Media Day: Gary Andersen

Media Day: Gary Andersen

Wisconsin football head coach Gary Andersen opened the Badgers' annual media day by holding a news conference Friday at Camp Randall Stadium.

A complete transcript of Andersen's remarks is below.

ANDERSEN: I'm sure there's a lot of questions we haven't answered in the last three days, so we'll be in here for a long time.

(I'm) Excited about where we are. I like the numbers in camp. We went over them again this morning. I feel very good about really each position group and where they sit and got the numbers where they need to be. A lot's been talked about about this or that or this young man not being with us.

We're in a good spot. I feel very comfortable. You always want to have them all with you. But when you go sign a class, you understand that at the end of the day there's a possibility of a couple young men that may be with you, may not be, and maybe in the future, if it holds up, they'll be in that spot. But we're in a good spot.

Scholarship numbers are good. We're right at 105 walking into camp. We have a couple young men in the bullpen if needed as we continue to move forward through the camp.

(I'm) So excited about it. Kids came back. We used our two hours this morning that we get during the week to spend some time with them, have some offense/defense meetings. The kids appear to be in good shape mentally as far as what they've been able to take care of this summer.

(We) Spent a little bit of time with them out on the field. That went very well. So they look good. Just the way they should look. I think the strength coach has done a terrific job getting them to this point. We're healthy for the most part. Probably as healthy as we could possibly ask to be moving into camp.

And so away we go. So on that, I will turn it over to you guys and it's time to get started to play some football.

QUESTION: Coach, you talked admirably about Kenzel Doe throughout the offseason. What have you seen from him during summer conditioning and what do you expect from him this season on and off the field with him being the veteran among the wide receiver unit?

ANDERSEN: First of all, as with all seniors, I expect them to understand it's their team. And we work every day to make them proud as a coaching staff and as a football program.

That's why they sit on the front row in the team meetings. You get one senior year. That's all you get. There's no next time. I've asked him to be a tremendous leader. He's done that.

I've asked him to look at those young receivers and understand that they can help this team and they can help him as a player as he's moved forward. He's done that. On a personal standpoint, he's his best as far as weight room, his strength.

Kenzel's at the point where we're holding him back in the weight room. He doesn't need to get any stronger. He just needs to go out and play and stay healthy and do what he does.

He has high expectations for himself. I think he caught a little bit of energy as we went to the end of the year. Surely the kickoff return at South Carolina helped him a lot.

Expect him to be a playmaker. It's his job to do that. But it's also our job to include him within the offense and give him some opportunities to make some plays.

He's right where he needs to be in a lot of different ways. I'm proud of that young man.

QUESTION: Would you have rather have had the quarterback situation solved earlier, maybe in spring or summer, or are you kind of glad they're going to be hungry and competing right now?

ANDERSEN: I'm good with where we sit. Our goal is to create competition at each spot. We have it at the quarterback spot and there's some more competition in other spots. Not as much in some of the positions as we look through them.

But that's the nature of a football team, to create competition. We're there to say if you wanted it to be settled -- I guess every year you want to come in say we have a returning starter that's a proven veteran player that's right where we want to be and away we go.

But I like where those two kids are battling. It's going to be interesting to see how it continues to go through the process. And they both have a good look in their eye and they're excited and supporting each other, which is awesome to see.

QUESTION: Pretty broad question here. But what would you say the mission statement for the 2014 Badger football team is?

ANDERSEN: Same as it is every year. My goal is for them to give them every opportunity that they can possibly get to become a good team first, and then get into a game that's going to allow them an opportunity to be a great team.

I'm never going to put wins and losses on it. I expect every one of them to take care of them socially, continue to grow from a young man to a man and I also expect them to graduate with a degree that's going to allow them to move forward in life and support a family or children or whatever that they decide to move forward with.

So that is the statement every single year. And that will never change for us. But again, I don't need to tell these kids a lot. I think their goals that they're writing down and what they've had throughout the summer, their goals are very good. They're edgy. They've got expectations about themselves, which I think they should.

If they want to reach out and listen to a lot of stuff that's out there, it should give them a chip on their shoulder also, which is good.

