Dec. 8, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin football head coach Gary Andersen took part in a teleconference and players Beau Allen, Dezmen Southward and Brian Wozniak met with members of the local media Sunday to offer their reaction to the Badgers' bid to the Capital One Bowl and a Jan. 1 matchup with South Carolina.
A complete transcript of remarks by Andersen is below, followed by comments from Allen, Southward and Wozniak.
QUESTION: Tell me what your familiarity is with Steve Spurrier and what matching up against a guy like him will mean to you?
ANDERSEN: Just from afar, really, and understanding what Coach has done and the tremendous career he's had, and he's meant a lot to college football for a number of years and had a number of unbelievably successful teams and as in this season.
It's going to be special. I don't think anybody could tell you, you are going to line up against Coach Spurrier and it won't be a special experience for all of us involved. A tremendous coach, doing it for a long time. I have tremendous respect for him and obviously for his team.
QUESTION: Anything specific that you've seen or know about South Carolina right now that you feel like is going to be particularly worrisome for you?
ANDERSEN: Well, it appears, in just a quick glance, that I know that they beat Clemson and UCF, BCS teams. You play a conference they play and the conference they play in and to get 10 wins at this point is something special for them.
But I know they're going to be very balanced offensively. They want to be able to run the football. They obviously can throw the ball effectively, very talented offense and a defense that can make a bunch of plays with some special players.
I haven't seen them play much this season at all; but just from afar, tremendous respect, obviously, and overall team balance, offense, defense, special teams and go do some things to keep you on edge and take some chances, which is always a sign of a good team, good coaches in my opinion.
QUESTION: Obviously there's some disappointment not being in a BCS bowl, but is it offset by playing against a high-caliber opponent, is that something you want to have if you can't have a BCS opponent?
ANDERSEN: Absolutely. I think we all strive at the beginning of the year and fight through the year to get a BCS game that's very difficult to do. We won a bunch of football games. We've got nine wins and now we're going to go play a team with 10 wins, it's a tremendous matchup. Tremendous challenge for both teams, I believe.
And they both have shown that they're very capable of playing at a very high level week in week out throughout the season. But it's a great bowl game for us for so many reasons. It's a great reward for our kids and it's an honor for us to be selected in this game; but to play South Carolina in that setting on January 1st, sit back and end your career as a player or as a coach and the opportunity to play in a bowl game on January 1st is something that you'll never forget, I promise you.
And we're just very honored to be part of it and we're excited we could get this team to this point and the kids in the program and all the coaches and everybody involved at the University of Wisconsin is very proud to be representing Wisconsin in this game, that's for sure.
QUESTION: The guys were talking about obviously the season ended against Penn State. What are some of the things you need to do to get them whether it's refocused mentally or restore some confidence that may have been lost in that game?
ANDERSEN: I don't think either one of those things will be a problem. These kids are confident. I don't think they need to be refocused. We took some time off.
The bottom line is this: In the last couple of football games we played on the offensive side of the football, people have basically said we dare you to throw the ball.
And it worked out for them, even in the Minnesota game, you sit back and look at it and they dared us to throw the football and Penn State did the same thing. We've got to be able to run the ball more effectively. To be able to do that at this point you are going to have to be able to throw the football better and open up the offense a little bit and get some of the other people involved.
It's very difficult. We've got great running backs and very talented offensive line, good blocking tight ends and good blocking wide receivers, all the stuff that comes with it. But when you're plus one and plus two in the box it becomes very difficult on defense.
It wasn't typical as far as giving up the big plays. We have to get healthy on defense, especially in the back end. Getting Michael (Caputo) back there is a huge key for us, and I believe he'll be back in the bowl game ready to play.
But our kids they had a great pop in their step last week when they were out running around. They'll be excited and I promise you the fact that they know they're playing in this Bowl game they'll come out tomorrow at practice and be ready to roll.
QUESTION: How do you approach bowl preparation? Do you try to make it as similar as regular season preparation or are some things different?
ANDERSEN: Well, you know, we're looking at an opportunity to get, 17 opportunities I guess it wound up being for us. I wanted to have an enjoyable experience. It's important for me. I want to be prepared when we walk out on the field and play well. You have to combine all those together and it gets tricky to get the schedule the right way and then you throw finals week on top of that and give our kids the opportunity to compete in the classroom the way they're supposed to compete and the grades we expect them to get, with those expectations, we're set this week we'll have some good practices. We'll get out there four, five times this week.
