preseason about some of the close losses they've endured, and the players talked about it. The only way you get out of that is to win close games, which they had an opportunity to do Saturday. Even though they didn't win the game, the play they made to get in the position down there, do you feel that was enough to give them some confidence that, in a tight game, they can do what is necessary to win?
ANDERSEN: I hope so, and I hope they understand that we're going always work to be aggressive as a staff to help them in those situations.
It could have been, when they went up by eight in those certain situations and we had to kind of get two drives to really give ourselves a chance, number one, to get back into it, and executed that drive and made a big play on special teams. They drove the ball down there, and then we got the ball back.
Obviously, the last drive, I think it should I believe it will and we'd all like to have seen it come down to players make plays, players win games. That's what we'd like to see happen and have them decide it.
QUESTION: Gary, you seemed to be remarkably composed through that whole post game circumstance. I'm wondering how difficult it was to strike that presentation.
ANDERSEN: Very difficult. I was hopeful I'm always hopeful with that one. Communicating with the officials is to be able to keep some sort of a cool head and hopefully be able to get some communication the right way out of that because, if you're yelling and screaming, at that point, I don't know if that's the best thing to do because it makes people kind of go the other way.
I don't believe the way I handled it is the way I handled it. I believe in doing it that way. I wish the communication could have gone on a little bit longer, but it wasn't happening. Again, I can only control what's in my control. You're not in a position to do anything more than that at that spot.
So try to handle it as professionally as I can.
QUESTION: Gary, the Pac 12 says, quote, "We've determined the officials fell short of the high standard in which Pac 12 games should be managed." Is that sufficient to satisfy you?
ANDERSEN: Can you read it again?
QUESTION: "We've determined the officials fell short of the high standard in which Pac 12 games should be managed." That's from Larry Scott, commissioner of the league.
ANDERSEN: Initially, looking at it, I don't know. I'll react to that the way that, I guess, I'm supposed to react to it through the Big Ten and through Coach Alvarez.
To me personally, no.
QUESTION: Gary, when you looked at that film, what did you see with the pass interference penalties? Was there something to be gained the players didn't seem to be rattled, and young players in that situation easily could have been. Do you think that's a positive to draw from that?
ANDERSEN: Yeah, first, when you look at I thought P.J. (Peniel Jean) and Darius (Hillary) handled them well. The extra antics out of Sojourn (Shelton) have got to go away. It doesn't matter. Hold your hands in the air and kicking and screaming, that doesn't really make the difference. The play is the play. That's part of the cornerback position.
Sojourn will go through that. We need to coach him through that and get him moving in the right direction.
But there's going to be some pass interference calls. I will say this. Again, give credit where credit is due. Those back shoulder fades were thrown very, very well, timed up by the receivers well, and they caught some of those balls that even have a hard time contesting.
But you can look at the pass interferences, and we'll try to teach from them. We'll evaluate from them. And, again, whether they're right, wrong, or indifferent, we can get that stuff evaluated as we go forward.
You're going to have a balls caught on you and you're going to have a PI if you play corner. Overall, we're handling it well, but there were a few too many in that game, and we can move forward.
I'm proud of those corners. I think those three kids are really competing. Especially P.J. should be mentioned in my mind because he's played limited, but he really got himself in in the second half, and it will continue to be a three man rotation there.
I feel like right now we have three starting corners, not two starting corners, and then P.J. coming in. I believe we have three that are very talented and do a nice job.
QUESTION: Gary, normally when you're in a conference, you have a book on each team, a pretty extensive book. You don't. You have eight new challenges here. What is the challenge? Especially in a league like the Big Ten where anybody can beat you on any given day.
ANDERSEN: That is the first. That is one of the biggest challenges is understand and respect the league. We do get a lot of personnel help from Coach Hammock and Coach Strickland. That's been good for us. Coach Mason is also involved in just kind of understanding the personnel on the teams. So that is a big positive. And also Coach Beatty was in the middle of that. He obviously was in the conference last year.
We get a little personnel stuff there, which is positive. The scheme with Purdue obviously this week would be different, regardless of the scenario, because it's a new coaching staff.
But we did take time during the summer and take a couple days on each team to at least start a small book, I guess if you will, and a scouting report to get a little bit of a head start.
I think we're in a good spot as far as this week, and hopefully we can continue to be as we move forward.
QUESTION: Gary, is it any easier to turn the page or look forward to Purdue just knowing that the goals that this team set forth for itself at the start of the season are still there, the Big Ten Championship and all that, because that game is a nonconference game. Does that play into it at all?
ANDERSEN: I really don't think so with these kids. Obviously, the goals have been set. We never sat down and put a bunch of goals on the board. The goal, like I've always stated, is for those seniors to walk out of here proud. Would that be a big part of it if they had another Championship? You bet it would. There's no question about that.