QUESTION: You lost a pretty big chunk of your defense. When you look at the second guys in, look at Warren Herring, Derek Landisch, Marcus Trotter, they've proven themselves in game situations. Does that kind of ease the transition when you lost a large chunk of that defense?

ANDERSEN: Yeah, there's a lot of kids that started Big Ten football games on the roster and you cut it down, say how many returners, it's a small number. Smallest in the league.

But we do have some people that have started games. And you mentioned a few right there that have played a lot. I think that will continue to help us as we move forward when we have years where we have a lot of kids graduate or have a lot of players that started leads because we have so many packages on defense. We have so many packages on offense. Young men are playing.

It's not just starting 11 on both sides that are playing every single snap. It's really part of the plan that helps you when you play packages to get kids experience. So we do have some kids, although not starters, agreed, with experience, but that does kind of ease your mind.

QUESTION: You talked about the young receivers. Has someone stepped up that really has impressed you thus far?

ANDERSEN: Yeah, it's too early to tell. Without a ball it's tough to see without pads on. But I would say we have a meeting--staff meeting--this morning, and we'll go around the room. Coach Beatty comments where he feels comfortable. That's a good comment coming from a position coach at this time with the youth of where we're sitting.

I'm excited about that statement. That makes me feel good as we move forward. It's important to the kids that have been in the program. It's important to the young men coming in. So we'll see how they develop. But I couldn't really say the new kids, a week from now we'll have a lot better feel about that.

QUESTION: Given you went through something similar in your playing career how excited are you that Vonte Jackson appears healthy and ready to contribute?

ANDERSEN: It's great to see him out there. He looked good today. He's got a smile on his face. He's excited made it through the summer.

About the last three weeks he's appeared to be full speed, at least from the reports that we get from the weight room and some of the conditioning that we're able to watch with them just briefly.

It's good. It's awesome to see the fight that he went through. It's been a long battle for that kid. A lot of ups and downs, a lot of emotions. But he's ready to go and I'm excited to see him get his opportunity.

QUESTION: Did Chris Beatty, when he said he has a comfort level with what he's got at wide receivers, did he explain why, whether it was numbers, whether it's what he's seen from growth from some guys?

ANDERSEN: He's had a little bit of time to spend with them. Probably has to do with the way the young kids are potentially picking up the playbook, I'm sure that's part of it. Watching them in simple individual drills.

You watch kids. You evaluate them on tape. You recruit them. Still different to watch them in your drills, even though again there's not balls involved, it does matter. So that probably plays into it.

And I really believe the fact that Alex, Jordan and Kenzel have done a nice job of understanding that we've got to get the support of some young players. Again, whether that's Jazz or Robert or three young men that are with us, the freshmen. It seems to be a good room right now. The communication seems to be good. I'm sure all those things kind of lead into that statement.

A lot of work ahead, we all know. But it's a work in progress. It's as good astart as we could be right at this point.

QUESTION: In recent years, including last year, this program's had a two-headed monster sort at the backfield even if there was one star. How is this year similar or different with the two that you have come back with experience and how you want it to play out?

ANDERSEN: I would say it's going to be very similar. Last year we had two kids run over 1400 yards, and to my knowledge from sports information people tell me that's the first time that's ever happened. So I'm stamping that. Right. Okay. So that's pretty good.

I believe that Corey (Clement) can walk in and play a very significant role. Now, what is that role? We shall see. Corey's been in the Big Ten games. He's been in selected plays, selected moments. But now he's got to go in there when it's 0-0, go in there in the fourth quarter when we need a yard, to be able to seal the drive to keep it alive.

He's got to play at crucial moments. Not that he hasn't played in any crucial moments. But he hasn't been in as many crucial moments as he's been when he walks in and kind of finishing the game off, I guess you could say. But he's prepared for that.

Melvin (Gordon) and Corey have completed or competed, excuse me, unbelievably well against each other all summer. All spring.

And I would like to say we're going to have that same two-headed monster. The biggest challenge, mindset to me right now is who is the third back, is Taiwan (Deal) going to come in be what Corey was a year ago? I sure hope so. But again that ball's in Taiwan's court and how much Corey gets involved is in Corey's court.