Next week we'll get out there three times and we'll keep practicing right up until the 21st and on the road, give them off the 22nd, 23rd and 24th (off) and then we'll travel to the bowl site on the 25th and go from there. But that gives us plenty of time. Heavy emphasis on the young guys and also understanding we want to keep our older kids fresh, ready to go, but completely in tune with what we expect to have take place on game day within the game plan.
QUESTION: Have you heard from fans; do you think they're going to be excited about this matchup?
ANDERSEN: Oh, I believe they will be. No, I've not heard from anybody. I'm actually recruiting right now so I'm getting ready to go on a home visit here in about 10 minutes.
We're very excited. I know that Badger Nation will be excited. It's a great destination. Lot of things to do outside of the game. And a great climate, great environment for us to be involved in. And I'm sure the fans will be there.
As we all know, this is a very powerful senior class. They've had some great opportunities in their career, and what a better way to send them out than to play a big time opponent and have an opportunity to win a bowl game. I'm sure Badger Nation as well as these kids and all the coaches and everybody that has anything to do with Wisconsin football is excited about the game. And it's a January 1st bowl game. Really, if you can't get excited for that I don't know what you can get excited for.
QUESTION: Couple of the guys said they did not bother to watch the Big Ten championship game last night. Did you catch any of it or was that not on the agenda for you?
ANDERSEN: You know, I was watching my son play in a championship game, Fresno (State), and I watched him play. I did not see that game. I followed it closely on my phone. If I had a chance to watch it, I would have watched every snap.
Sounded like it was a tremendous game. DVR is sitting at home waiting for me when I get back and I'll watch that game.
QUESTION: To revisit the Penn State game a little bit defensively, have you gone over, since that game was over, and really explored what some of the issues were? I know you mentioned the injuries and not having Michael on the back end, but just the communication issues and that that cropped up that hadn't been there all year.
ANDERSEN: You know, the change of pace caught us a little bit in a couple of situations. We've discussed it. It's not acceptable on defense to have that happen to us.
That overall was just one of the situations that took place in that game and it looks bad when that stuff takes place and we don't want it to happen. It did. And we've addressed it. That was not what cost us the football game, the big plays is what cost us the football game and obviously our inability to score enough points to have a chance to be able to win.
But the big throw over the top was big. The bracket coverage, we had the guy double teamed and he split us and a great player made a great play and the quarterback threw a great ball.
The other one, we had a missed tackle in the open field early in the game and gave up draw plays in third down. It was a culmination of a lot of things, but communication, when that stuff goes wrong, I look at myself and all the coaches gotta look at ourselves and get that fixed to give the kids an opportunity to compete. If you get beat because you get beat, missed tackles, completed pass, what have you, that's okay. You've got to be better in those situations to give the kids the opportunity.
Ultimately that cost us the game? No. But we need to learn from it and we have addressed it and we'll fix it.
SOUTHWARD: Obviously I speak for our entire team saying we're excited to go down to Florida and play in this bowl game against a big time team in South Carolina. We fully expect to prepare as well as we can in this next month and go down there expecting to win the game.
QUESTION: We talked a lot the last couple months if you could win out, maybe there would be an opportunity to play in the BCS. And I know you guys were upset that you didn't win at Penn State. I'm just curious what happened with Michigan State beating Ohio State, did that help soften the blow at all knowing even if you would have won, you still would have wound up in this bowl?
ALLEN: I don't know. Obviously I think I speak for all the seniors when I say it was a tough loss, it's kind of hard to wrap your head around something like that and get over it. Personally I don't look at it that way. I think nothing can change the disappointment we feel after that loss at Penn State and everything like that. But obviously we've got a big time game and a big time opponent coming up. So we're not even focused on the past, we're not going to dwell on that at all. It is what it is. And we were going to prep moving forward.
SOUTHWARD: We agree, I think as a competitor you go into every game you want to win. Every time you lose a game you have to be disappointed.
No matter what other people are doing around the country, we want to win every single game that we line up and play. So I speak for everybody when I say that. As Beau said, obviously with the way things played out, I guess it can justify for some people; but at the end of the day all that matters is that we are in a pretty good bowl game against a really good opponent and we're excited about that.
QUESTION: You've been asked several times this year I think about making a statement by winning a certain game or beating a certain team. You're playing an SEC team against a coach who I'm sure you're pretty familiar with, a guy who has been around a long time. This is your last chance, but what sort of statement would that make to beat an SEC team that's ranked in the top 10 pretty much every poll at this point?
