Sept. 30, 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' loss at Purdue and discuss the team's plans for the bye week and early preparation for Northwestern
Video of Andersen's media session can be found above, and a complete transcript of his remarks is below.
ANDERSEN: First of all, we played a really good football team. You watch the film, you sit back and evaluate it, I think it’s important to look and evaluate who you played, but there’s a couple performances that need to be noted in that game for the Badgers that are special in my opinion. Chris Borland and Jared Abbrederis were unbelievable. To play in that stage, that moment, that setting, the way they played, they’re worthy of any award they’re up for and hopefully people saw that on national television and understand exactly where they were. Jared changed the game. He flipped it for us from an offensive standpoint. He gave us an opportunity when they were doing a very good job against the run game to be able to open up the throw game and get us back in the game and make some big plays. Chris was all over the place all night long. Sixteen-plus tackles, he was physical, he was aggressive, he ran well, got pass drops well. Noting those two kids is important to me on a day like this. They played very, very well.
If you look back at the game, you say a football game like that is going to come down, no matter how you cut it, there's going to be whatever you want to call them, kids made plays on one side, possible potential mistakes on the other side. They had them, we had them. We did not take enough advantage of those opportunities that came our way. However, we didn't get those opportunities. They came in different situations. Possibility of two turnovers. Those were huge. I can go on and on as you look back at them. There's 10 or 12 of those. There's at least five to six, maybe eight or nine on their side of the ball. We had a couple of them, we didn't get a couple of them. That's football. When two football teams play, that's where it is.
It's important for me to sit down and evaluate, look at the Plan to Win. You guys heard me talk about that all the time. This is a learning moment for this football team and it does matter. If we look back and Plan to Win, play great defense. No, we didn't play great defense. Solid at times, not great defense.
Take care of the football. One turnover to zero led to seven points for them. Can't happen. We lost, so you're 0 for-2 on the Plan to Win. Score in the red zone. We didn't score in the red zone. We wanted to get 70 percent of possible points in the red zone. We got 67. That will work. Obviously it's not exactly our goal but I believe we did win that.
Play great special teams, no. We had an opportunity to play great special teams and I think it was a battle on special teams. It went back and forth. At the end we missed a field goal and we didn't get the rugby punt that was on the ground. So we lost that one.
Last one is win the fourth quarter. I knew that was going to be a huge one. Yeah, we won the fourth quarter. We won it 10 0. But unfortunately it wasn't enough for us to win the game.
When you sit and look, you get two of those goals on the Plan to Win, you have a chance to win the football game, which we had. If you get three of them, your chances go way up. If you get four of them, you're almost guaranteed victory. That's where we sit.
The details, the fundamentals, the teaching, all that we sit back and take a long, hard look at. Number one thing I always look at is effort. The effort was unbelievable. These kids played hard. It means a lot of to them. A special opportunity, special night, special setting. The bottom line is we came up a little bit short.
I'm proud of these kids. I'm very, very happy that I'm their coach. I can't wait to get back to work today and we will bounce back. We realize that we have another good opponent coming our way very quickly.
QUESTION: You don't sound like a coach who felt his team was overmatched physically or speed or things like that. In terms of physical battles, do you think your kids held up for the most part?
ANDERSEN: If I felt like that, I would never tell you. Hopefully I would never show it in the first place.
That is a very talented team, without question. They run very, very well. We spoke many times about our ability to want to continue to recruit, get speed at certain positions. Not just the speed, but get the numbers up in certain positions in recruiting.
If I look at that team, I don't have the recruiting stuff in front of me as far as who is on their team, what year everybody is, I would bet it's pretty well balanced out. I would bet you watch them warm up, there's groups that how they're supposed to look, numbers of O linemen, number of safeties, they are looking at all that other stuff when we play other people, it looks like it's been very balanced out. They had a few freshmen that were competing, playing for them, doing a nice job.
But I think we were overmatched? No. There was give and take on both sides. It was an interesting definitely an interesting battle. I was impressed with the quarterback (Braxton Miller). I should say that. I need to say that. He's a good football player. He's very composed. He's not just an athlete running around out there, he is a tremendous athlete, but I thought he was very poised, he was composed, he picked his spots, he ran his team very well.
Good football game, again, against good players.
QUESTION: Tanner McEvoy wound up with four tackles. Are you impressed with him?
ANDERSEN: Who would have thought that in July, huh? Tanner, back to the last question, we needed to get some athletes on the field. We really thought that. Bill (Busch) and I kind of communicated about that early in the game. Thought it would give us an opportunity to get as big and as long and as fast as we could in the back end at all the different positions we were playing.
Tanner had practiced well. To throw him in the moment was definitely risky, to say the least. That's what we felt we needed to do. I am impressed with the way he's going forward. I'm also impressed with Michael Caputo coming down and playing the F linebacker. We'll continue down those lines as we move forward because both those kids deserve that.
