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Gary Andersen Transcript
OPENING STATEMENT: It was a great victory for us.
Obviously, to get on the road and play the way we played and
get another Big Ten win was huge. Highlights of the game,
there was a lot of them.
I thought the kids on offense were very consistent
throughout. Jared and Joel did a nice job working combinations
in the throw game and being productive for the most part in the
throw game. Melvin and James both played very, very solid in
the football game.
Watt was as good as he's played. He's the player of
the game for us, from a stat standpoint, as far as that side of
the football. All he does is his job, and he does it with
physicalness and takes pride in it every single snap. He did a
It was also awesome to have the band there. We
scored the first touchdown, and I didn't see them pregame,
didn't know they were there, and I turned around, boom, there
they are, right down 50 yards away from us. I thought that was
a great environment to have and be part of the environment with
the kids and opportunity for them to get some energy and juice
from the band, and it does matter.
It was a good environment. Kids played well
defensively. We've got some areas to take care of on the back
end. We did rush three a lot. Not a lot in that game, but a
few more times than we have in the past.
When we play drop eight coverage, we need to play
drop eight coverage better. It's hard to rush the passer with
just three. We'll get that where it needs to be. I thought
they came out with good tempo, offense and defense, on both
sides, got the early lead.
Came out in the third quarter and did a good job
there also. It was a good solid win against a good solid,
obviously, team that's won some ball games this year.
Q. Gary, I think you mentioned after the game there was
some presnap awareness issues among the players. After having
looked at things and broken it down a little built, what was
the root cause there, if your opinion?
COACH ANDERSEN: If I sit back and look at it, one of
the things that is the most frustrating to me in the game is,
when you get down into the red zone, the ability to understand
the moment where you're at and look at myself always in these
situations and truly put it on me with the sub situation down
there in the defense.
To me, kids should be ready and in a position to be
able to anticipate what's coming his way a little bit by what
they're studying, what they're seeing on film, what they're
understanding, the possibility that I'm in this spot right now
and this is the substitution group. We have substitution cards
that are held up during practice, just as they are in the game.
Red zone subs are hard, and kids need to be on guard,
coaches need to be on guard, and obviously I need to be on more
guard because it's disappointing when you have to call a
time-out in the red zone and those time-outs are so valuable,
and it's -- I haven't done a good enough job, obviously focus on practice nor on the coaches nor on the kids. We've
got to clean that up.
The other thing, these guys threw a lot at you on
defense, and part of their game plan is not allowing you to sub
and be comfortable. The officials did a great job of allowing
us to sub and be comfortable. That part of the substitution
was pretty good. But just the late communication that went
across the board a couple times, just not clean enough, passing
off zones, the verbal communication that we need in the back
There's no excuse to say, well, they're young players
and they're this and that. I understand all that stuff. We
need to communicate better, and we will. I'm not throwing up a
big red flag. I like it to be really, really clean in the back
end on defense, that's just my background, and we can be
Q. Clarify the Kyle French situation. How long had you
been thinking about Kyle French, how long had you been thinking
about making this move, and how did the two of you come to
COACH ANDERSEN: There's really no situation other
than the fact of the matter is he's in a position to where he
wants to potentially finish his degree, which is the most
important thing to me, and it's a good spot for him to play
this year out.
We discussed life, just like I always do with every
kid that's in the program. It matters to me. I want them to
do what's best for them. I think he believes he's moving in
the right direction for the football team, number one, for
himself and football for the rest of the season, and for
himself in the future as he prepares to go in the direction
he's going in years to come.
He knows he's got my support. He knows I'm there for
him, and I will be just as I am today and ten years from now.
He's a great kid, and he's going to be part of this team as we
So I really believe that, and we sat down and talked
about it, just like I say, with numerous kids in numerous
situations. Kids' lives change every single day. Doesn't
always go the way we want it to just like our lives do. He's a
great kid. I'm here to support him, and he knows that. I
think his teammates are here to support him also.
Q. How much of the feedback that you've gotten from
Wisconsin fans has been critical or negative?
