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Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen
Excited to get started. Just a quick recap
of last week. I was proud of the young men again.
Did a nice
job of handling the week that we played well, made some strides
in all three areas -- offense, defense, special teams. We're
excited to get back to it today.
Hopefully, they had a good Sunday off, and we'll
evaluate the film and move on to Ohio State. Ohio State,
obviously, a great team. Done tremendous things, we all know
that. However many, 15-game winning streak. They're a
talented crew. Had an opportunity to spend some time watching
them a yesterday and watching them a little bit today.
What you see is L so ID scheme. I think they use
their individuals on the team, play makers, if you will, in the
right spots, which is always a sign of a quality coaching
staff, in my opinion. They fit themselves in very well there.
They've got a lot of athleticism. I would say this,
if you watch the tape from a year ago to now, it's obvious that
they made an emphasis to recruit speed in a lot of different
areas on the offensive side of the ball. They've got receivers
that can run, catch, make plays. They do have a lot of speed
Running back position, obviously, they get their guy
back. They've been very successful in running the football.
And the offense, either quarterback, it doesn't change. It
doesn't really matter what quarterback. It seems to be the
question that everybody wants to talk about, but either
quarterback can run the offense. They've been very successful
running the offense and has won a lot of football games.
Very well schooled team. They'll be aggressive on
special teams, just like we like to be. That will be an
interesting matchup. I think for their defense, they want to
obviously stack up and block the run. It's two very different
styles when you look at them presnap. Both teams want to run
the ball effectively and get big plays down the field in the
passing game. They have done a nice job making the big chunk
plays in the throw game. They've been successful.
Q. Can you just give us whatever update you can on your
walking wounded, guys who are hurt or held out.
COACH ANDERSEN: I still really don't know and won't
until today. I have not seen them since after the game. So
I'll see them this afternoon. Next 48 hours or so, I think
we'll have an idea who's going to be out there.
A couple young men probably won't participate or do
much until Wednesday or Thursday. It is a factor. We're down
some key guys. But the key thing is the next young man step up
I don't have a great feel of that right now to
understand truly where they sit.
Q. Gary, you go into this preparing for both guy ton and
COACH ANDERSEN: I don't think it matters. Whoever's
in there. One guy might do that better than the other. Here
comes this guy or that guy or let's expect this offense or that
offense. It's still a tough offense regardless.
Q. Any challenges for you in terms of preparing for guys
off the field as well as on the field in the game plan?
COACH ANDERSEN: No, both good players. Doesn't
change our approach whatsoever with whichever quarterback is
Q. How significant is the coaching matchup between you
and Urban, given your history?
COACH ANDERSEN: My take is that it doesn't have
anything to do with it. Obviously, Urban's a good friend. I
consider him a good friend. Who knows, maybe he doesn't
consider me a good friend.
We'll talk. We won't talk this week, I can guarantee
you this much. It's about the kids, and it always will be.
I'm sure he would say the exact same thing. Much of our
beliefs is always about the kids first, and he believes in
putting them first, I do too.
We'd like to deflect, I'm sure, any of the talk about
us and our prior coaching together, our relationship, although
it's an important relationship to me, but this is about the
kids who are playing the football game.
He's a good coach, good staff, and they've been on a
roll for a long time, as far as winning games, obviously. So
excited to have a chance to be able to compete against him.
Q. Since you got hired, you were probably brought up to
speed on different rivalries and tradition of the program.
What things have the players or Coach Alvarez taught you about
the rivalry between Wisconsin and Ohio State, especially
COACH ANDERSEN: No one's even really shared anything
with me. I know the kids are excited to play Ohio State, just
like they would be excited to play Ohio State every year, just
like they were excited last week to play Purdue.
I really don't get a feel of any games. These kids
prepare -- I hope they'll continue to prepare the same way.
The way we prepare will be no different because it's Ohio
State. We believe in what we do. We'll be prepared no matter
we play well or play bad or win or lose, we'll continue to
prepare the same way.
