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Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen
COACH ANDERSEN: It was another great victory for us
without question. The kids played hard in all three areas
again. You go back and look at the tape, and that was two
football teams that that game obviously means a lot to them.
They played at a high level. It was cold, all the weather and
everything out there, but if you watched the game, not knowing
what the situation was with the weather, you would look at it
and say, those are two teams that laid it all on the line, and
that's exactly what happened.
We played, obviously, well enough to win the game.
So I was proud of that.
Defense played outstanding, consistent in the run
game. Very good in the throw game, which was a very difficult
throw game to deal with a lot of stuff they brought to the
table. So it was a great victory for us. Rivalry games are --
I guess, as you go through it, myself and many of the young
kids, you have even more of an appreciation of that particular
rivalry game as we move forward. It was a big-time
environment. Kids were excited to play in it on both sides,
and that's what college football is all about.
So we're happy the ax is back with us, and moving
forward to this week. One thing, just off of football, I know
there's a lot of students this week that normally can come to
the games that are going to be going home with their families
and enjoying Thanksgiving. That's important. But if we can
give those tickets to somebody that doesn't get an opportunity
to go to Camp Randall to watch a football game, I come across
probably hundreds of people a week that don't have the
opportunity to get to Camp Randall to see a game.
If we can get those donated to whoever, friends,
family members, students, whoever it may be, even charities for
people to get into Camp Randall, it's something they would
Cherish for the rest of their lives. So hopefully, we can get
that stadium filled up, and it's the time of year where there's
a lot of things going on for the students, obviously.
Moving on to Penn State, big, big time game again,
last game of the year for these seniors, last time they'll ever
walk into Camp Randall with that helmet on and play. It comes
with a lot of emotions for myself and the players. Excited
about the opportunity to compete, and it's going to be a great
week. It's a challenge for me, for the team and myself, is we
get to do it again and the seniors don't.
So the underclassmen and all the coaches, managers,
trainers, everybody -- strength staff, everybody that's
involved, deserves their best shot for these seniors this week
to make sure their last three hours in Camp Randall is
enjoyable, and I know we're going to get the best shot out of
the seniors. It will be great preparation. Penn State, as I
watch them from the film that I've evaluated, a very sound,
well-coached football team. They have very, very talented
pieces to the puzzle, which you would expect from a Penn State
team, and it will be a tremendous challenge.
They've played very hard in it every game. They
continue to play very hard. It will be, as I get to sit down
and watch more film on them, I'll get a better idea of exactly
where they're at. They're going to be very good. They're
going to be excited to play and very sound, and technically
they take care of their business, and they play hard.
What's your history, Gary? The good and bad of
senior day. Do players get too emotional, or how big of a deal
do you make out of it?
COACH ANDERSEN: It's going to be emotional. Like I
said, it's emotional for me to see those kids moving across the
field for the last time. It's emotional for the kids early on.
But we get out there with plenty of time. They'll
lock and load. My guess is they'll go through it very well.
They'll get the pictures and have some things to remember for
the rest of their lives. They'll remember that moment. I
remember my senior day. I remember walking out there the last
time, and they're going to remember it.
When it comes time, when their families walk off the
field, and friends or whoever may be there to escort them out,
it will be over with, and they'll move on, and they'll play the
football game. But it is emotional.
For me to sit there, it's great for Stacy, she gets
to be this week and watch those kids walk out for the last
time. It's important for myself and for her and all the
coaches to be involved in it also. But they'll play how
they're supposed to play.
Q. Gary, if I remember correctly after the game
Saturday, you said you don't want to see a kid like Melvin kind
of idle L on the bench for a little bit just because he may
have put the ball on the turf. After the game, Melvin said --
Melvin wasn't happy that he stood around for a while before he
came back in the game. Is there anything you need to address
with Melvin or how that situation was handled or not?
COACH ANDERSEN: No, I haven't heard anything about
it. I think, if it was an issue, Melvin would come and talk to
me about it. Secondly, I believe Coach Hammock would come and
talk to me about it. Melvin was fine.
I thought Melvin ran really hard in this game. When
he got his opportunities, he was physical, had some nice runs.
He's in a good spot. He'll be fine.