But I think, if we say, because that's a nonconference game, in any way, shape, or form we reflect that it doesn't matter, I would never say that.
But the championship is still there for really every team in the Big Ten right now. They all have opportunities and will for weeks to come. That's always something to fight for, and we're excited about that opportunity.
But I don't think it cushions the loss to Arizona State in any way.
QUESTION: Gary, obviously, you're in your first year here. Darrell Hazel is in his first year at Purdue. Is there any kind of bond there at all? Coaches coming into conference and taking over programs at the same time?
ANDERSEN: I think there's a real bond when you walk into the coaches meeting for the first time and everybody is asking everybody else about their kids and how you doing and how was this and that, and we're kind of sitting in the corner saying, "What's up, man?" So that's a little bit I think you naturally have that bond, and it's a good thing.
He's a good guy, seems to be very family oriented, and I respect what he did where he was before he came. So we've had a little bit of a relationship and talked as we've gone through it, but he seems like a quality person, down to earth, kind of my kind of guy.
QUESTION: Had things turned out differently those last 18 seconds, one of the heroes that would be coming out of there was Jeff Duckworth and his big catch and play. What is it about him that his makeup has allowed him to be there in some big moments in this program over the years when he doesn't get a whole lot of playing time otherwise?
ANDERSEN: Duck's challenge for playing time is just simply being healthy, and that's been the challenge. It's he fights now. He works at it, he really does, and he tries to do everything to get back. He's just another young man that has a lot of miles on him, if you will, and we try to strategically condition him and take care of him and get him in shape.
He does the same thing. He really works at it. But he would be on the field more if we could consistently get him healthy and get him out there practicing.
He made a big time play in a big time moment. There's no doubt about it, and it was great to see him be able to make that play at that special team.
THE MODERATOR: Reads Pac-12 statement
QUESTION: Does that fuller explanation warrant any sort of reaction, Gary?
ANDERSEN: Mildly. It doesn't change the outcome, obviously. And like I said earlier, I don't expect that. But it's accountability, which at the end of the day is what we ask for.
QUESTION: You tried to do a lot down there defensively, scheme wise, personnel wise. You attempted to do a lot. How did you do assignment wise?
ANDERSEN: I thought we did a solid job with that. Assignment wise, we had a miscommunication on the one wheel route on our sidelines, that we didn't flip a coverage properly and quickly enough. But I thought overall the communication was pretty good.
It's a potent offense. Did we play great defense, which is in the plan to winning that game? No, we did not. And that's number one on the plan to win. Solid enough to keep us in the game and put us in a position to be able to do some good things.
I do believe this. We took away a lot of what they like to do in scouting them, and they reacted in a positive way, which good coaches do and good football players do. So it was kind of give and take. I think it went back and forth.
I would also say that about Arizona State's defense and our offense. I think there was some great scheming. It was a big time college football coaching game. As you sit back and watch the film, there was adjustments made on both sides that I feel are impressive, and that's the way it should be in a big time game. You should give yourself a chance to make some changes in the game in a positive way, and the kids reacted well on both sides as you watch the tape.
That's a credit to the young men in the programs. That's also a credit to the assistant coaches.
QUESTION: Gary, Joel, a number of deflected passes on Saturday. Anything you can diagnose there? Was it just their active defense, or was it anything in the delivery?
ANDERSEN: No, nothing in the delivery at all. I kind of felt the same thing walking out. It was interesting how I believe 92 had at least two of them. He had the one in the red zone backed up, and he had one later that was on another third down. You wonder if a guy is spying or kind of sitting on the line of scrimmage. It didn't appear to be that or do that.
I don't know what to really credit that to. The young man got his hands up and did a nice job. Those were some big plays that he batted those balls down and helped his team.
QUESTION: Gary, it seemed like Beau Allen got in the spotlight a little bit, but he's done some of his best work out of that spotlight. How important has he been to what you're trying to get done defensively?
ANDERSEN: If you sit back and watch the tape, that's a big time game out of Beau Allen. He was active. He was physical. He played a bunch of reps. He appeared to be in very good shape, which is really the first time this year that he's been challenged to play that number of plays, let alone play that number of plays in a game that's involved with pace and speed and the offense getting up and snapping the ball quickly.
I'm really proud of him, as I am a lot of those front guys. But he his goal and one of his big goals, number one, is to obviously moving past his time at Wisconsin because this football program is important to him, and he wants nothing but to be great and have his team be great, trust me.
But if he plays like that, he's going to have an opportunity to move on and play at the next level, I believe, and it's important to him, and it is a goal that he set. We have talked about it, and I think that tape will help him move in that direction.
But proud of the way he played in that football game.
QUESTION: How much does Warren Herring come on, in that regard, and how much does Herring's ability to give Allen a breather contribute to his ability to make some plays maybe late in the game?
