Dec. 30, 2013
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Wisconsin offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda were joined by senior WR Jared Abbrederis and senior LB Chris Borland at a news conference Monday in Orlando in advance of the 2014 Capital One Bowl.
A complete transcript of the coaches' and players' remarks can be found below.
LUDWIG: Thank you very much. It's a real privilege and honor to be competing in this bowl game in our first season at Wisconsin. Everything is new. Everything is for the first time and great appreciation to Coach Andersen, the players, the fans and the administration at the university, all they do for the program. And, again, we're just anxious to put on a good show here on New Year's Day.
ARANDA: On defense, the practices have gone very well. The first ten days or so has been more or less a spring ball or fall camp and it was good to see our young guys compete and get our older guys all healed up and ready to roll. These last couple weeks have been very productive in getting the correct looks we need versus South Carolina. They're very multiple on offense so we've tried to build -- get all of our looks to our defense and I think it's going well. You know, it's been a deal where we don't want to practice against ourselves anymore. We're ready to play, and so we're in a good spot.
QUESTION: All of you are really wrapping up your first season with Coach Andersen this year. And go down the line and talk about the impact on each of you this season.
ABBREDERIS: The impact he's had on us? Coach Andersen has been great. Having an additional head coach is different but the change has been really good. So for me, I think he just brought back the fun in football. And so, you know, practice is about competing against each other, against the best players on the other side of the ball and we get a lot of good versus good in practice and just really -- especially this year, the way our defense plays in our corners pressed up on the line, it's been a lot more fun having press coverage competing every play. And I think it's the biggest thing for me this year, just a lot more fun just competing every play.
BORLAND: What Jared said. I think Coach brought a lot of energy to the program, really revitalized a lot of guys take on the game and it's also been a great relationship to have as a player to the coach. He really cares about you and reaches out to you more than you'd expect.
ARANDA: He allows you to work smart so we don't -- we grind when it's time to grind and when it is time to head home, see our kids, he allows you to do so. So he's a great family person as well as a great football coach.
LUDWIG: I had the chance to work with Gary at a previous stop. He was the defensive coordinator. I was the offensive coordinator and we had a great working relationship there as counterparts. And I couldn't imagine a better working relationship between a head coach and assistant coach than what we have now. So it's been everything and more than I expected and come to work for Coach Andersen.
QUESTION: From WIFF in Greenville, South Carolina. This is for Coach Aranda. Tanner McEvoy, probably one of the players that has been on both of these rosters but was a quarterback at South Carolina and is now a defensive player at Wisconsin. Can you talk about his transition from the offensive side of the ball to the defensive side and if you've had a part of that or if that happened before he got to you?
ARANDA: Well, he came in as a quarterback. And so I know that early on in camp, just seeing his athleticism and seeing him move around not only individual drills but in team situations, we sure could use him on defense was always a thought. Just so happened with, you know, injuries, I think he injured his wrist and the quarterback position got sorted out, that he was able to make the transition over to defense. And we're thankful that he did because it didn't take very long for him to be in the starting spot. I think there were some nickel situations and third-down situations that he was helping us out in early in the season, really kind of playing the post, playing the middle of the field. And, you know, as the season has gone on, he's woven himself more and more into the defense. So he's playing man to man. He's quarter run support. He's blitzing. He's playing the post. He's doing it all. So it's been a credit to him, a credit to our coaches there in the secondary.
QUESTION: Coach Ludwig, the season went on, obviously, teams gearing up to stop the run with you guys. You through in a lot in the last game. How do you get the running game maybe back to where you were? Is that sort of a game plan to try and run the ball more? And how difficult is that against South Carolina's front?
LUDWIG: We're going to play to our strength. We're a run/play-action team. That's the way we're built. So we're going to go into the game with that mindset. I don't think there's any surprise there. So the key thing is first-down efficiency and, you know, being -- making positive games in the run game and then using the play action to keep the secondary honest and keep the safeties backed off. So we've got away from that a little bit here in the last couple games and we're anxious to get back to it.
QUESTION: I have a question for Jared. As you reflect back on your time at Wisconsin and it was a really long journey for you, what will you remember the most? What will your motions be and in what way has it exceeded our expectations?