Q. Usually in senior week, we asked the Coach to talk
about being in these guys' homes, watching them and recruiting
over a four or five-year period. For you, obviously, unique
circumstances in this situation. What stands out for you with
this senior week, just you and your connection with them?
COACH ANDERSEN: Just their ability to let us in.
That's -- I'll forever be indebted to those kids for believing
in us. I truly do not remember a young man rolling his eyes or
saying what are we doing? Everybody changes, and there's
different ways to run programs, and there is no perfect way.
We just do what we think is right and do what we preach with
We just do what we think is right and do what we preach with
the kids as far as trying to take care of them and helping them
grow from young men to men and all the stuff that I've talked
about a thousand times.
And these kids, you know, they seemed to buy into us
and believe in us and know that what we do say we mean, and
because of that, that's why they've had the success they've
had. There is no magic offense, defense, there is no magic
coach. It's the kids that put them in a position to win
football games. They've hung together through a lot of
adversity and a lot of good times in their careers.
This year is exactly the same thing. There's been
adversity off the field. There's been adversity on the field.
The way the senior crew wrapped their arms around Tyler Dippel
when he went through a very, very tough situation and the way
they handled the debacle in the desert, or whatever you want to
call that thing that took place down there, it was amazing.
And they were -- as Coach Alvarez would say, they didn't
flinch. That's a credit to those kids.
Q. Gary, you talked about the emotions of senior day.
Do you do anything specifically to refocus the guys after the
COACH ANDERSEN: No, we'll get together and take a
break real quick. That's the only thing we've done. Again, it
doesn't worry me with this crew. They'll be fine. They'll get
on the sideline and focus themselves and get out and get it
done against a very good Penn State team.
Q. Gary, are you at all surprised how you've been able
to connect with this senior group? They've had a different
coach for four or five years previously.
COACH ANDERSEN: I wouldn't say I was surprised.
Again, I go back to almost a year now when Coach and I sat
down. I just had the feeling and the belief, from what he
stood for and obviously what he wanted out of the program, and
it just fit from what I believed in.
I talked to the kids, and those kids that I was able
to communicate with when I first came here and communicate with
in a very brief time at the Rose Bowl led me to believe it's
going to be that way, and it's been nothing but that.
We have unique kids who care about a lot of things in
life. Football is one of them, but it's not the only thing.
That fits what I believe in very well, and that's what's helped
it all come together.
Q. Gary, what challenges does Allen Robinson bring for
your defense? And if you could, if it's possible, maybe
compare him to Jared, what strengths they have, how they're
different, that type of thing.
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, he's made a lot of big plays,
and Jared has made a lot of big plays. Down the field, in the
middle of the field. He gets off coverages very well, seems to
read the zones and sit down on whatever you want, option routes
or where he has the ability to run a streak or sit it down and
break the route off on the outside. He's very good. He's
very, very talented at what he does. Jared has been very
productive. They're both very, very good football players. A
lot of similarities. Their contested balls, they catch, and
they make big plays for their football team. They've both done
that again this year.
Q. I think a lot of people thought that, with everything
that's gone on with Penn State over the last few years, with
all the sanctions and what not, that they would be very much
down over the last few years, and they really haven't. You
might not know, but why do you think that is?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, probably devoted kids would be
my bet, from the outside looking in. Kids that believe in
where they're at and what they want to do. They have good
football players, I know that. Just watch them on tape and the
way they play.
Obviously, their coaching staff has done a great job,
and they've been challenged with a unique situation. Probably
didn't come with a whole bunch of anticipation of how to handle
that. There is no coaching handbook on how to handle a
scenario like that.
Apparently, they've bonded together very well. They've come together. They work hard. Ultimately, they have good football players and good coaches that give them a chance
Q. I think I know your answer on this, but did you have
a strong reaction when you learned that Borland was not on the
Butkus finalist list?
COACH ANDERSEN: I didn't know he wasn't so -- you
know, it surprises me. Like I said, my opinion, I guess the
best linebacker in the country is not going to be on that list.
Q. Gary, how about the quarterback, Hackenberg, the
freshman, what you've seen out of him, and how he's developed
to this point?