QUESTION: How high is getting your team healthy ranked for you this week?
ANDERSEN: It's high, but I don't think we're an unbelievably beat up football team right now. I think we practiced well. The kids have handled it. If they walked in here and told you on a scale of 1 to 10, am I that tired, 9 is as tired as I can be, if they would say 9, I don't think they'd say that. They would be more of a 4 or 5, which I think is normal.
We'll get them healthy. It is a focus. Young kids, is a focus. Recruiting is a focus. Then making sure we take care of the kids that have been with us. I guess it would be number three if I said those are the three most important things.
QUESTION: Along the injury front, Kenzel (Doe) tweeted the other day he tore a hamstring. Is that true, if so what does that mean?
ANDERSEN: He had a hamstring injury. Torn, pulled, whatever you want to call it. I expect him to play (against) Northwestern.
QUESTION: There were two plays you alluded to before, the touchdown pass at the end of the half, then the penalty on the punt. Can you take us through those? I'm assuming the touchdown pass, it's just as simple as stay deep? On the punt, what exactly was the penalty, the infraction they called?
ANDERSEN: First of all, the punt was a call. It's difficult to see, so I don't know. But it was that we didn't have enough guys on the line of scrimmage. That's basically what it was. The call was made.
I guess my take on that is if we put ourselves in the position for an official to make that call, then we need to be better coaches and we need to be better as players to not let that happen. That's as plain and simple as that one gets. It was an infraction. It was thrown.
The long pass, you know, there's a lot that goes into that. That's a thinking game for a head coach and a defensive coordinator and the DB coach. Those moments, we made the decision fairly quickly to, you know, just basically play cover two. There's a lot of dynamics, if they can throw it in the end zone, try to get 15 yards underneath, you drop eight, you drop five under three-deep zone, there's going to be a hole in there about 20 yards, they get a chip-shot field goal.
I support the call that was made, I support the decision that was made. Can we play that better? Yeah, but I'm not going to put that on a kid. As coaches we can coach it better, put P.J. (Peniel Jean) or whoever is back there in a better spot. We failed the kids in that system in the moment to not get him in the spot. But it's the call that was made. If I didn't like it, I should have called a timeout, and I didn't.
We can play that better. It's a huge play, it's a huge moment. There's no question about it. And like I say after the game I'll look at myself and if I wanted to change it I should have and I did not. In that case, I'll take it. Put that one on me.
QUESTION: What do you think of not one but two byes on the schedule, both in the same month?
ANDERSEN: I like this bye where it sits. It's good five games in. Then to play two, you know, I usually don't look too far ahead, but I thought it was bye, play a game, bye, then play until Lisa (Powell) told me a couple weeks ago there's two games. It's okay. I'd rather have one bye in the season and go along and play. Wherever there's space, you're going to go along and try and make the best of it. I really like this one. If the other one was a couple weeks later, I guess that would be ideal. It's fine. It really helps us in recruiting. I like the way this class is headed, the direction it's headed. It will give us some big advantages to get out.
QUESTION: When Chris Borland makes so many plays, how much is it that the defensive calls put him in position to make plays, how much of it is that he's just really good?
ANDERSEN: Most of it is with him is he's really good. By definition I guess you could say every defender has an opportunity to make the play if it comes his way. Chris makes a lot of plays sideline to sideline. He gets involved when he's not really the primary tackler, I guess, if you will. He beats some of the kids to the ball in certain situations. It's definitely designed to get him opportunity to try to keep him clean at certain times. The out front helps him with that. Moving from the even front to the odd front helps him with that.
The bottom line is he's a tremendous tackler, tremendously strong. That was a big back he was tackling. There was a couple times it went backwards pretty quickly. A lot of it has to do with Chris and the way that he competes also. It's the best I've been around. I think I've been around some pretty good ones.
QUESTION: Who is the best walk on you've dealt with in your time as a coach?
ANDERSEN: Oh, I don't know that one. Myself. Just kidding (laughter).
I don't know. That would be something I'd have to think about for a long, long time. Right now, because he's here, where he is, would be Jared (Abbrederis) without question. The way he's going to go and play at the next level, I had a young man that ended up being a franchise nose guard at Utah that was a walk on, too. There's some really good ones in my career.
As soon as I say Jared, I'll get about 15 text messages or 20 tonight saying, ‘What are you talking about?’ But today I'm going with Jared to answer that question.
QUESTION: Warren Herring has three sacks. What do you think he brings to the nose guard spot?
ANDERSEN: Warren played well. He's a little bit of a different player than Beau (Allen) is. Warren is very athletic. What's most impressive is the plays that he didn't necessarily make a tackle in this game, I thought he controlled the line, he knocked back the center, who was a very good center, that's a very good offensive line. You know, highly decorated as an offensive line obviously.