ANDERSEN: It definitely helps him. I think it helps all those front guys. To have Pat (Muldoon) and Dip (Tyler Dippel) on one side playing like crazy, it's good for those two kids. There's a friendly competition between them two. There's a friendly competition between Beau and Warren, and Warren wants to get more reps.
Warren has become a very solid, I would say at this point, practice player, and I expect him to be a dominant player as he moves through his career. But he's those two work together very well. Warren was a little bit tweaked last week, a little minor injury that he fought through and came out and played well in the game.
He is a very, very solid really, I guess you could call him "B" player. I wouldn't really call him a backup at this point because he can come in and he's going to play a lot.
QUESTION: The fake punt that you guys ran, what was going through your mind after the call was made? It's not your run of the mill fake punt, punter grabs it and just takes off and runs with it. And are you fearful you've unleashed a monster with Chris Borland? He's going to be lobbying to throw the ball more?
ANDERSEN: Chris lobbies to do everything, which is why part of the reason he's so great.
Coach Busch has done a great job of coming up with those fakes for a number of years. It's not the first time. He's got a whole arsenal of different types of fakes that he likes to throw out there. When we see an opportunity, we will execute them.
Again, it's one thing to draw it up, and it's another thing to execute it that way. I know, if you've got to make a play and it's crunch time, at a crunch time moment, there's no one you'd rather have the ball in their hands than Chris.
There's a lot that came through that play. He could have ran it, and I'm sure he would have made it if he ran it, but he decided to pull up and throw it, which ended up being a great decision by him. It was executed great by all of them.
We'll put Chris in positions to help this football team any way we possibly can, and that was one of them that was easy for Coach Busch to kind of drop, and then the kids executed it.
QUESTION: Gary, you guys were able to get Derek Watt in the game a little bit. Was he physically okay after the game, and how many plays did he get, and what was the plan with him?
ANDERSEN: I couldn't tell you the exact number of plays, but it was limited by plan for him to be involved in really just the running plays this week or excuse me. Last week. That was the plan moving in.
And he handled it until halftime. Just felt a little fatigued, I would say, at halftime, not injured, not re tweaked at all. So we decided to move along in the second half and sit him down, which the trainers did a great job of communicating with Thomas, and we decided to keep him out of it in the second half.
So I expect him full speed today.
QUESTION: Gary, hopefully the last question on what happened Saturday
ANDERSEN: I'll bet it's not.
QUESTION: Probably not. Will this prompt you to make any changes with regards to future road games as to what the officiating crew is where they come from?
ANDERSEN: To my knowledge, I have really no control over that, nor have I you know, in my career, as far as coaching goes, I don't know. I don't know what the process is to really do that. Whether I guess people could say that it should be the other crew, it should be an outside crew. I would be completely uneducated if I was to speak on that at all.
I've never really thought about it until about 48 hours ago, to be honest with you also.
QUESTION: Gary, your captains took on a jersey, I think, for the coin toss on Saturday. I think like No. 19. Were you aware of that? What was the process behind that?
ANDERSEN: I don't know. I have no idea. B.K. had a jersey? My bet was something like that would be first of all, I let the captains be picked by the leadership committee, and my bet, if B.K. did something like that, it was to have great respect again for somebody within the community or within Badger nation.
I was unaware of it, but there's a lot of things these kids do in the community that are such a positive thing that I don't know about. I try to let that leadership committee really handle themselves in some situations.
I'll find out. That's a great question.
QUESTION: 22 questions, and no one's asked about Purdue. What do you look at when you see them, and what kind of challenges do they present to your defense?
ANDERSEN: Great question. Offensively, Purdue is more of a pro style offense, number one, which they were more of a spread, from what I understand, a year ago. So there's a little bit of a transition there. It looks like the offensive linemen, in my opinion, have handled the transition well. They have some tight ends that are very good players.
There's a lot of moving pieces to the offense for a pro style offense. There's a lot of fly sweep and the speed motions and stuff coming across, which forces you, whether you're in man coverage or zone coverage, to roll the coverage or slide the coverage, and that comes with a lot of practice reps. It's a good scheme.
Sometimes in two backs, they'll get into bigger personnel, two tight ends, sometimes even three. I like the running back. I like both running backs. I apologize again for not knowing their names, but it's No. 1 and No. 20. Good football players. They get back there and hit the holes and are fast kids.
A couple wide receivers out there that make some plays and make you miss. The quarterback has been solid. You watch him last week, they're up 10 0, did some good things at Notre Dame, and obviously ended up losing that football game. But they were right in there from a physicality standpoint, which is impressive on both sides of the football, and seem to be solid on special teams.
So a little unique, but there is some carryover for our defense versus their offense for what we saw in spring and in fall camp.
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