COACH ANDERSEN: None from my standpoint, but I try
to -- I guess I'd have to walk into my office to get any
It's been very positive. It's been great. Wisconsin
has been awesome. That's part of the deal is you get to
look -- everybody has their opinions. That's life. Everybody
has an opinion on everything, no matter if it's every aspect of
life that you have is going to be evaluated by someone somehow
some way, whether it's a parent or whatever it may be. In this
situation, it's a big part of the world we live in.
It has not been -- it's been awesome. The fans have
been great. Trust me to understand what this job entails at
the end of the day, but it's been good. Fans are awesome.
Q. Do you feel it’s hard to reach a BCS ball game not
being in the rankings yesterday?
COACH ANDERSEN: Someone asked me that, does it worry
me that we're not ranked in the BCS? I would have no idea what
the BCS poll even was, if we were in it or we weren't in it, if
you didn't bring it up to me this morning when we were talking.
Do I think it's harder? No, I don't think so.
Again, I'm only going to worry about the things I can worry
about and try to get the kids ready to go play every single
week. I haven't really put any thought into that.
I've been to two BCS bowl games in my life, and at
the end of the year, they were really good teams. If you're
really good at the end of the year, you probably have an
opportunity here to go to a BCS bowl.
Q. Again on Saturday, you had both offensive and
defensive success in the first drives. After the half,
something that's been a trend all season long. How big a point
of emphasis has that been, and what do you attribute to the
success on both sides of the ball after the half?
COACH ANDERSEN: We kind of talked about it this week
as we're starting on the road. Hopefully starting fast on the
road like we have at home in certain games, and it work.
Again, the kids obviously made it a point of emphasis now. Why
it changed, I can't really tell you that, but it's good to see.
It's good to see we have the success in moving the ball down
the field, and we have to solve special teams play in those
areas, which is good to see.
But starting fast on the road, starting fast at home,
they're both very, very important. If you can do that, it just
gets kind of the flow of the game going a good direction for
you. So it was a point of emphasis. It worked out.
Not such a point of emphasis where we say, oh, man, I
wish I'd done that before, and it will make us play good. Just
we talked about it.
Q. You mentioned Joel throwing the ball. I think there
were four throws that most people could see that were not close
to getting to the wide receiver and the target. Overall, how
did he play, in your opinion, just from start to finish in that
COACH ANDERSEN: Joel was solid. There are those
glaring throws. Trust me, the first guy that wants those back
is Joel, and the second guy that wants those back is Coach
Ludwig. You would like to get those throws back.
They talked about some different things and some
possible adjustment that's can help him as the game goes on to
keep him in the moment, but I think Joel's progressed every
week. He carries himself well. He seems to adjust with what
defenses are doing. Again, I go back to it this week. Again,
it was very similar to past weeks where we saw some base
defense early, and when the base defense didn't work out well,
it became a blitz fest.
I don't know what the percentage is, exactly what it
was in the second half, but the pressure's coming, whether it
was five or six or seven, however they were doing it, but I
know it was high, especially listening to the offensive
coaches. He adjusts to those moments in those situations and
continues to impress me down those lines.
When it doesn't work out for him, he stays status
quo, which is a good trait. He doesn't get -- he doesn't go
too up and down. So he's progressing. I believe Coach Ludwig
would tell you the same thing. I'm proud of him. We've got to
keep moving in the right direction.
Q. Can we get an update on Chris Borland's health. And
also, will you continue to keep him in the plans for those long
range field goals?
COACH ANDERSEN: I don't know about the field goal
thing, but Chris should be fine. I talked to him last night.
Didn't see him today. Texted him actually last night, didn't
talk to him, but he seems to be fine.
He returns very simple with Chris, Coach, I'll be
ready for Iowa. That's what he said. That's what I know.
We'll see on the field.
Q. It it seems every week Melvin Gordon has some
freakish highlight reel thing happening. First of all, what
makes Melvin so unique? Second, has there ever been a player
that you coached in the past or observed in the past where you
look at Melvin and think, he kind of reminds me of that guy.