That will be this game, the next game, the next year,
and the next year. Minor tweaks here and there on what you do,
depending on how your team's doing or how your team feels. But
Ohio State is a big game. Every Big Ten game in an important
game. I know our kids view it as that. I don't think they
view it much past that other than it's a big game and it's a
Q. You mentioned Ohio State's speed. I know their
freshman Dontre Wilson, and their kickoff return is a big
threat. How difficult of a test is that going to be? And what
did Endicott do on Saturday, whether it's hang time or ball
placement, that you liked on kickoff?
COACH ANDERSEN: They're fast on special teams in a
lot of different places. They are explosive. They're going to
take advantage of the schemes that they see. So we'll have to
kick the ball.
Endicott did a nice job of hanging the ball up in the
air. If you just look at our hang times on our first three
kicks in that game, they were like 3.3 or whatever it may have
been. We got him to 3.8. So some hang time into the wind. We
knew the ball wasn't going to go out of the end zone, but it
landed where it did on 7 or so, and the returns were
That doesn't seem like it's a big difference, but if
you take how fast these young men run down the field and you
give him another .3 or .4 second, they cover a good amount of
ground in that time. And the box closes up fast on them.
He's going to kick this week. He got himself on the
airplane, and away he goes. Now we expect him to compete and
kick at a high level. He did it last week and should be no
different next week.
Q. You mentioned Ohio State wanting to stack the box
considering the numbers your rushing game has put up. Is the
progress of your passing game concerning at all considering
what we saw on Saturday?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, no, we're not hiding from the
fact that, yes, we want to be able to throw the ball better,
and it's a whole offense. It's the coaching staff. It's
No one's going to sit here -- oftentimes, when you
start talking about the passing game and this and that, all --
it goes right to the quarterback. Well, not so true. The fact
of the matter is the pick that was thrown, we didn't run the
right route and the right spacing at the right time. No one wants to talk about that. They want to talk about how the
quarterback threw a pick.
There's things we miss. The offensive line, we want
to run better routes, cleaner routes, crisper routes. We want
to put them in position as coaches to be able to execute.
Is the passing game a concern? No. Is it alarming?
I would say so, but it's a concern. If they can get the
safeties to back off just a little bit, it really helps.
I'll say this, when you have great running backs --
and some of those runs we've broken off and we make them miss
at the line of scrimmage on a free hitter, teams are going to
start sitting there saying, we'd better hang a free safety back
there a little bit because at some point these kids are going
to make somebody miss, and if there's nobody else back there,
it's going to go the other way.
The run game, as crazy as it sounds, may help us get
another safety out of the box. People are going to eight-man
box against us, nine-man box against us, that's how it is. It
will be no different against Ohio State. They coverage is to
build an eight-man box at least.
Last year they were a quarters team. This year,
without getting too technical, they're not. They're more of a
cover three team, and they will have a safety in the middle of
the field. I'd like to see our throwing game get better.
Q. Gary, you mentioned that your last visit to Columbus
was in 1986. What was that about?
COACH ANDERSEN: Actually, it was '80 -- I was wrong
when I said that. It was when I graduated from college. It
would have been two years before that. I went on a recruiting
trip out of junior college. So it was '84. It was one of the
trips I took.
Q. As a follow, what made you decide not
to go to Ohio State? Why did you end up where you did?
COACH ANDERSEN: Things I've said many times. At
that point in my career, I needed to go home and play because
that's where my family was, that's where my dad was, and I
thought it was important that he was able to see me play a
couple of years at home in Utah.
Q. Gary, when you looked at the tape, what specifically
did you like from Conor O'Neill in that game? There's one
play I'm curious about. The PBU on the boundary, it looked
like that throw was to the tight end, but he was covering the
back and was able to reach to the back and get that.
COACH ANDERSEN: It was a reactionry play. He was
trying to cover his responsibility. The quarterback kind of
threw back behind Connor, and he was able to be a natural
reactor like he is and get his hand on the ball.