COACH ANDERSEN: He's definitely developed. Coach
O'Brien does a great job, works with the offense, works with
the quarterbacks. He's done a great job of that. I
communicated with him, when we've had a chance to talk just
briefly. But this kid has gotten better and better and better
throughout the year, which you would expect.
He's a competitor. He can throw all the balls. I
think the offense has grown, as it's gone through the season,
to give him a little bit more as he's progressed and developed.
They've just got confidence in each other as a play caller and
as a quarterback. He was very highly recruited for a reason.
He's a very talented young man. Great poise for a freshman. I
know he really does. He hangs in there and doesn't make a
know he really does. He hangs in there and doesn't make a
bunch of bad decisions. Takes it when it's there, gives it to
them, doesn't give up a chance to move the ball down the field.
Q. I know the last home game is a time for reflection
for the seniors, but for you, last home game here at Camp
Randall for this year, when you look back, what were the
expectations back in August for you in this job, and how have
they matched or not matched what's gone on?
COACH ANDERSEN: The expectations was the same as it
was when I got asked that question in July, and it's to have
the seniors walk out of here with their head held high and
their chest puffed out, and a big emotional "W" on their chest
or their hat or wherever it may be, and they wear it with pride
for the rest of their lives. That's what's going to happen
with this senior class.
That's the number one priority, get them out of here
feeling great about their school. Done a great job
academically. Most of those kids were well taken care of
academically before we got here, and they're moving in the next
direction of life, whether that be playing football or getting
a quality job or starting a family, whatever it is, they're
leaving here in a good spot.
Q. Is back in August, we all wondered what changing to a
three-four defense would mean for everybody. Now you're in the
top ten in a lot of important categories defensively. How big
of an accomplishment is that to have a new defense that worked
out so well?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, it's a great accomplishment
for the players and the coaching staff on the defensive side of
the football. Probably the biggest adjustment, looking at it
now -- and I was thinking about this the other day -- is the
ability for these kids to accept their roles.
When I say that, there was -- when you don't sub out
packages -- again, that's just the way we do it. I'm not
saying it's the right way. I'm not saying there's one way to
do it. But we do play with a lot of different packages, so
young men had to accept roles in packages.
An example would be a young man like Vince beagle.
One week he's highlighted and plays a great game, well, he just
fits that package. Armstrong might be another example. One
week he fits outside linebacker, and he's not in every snap.
Beau Allen as well. I could go on and on. There's not as many
snaps, as many reps to go around. Those kids have done a great
job of making the reps count, not counting the reps.
I say that a lot, but that's what's led us to be
successful and giving us the opportunity because we have got
players and plugging them in the right spots is what good
coaches do. They've been able to work as a team, team of
coaches and team of players, and be able to get that done.
I would also say the production in the back end with
a tough group of kids that were asked to change positions --
Nate (Hammon), (Leo) Musso, Tanner (McEvoy). It goes on and on and on, the kids that
produced at the safety position have really, really, really
good players there. We have three or four DBs that were able
to play that way with young players that weren't recruited to
play that spot is a real credit to the kids and again the
Q. Each of the last couple weeks you've been asked kind
of in the form of a negative about the BCS rankings and how
much attention you paid to it. Now that the news appears to be
better this week, did you pay attention? And did that message
change to the kids knowing you're one win away from the BCS
COACH ANDERSEN: We didn't address that. As kids,
they'll play. They know the importance of it. But if they're
given that opportunity and they're deemed to be in that
position -- you know, the best thing I say about that is, if
they can find a way to win this game against Penn State, do I
think that they deserve that opportunity to play in a BCS bowl
game? Absolutely, yes.
Again, I don't have a bunch of say in that, but I do
believe that. I think that they've put themselves in the elite
of the elite position in the Big Ten conference, and to do what
they've done, if they can win on Saturday, then I believe they
should be given that opportunity.
I don't get into the formulas. I don't know the
formulas. But I would be in full support if they got that
Q. Coach, you've been talking all year about trying to
become a great team. How do you define that?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, I would probably say the same
thing I said after the press conference. If it was over right
now, I'd tell them they have a great team, but I don't want to
tell them that yet. I don't want them to know it yet. They'll
know exactly what I'm talking about if they hear me, if they
listen to the press conferences. The they've the got to be in
the moment. They've got to prepare for the moment. This is a
great football team. And the way they play, the way they
prepare off the field, on the field, what they've done, and
they'll continue to grind it out.