COACH ANDERSEN: The answer to that question as far
as does he remind me of another back I've been around? No, he
doesn't. Obviously, I've coached on defense. Been around a
lot of good running backs that have been on the teams that I've
been involved with, but nobody quite as dynamic as -- in the
run game as Melvin is. The good thing about Melvin too is
Melvin is in a position you start talking about football and
what he needs to do, he understands he's got a lot to improve
His natural ability is unbelievable, and he's done a
great job of developing himself, but he wants to be even a
better runner between the tackles. He wants to work on his
protections. He knows he's got a lot to work on. You see him
do that every single week in practice.
He's a unique football player. He's a special
football player. He is what college football has really turned
into, in my opinion, in a lot of ways, and that's every single
time the young man touches the ball, somebody or some coach
somewhere is taking a big deep breath and saying, watch out.
Where's this going to stop? It could go all the way every
single time he touches it, and we've seen that.
He's a special, special player. For how young he is
and the way he handles the success he has, great credit to him.
I know his mom is around and supportive all the time. A great
credit to her as far as how he handles himself, I believe,
because it could go to a kid's head real quick and has not.
Obviously, Thomas has a big part to do -- a big hand in how he
handles himself also.
Q. Gary, kind of along those lines, James White has the
potential every once in a while to make a play like that, the
swing pass where he made that move, but I'm just curious, what
does he do that maybe doesn't jump out on tape? The little
things he's doing to contribute that's maybe a checkdown, maybe
pick up blitzes, things like that.
COACH ANDERSEN: James is, exactly right when you say
pick up blitzes, be involved in the little things. A lot of
things that James does consistently snap after snap may go
unnoticed. It's just a casual observer of football, if you
will. His ability to chip off numerous times this year and
help an offensive lineman who may be having an issue in a pass
protection situation. His ability to be involved in the
checkdowns, that's a big, big part of this offense now. That's
a big job. His ability to go from one side to scan and the
other side on protections and the guy looks like he's coming
and doesn't come and the guy from the other side comes, and
James is able to get over and block him. He does that stuff
I thought he ran very good in this last game. I
thought he was nifty. He was quick. He was physical. He had
a very, very good -- a very good game for us against Illinois.
Q. When you made the kickoff switch to Endicott, where
in the ranking was his tackling ability?
COACH ANDERSEN: Never seem him tackle to make that
decision as far as letting him go ahead and kick the ball off.
He's been good. He had a nice solo, obviously, in the last
game, and he was in on another assist. There's been a couple
of other times he's been right down there in the mix of things.
I think that really irritates other special teams
coaches to see him down there making those plays. I told
him -- I'm going to tell him this today, and I haven't told him
this yet. He'd better get his head on a swivel because they'll
be accounting for him. He won't be just a free runner anymore.
It's good to see him get involved. It's good to see
the emotions the kids bring when he makes that tackle. First
guy out, again, another example, Chris Borland pops up, first
guy off the sidelines, one of the first guys when Endicott
makes that tackle, Chris Borland right out there with him
congratulating him. So it was good to see.
Q. Did losing Borland impact your comfort level blitzing
in the middle?
COACH ANDERSEN: No, I don't think so. When you look
back at the game, we blitzed by percentage not a whole bunch
different than we did really the week before. It's just some
of them were clean, some of them weren't. They were a little
bit -- they blocked them better than they did a week ago.
That's what it came down to in a lot of situations.
I don't think it changed our game plan. It's hard to
lose Chris, but we expect the next guy to pop in and make
plays. Trotter was solid, got some things to work on. Some
issues showed up, but overall he came in and played extremely
hard and did some good things.
Q. Gary, I don't know if this violates protocol at all,
but did you reach out to Chucky Keaton, and if so, what was
that conversation like?
COACH ANDERSEN: You know, I was there when Chucky
got hurt. So I was -- I left where I was sitting at that point
and went down, and his parents were there. So I was able to
see him right after it happened or whatever, a half hour after
it happened, and talked to him. I have talked to Chucky since
then, and I've also talked to his dad to see if there's
anything I can do.
