Badgers Back in Big Ten Play

Gary Andersen (Fleming/13)

Finishing off the nonconference play with a win over BYU Saturday, No.17 Wisconsin returns to Big Ten play when its hosts Indiana Saturday; a program UW has beaten eight straight time. UW coach Gary Andersen addressed the media Monday.

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Gary Andersen: First of all, solid performance for the kids. I thought it was a very good team effort. Like I said after the game, still feeling the exact same way after evaluating the film. It was offense, defense, special teams. All played a vital role in that game. It's never perfect, but it was a good team effort, which was great to see. So individually, Mike Caputo had a fantastic game on defense. Played very, very well, and I was proud of the adjustments that we asked Dez to make and Nate also to make and come in and play a lot of man coverage on the wide receivers.

That was a part of the game plan. You always worry a little bit about that, making those switches in those directions, but it turned out to be a positive for us. Overall defensively, able to control pace and was a big part of it. So offensively, it was a steady performance.

A couple highlights as you watch the film and you go back to it. Plays that I mentioned that James made, again, on the block, corner chop, was a big part of the game. Shows his head even bigger when you sit back and watch the fill. That was a big part of the game. A tremendous play. Opening drive was big for our offense to go down and get points. And then to move themselves down the field and functioning the way they functioned at the end of the second quarter there to get a touchdown. That was a very nice play by Joel. There's a lot of reason that he could have just thrown that ball away and took the field goal at that point or the attempt to make a field goal, but found a way to move the chains and get the touchdown.

So special teams was able to make a couple of field goals. For the most part, there's things we can do better in that area, but seemed to be solid. We got two pins on kickoffs and -- on punts. So it was good to see.

Moving on to this week, Indiana is a very potent offense that's proven itself week in and week out. Score a bunch of points and rack up a bunch of yardage, and they have a lot of skill. The football team, running back position, wide receiver position, both quarterbacks do a nice job of running the offense, and they both have gotten reps. On the film that I've seen so far, they both come in, and the offense doesn't seem to take a big step backwards.

So it's going to be a big challenge defensively for them. We've got to do what we do. We've got to come in and run the ball with a little more of the play action game going back in that direction this week. Protect the quarterback and give Joel an opportunity to throw.

Another big challenge. Happy, very, very happy to be back home again this week. It's good for us to be able to get an 11:00 kickoff at home. We're excited about the opportunity to start preparing today.

Q. Gary, you mentioned asking Dez to play those guys in single coverage. Was it designed so you can have more guys to control at quarterback? What was the rationale there? Was it the big receivers?

COACH ANDERSEN: The biggest was the big receivers. That was the biggest part of it. We wanted to try to get hands on on the line of scrimmage. And playing against the Hoffman kid for years and years, he's very good at contested balls, and if you play him off, he's good at running slant routes, and he's a long receiver. So we hope the whole idea was really just to disrupt it early and hopefully cause some confusion in the timing between the quarterback and the wide receiver.

Q. Would that be an effective tool this week against Indiana?

COACH ANDERSEN: It could be. I can't say I've watched enough you tape at this point to really truly say that. They've got some good receivers. Vladimir. Is that correct? His number is 3. I watched him from the beginning of the season, and he makes a ton of plays. Number 1 keeps popping up and makes plays for them. With limited film watching from my standpoint at this point, I would say that's a possibility.

Q. You have a veteran team. I think your confidence grows seriously week to week. This is a team at Indiana that Wisconsin has handled well pretty easily the last few years. Is there anything you do in particular this week to remind them they can't just walk on the field and expect that to continue?

COACH ANDERSEN: I think the tape will speak for itself. These kids are so good at watching tape. Every week we talk to them hard and heavy. Understanding who their opponent is, watch the tape, evaluate it. Football is year by year, and Indiana's done some really nice things this year. They've had some tough losses or in games all the way through. They score at least 28 points each week. That doesn't make you stand up and grab your attention as a defender, then nothing will.

And then just throwing the tape in on the flip side of that. You look at them on the defensive side of the ball. One thing I'll say, those kids, they're playing hard. They've got a good scheme, and week in and week out, they continue to battle. I think our kids will be ready, and they'll have great respect and understand that it's every week that you got to prepare. There's three weeks left. So we should have very clean and crisp practices in the regular season to finish it off the right way, and it's all about preparation. Then we'll see what happens on Saturday.

Q. Kevin Wilson said today he thinks running back Tevin Coleman won't be able to play. Kind of an injury. Obviously, he's the Big Ten offensive player of the week. How significant do you think that is, and how will it change things as you prepare if he can't go?

COACH ANDERSEN: He's a great player. He's proven it week in and week out. The other young man again -- I apologize for not having names. I haven't been able to see enough of it yet. I think it's number 12 comes back in the backfield, and he's done very well and dozen good things for them. Tevin, he catches your eye right away. He runs the ball. He's physical. He's tough minded, he's very fast. He's outran a lot of defenses. It's four or five runs of 40-plus yards this year for touchdowns. They'll miss him, but they've got other talented kids to go around.