I think Warren, he exploded the one time on the sack and made a great play. I'm fired up on the direction he's headed. But he's taking the coaching. I think his technique has improved. Now his athleticism is moving forward because of that.
QUESTION: As a guy with a defensive background, what makes Jared so difficult to cover?
ANDERSEN: It's all. He's the full package. He understands zone coverages, he's going to get into the holes. He's very talented when it comes to catching contested balls. Jared is not deceptively fast; Jared is fast. That is the bottom line. You watch him on film, and he's a fast kid.
So all those things combined, and then his ability to be able to get into man coverage. You can see it a couple times on the TV version when he gets into guys, leans, gets himself back off. He just has a great feel of breaking off routes, whether it's the top of the route, the bottom of the route or beginning of the route to cause separation.
QUESTION: The team had to face adversity after the Arizona State loss. How similar or different is this challenge in bouncing back? What is the message to the team?
ANDERSEN: Way different. It's way different than the Arizona State situation. It's a conference loss, so that's obviously huge for what we wanted to get, the direction we're heading.
On the positive side of that, number one, we did lose, and we can learn from it. We can look back and study the tape and understand situations and how fragile winning and losing really is. That's a really good football team we played.
Ohio State, you know, that's a very difficult place to play. Our kids, again, I think handled it decent. We had eight penalties. We had five administrative penalties on offense, which is not obviously ideal. A couple holdings. Then we had the facemask on the defensive side.
The message for them is to, you know, respect the process, understand we are 3 2. I get it. They know where we're at. It's not what we wanted at the beginning. But if they can just keep on battling, keep on fighting, I think they're a very talented football team. The message for them is to stay the course, learn. We'll have a good team meeting today, we'll bring the situations up, accept responsibility as coaches, as players, and move ourselves on to the next game. We're excited about that opportunity.
They'll be fine, trust me. I got 20 text messages from kids last night saying, ‘Let's go.’ They're in a good spot.
QUESTION: How do you handle the practice plan with the bye week? Do you start prepping for Northwestern now? How many days do you give them off?
ANDERSEN: Their schedule will be as normal today, except they did not come in the morning, give them more time to work on their academics. This week, that’s the focus. This morning was one of those times. They'll come in this afternoon. We'll work the young kids this afternoon. The older kids will come in for film review, champions meeting, then we'll move from there to the weight room with them.
Tuesday is standard operating procedure, Wednesday is standard operating procedure, Thursday most of the coaches will be gone, coordinators will be here. It will be a watered down practice with a focus on getting the young kids getting involved with some skelly and different things. The younger kids will probably have about an hour on the field on Thursday.
So we'll get two and a half normal practices on Northwestern, and a whole bunch of film watching. So we should be well-prepared when we walk back in here on Monday morning for the Northwestern team.
QUESTION: How did Melvin Gordon grade out when you watched the film and do you have an update on what his status is for you guys?
ANDERSEN: Melvin played well. And they tackled well. Again, I give credit where credit is due. I thought Ohio State's safeties came down. That's one thing to have a safety in a spot, as you draw it up on the board, but they did a good job of a couple times shoestring tackling them, things we may not be used to seeing with Melvin. They made some of those plays.
But Melvin was physical. He picked his spot. Had some good runs. I'm sure he's not overly happy with his production against Ohio State. But, again, they made plays. But I thought he had a good, solid game. He'll want definitely better than that. If he was sitting there, he wouldn't agree with me. But that's what I think. He'll be fine. He'll be ready to play.
QUESTION: Through the first four games, your offense relied heavily on the run. After the performance the passing game had on Saturday, how much more can the offense flourish with a full threat?
ANDERSEN: Well, there's definitely a progression with the offense. In the first year there's just no way you can say there's not. I think we definitely have made strides, especially in the play action throw game over the last two weeks. It really showed in this game. It showed in this game because they were so dead set on stopping the run. That was their deal.
So we made strides. I think Joel's made definite strides. Jared is a huge part of that. We are still looking for that other receiver. Tight ends will become a little bit more involved. Improvement, third and obviously noticeable passing situations we need to see improvement. Really the whole package, from the pass protection to the routes being broken off correctly, to throwing and catching it. But the offense is moving in a good direction. I like where we are at and I think the kids do also.
QUESTION: How close were you to playing (Jacob) Pedersen? How did the other tight ends do in his absence?
ANDERSEN: It really kind of was Ped's call. I'm a big believer in that. When you have a tough minded kid that's a competitor, that wants to play in that game more than anything, my only comment to him before the game is, ‘How you feeling?’ He said, I'm going to warm up and see. That didn't take place. I didn't have any more communication with him. If he can play, he would play. If the trainers cleared him, he would definitely play.
So he'll be back. You miss a kid like him, but he'll be fine.