SOUTHWARD: Just the opportunity to be able to play a high-caliber team, SEC team, I think it's going to be a great challenge for us, a real good defense, looking as an offensive perspective, a good defense we're going up against. Possibly get to play the No. 1 player in the draft next year, which is going to be fun.
I think just looking at the Big Ten Conference versus the SEC, it's fun to have those rivalries there and compete, get the Big Ten back up on top. And I think with our preparation, with the seniors we have, it's going to be a fun game. It's going to be a really competitive game. I think it's going to be an in the trenches type game for both teams.
ALLEN: I think we definitely want to make a statement. We have a really talented senior class that has a lot of wins over the past four or five years, but we kind of failed to get it done in the postseason, and we know that, so we want to go out on top.
We want to end our careers the right way, really. So we're going to prepare as hard as we can. We're going to do everything we can in our power to make sure that we're in our best shape for playing football and we've done everything we can mentally and physically because we don't want to leave anything out there on the field.
WOZNIAK: I agree with both of these guys, anytime you look at obviously the SEC for the past decade or so, they've been the measuring stick. Obviously to play a team like South Carolina, you get a chance to measure up and see what the conferences are like against each other.
I think that's something you have to be excited for when you look at the opportunity. I think on both sides of the ball will be challenged different ways. But as Beau said, in the next month or so we'll look at every single way we can get better in order to be prepared for the game.
QUESTION: Brian, how motivated are you because of losing three straight bowl games, just to win a bowl game?
SOUTHWARD: I think extremely. One of my biggest goals as a player in general is to go out and win one. The last one we won, I watched it on the sideline. I wasn't really a part of it. And it's tough. It's tough to play with guys for four or five years and then go out and let it end in tears and sadness that you didn't get that last win.
You definitely want to end your career and end it with guys you've made so many amazing memories with.
WOZNIAK: Going off what Dez said, this is a special senior class, especially for us, the chemistry we have off the field. Losing a game like that, just seeing the past three senior classes do it, it's been tough for them. It's been tough for us as underclassmen.
And our biggest thing is we want to finish out the season the right way. Obviously we didn't get to do that on our Senior Day. So we want to take another shot at that in the bowl game and ultimately finish out the season the best way we can.
QUESTION: Beau and Dez, on the defense, I know you guys say you want to prepare for this game; and, Beau, you don't want to look back but ahead, but have you had some time now to sit down and look at the performance of the defense that last game and try to get a better handle about what didn't go well as it normally does for you guys and what you need to do to address it?
ALLEN: I mean, I know personally I watched that game the moment I got home, the iPad, it's a great learning tool and the film was uploaded that night. So I think there's a lot of things we can learn from that game.
We gave too many big plays defensively, I think that's one thing that stands out, the score that they had with the long ball and then the draw play they had in the fourth quarter.
But, I mean, like I said earlier, I think we're focused on moving forward. You can use that film as kind of motivation I think at this point. I don't know how good it is, how beneficial it is for everybody to go back and think about what if we could have done this defensively we should have done that. I think that's what it's about at this point, just watch the film, learn from the film, learn from the Xs and Os, but I think we just gotta move forward.
SOUTHWARD: I agree with Beau, we have to move forward as well. I think that we do obviously need to learn from a lot of things that we did in that game. I don't think it was any faster of a defense that was necessarily we had a lot of little breakdowns that turned into big plays. I don't think you can have that if you expect to be a big time defense which is in my opinion what we are and what we've been for the majority of this season. So that's something that definitely obviously can hurt you, especially when you can see yourself as a really good defense because you don't want to give up anything.
So when you do, it really does annoy you a lot. And I for one did obviously get a chance to watch the game as well, and it's kind of annoying because you see a lot of opportunity to make plays as well. And that's something that hopefully will make our fire burn a little bit more in this instance to where we prepare that much harder, we work that much harder in practice in order not to make those little mistakes that turn into big plays.
WOZNIAK: I think defensively across the board we know we're better than that, too. We just want to play to our potential and that's definitely not it. We know we're better and we're going to play better than that.
QUESTION: I don't know if you have the answer to this now but do you have any idea what the roadmap of the next month looks like? Will it be any different in bowl preparation than the last few years, do you have any idea?
WOZNIAK: It was great. Last week Coach Andersen called together the leadership council we have here, comprised mostly of older guys, seniors that have played for a long time, and juniors that have played as well. Sat down and asked us what we want to do, which is nice. We kind of game him our input, and I know we just got scheduled Saturday or I don't know the last couple of days. Obviously it's going to be a lot more in depth now. But I'm not exactly sure what's too different. Obviously we're not out in California anymore. So that's different. But I think I don't know how much different in practice.