QUESTION: With Melvin, clearly he's going to get so much attention this year especially off the field. Especially in the last couple of days in Chicago, how do you think he handled that because he was the center of attention for sure, and I guess that goes just overall how is he handling leading up to the season?

ANDERSEN: I think very well, to my knowledge. I don't see him a lot on the media days. I don't watch that stuff. So I didn't really see what he was doing. But the reports I got were he was a humble young man.

He was excited about his opportunity. He's definitely goal-driven and I would expect Melvin to be goal-driven. I want him to talk about the things that he wants his team, the goals he sets for his team and the goals he has for himself.

I don't think that's anything wrong with that. He seemed to handle that very well. He is still soft spoken. Melvin's not going to jump up, give you a great big speech.

But the way he works is kind of his stamp on his MO on who he is. To this point (I) couldn't be more proud of the way he handles his team, his expectations of his team, and I think that will be able to show as we continue to grow and he'll give the credit to the [offensive linemen] and tight ends and fullbacks and quarterbacks, but he expects to be a great tailback.

QUESTION: You talked about the guys being edgy. Is that typical for this time of year or a little more unique for this group because of the personnel loss that you had going into this year?

ANDERSEN: I hope it would be different. I'm going to ask them to be a little bit different. They've been challenged a lot of times in a lot of different ways. And again my only real opportunity to be around them is the questions I get from the media and the questions I get from other coaches and where as you're walking through this time of year.

But the bottom line is that there's a lot of question marks and there is a lot of question marks. I don't discount that at all. But if I was a player, I would be a little edgy if I heard that. That would make me I got this thing, we're ready to go.

And I want them to have it. I don't think I have to push them to have it but if I do have to push them to have it I'll continue to make sure that they understand that people may not be thinking that they're ready to step up and be in the spotlight right out of the gate in Game 1 and possibly in some Big Ten games as we move forward. I like it. I like the edge.

I hope they have it. I hope they practice that way, too. I think they will.

QUESTION: Not only your second year leading the program, but the first time in a while that most all assistants have come back for this program. How big a difference or what is the biggest difference for and for you and the staff having a second year here now?

ANDERSEN: Year two is very calming. I can't speak for every assistant, but they seem to be in a good spot. The biggest difference I believe in year two is you know the personalities of the kids you're coaching, which in turn allows you to know what their goals are, because their goals are sitting up on your wall and you know if those goals are realistic, you know if they really mean what they're saying on those goals.

In turn, it allows you to push yourself harder, it allows you to coach and push your players harder. And we have the ability to be able to do that. You just have more validation on what they want you, the direction they're headed, whether they're a veteran, whether they're a -- excuse me, a new kid in the program, even having those kids in the summer this year and spending time with it allows us to know them better.

So year two is much more calming all the way around. Staff meeting we had last week, thought it was going to be a two-hour staff meeting ended up being 45, 50 minutes. So a lot of those questions you had a year ago we just kind of go through now and it's nice to have it that way.

QUESTION: Do decisions on personnel battles change this year because LSU's the first game than say last year when you might have had a few games to figure out who was best suited before maybe Big Ten Conference play?

ANDERSEN: No, absolutely not. No, our challenge as a coaching staff is the same challenge for the players. The only thing that's different this year is we want to get the depth chart set as soon as we possibly can, but we need to make sure that the youth has the opportunity to compete early. And that's what the four-day split practice is all about.

It will be a grind for certain coaches, but if they haven't got themselves in shape this summer then shame on them balls they knew it was coming.

We'll be ready to roll. But the depth charts are always set as good as we can the best 22 on every field in every package we have for offense and defense.

QUESTION: With all of the movement you guys had on the offensive line last year, you had a lot of guys coming back this year, what's your comfort level with what you expect from them this season?

ANDERSEN: Offensive line you said? Sorry. Well, we got 18 of those kids in camp. The ability to be able to run a functional practice will really be the first time since we've been here that we've had an opportunity to roll three groups through there and feel comfortable today.