I thought he played well. He was physical. I
thought he communicated well with the front, as well as Chris
did, and getting them in positions to make sure that we gap
cancelled out as well as we can be.
Again, he's been a very unselfish young man. I like
what he's done. It's going to be nice to have him there and
then have Landisch there and Chris there this week. It's going
to be a big positive to get that rotation back a little bit
because we'll need it.
We'll be running a lot sideways this week and a
little bit of a pace offense. He's had a very solid year, and
it's fun to watch him. He's having a good time doing it too.
Q. You've been able to see in coaching style and
temperament, how are you similar or different than Coach Meyer?
COACH ANDERSEN: I don't know. I spent one whole
year with him coaching-wise, and I was on the defensive side,
and we never lost. He probably came in the defensive room five
times. So it makes it easy.
When it came to recruiting and everything else, he
was always on the offensive side of the ball.
I will say this. I think we both have an extreme
passion. Which is probably one of the -- one of our nemesises
that we both have is we're both maybe a little too passionate
at times for what we do. I think we both learned that through
I think we both care about kids, and we both coach
because we do care about kids, and it drives -- I know it
drives him, and it's the number one thing that drives me.
I would also say this, that as we move through the
years of coaching, that I like to think I'm a family man, and I
do my best to take care of my kids. I know that Urban is no
different there. He prides himself on his family and making
sure that they're well taken care of and giving them the best
opportunities to succeed.
We're similar in that way. I'm sure there's other
ways we're very different. That would be some.
Q. Gary, in Chicago, Urban talked about all his time as
a coach, there's only been a handful of times where his staff
had perfect harmony, and it was the staff you were on. And he
talked about one of the reasons that it worked so well was
because you came in with the same mindset that he had. Is that
what you're referring to in a lot of the stuff that you share
in that regard?
COACH ANDERSEN: I think so. You know, I would agree
that it's easy to work for a guy or be involved on a staff when
you have -- not everything has to be in common. I'm not saying
that in any way, shape, or form, but I just think there's a
belief -- a core belief in coaching that there's a lot of
similarity that's we both have.
It wouldn't matter if we were coaching 8-year-olds in
little league or we're coaching at the highest level, which we
are now, a lot of our core beliefs would not change.
That makes it easy for me as an assistant to go to
work. I hope a lot of our assistants kind of feel that same
way about where we are now at the University of Wisconsin.
Q. Gary, we talked a lot about the experience and depth
on your front seven. How has that group done through four
COACH ANDERSEN: Very good. And, again, I would -- I
keep using that word unselfish with this crew. It would be
easier for them to be pointing the finger at themselves or at
the guy that's playing next to them or at myself, if you will,
because they are splitting those reps.
Again, last week, we played 60-odd -- 60 reps, I
think, low 60s or right on 60, so those reps are split. So
you're going to get -- some of them get 20 reps. Some of them
may get 40 reps. It may be 30 and 30. They understand.
They're not batting an eye on that, and they're using that as
an opportunity to play extra hard.
They work good together. They complement one
another. I think, as you sit down and you look at it, and the
four ends are the same as they are. They're a little bit
different. And the two nose guards are very different in the
way they play but both effective.
Chris is going to play most of the snaps. We all
know that. And really the F and the B with what B.K. has done
and what Ethan has done has been very solid, but the backups at
those positions have been pretty good. So the S and the Bs
need to make sure they react or we'll have more split time
I'm proud of the way that Vince Biegel came in and played.
Did a nice job.
Q. Gary, if Peniel Jean can't play, who is next in at
COACH ANDERSEN: Yeah, T.J. Reynard doesn't look like he'll
be ready to play. We'll see. We can do a lot of different
things. With the way Michael's moved himself forward at the
safety position, it makes you start to look at the safety
position and say, are you going to put him more down into the
box and let him be an outside linebacker type of guy? He's
been so productive.