I think I owe that to Chucky, and I think I owe that
the to the family. I'm not just flapping my lips when I say
I'm going to be there for kids for the rest of my life. It
means something to me, and I think it's my responsibility to
make sure -- maybe they don't need me, but if they do, they've
got to at least know I'm there for them.
Q. Obviously, bye weeks are expected, but to have two in
such a short period of time, it's pretty unique. Now that it's
your second bye week in a short period of time, do you have to
change the way you prepare this week to make sure guys are
still in game mode?
COACH ANDERSEN: No, this bye comes at a good time.
Chris is hurt. That's good for us. The next opponent we're
playing, we need Chris. This is going to be -- this is two
heavyweights swinging at each other for four quarters. It's
very obvious, watching that film real fast, that we picture
ourselves a team that likes to get into the physical games.
You don't have to watch but ten snaps on Iowa to know that they
like it too, they like it a lot, and we like it a lot.
So we need to be firing on all cylinders. For the
rest of the kids on the team, we prepared for this. We talked
about it it all last week. We're going to treat it much the
same. It will be a good break for us. It's a good time moving
into the eighth game of the season, and we'll be able to --
it's starting to close in and get close. We'll get as many
kids ready as we can. With this crew of kids, they go out
there and play as hard as they play. We'll use the rest to
help us be fresh as we possibly can.
We've got to be real careful these last games as we
go through the last part of the regular season to make sure we
practice the right way, and this will just allow us to this
week for sure.
Q. If you look at the offensive line and especially the
questions you had coming in about depth and guys you had to
replace, how would you just evaluate that group overall and
what you like?
COACH ANDERSEN: It's gone very well. We all have
things we want to work on. It's never going to be perfect.
But to manage themselves from the way that they practice, I
think Coach Woods has done a great job of dealing with the way
they practice, putting in the schemes, being smart with them.
A lot to staying healthy is how you manage them, how
kids manage themselves, how they handle themselves, and still
it's -- you know, at the end of the day, it's luck of the draw.
Trying to stay up in practice and fit things the right way,
there's no guarantees and how we get to the games. They play
as hard as they can, and we try to stay as healthy as we can,
and we've been good in that area, and it's really helped us.
When we've had an injury, the great thing is the next
kid's stepped up, and he's been solid. We said going in, we've
had seven kids that were good and solid and possibly an eighth,
and we still feel that same way. Hope that continues for the
next five of the regular season, and hopefully we get an
opportunity to play in the postseason.
Q. The success you've had in third quarters on both
sides of the ball, what is the conversation that you have with
your players that causes them to come out so well from the
COACH ANDERSEN: Nothing really special. The offense
and defense will break up. Special teams will spend a quick
few moments, just talk about if there's a change in the scheme
or something we want to flip-flop on that side of the ball.
Coaches probably take about ten minutes Max to talk about what
they want to talk about, and these coaches are good. There's
good, experienced coaches on this staff, and the way that they
get in -- and I've been able to watch them, both sides of the
ball, work as far as what they do in a short period of time at
It's organized. It's clean, it's crisp. It's not
trying to change the world and do a whole bunch of different
thing. They bring it back out and present it to the kids, and
away they go.
Our kids are nice and peaceful in the locker room,
business-like, if you will. They understand that hydrating
themselves is important. They understand that possibly getting
something in their bodies that's going to allow them to perform
at the highest level in the third and fourth quarter is
important. So they're thinking about nutrition a little bit.
They take care of their business, talk and
communicate. There's never been a panic. There's never been a
woe is me. It's a good environment, good coaches again. And
an experienced football team just expects themselves to get
some information and go back out and play like crazy.
Q. All teams talk about being game strong in the fourth
quarter, but at the end of the first half, you guys
defensively, Ohio State and Northwestern had a big pass play.
Illinois this past week. Are guys getting beat physically, or
is it possible guys aren't as focus as they need to be until
the end of that first half?
COACH ANDERSEN: I don't think it has anything to do
with focus. I don't think it has anything to do with missed
assignments, but it does have to do with an issue that we have,
and it can't go without being talked about and addressed
because it's happened too many times.