ABBREDERIS: I think the thing I remember the most is just the relationships that you have with the players, the coaches. Being with these guys every day, they become part of your family. So, you know, when you go through something, you know, whether it be on a walk on, trying to earn playing time, scholarship, all that kind of stuff. There's some good times, some bad times, but the players and coaches are always there for you, so that's the thing I remember the most, is just all the relationships that you built. What was your second question again?
QUESTION: How did it exceed your expectations?
ABBREDERIS: Yeah. I mean, for me it's always been about goal setting. So when I set a goal and then, you know, try to achieve it, once you do that, you've got to set another goal. So when I came in, I wasn't trying to be, you know, where I am right now. I was just trying to make plays and get on the field. Once you did that, you start setting new goals for yourself and so it really wasn't, you know, could I see myself here when I started? Possibly, but I wasn't really trying to get there right now -- right when I got there. But I was just setting goals and keep trying to achieve them.
QUESTION: Chris, what team that you guys played does South Carolina remind you of? A little bit of Ohio State or a hybrid or how would you assess that?
BORLAND: Well, they have elements of a lot of teams we've played. They have some quarterback run game we saw in BYU. As far as (Connor) Shaw's ability, it's similar to Braxton Miller. But they like to run the full first and we've seen that in a lot of teams this season. I think Ohio State a little bit and BYU as well.
QUESTION: Chris, you're a part of a very successful senior class at the University of Wisconsin. With you leaving, who do you see leading the defense next year and why?
BORLAND: There's a number of guys. I think Warren Herring on the D-line. He's got a lot of experience and he does things the right way. Derek Landisch as a linebacker is kind of in the same mold. Those guys need to step up and I think they will.
QUESTION: For both Andy and Dave, the Big Ten hasn't done so well in bowl games over the last maybe decade. Does that play into it at all from a motivational standpoint? Are you attempting to waive the flag a little bit for the Big Ten in this game?
LUDWIG: I'm just trying to do my best for the Wisconsin Badgers and let it play out from there.
ARANDA: I know it's talked about. I know with our players, it's definitely noticed. So it does not go unnoticed with our players, but as far as the coaching part of it, you're so involved and into the minutia of what you're doing that that stuff kind of falls over your head a little bit.
QUESTION: Jared, do you know how far away you are from Brandon Williams’ career reception record? Would you need to break it and what would that mean to you?
ABBREDERIS: It's six, maybe. Six? Yeah. It's not all about the records and things like that. I mean, if we get it, if I get it, that would be nice. You know, and to the coaches and the line, the backs who block and everything, all the guys that help make that happen. But at the end of the day, I just want to win the game. So if we win a game and I don't have a catch, I'm happy with that.
QUESTION: For Coach Aranda first and then for Chris. The SEC has built its reputation on defense and team speed in particular. What do you necessarily see from their side of the ball?
ARANDA: When I look at South Carolina's offense?
QUESTION: Yeah. I'm sorry.
ARANDA: I see great athletes. I see an offense that can go from a power run game to a spread attack. I see an offense that can change plays based upon the defensive structure. I see an offense that can go wildcat, that can go on balance as a sweep, quarterback run game, as an empty throw game. Any of these things where if you do not stop it, then they'll live in that. And so there's a bunch of those things, a bunch of tributaries that you're going to have to put a stop to it. And then the thing that's striking is about the offense is the quarterback. He runs it. He is the heartbeat of it. And he's the guy that we're going to have to try and stop.
BORLAND: To go off of that, I think they've got a lot of depth. There's players all over the field. You really can't afford to overlook one single guy. They've got tight ends, receivers. Their back runs really hard and has a good line. But, again, I think Shaw is really what makes it go. So they're really a dynamic, impressive offense, but it all starts with the quarterback.
QUESTION: This question is for Coach Aranda. Coach, can you talk a little bit about your cornerback, Sojourn Shelton? How good do you think he'll be and what kind of improvements would you like to see from year one to year two?