We actually seniors had all last week off which was nice, just get our bodies back, kind of mentally get away, too. And obviously practice with the young guys, which is always good. We've done that in the past. I don't know what else is different.
ALLEN: There's not too much different when it comes to practice. You need to prepare for the team as much as you can. The whole thing that Coach is doing is he's giving us a little break from the 21st to the 24th off. Guys like me and Dez, we're a little bit further away. So it's the first time I've ever been able to go home for Christmas since I've been here. Obviously I'll come back the 24th, not on Christmas, and it's still cool. He's good about that. Real players' coach kind of guy, and he looks out for us and he's really trying to get us home.
But I think when it comes down to practice, it's the same thing. I think the seniors kind of really can't wait to get back on the field, get that loss out of our mouths and start prepping for South Carolina.
QUESTION: Could you guys give us a mini scouting report what you know about South Carolina based on what you saw them on TV?
ALLEN: I think Brian already mentioned about their defense and stuff like that. Just from what I've seen, I think they have a talented run game. Obviously we'll know more running forward. But I remember on Saturday when we have our 2:30 night games, we get to watch other teams I remember watching them being impressed by their running back. I think they're an explosive team. If I remember correctly more a pro style offense, which I'm excited for.
That's all I've got right now to be honest with you. But talking to our video guys, half an hour ago, they told me that the film's going to be up on the iPads tonight. So I think I'll definitely know more tomorrow.
SOUTHWARD: The same as Beau, I think if you take any team from the SEC I think you'll see a ton of athleticism, explosive plays will be made throughout that film. Just because of how good they are athletically and how talented they are. We don't know very much obviously schematically yet. But just from watching them in the games that we've been able to watch, you have to be impressed with the things that they've been able to do in their run game.
And it will be obviously a big time challenge for us to stop them, but we'll be able to.
WOZNIAK: Going back to their defense, couple games we've seen they have obviously No. 7's (Jadeveon Clowney) a great player. They have more than just him. It will be a good challenge for the offense. It will be fun. I know we'll be excited about it. Just talking with some of the O linemen this weekend, we're excited to get the blocking schemes down, watch the film. It's a real challenge to us, which is always fun, and it's just going to be a good game. People will want to see it.
QUESTION: Brian, you mentioned No. 7, Clowney. Everybody talks about that play he made last year. Have you seen that play a few times against Michigan?
WOZNIAK: Yes. Every day on SportsCenter.
QUESTION: When you watch that what do you imagine it might be like to block a guy like that?
WOZNIAK: When you watch that play, the first thing you see you've got to block the guy. The two Michigan offensive guys, they kind of I don't know if it's just miscommunication or what, they just didn't block him.
But with that kind of guy you gotta have technique every play. And it will be a good challenge for not only our offensive line but for guys like me at tight end and Jacob and Arnie as well. And it will be fun. It will be a good measuring stick to see where I'm at. I think it's not just him on that defensive side. I think they've got a couple of good guys and just looking at the whole team like Dez said they've got athletes and it will be fun to do our athletes against their athletes.
QUESTION: Beau, have you seen Clowney play?
ALLEN: Yes, I've seen him play watching film earlier. Yeah, definitely seen him play. I think everyone has. Kind of always in the spotlight. But I think our O-line goes against the most talented and athletic defensive line every day. So they shouldn't be too surprised. I don't know if No. 7 is that much more athletic than No. 96 in red. Just joking.
QUESTION: How hard is it for you to watch the Big Ten game last night and not be a part of it the last few years?
WOZNIAK: Talking with Dez earlier you didn't watch it, did you? Looking for score updates. It was weird not being able playing in that place two years in a row, it's a fun place to play in, disappointed as a team but I guess it's good for Michigan State for getting that win or whatever.
It was weird. It definitely wasn't normal.
SOUTHWARD: Like Brian said, I didn't watch the game. Obviously I care who wins, obviously it's our conference and at this point you support your conference or you want everyone in the conference to win their game. But out there obviously not being involved in it and not playing as well as we did last week, you just kind of want to take a break from football and just I guess hit that refresh button and I hope I can speak for every single person on our team, I'm refreshed and I'm ready to go and I hope everybody else continues to do the same.
QUESTION: Dez, you mentioned refreshed, you have a wrap on your wrist, can you tell us what's going on there and will it affect your preparation in any way?
SOUTHWARD: I had a minor procedure on my wrist, something that has been nagging me the entire season but it's not very serious. It's something that won't bother me as far as preparation. And I'll be playing in the game.