We have two more opportunities to play games, and
thank goodness we do. I don't want it to end yet. They don't
want it to end yet either. Trust me, there's enough teams in
America that are waiting for the last click of the clock to go
away so they can get to the off-season or get on in life.
That's not the case with this group.
Q. Where you paying attention to the results of the Ohio State game?
COACH ANDERSEN: I didn't pull up my phone after the
game and look at the Ohio State score. I couldn't tell you
when I found out they won. I didn't accept it. I'll never
accept the fact that there's always an opportunity, if we take
care of our business, and that's just what we're doing.
Q. Gary, to what degree do you make yourself aware of
personal milestones for your players going into a game?
COACH ANDERSEN: If I hear about them, I'll probably
address them with the kid and tell him congratulations. The
but I'm not searching up on him. That's his job. He can find
them for me and let me know if something's out there.
But it is important. I talked to them about, if they
can do something special, that would be fantastic.
Q. I think Tanner has been a pleasant surprise at the
safety spot, coming in as a quarterback and obviously making
the adjustment. Have you had any conversations with him about
what he wants his role to be moving forward, in terms of
safety, quarterback, whatever? It what are his thoughts and
what are your thoughts moving forward?
COACH ANDERSEN: We had zero conversation and zero
thoughts. He's the safety, starting safety in two or three of
our packages, and that's where he's going to remain for the
rest of the season and for the next two games, and then we
evaluate everything, just like we do at the end of the year,
and do what we can do moving forward.
Sit there and say, as well as he's done and he
continues to progress, pretty good opportunity for him to come
in as a starter and continue in that position. Or you can come
in and get yourself in a quarterback battle or whatever it is.
Again, we'll address it. We'll see where it is, but not until
we get through the next two games.
Q. Just curious what the Thanksgiving day plans are for
the team? Gather as a group, or are they on their own?
COACH ANDERSEN: Eat lots, take care of their
business. Here's what we'll do. Standard operating procedure
until Wednesday night. Thursday morning, we'll get up and
practice early. We'll be done between 10:50 and 10:54 as we
plan to be off the field. The kids will be done.
I want them to get into a family environment. I
encourage as many as would like to to come to my house for
Thanksgiving or come to an assistant's for Thanksgiving. So I
want them to be in a family environment.
Now, the great thing here is we have so many young
men that can drive home because we give them that opportunity.
Or you would be amazed at the number of families that are
coming to Madison to cook. So a lot of kids are gathering
together -- parents, family, cousins are coming down to cook
for them. So they're in good spots.
So if they're smart, they'll probably try to come to
my house about 1:00 and then push that other one off until a
little bit later in the day and double dip. That's what I
would do if I was a young kid. They'll be in a great family
environment, and they'll have some fun.
Q. Gary, is there anything from the post-game Saturday
that you feel needed to be addressed with the Big Ten or any
changes that need to happen going forward?
COACH ANDERSEN: No, no, that's water under the
bridge. The biggest thing I would say is ultimately at the end
both teams handled it. The kids on the team both handled this
as pretty good in the setting in the situation. When I was
down there -- and I wasn't down there for very long. I was
caught up in it for just a brief moment. But all the other
stuff, we've moved along, and away we go.
I can learn from it. Probably everybody can learn a
little something from it, and we'll go onward.
Q. Do you cook or carve the turkey or
stay completely away from the kitchen?
COACH ANDERSEN: Definitely don't cook it. I would
embarrass my father if I tried to carve a turkey. So I'm going
to stay away from that and eat as little as possible too. Really trying to pride myself on not eating too much. We'll
have some fun watching football, and it will be fun to be
around those kids. It will be a good environment.
Q. Gary, since we've gone away from football all
together here, you mentioned to us at the Big Ten media day
that your getaway is lawn mowing. Now that the grass has
stopped growing, do you find the same retreat in snow
COACH ANDERSEN: Stacy takes the snow shovel away
from me. She likes that. She's probably got her shovel today
and moving along. No, I don't. I can't say I like shoveling
snow like I do cutting grass. That is absolutely not the
truth. That's not the truth.