That's nice to have those numbers there. Our expectation is to get to eight or nine deep, minimal. Hopefully you can get to a solid two deep. We have questions at the backup left tackle. Where is that going to go?

We want a lot of competition there to see two or three young men compete for that spot. But the great thing there's going to be kids in the program play full time left tackle. (It) Doesn't have to be Dallas (Lewallen) moving from center to guard and now over to tackle and the domino effect takes place which in turn hurts your learning.

So Costigan, we can now take it easy on him. He's got a lot of miles on him. He'll never say I don't want to practice, but we'll make sure there's days when he doesn't have to.

I'm comfortable with the offensive line. I'm excited to see those first five spots together and get the unity back that they need and watch some of the young guys move into those positions of a backup role, that 6 or 7 spot.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts and expectations for Alex Erickson this year?

ANDERSEN: Alex is in a great spot. He is an unbelievable competitor. I expect him to be a go-to guy for us. I expect him to be a guy on third down that the quarterbacks are comfortable to look at.

And that's a big statement for a wide receiver, but he plays a position where he's going to be in those spots where we work him to get into some of those underneath throws and he has very good hands. He runs very good routes. He'll know every position. If he needs to know the outside, the inside, whatever he needs to know in that spot he'll know all of them. So the expectation level for him is to play at a high level and again he's in a position of leadership now.

He's earned that. He's got on eight. He started in games. He's made big plays and he needs to lead that young crew along with Kenzel and Jordan.

QUESTION: Coach, you have Sam Arneson at the tight end position but normally you guys like to feature those two tight end sets. Who besides Arneson has kind of -- it's too early to emerge, but I guess who has impressed you through spring ball and offseason conditioning?

ANDERSEN: If you sit back look, Austin Traylor got better throughout spring ball. He'll be the anchor tight end like [Brian Wozniak] was a year ago. He'll kind of take the spot right out of the gate. Sam (Arneson) will be the true mover.

You look at what (Troy) Fumagalli did. He did a tremendous job as we went through spring of growing into showing his ability to make plays through that position through the throw. Pass protection got much better and became more physical as a blocker. (I'm) Excited to see where he sits in it.

Getting (Derek) Watt back, both of them, they'll both be over there playing, the Watt brothers will be playing some tight end, even possibly at the same time. So we've got the numbers.

Again, I go back to the meeting this morning. Coach (Jeff) Genyk review of the tight ends, he felt very comfortable with the tight ends. We lack some experience there.

But again I would hope that those young kids look at that and that excites them. We've got good numbers just like I talked about the whole football team and some kids that have definitely made some progress. But we'll see how they handle the aggressive defense in camp as they prepare for the season.

QUESTION: Coach, David expressed his desire to get into quarterback more and didn't have the kind of success he had wanted with blitzing. So then how does that manifest itself over the offseason in game planning for this upcoming year to potentially do better in that area?

ANDERSEN: You know, we went out and we studied hard as a defense to position our kids. You take the core of the defense just like you take the core of the offense and the core of the special teams and you look at your kids on the board and you say what are you.

What do you have? The goal is to not ask kids to do things that is going to be very difficult for them or they cannot do. We feel like we're going to be faster. We feel like we have the ability to run well. We've got some athleticism.

Last year that front could hang in there with anybody in the country and say let's go, come and get us and we're ready for you.

We'll have to move around a little bit more than we have. So we adjusted the scheme. You'll see us do some more things within coverage that's going to dictate how we're able to disguise.

The hope is that the man coverage and the zone coverages are not dissected as easily with the offenses that we play. The hope is that with the odd front continuing to develop that people don't understand or know where we're coming from and improve that even from where it was a year ago. I thought it was good last year. I think what Dave (Aranda) and the staff has done has tweaked it to be even more complicated for offenses.

So we'll look more aggressive. And now the other thing is how much man coverage are we comfortable playing. Last year, Dez (Southward) was our third corner and that's what we had. We stayed healthy at corner very fortunate.

Hopefully we can get ourselves to four corners this year and maybe a fifth that we feel comfortable with, whoever that may be, that allows you to do things in man coverage that will make you a little bit more aggressive.