Q. As good as Chris Borland is, do you ever watch him? Does he surprise you with anything that he does anymore? Or at this point, is it just like he's really great, so he can do pretty much anything?

COACH ANDERSEN: Pretty much every week he surprises me on and off the field. He really does. Consistent, but it's consistent greatness out of him. That might be the thing that surprises me the most is his ability to sustain and maintain and just keep plowing through it and stay focused.

He was as ready to play last week as anybody on that football field. He probably knew in his heart that he wasn't -- not this last game, the game prior to that -- that he probably wasn't going to be able to play, but the way he goes about his business when even he knows it doesn't look great that he'll be on the field is impressive. He surprises me in a good way most days.

Q. With today being veterans day, I imagine there's a certain person on your mind today.

COACH ANDERSEN: I was going to mention that before I left. First of all, just a big thank you to all of us because we're not just a football program, but University of Wisconsin, the Athletic Department, everybody that has served and serving, we have what we have because of those people. That's the bottom line. Obviously, I have a soft spot for my pops, who was obviously a veteran himself, and that's something he took great pride in, and I was taught at a very young age to take great pride in that, and I always have.

Big thing for me is I'll thank dad, myself, but I'll thank everybody that's involved because we can never forget we have what we have because people are willing to serve.

Q. Gary, last week you guys talked about going from defending Iowa's offense to BYU and such a difficult transition. How much carryover will be this week from BYU to Indiana? But I'm also curious, they run the pistol now, it looks like. What problems does that pistol present for defense?

COACH ANDERSEN: I'm not -- they do run pistol. They don't major in pistol. There's a lot of offset backs, and they'll get into the two-back set. There's definite carryover from the scheme from BYU to Indiana without question. The quarterback is not as much of a runner. If the one young man's in there, but if the other young man is, then all of a sudden it becomes like Taye son a runner with a throw threat and a quarterback run threat.

We handle the quarterback run game extremely well. I don't know what they'll think about that. Maybe they'll go in and still try it, but there is carryover.

The pistol – what does the pistol does for you, it gives you so much of a downhill run at the inside zone plays. When you're at shotgun, it's more sideways and then find your spot. The pistol is more of a true dive play, if you will, and it's on top of you right now on the line of scrimmage instead of the running back have to make a cut to get back to the line of scrimmage as he does if he takes the ball from the shotgun snap where he's offset.

Q. One more thing about Chris Borland. He's up for some impressive awards obviously. Missing two full games almost, do you think voters will be smart enough to take that into account, or do you think that's going to impact it?

COACH ANDERSEN: I sure hope not. I think what he's done over the years should offset the fact that he had a little bit of an injury this year that kept him out of, what, I guess, seven quarters if you look at it at the end of the day is what it would be. I think with what Chris has done, his reputation, what he does off the field should surely offset that and put him in a great spot to be recognized.

Does he win? I sure hope he'd make the short list on all those lists because I think he's very, very deserving.

Q. Two-parter. A lot of dire predictions about the offensive line this year. Maybe the well had run dry around here. Could you talk about the progress made by that group and where it is right now.

COACH ANDERSEN: First of all, we all know it was low in numbers. I think those kids and Coach Woods and Coach Ludwig took a lot of pride in preparing him, being smart, working our theory in there as far as getting them to the game. These kids have done a nice job of practicing the right way and staying up, which you never know, it doesn't happen. So it's a great thing. But if you don't practice right, and the guy falls or shouldn't fall or what have you, then you've got issues on your hands.

These kids have taken care of their bodies. They do it week in and week out. I guess the next man up, which this team has done so many times this year in a very positive way, would fit this team unselfishness, would fit that group. Unselfishness would fit that group also.

Dan is a perfect example. We all know at the beginning Dan was doing very well and had the starting center position kind of locked down, and then guys came back off of injury. He ended up getting the hamstring tweak in the scrimmage and didn't play and then came back and started a game, and he started this last week. He'll probably start again this week.

Seven or eight guys deep is what they are. They've worked like crazy, and I'm proud of them. The challenge is to keep moving in that direction and recruit a good hard class with large numbers on the offensive line to keep the tradition going.

Q. Obviously, the line play is important in any program. How important is the offensive line to the success of this program? Is it maybe magnified a bit by the way this program operates?

COACH ANDERSEN: Yeah, I would agree with that. There's -- when you play the way we play and in the simplest of terms, there may be -- you know, the quarterback read zone play, if you've just got an athletic quarterback, and he pulls the ball. He is going to be one-on-one at the line of scrimmage a lot of times. Sometimes that guy doesn't even have to be blocked. You can just beat him without a block. A lot of the plays that we run, there's six or seven blocks that have to take place. We can never forget about the fullback and forget about the tight ends when we're talking about that, that those guys have done a tremendous job all year long.