As far as the other tight ends, I thought they made some plays, blocked pretty well for the most part, again, against a very talented front. But we'll be excited to get him back in the mix this week. That crew of tight ends is a vital part to our offense and it's even better when he's with us.
QUESTION: There was a time when firing coaches in season was taboo and now it's happened twice in 48 hours.
ANDERSEN: Not me, right (smiling)?
QUESTION: No. Not that I know of. What is your sense of that activity?
ANDERSEN: You know, fortunately I've never been around it as an assistant or as a head coach. But I couldn't even really speak on it. I don't know why they do it. I guess it's best for their schools and their situations. I'm sure, I hope, at some point it's trying to help the kids in the program and they think it's best for the kids in the program.
I don't know. Ever changing world of college football is pretty wild out there. So I couldn't even tell you. I guess USC, I don't know if there's another one, I don't know who it would be.
ANDERSEN: Okay. I didn't know that, so...
QUESTION: Joel (Stave) had been coming off of weeks where his numbers maybe weren't the greatest. He put up big numbers on Saturday. What did you see from him and his performance?
ANDERSEN: Well, continued the positive improvement. I think there's, number one, the credit really goes to Joel. To me there's two other people involved that need credit in Joel taking the steps that he's taken. That's Coach Lud (Andy Ludwig) and that's Curt (Phillips) because they all three work together and they really are improving.
You just watch how they practice. I think the game plan's being put together better for Coach Lud to now understand, you know, what Joel's strengths are, what his weaknesses are, what's the strength of the offense, what's the strength of receiver/tight ends, whatever it may be.
But the most important thing is Joel appears to be preparing very well and he's functioning in the moment very well. He seems a lot less nervous. 'Nervous' isn't even the right word. I don't believe he was nervous. He reacts to adversity in a calm and cool way now as a quarterback. That's impressive. I didn't really feel that in spring, sometimes in fall camp I didn't feel like that. But he just, ‘Okay, here we go.’ And that will continue to improve.
QUESTION: I know you said there's some recruiting at the end of the week. On Saturday how do you use that day? Do you watch college football on TV? How do you advise the players to use the weekend portion of the bye?
ANDERSEN: Yeah, I love to watch college football because I can look at everybody else in my own mind and say, ‘Why did you do that?’
No, I will watch games. I'll be gone some of Saturday, but I'll be back and be able to watch. I'll watch games probably till 1 in the morning here, because they go forever, which is a great thing.
As far as the players, I ask them to focus in. This is a big time right now academically. There's a lot of tests coming up on them. We're getting close to that midterm stage so we have to focus in and really spend some extra time academically. Take care of their bodies. Get in the weight room. But I do encourage them to get away. That's why I give them Friday after school they're off, Saturday they're off, come back Sunday for study hall, starting their week.
I do encourage them to get away, take a deep breath, have some fun. Not forget about football, but let it maybe be in the back of your mind for a few days to recharge your battery. I think that really helps them.
Coaches, we don't need to do that. We need to keep it in the forefront and recruit like crazy when we have the opportunity.
QUESTION: You mentioned Curt Phillips. How big is his role on game day in hoping Joel? A guy who’s invested so much in playing this season, how is he handling the disappointment of not being able to be out there?
ANDERSEN: You know, he's handling it unbelievably well. I really think that Curt and I have the relationship that I hoped we would have if he was a starter, if he wasn't starter. That's a credit to him. That doesn't have anything to do with me. That's a credit to that kid for handling that. It's gone very well.
I would say the same thing with his relationship with Coach Ludwig. There's no doubt he's a competitor. He's disappointed, but you wouldn't know it how he carries himself, how he practices. He's moving forward doing what he can to help the team.
Game day he's vital. Communication with Coach Lud through every snap. Those two do communicate and talk. Curt is not just down there, ‘Card whatever,’ whatever they say, ‘Card number 79,’ I don't know what they say. He's not just sending in the plays to Joel. There's definitely communication between Coach Lud, Joel and Curt, all three of them. It's hard to see some of those things when you coach this game turn around as positives, but it has in this case. It's a credit to all three of those people.
QUESTION: When you watch those games this weekend, I guarantee you'll see a commercial of you cheering on people at a Toyota dealer. Did you enjoy doing that? What are the reviews of your acting, espeically from your wife?
ANDERSEN: Well, the best reactions from my wife was, ‘You're going to get a lot of text messages from that.’ That's what's happened. The kids take shots. I get a lot of that. Pat Muldoon's was the best. No, who was it? It was Ethan Hemer. He texted back and said, ‘Coach, I'm really sorry you had to do that commercial.’ That was his comment to me.
My acting is horrible. I'm not good at that at all. Stacey, I think, would back me up. Behind closed doors she told me I was very average at best, so stick to your day job, that's for sure.
Thank you, guys. Take care.