We'll always try to get the best 11 kids on the
field. We're not in the business of having kids play because
they've played before. They've got to produce. When I say
that, it may be Des that could move down and become a nickel.
Des would like that, but, again, that will depend on the
transformation of the free safety at that point and who can get
back there and play and can Tanner get in a spot to be able to
play free safety for us. You've got to have a kid back there
that can run and cover the middle of the field and run a
redirect and react.
It's a good question and something we won't be able
to answer probably until Wednesday.
Q. Kind of a followup on Tanner along those lines. He
got some good reps Saturday at the safety spot. Do you hope to
be able to get him working? What can he give you back there
and maybe allow you to move some other guys depending?
COACH ANDERSEN: I think Tanner, he'll allow us to do
a lot of things from an athletic profile as a true free safety.
But it's got to become natural to put him out there, and he's
got to -- he's accepted the role. I think he's trying. He's
But it's one thing to do it. How much time is he
going to put in? What does he want to do at the end as far as
getting himself out there? And then how fast is it going to
come to him from an athletic standpoint. There's a lot of
things that are going to be factors in there. We've got to
coach him hard.
If Tanner wants to do it, he's got to put the time in
when he's not around us. So he's got to make up space and
time, just like he had to do at quarterback. So it's a work in
Q. Gary, kind of a two-part question. When you were at
Utah the year you were with Urban, did he ask if you would want
to go with him to Florida?
COACH ANDERSEN: That was definitely in the equation,
and it was discussed and talked about from myself, but Coach
Meyer knew that I needed to stay there with Kyle, and that's
what I wanted to do.
So it was a very brief discussion, and I had already
made that commitment to Kyle that, if he was going to take the
head job, that I would stay there and stay with Kyle at Utah.
So that's what I did.
Q. As a followup, how much of your coaching manual that
you presented to Barry when you took the job came from Urban?
COACH ANDERSEN: There's a lot from all three of,
really, the guys that I spent the most time with during my
coaching career, Coach Mack and Coach Meyer and Coach witting
ham. Equal amounts from them and information you get from
others that you like as you go through time.
Q. Gary, how have your guys handled adversity versus how
they handle success? Going beyond game types, the ebbs and
flows of games.
COACH ANDERSEN: Pretty good. I think we've been
steady Eddie in games. We've been through emotional moments.
We've been through tightly contested games. I ask them every
week, stay steady, stay right in the middle. Don't get too
high or too low. React to adversity and react to the good all
in the same.
It's a business-like approach to a football game. If
you're a football team that comes out one week and you're
higher than a kite and the second quarter, you're not, and
something good happens, you're higher than a kite, and
something bad happens, you go in the tank.
So I ask them to be nice and steady regardless of
what happens and regardless of the situation. They've done
that well on game day, and I think they've done that well in
practice. When we go out today, it's a learning day. It's a
Tomorrow's a grinder. It's a tough day. It's not
much of a day to be hopping around and have a smile on your
face because it's a hard workday. They've handled it and
handled game day well.
Also, we've handled adjustments on game day well, big
time adjustments from what we've seen on tape, especially on
the defensive side of the football -- excuse me. On the
offensive side of the football. The defense,coming in that
we're playing against have not drastically changed, but they
have definitely changed schemes, which has forced us to kind of
shake things up on the run.
The kids have taken the coaching, and the coaches
have done a nice job of implementing new schemes. So that
shows a team that's prepared.
Q. Gary, what have you thought of Wozniak? And after
Pedersen, the next three tight ends, who provides the most
in the passing game?
COACH ANDERSEN: DeCicco, I think he has to come in
and play now. Woz has been good. He's been very good at the
point of attack. He's been physical. He's done what we asked
him to do at the run game and been very good at that. I like
where he's gone. The next guy's got to step up. The fact that
we do have the injury there. Hopefully, that's not the case.