ARANDA: He can be as good as he wants to be. I think early on -- he came in in (January) and there was just a confidence about him, which is really that part of it is hard to coach. I think you kind of come with that. If you're a great one. And so he wanted the matchups. He wanted to get Jared (Abbrederis) and the one-on-ones when it counted and all those things. So just that enthusiasm, I think, is really his secret weapon. Athletically, he's talented and he can run and jump and change directions and those things, but he wants the challenge. He wants the spotlight and those are positive things. And to answer your question, the second part of it I think would be just the consistency of it, in terms of whether it's setting the edge and run defense, whether it's tackling, blitzing off the edge. Those are things I think that we've worked on and he's improved on and there can be great improvement here in year two.
QUESTION: Jared, when the offense is really clicking early in the season, they were hitting you with big plays down the field and it was opening thing things up. Do you feel like you need to be a big element here in your final game of your career to get this offense really moving against this defense?
ABBREDERIS: Yeah. Coach Ludwig kind of pointed that out earlier that we've got to be able to -- if they're going to stack the box, we've got to make sure to keep them honest and hit a couple bombs over the top. So that's obviously something that we’ve missed a couple in the past couple of games, and that might change the game. So you've got to make sure whenever you take a shot, you've got to land it and that'll definitely help up. The run game and the pass can kind of go hand in hand.
QUESTION: For the three of you, with the first year with Coach Andersen, just talk about the first time you met him, what were your immediate reactions and with that first interaction right there and how has that changed since then. And then for Coach Ludwig, what about your previous interactions with him made you know that would be a good fit this year with him?
BORLAND: I bumped into him actually in Coach Alvarez's office when he first got had the job and he just seemed like a down-to-earth guy. He did a great job with demanding respect and still being one of the guys and I noticed that right off the bat and it's rung true for this past year. You know, he fits in with us. He's a true Wisconsin guy and then he is a great leader. So really easy guy to play for. It's been a pleasure.
ARANDA: I met Coach Andersen in Maui, on the island there when I was at the University of Hawaii. I was working a football camp and he was there and he was there with his whole family. And just seeing him interact with them and then his interactions with me were very genuine. And all of those things have kind of carried over into this season really the last two years at Utah State and now here at Wisconsin.
ABBREDERIS: One thing that really stood out to me was even before I met him, I heard that, when he left Utah State, he called each individual player and told him he was leaving. And I think that really stuck out to me, what kind of character he has and what kind of coach he was going to be because I mean, if you're going to call a hundred and something guys when you're leaving, you realize that means that he cares about them. And so we kind of knew that he cared about us and then that's really stayed true.
LUDWIG: He's really the same guy I worked with. You know, positions can change people. He has not changed. He's an intelligent man. He puts the players first. He's got great passion for the profession. He lets his coaches coach. And as Dave alluded to earlier, he allows you time to spend with your family. So he's a very genuine individual.
QUESTION: This is for Chris and Jared. Are you surprised at all to be favored against a higher-ranked SEC opponent and does that say something about the level of respect you guys have gotten all year?
BORLAND: I was a little surprised. We're confident that we're going to win. It's just this huge SEC, you know, bias out there that they're a great conference -- which they are. But, yeah, I was surprised but still confident -- and we expect to win.
ABBREDERIS: I didn't even know that until you just said that. I don't really try to get caught up in those kind of things. I just watch of the film and try to prepare each day and practice and let the game take care of itself. It really doesn't matter if you're favored or not. You've got to come and play. But they've got a great team and we're going to have to show up.
QUESTION: Coach Aranda, how stressful in your practice with Shaw's ability to steal a first down on even long third downs when things break down, and how do you account for it?
ARANDA: Very much so. When you look at them on tape, you have to affect the quarterback. And so you have to pressure him. Now, whether that's with a four-man rush or whether that's with a three-man rush, drop coverage or a five-man pressure, you have to affect the QB. And while you do that, don't let them out of the pocket. So those two things don't always go hand and hand. And so it's difficult to accomplish. You know, I think the mix is the best thing. The mix is the answer in my mind, whether it's going from man to zone to four-man to three-man. And so we'll see how all that goes. But we were talking earlier today -- I think a lot of people have tried, and not a lot of people have been successful.