QUESTION: Preseason Coaches Poll came out yesterday and Wisconsin is 14th. I know it's incredibly early. Maybe that's the first you've heard. What are your thoughts on that ranking. Do you think it shows a level of respect for this program given all the personnel losses in the offseason?

ANDERSEN: That's what it does. It shows a tremendous level of respect for the University of Wisconsin. That's great. It's awesome.

That's been earned by a lot of young men that no longer put on the helmets here at Wisconsin, and they deserve that ranking because what they've done for many years.

This team has done nothing to deserve that ranking nor has anybody done anything to deserve the ranking they have this year other than play well last year, I guess you could say that.

But it's great to be in that spot. Excited about the opportunity to go out and play and compete. And is LSU ahead of us? Okay. See, they're setting that thing up. That's the thing. Something behind that.

QUESTION: When you lose someone such as you did on defense with Chris Borland, though you have some guys who have played and seen some snaps out there, how do you treat them so maybe they don't view it as I've got to be the guy that replaces and takes over for Chris Borland, does what he did?

ANDERSEN: Tremendous question. We've talked about that. Young men have to just do what they can do and not try to replace a great one. You don't replace Jared (Abbrederis). You don't replace Chris (Borland) with just one person.

And (Derek) Landisch doesn't want to hear that, trust me, but that is the fact of where we sit. They just have to play within the defense, play within the scheme.

And I would say this about Chris (Borland). Chris was the master at that. Chris understood when to take his chances because he was such a studier. If you want to be that guy, you better start thinking about putting the time in that young man, Chris Borland put into his weekly film review and the situations he got himself in, because his presnap awareness -- I've said it many times, Eric Weddle and Chris Borland were the best I had ever been around in presnap awareness. I think it's a right to be able to stake that claim, I guess.

QUESTION: So much about spring camp and summer conditioning about guys getting better than they were the previous year. Is there any concern about Joel's shoulder injury maybe stunting his growth heading into next season?

ANDERSEN: We talked about that in spring. When we made the decision to hold him out, it was to get Joel (Stave) mentally continuing to progress. He's so smart. He's done that. I don't have any doubts about that that he's continued to grow and develop.

But he missed out on some football. The best way to play football and get better is to play football. But he has continued to study. I think this summer has been good for him.

Apparently he's been full steam for basically the whole summer after we turned him loose for three weeks, and Joel will study -- he's done everything he can without playing in spring to prepare himself to get to this moment. His body is in better shape. He's worked on his throwing motion. He's studied the game. He's worked to become even more athletic. So everything we've asked Joel to do has been there for us.

QUESTION: You signed a scholarship kicker (Rafael Gaglianone) that by all accounts has a very strong leg. What's his chances of getting into the, winning that job, do you think, and could you kind of tell me what you think of him as a kicker?

ANDERSEN: Yeah, obviously when you recruit a kicker you recruit a kicker to come in, compete right away. He will. He'll go into that Monday morning practice and he's slated to be the guy that's going to put up the first seven PATs, and I think the other two young men are going in the afternoon the first day.

He has a strong leg on film. He's done a nice job of developing. Rafael is what he likes to go by, so I've got that down now, he feels very good about competing, and that's obvious, because he's played at a high level of soccer which should help him.

And we'll see how he handles the moment and how he moves forward. But we've got three kickers that are going to compete for that spot. May the best man win. With his body type what we're asking him to do we sure hope he's highly involved in the kickoffs also.

QUESTION: It seems like Chikwe (Obasih) and Alec James have at least a lot of outside expectations for them to step up and not replace players but replace some of the production. Are there those internal expectations as well?

ANDERSEN: Yes, there is. There's a number of those kids. Quite frankly I have no problem throwing it out there to Chikwe and Alec because they came here I sat in the living room they told me they wanted to be able to play. Again that goes back to the second year.

You can put those kids -- that's on their goal sheet, they want to play. We need to talk about it and I'll put it out there for them right now: They need to be in the mix. If they're mentally ready, they will be ready to play. They appear physically ready to play. I like where they're at. Tough-minded men.

Our ability to build some packages to help both of them especially, when it comes to third down, if they earn that right, then they're going to be right in the mix there. So those two kids have done everything we've asked them to do again.