Q. Much talk surrounding your defense about its
aggressive nature from camp all the way through the start of
the season. A year ago the Badgers had success. So kind of
containing Miller and not letting him go. For you, what's key
in finding that happy medium and being aggressive with the
COACH ANDERSEN: That's definitely a good point. If
I sit back and watch him a year ago to how I see him playing
offense now to what they did a year ago -- I just watched the
tape fairly quickly. They were in a lot of games last year
that were highly contested, tight ball games that were low
scoring, lots of them.
The Badger game a year ago was really one of them.
This year has not been that way. Their quarterbacks are doing
a good job of running when they see the crease and they have a
really given opportunity to go get it, but they're also doing a
good job of buying time, and they're keeping their eyes down
the field better, I think, especially Braxton than he did a
year ago, as far as trying to make some things happen for him.
So you've got to contain him. You can't let him have
free rein. The quarterback game is going to be there. Who
knows with the injury they've had, but who knows, it's part of
the offense. You've got to contain the run game. You've got
to contain the quarterback run game.
But you've also got to understand they're going to
get theirs. They're going to get some plays. The key is how
do you react to the next play?
Q. Not that you pay attention to what the media says,
but I've already seen people --
COACH ANDERSEN: I listen to everything you guys say,
Q. I've already seen people tapping this as the
so-called championship game for the leaders division. Is it
possible to look at this with that sort of importance in
COACH ANDERSEN: Nope, not from what I've seen from
Northwestern and Minnesota and Indiana. I can go on and on.
There's some good football teams out there that we're going to
go out and we're going to play and are on our schedule. This
is far from a championship game.
This game probably will not -- it will just be one
game in the conference race at the end. Our goal is real
simple, to play well in conference and compete every single
week. We know at the end of the day, if we want to attain our
goals -- again, I go back to these kids all the time, and they
tell me all the time, as coach, we know we've got to do better
than we did last year in conference if we want to have any
opportunities to do the things we did at the end of the year
We know that they had some games last year, whatever
it was, 500 or whatever it was in the conference, that they
can't look at one game in conference and say this is the
championship when they're all going to be contested. They know
that better than I because I haven't been on those fields yet.
Q. Gary, the wide receiver position, the depth chart got
it worked out on Saturday. How did you like the work of the
guys, besides Jared, and what you saw out of some of the kids
that had to step in?
COACH ANDERSEN: You know, Erickson caught a nice
ball. He's going to be more involved as we move forward and
have an opportunity. His challenge is to consistently be a
blocker with his site. He has to be very crafty at what he
Frederick's been a great blocker. He's caught some
balls. He had an opportunity, and it really hurts him that he
dropped that one.
Wheelwright got some reps. The made a nice play on one
ball. Caught it. The play didn't work out exactly how we draw
it up, but he made the play and did his job the correct way,
and then he drops one. I think it's still definitely a work in
We talked at the beginning, we've got to have someone
take the pressure off Jared. A couple of guys working in
tandem together are trying to take the pressure off of Jared,
but it hasn't really happened yet.
Q. From what you watched last year and early this year,
do you think Ohio State is the best team in the conference?
COACH ANDERSEN: Best team in the conference? That
would be impossible for me to say. I haven't watched the tape.
Haven't seen the other guys play. I haven't evaluated them
from top to bottom.
If you just look at it -- same thing I said in the
summertime -- Ohio State has a good opportunity to be number
one, the same opportunity as anyone does. From the way they
played last year, the way they won games and continue to do
In my opinion, they're a lot better team than they
were a year ago because they're much more skilled and much
faster than a year ago. It's a dramatic difference, in my
opinion. The speed on the field, for them this year than they
had a year ago.
Q. Gary, how is it good to have all of the offensive
personnel on the field? Braxton was out. Carlos Hyde just got
back. Is it difficult to fully prepare for what you're going
to see because they haven't been all fully together on offense?
COACH ANDERSEN: No, I don't think so because I don't
expect drastic changes. They want to run the ball first. They
want to be strong in the run game. They want a run game that
forces you to run sideways. You'll see some balls go out
sideways to get you to run. Get the defense tired, and they'll
come back at you and start running the ball and try to be
physical with you.