So I think it is a little bit -- they're on a little higher stage of having to get their blocks because the number of blocks that have to take place every snap for our scheme to be able to work. Even the simple power play, it's a down scheme and a kickout scheme, but it's not that easy. It's not just saying we're down and we kick out and we'll get six yards a carry. There's a lot that goes into that.

So I would agree it's highlighted even more so in an offense like ours.

Q. Gary, it's possible Wisconsin could win out and still not wind up in a BCS game. I know those rankings are out of your control. I was just wondering how significant do you think the difference is between Wisconsin playing in a BCS and not? Whether it's for recruiting or player morale or judging success of the season, anything like that?

COACH ANDERSEN: What's important for these kids -- and it has been from the very beginning -- is to play well week in and week out. The Big Ten games are very important to these kids. I'm not offsetting the nonconference games or act like they're unimportant, but it was very important for these kids to have a quality Big Ten this year from the Big Ten record this year, from the get go. Everybody wants to play in as big a BOEL and as big a stage as you can at the end of the year. No one's ever going to say we don't want that in any way, shape, or form.

But it's not going to -- as this team continues, they've labeled themselves as a good team, and they deserve it. Right now, if it was over, they'd be known as a good team regardless of what happens. They want to be a great team. If they're a great team, then they're going to play in a very, very prestigious bowl game at the end of the year wherever it may be. We'll have a great time. We'll be excited to go to that bowl game and compete and hopefully win.

Q. Gary, what in your opinion has not about the reason or reasons behind Pedersen's catching more passes of late? I know he's had the injury? Is it looking for him more, making more plays?

COACH ANDERSEN: I think we're looking for him more. After he came off the injury and got himself healthy, he's such a mismatch problem, and you see him continually catch contested balls. He runs great routes. He causes some real issues. I think we definitely made an effort to get the ball to him more. It's making him more productive, and it's making our offense better too.

Q. Melvin hasn't had the jaw-dropping numbers that he did at the beginning of the season the last two weeks. Is he dealing with something that's slowing him down, or is it just a matter of teams really keying on him?

COACH ANDERSEN: Nothing's slowing him down. He's practicing great. I think Melvin's playing good. First of all, to me, the creases may not be there. He doesn't have the numbers. But Melvin is progressively getting better every single week at the other things that is important in football. He's catching the ball consistently in practice. Doesn't show up a lot on game day right now.

I'm proud of the strides that he's making, and I'm also proud that, when it doesn't go his way for those 50, 60, 70-yard runs or the big plays, that he keeps on grinding and keeps on going. We were not going to get the fly sweep on the way against BYU. That just was not going to happen. They were running three guys at it, and they brought the guy off the edge. There are two guys you'd have to beat at the spot. Melvin, maybe. He might beat those two guys, but just looking at the odds, we were better off running the plays that came off of it, which were very valuable to us.

He'll be fine. I expect a couple of big games out of him this last week, these last three.

Q. You mentioned after the game all the things Caputo has done for you this year. Is it hard to find guys that can fill all those roles? How important has he been overall to the defense?

COACH ANDERSEN: He's a very unique kid. His ability to be able to prepare and understand in the film room and take the coaching and then get out onto the practice field but then be able to see it at game speed, got a lot on his plate. Different positions that he's played.

He's in so many different positions, different spots. His pre-snap awareness is very impressive. His ability to prepare is very impressive, and he gets out there on game day and plays at a high level. The other thing you can say about Michael is faster with pads on than he is without pads on because he loves to play the game so much. He's very physical.

I had the opportunity to talk to a couple of BYU kids after the game, and one of the first things that one of their safeties said to me was, you know, what year is Caputo? I said, well, he's a sophomore. He's like, man, Coach, that guy's a really good player. That's the ultimate compliment as a player, when you walk off the field, and within two hours a kid is passing on that kind of information to a player, that's pretty special.

I'm proud of him. He's done a great job, especially as we all know what he went through to get back this last off-season and to not have spring ball and be where he is, the future is very bright for him.

Q. Did Jack Russell break down any barriers of doubt with the coaches on Saturday?

COACH ANDERSEN: Well, he made them. So it was good to see him make them. I felt good about Jack walking out there and putting the ball up in the air and taking a swing at it. It's good for him to see. It's good for all those specialists to see. It really is because there's not an agenda with those kids. They want to have some success, and they want to help this team, and they want to be known as a group of specialists that help the team.

I hope -- I'm sure Jack grew confidence with that. Did I? Sure, absolutely. How can you not? All those kids -- Frenchy goes out there, and Frenchy's more excited for Jack than probably Jack when he made that kick. So another example of those kids just kind of grinding it out together and not really having an agenda. But he did a good job. He made them.

Q. Gary, you said Dan Voltz probably start this week. Is that Lewallen is still iffy with the injury?

COACH ANDERSEN: Yeah, he is. It's early, obviously, but the progress that we made through the weekend is good, but not to the point where we say, hey, let's go out there and be ready for a Tuesday practice.

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