They're very athletic. Wisconsin football means the world to them. That's why they're here at the end of the day. They want an opportunity to play early. So excited about their progression along with a lot of other kids, but those two, they need to help us.

QUESTION: When you're talking about the kicking situation a minute ago, having one guy kind of in the morning and another be the number one guy in the afternoon it was a little bit like you described the quarterback situation play out. What did you see as the advantage of having one guy in the morning and another guy get to be the number one in the afternoon?

ANDERSEN: There's a lot of thought that goes into that. Doing it over the years really just two times, here's what I see, when we break down the team we get an opportunity, on all the positions, for kids to play and get reps.

We've already talked about that. Secondly, it gives us an opportunity for kids to be able to get into a position to play with someone they may not be familiar with, which in turn forces them to be able to communicate more. I would say specifically with the offensive line, specifically with the middle linebackers, having to communicate and get guys lined up that may not have the knowledge of the first team.

For (Derek) Landisch, he'll line up and he'll have some guys there that he'll have to help them go where they need to meet to get to the right spots, which is good.

Specifically at the quarterback position, they're going to -- we just gotta get eyes on those kids and I want the majority of reps to go to one and one quarterback in the beginning.

I don't want it to be Joel (Stave) and Tanner (McEvoy) in 16 period practice slicing the reps down the middle. I want it more slated towards a 1 and a 2 as we go through those first four practices.

And there's a lot of that that goes into how we broke it down with the young kids having a chance to -- Taiwan Deal is going to get a great opportunity to be a starting tailback, if you will, for a day or two. It will be good for him.

QUESTION: How has your coaching style changed from year one to year two? I know at Big Ten Media Days you touched upon how you can coach players a little bit harder, push them a little bit harder. Could you elaborate on that a little bit?

ANDERSEN: I don't think my personality has changed at all. But if you look at the team that was here a year ago, this team was very senior-driven. It was very powerful. They had a lot of success. When you take over a program you have to wrap your arms around the success that they've had.

It's not broken, if you will. You got to be careful how you flip things, how you change things. You've got to make sure you've got the players' best interests in mind and you've got to understand the type of young men. These kids have had success and they're very bright and they're intelligent and they'll figure it out if you're a pretender real fast as a coach.

So you've got to adjust yourself every year. They know our style a little bit. They know who we are. You're not going to see a dramatic change from anybody as far as how we coach or what we do.

But the fact of the matter we talk about building a family environment. We talk about building a team environment, and we talk about being goal setting as a big part of what we do. That's what we've done. Now we can, we understand that what they put on paper is real.

I can push those young men in a way academically, socially and athletically to reach those goals. If I see it early--I've told the story about Sojourn (Shelton) practice four of spring. I saw it. I felt it. I discussed it with them.

Not that I saved the day, but a lot of times I overreact, and I'm an overreactor in a lot of different ways. But I'd rather overreact than miss something.

I think we can do that more now because they know my personality. A year ago they might have been like, "Coach, we'll be all right." But they know who I am now.

QUESTION: After a couple of days, how has Twitter changed your life. Have you gotten feedback from your players how many thousands of followers you got quickly?

ANDERSEN: No, it has not changed my life at all. I had a couple of nice tweets last night with Football 101 which was great. Still functionally not real adept to move around that thing very well. Takes me a minute to find how to send out a tweet.

But the key thing for the Twitter and the reason for me joining it was not pressure from my own children or the football team, it was really for I felt like we were in a position to start losing ground in recruiting.

We'll do a great job as well as some staffs throughout the country do a great job of giving student-athletes in high school and recruits information. It comes a lot from what you get and the people that follow you, as far as the Twitter.

And there may be Badgers all over the country, and there they are, Badgers throw us out your Christmas card, whatever it may be, and so much power that goes into that in my opinion for recruiting for young men to be able to see that.

Not that we need that in the type of kid we recruit, but it gets them more invested in understanding, whoa, this is a pretty special place that we're looking at. So if we can keep all the negative Twitter comments away, it helps in recruiting. Gotcha on that one. (Chuckling)

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