Again, that's coaching. That's good coaching. It's
the way it should be done. It should be planned out in giving
your kids the best opportunity to be successful. I don't see
that changing with a couple guys coming back because the guys
that have been doing the job have done it very, very
Q. Gary, what have you seen on some of Joel's deep
balls? We all know he's capable of throwing a great deep ball.
Have you seen him aiming it a little bit or maybe not cutting
loose? That's some of the chatter you hear out there.
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, I'm far from a QB expert, so I
can't sit back and really evaluate him or dissect him on how
he's throwing the ball or really should be.
If he's a three technique and you want to talk about
how you're going to do the reach block, I'll talk about it for
days on end.
I know there's a couple of throws he'd like to get
back. I've talked to Andy about it. Andy is going to coach
what he can coach, and Joel will continue to make it be
They're not as easy as you think they are to complete
them down the field. There is a little bit of a touch to it.
We work on it hard in practice, and Joel is making it
But we do. We need to take it one -- if there's a
couple more pass ins that game we just completely -- even
possibly two. This is Coach Ludwig's statement from last week.
If there's two throws we get back and we make those throws,
we're saying we threw very well. If there's a couple we miss,
we threw it okay probably at best.
So we'll keep working on it, and Joel will make it
important, so will Coach Lud.
Q. Given the depth this program's had at running back
the last three, four years, it seems the second favorite debate
for fans after the quarterback controversy, who should start?
Should this running back get more carries than other running
backs? It seems to center on Melvin Gordon. What would you
tell fans that the core of distribution you've gone through is
the best for this team as opposed to making one guy a featured
COACH ANDERSEN: It's there now because it works so
well. Same amount of carries. Melvin's had a couple of big
plays in the fly sweep that have been gigantic plays and big
gainers, which you guys know. If you were to take those plays
out of it, yards per carry between the two, when they're
running the same type of offense, would be much closer, much
similar. I don't know. I don't have the numbers on that.
That would be my guess if you just said, hey, we're
in the tackle box. Here we are, we're playing.
And James is
running that way and Melvin's running that way, I would assume
the numbers would be much closer.
The fly sweep is not James' forte, nor does it need
to be. You see the screens. There's some different things
that James has done and been very effective.
They're great backs. They both have a part in the
offense, and a big part in the offense, and will continue too.
It's a great balance. I think it does a little bit -- throws a
little bit of an offset. You saw them in there a couple of
times last weekend in there together, and that's something
we'll continue to do as we move forward.
Q. You mentioned with how Ohio State's impressed you
putting numbers on the scoreboard and not really having a close
game. Have you expecting this one to be a shootout? What are
COACH ANDERSEN: Don't know. Our goal is to go play
well and want to be right there in the fourth quarter and see
what happens in a hectic environment that's going to be a great
I have no idea. I think this game will take on its
own personality just like every game does. If you look at it,
they play great defense at times. We play great defense at
times. They play great offense at times. We play great
offense at times.
Does that mean a shootout or 2-0 on a safety with two
minutes left? I have no idea.
I think it will be a good football game. One of the
big keys to us is how are we going to handle the environment?
That's a big part of it. We've been on the road one time, and
it was loud. It was fairly hectic. But I know this. For
every one person that was sitting in Sun Devils Stadium,
there's two of them at Ohio State.
So a lot of people are going to be screaming and
yelling, and I think our kids will handle it, but we need to
prepare for it.
Q. You mentioned fourth quarter. How important is it
controlling the clock in the fourth quarter with the way the
last two games against Ohio State have panned out?
COACH ANDERSEN: It will be key. Ball security,
turnovers, fourth quarter. Your ability to sustain and
maintain through the whole game, but we'll see if we're in that
point. I'd like to be at a point in that game where we're
hoping we could run the ball and get a couple first downs and
see what happens.
So if we're there, we'll expect to execute at a high