QUESTION: For Coach Ludwig, Coach Andersen's already talked about having an open competition at the quarterback position in the spring. With that being said, how important is this game for Joel's future and what are you looking from him?
LUDWIG: I look for from Joel (Stave) every week the same things. I look for the ability to move the football team. I look for repetitive accuracy and resiliency. And he's had excellent preparation. He takes football very seriously. He's a hard-working young man and I'm really anxious to watch him play this football game. I know he's anxious to play it.
QUESTION: This question is for Chris and also for Jared. You're both very talented, well-respected leaders on different sides of the ball. Can you maybe talk about each other and what impresses you most from each other and your leadership skills?
BORLAND: Well, Jared was actually our scout team quarterback in 2009. So I knew how good of an athlete he was from the get-go. It's been great to watch him grow and become one of the best receivers in our conference and maybe the country. He comes to work every single day and it's just been really impressive. It's something I can look to and try to emulate. It's been a pleasure playing with him and seeing him grow and be a good friend and teammate.
ABBREDERIS: Yeah. I don't think there's a better leader on any team than Chris. I think every guy that comes in contact with him would say the same thing. I mean, he's just -- like everybody on our team, I feel like we've got a lot of great guys -- but Chris is the one that shows us how to work. He has a great work ethic, well-spoken, well-mannered, does a lot of community service. He's the full package. So, you know, he's our team leader. We go as he goes, and he's done a great job for us. And not just this year but the past three, four years.
QUESTION: This is for Coach Aranda. Just wondering if you've studied Spurrier as a play-caller in your preparation for this game and how you feel about matching up with him as the defensive play-caller?
ARANDA: Oh, I have. You know, the thing about the bowl game is all the extra time that you have. And so you try to reach out to people that you know and trust and that have played, coached before and have, say, been in the SEC before. And so they've all spoken truths about him and when you get down to it, it's the simple concepts that they run and they just run it better than you can defend it. And so I think there's times where you will know something's coming but you still have to stop it and so that comes to mind, as to your question. The other thing that comes to mind is the gadgets and the unpredictable plays. I think he does a great job of mixing things in, kind of lulling you to sleep and hitting you with a pass or hitting you with a reverse or hitting you with a re-formation, seeing if you're going to leave that single receiver in the field manned up or doubled and all those things. So it is a challenge. And that's been echoed from other coaches throughout.
QUESTION: Chris and Jared, in your last week with this program, do you find yourself looking back at your journey or not reminiscing?
BORLAND: I think I've intentionally tried to put the blinders on. This game is really important to us. A win against a great team would say a lot and validate a lot. Our last performance wasn't us. So, personally, I've put the blinders on. I know there's probably other guys who can reminisce and still prepare well, but I still prefer to focus in.
ABBREDERIS: I'm like Chris. I just focus on this game. Once the game's over, you have time to kind of reminisce on how you did in your playing days, but you want to go out with a victory, so our eyes and our focus have been on this game and just trying to prepare for that.
QUESTION: Chris, defensively, what do you feel like you guys hang your hat on?
BORLAND: I think we've stopped the run. We've done a great job of that all year. Our front seven is the strength of our defense and that's going to be important against South Carolina. They like to be physical and run the ball at you. That's usually the most important thing in a game is stopping the other team from running the ball, so that's our strength.
QUESTION: As for Jared and Chris, start with you Jared, being a Wisconsin guy, last night on SportsCenter, the video of the Packer watch party made the air. Just your reaction to that and kind of the elation the team felt.
ABBREDERIS: I was actually up in my room watching a couple games. It wasn't on and I was just following it on the computer. And when I saw it, I said, ‘We've got to get this (fourth down conversion).’ We got it. And then I saw the video and I was laughing pretty hard but that was pretty fun to have, you know, a team in Wisconsin make the playoffs and that's huge. But it is pretty funny. A couple of their reactions, you know, the Bears fan. That was pretty fun.
BORLAND: Yeah. I didn't find out it was trending on Twitter or anything until this morning. Maybe that's a consolation for Vonte (Jackson). Even though the Bears lost, he got to get the spotlight. Fun finish. I think our team was really excited about that game.