So, again, I look at myself right square in the
mirror, and we talked about it now as a staff. We talked about
it yesterday as a defensive staff and how can we help ourselves
in those situations? Are we asking too much of those kids to
be able to -- are we putting them out on an island too much is
basically what it comes down to.
As soon as you do that, the next can of worms is,
okay, well, then, can they dink and dunk you down the field?
We are young in the secondary, but that, again, it's no excuse.
We need to get better.
The best pass defense in the whole world is a pass
rush, and if we can continue to work on that and make it be
more consistent, I think it will help in the back end. Those
kids in the back end are going to get better.
We've got two good coaches to coach them. We're
going to work hard on it this week. We all look at ourselves
and don't want that to happen. We realize there has been a
little bit of an issue. Sometimes there's great balls thrown
on us, but that's what quarterbacks should do, that's what
receivers should do. You run down the field and make big plays
in big moments when the ball's on top of them.
Last week the kid from Illinois threw a couple of
dimes right on top of us, and their guys made plays, and we
didn't. It's concerning, and we need to work hard to get
better at it.
Q. You look at young guys during the byes. I'm just
wondering what you thought of Bart Houston's progress? Have
you made up for some of what he lost because he couldn't
practice last year?
COACH ANDERSEN: I certainly have. Being down there
in the scouts, he's loving it in the scouts because we really
want him to get as much as he can of the game plan because he's
part of the game and possibly has an opportunity to get in the
When I observe him on the scout team, he does a nice
job. Understands that role, works hard at it, accepts it, and
is very good at it. When he gets down with the offense, he
always seems to be in the middle of it. It's not the easiest
spot to be in, but he's developed, I think, as a thrower. He
can really throw it, which we all know. He's working hard on
becoming a better quarterback.
I think Coach Lud is happy with his progress, and I'm
sure Bart thinks he's moving in the right direction.
Q. Is it unusual to have as much big play balance as you
have between the run and the pass? 22 on both sides of passing
COACH ANDERSEN: I don't know if that's unusual. I
know it's good for us. We do have the ability to hit the big
one on the run game and obviously hit the big one in the throw
game. That's what's allowing our offense to be consistent week
in and week out.
We're not one-dimensional to the point where they can
completely load up against the run game and plus one you all
the time in the box. Sometimes with our guys, plus one is
still not good enough for people to be able to get a stop. The
offensive line has made some big creases.
It's great to have those big plays take place in the
throw game and the run game. It's a big part of it. Credit
goes to the kids that are making the plays. They're doing a
nice job. It's all great to draw up those shots down the field
and to draw up the plays that are scoring the touchdowns, but
in the end, the young men are doing it.
If you watch the last game tape, a couple of those
runs, they're bottled up at two or three or four yards, and we
bounce it out, and all of a sudden he outruns everybody to make
a great play. It's really good coaching when that happens.
Just kidding. Talented kid.
Q. Gary, just to clarify something. When you were
talking about the cards, the sub cards on guys, are you also
talking about guys on the sidelines should be aware, if they're
coming in, they should be aware of down and distance and what
their role's going to be, before they even enter the game?
COACH ANDERSEN: Absolutely. How that should work,
if you're in a package -- and our kids have been really good at
this this year. If you're in a package, you should move along
with the coordinator who's obviously on the field, and Coach
Aranda and Coach Chad, who signals it in, you should be moving
in a pack with them regardless of whether you're on the
offensive side or the defensive side of the field. Our kids do
They should be echoing down and distance and
understand they're in the moments where they go through there.
They've got to be able to hear it. If it's going to be called
out nickel base, whatever we're going into, our different
categories of defense, they've got to be ready to roll. That
part of it, we've handled well. It's a little bit different
than maybe what they've been used to.
It's just a couple of getting in the moment at the
right spots. It's hard. That's detailed -- it's mathematics.
It's knowing you're on the field is addition, two plus two, but
when we start talking about situations and down and distance
and critical moments in the red zone, that's more geometry
stuff than it is addition, and kids have to really be into it
to get that.
Most of our kids are. I just think some of the young
kids can get more into that. Again, it's us, coaches, that got
to get them into those moments.