Putting in the Hours

He hasn't been on the campus for a full year yet, but the confidence that Joe Brennan has within himself and what he learned from senior quarterback Scott Tolzien means that this redshirt freshman has his eyes set on the starting quarterback position.

MADISON - Practice had been over for 20 minutes Tuesday for everybody on the University of Wisconsin, as starters, reserves and specialists made their way to either change in the locker room or stick around for a couple of post practice interviews.

As more time elapsed, more players cleared out and before too long, the field was virtually empty, except for two young players at the far end of the field. As the sun set, redshirt freshmen Joe Brennan and Dallas Lewallen finally came off the field, satisfied that the problem snapping the football was corrected for that night.

"We just wanted to get some work in," Brennan said. "Through camp so far, I've been having a little trouble with the center exchange. That's step one, getting the ball under center, and you can't have any miscues or setbacks like that here."

An art for the finer details is one of the reasons offensive coordinator Paul Chryst recruited Brennan from Camden Catholic (NJ) High, and was elated when Brennan picked UW over Miami (FL) and Stanford among others. Over the last year, Brennan quietly progressed under center watching senior quarterback Scott Tolzien and despite his youth, his confident that if he does what he's capable of, he can be the starting quarterback for UW this fall.

After Brennan finally came off the field, he talked to Badger Nation.

Badger Nation: How have these three weeks for you in terms of you get to run the Wisconsin offense? Scout team can be hard sometimes because you are getting work, but you aren't working on the UW plays. How much fun has it been doing UW stuff?

Brennan: So far, it's been great and real fun. It's a growing process for me. I just have to take each day as it is and try to get better. Most of these plays, I have gotten familiar with my freshman year in the summer, but there are also some new plays and new schemes I need to learn. It's about taking on rep at a time and just trying to get better.

Badger Nation: Coach Bielema said you really clung to Scott Tolzien quite a bit, just trying to pick his brain and learn from him. You only got one year with him, so I am curious what you were able to take from him and incorporate into your game?

Brennan: I've said this before, but just his consistency coming out in each practice. Scotty always seemed to be moving forward. He wasn't really taking steps back as far as with the plays, getting the offense moving and the way he commanded the team, that was something I was lucky to learn from him. Just his daily routines and his game routines, being who he was and stuff like that was impressive.

Badger Nation: Do you feel like that has gotten better in your game since January with the way you watch film, prep for practice? Have you felt that has been a lot improved since the fall and how has that translated to your performance?

Brennan: Just having a good routine and a good balance came make you successful, as far as taking a leadership role as a quarterback, and solves a lot of mental stress. You definitely have to have a good balance.

Badger Nation: Bret said that he brought you along to the team hotel one night to watch how Tolzien and the team went through the pre-game routine. What was it like being involved in that preparation standpoint?

Brennan: It was definitely nice to see how everything goes, as far as being in the hotel, dinner, team meetings and stuff. Everything is a lot more on schedule, making sure you are on time for everything. There is less distractions there, which allows you to focus on the task at hand, which is the next day.

Badger Nation: How much did the Rose Bowl experience mean to you to be able to go out there and soak up that special environment?

Brennan: Oh yeah, it was … I felt God just truly blessed me. You think about, that really doesn't come around all that often. To be able to go out there as a freshman and experience that, even though I wasn't playing, I had a role model like Scotty to look at out there. Watching his routine, he never got distracted and you can easily get distracted out there with the media and stuff. To me, I felt Scotty was very focused and he's always been determined with what needed to get done.

Badger Nation: Quarterbacks aren't like other positions in the winter where you go into the weight room and just pound the weight and bulk up. What was winter conditioning like for you and how did you grow physically?

Brennan: Right now, I am trying to gain as much weight as possible right now. I want to play around 215 in the fall. I am at about 201, 202 right now. I have come a long way so far. When I came in, I was about 178, 180 pounds. I feel a lot better. I feel a lot stronger, so I just have to continue to progress mentally and physically. Badger Nation: How has Herb helped you put on that way in a healthy way?

Brennan: Definitely just realizing the difference between healthy foods and junk food. Coming in during the morning and getting a protein shake is a big way to starting your day healthy. It's important to have a great breakfast and start from there by pounding in some food.

Badger Nation: What have been some of the positives you have achieved from the first three weeks of camp and what are some of the things you still feel you really to work on over the next eight practices?

Brennan: Receiving the signals from the sidelines and incorporating it into the huddle is important. That was the challenge at first. It was something I did in high school, but I hadn't done yet here. It was definitely nice because I am starting to get a little more comfortable with that. Things I need work on is taking command of my huddle and making sure I communicate the play as best as possible.

Badger Nation: How do this year's quarterback group relate to each other? It is a competition, but it seems like a healthy competition that you are willing to go the extra mile to help each other?

Brennan: Any competition is a competition with yourself. You don't compare yourself to your opponent, you just look at ways where you can get better and realize the things you are doing wrong and the correct the mistakes. You can pick apart other people and see what you are doing better than him or not better than him. Mentally, you'll crumble, and we all understand that. We aren't trying to knock each other down. We all know individually we have to get better.

Badger Nation: You are just a second-year freshman, but do you think it's a realistic possibility that you could be the starting quarterback come September?

Brennan: You know, I am a very determined individual. Until coach says who the starting quarterback is, I believe I had a shot and can get it done.

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