Inside the Locker Room: Northwestern

Following a 35-6 walloping of No.19 Northwestern, Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen and selected players address the media.

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Wisconsin Football

Beau Allen -

Vince Biegel -

Chris Borland -

Melvin Gordon -

Dallas Lewallen -

Pat Muldoon -

Jacob Pedersen -

Joel Stave -

Gary Andersen transcript

ANDERSEN: First of all, that was a tremendous crowd, unbelievable Homecoming crowd. A lot of people came back. A lot of emotion. Our kids definitely built from that.

So thank you to everybody that came out there and put these kids in a position to be able to succeed because it does help.

I'm proud of this team. This was a big football game, and I never said that all week, but in the back of my mind, this was a big game, and I'm not one to usually say that stuff.

These kids prepared. It obviously means a lot to them every single week, but the ability to get in this position and win at home against a really good football team, and we all know Northwestern is a very, very good football team.

Defense was awesome all day long. I thought they swarmed to the ball. I thought they communicated. They tackled well. Pursuing the quarterback was obviously very, very good all day long. So that was good. I think offensively we did what we had to do.

I'm not going to talk about one thing negative today because this is a big win and these kids need to enjoy it. We all need to enjoy it. So we're not going to talk about anything negative. It was all good in my mind.

QUESTION: What made it such a big game, Gary?

ANDERSEN: Well, I just think losing those two games on the road, emotionally, it can take its toll if you allow it to, and these kids didn't. They don't accept losing in any way, shape, or form, and I know I sure don't. It's been tough it's been a tough two weeks every day to wake up and prepare for these guys (Northwestern) when you've got to sit back and what was there when you lose games that are that close.

It's the middle of the season. It puts us in a good position to continue fighting, and everything is still out there for us.

QUESTION: Why did you think the pass rush was so effective today? What did you guys work on?

ANDERSEN: You know what, I don't know. Probably a lot of things.

We had a huge emphasis in the bye week. And I think putting B.K. (Brendan Kelly) in that setting more, putting (Vince) Biegel in that setting more gave us two very talented kids. There's a lot of reps going on out there, and there's a lot of packages coming on and off the field.

We'll continue to work as a defensive staff to put the best kids in the best position as they can possibly be in to make a play.

That doesn't come without acceptance now from those kids of understanding the different schemes, and I appreciate them in understanding their role and where they're going to go with it. When you're playing a spread team, it's not just base defense. Some kids have to accept some roles that maybe they're not used to doing.

Blitz games were good. I thought they blitzed with an attitude. I thought defense had an edge all the way around, and coverage helped there too.

QUESTION: Nobody's done that to their offense in a long, long time. The spread, you had a little trouble at Ohio State and ASU? What do you think turned it around for you versus that type of offense?

ANDERSEN: I don't know. The kids they just were very, very gap sound in the run game today. I think, when the ball bounced out sideways, they ran to the ball well.

You get some momentum, and momentum is a vicious weapon sometimes. It seemed to work very well for us today. I thought we played fast. It just looked like we were fast out there today, which was great to see.

QUESTION: You mentioned how difficult how it could have been emotionally draining, the two losses. Did you have a sense coming into the game that they were ready, that they did have an edge, or could you tell in practice?

ANDERSEN: I wouldn't really say that I felt any different than any game or really any practices that we've gone through.

The challenge, like I said, is to just make sure I do my best to have them physically as good as they can be, and that's a unique situation with this team, from the youth that we have to how many older kids we have.

But they practice well. They come out every day, and they work. Had a good night at the hotel last night. Whatever we did, we should put it in a can and seal it and unleash it next Saturday.

QUESTION: Coming out of the bye, Gary, obviously, you targeted several areas. How do you think initially, looking at it, you fared in those areas?

ANDERSEN: I don't have the numbers yet. I think we can say I'm not going to say one thing negative. I'm not going to do it. So I'm going to sit back.

We were able to convert some third downs in some positive situations. Third down defense was greatly improved, which was a big positive also. Special teams wise, the big kickoff return, it was nice to see that team get a big return. They've been so close two or three times, and Kenzel (Doe) getting back there makes a big difference. I thought we fielded the punt well all day long.

We put get some pressure on that punt team. We didn't get a block, but I think we made them a little bit uncomfortable back there as far as punting the football. Kenzel does a great job of catching them all day long.

QUESTION: How good was (Chris) Borland for you today?

ANDERSEN: Chris, he'll never cease to amaze me. I don't know if he's ever going to surprise me with the way he plays. He played at a high level. He plays at a high level every single week. He'll continue to do that.

Things go unnoticed out there that you don't see. The kid rolled his ankle early I think it was first quarter and didn't bat an eye. He just got up and, you're not taking that kid out of that game, in any situation, especially when he's in his senior year like he is.

But I was also very proud of the way his attitude as the game went on. At the beginning of the game, I didn't have to say anything to the kids, trust me. Chris Borland said whatever he needed to say, and he said it in very uncertain terms. Those kids listen to him.

I didn't have to say much after that. They came out ready to roll.

QUESTION: Do you have an update on Jared (Abbrederis)? Do you know what play it was that he got hurt in?

ANDERSEN: I don't know what it was. Jared looks good, and I expect him, right now, to be ready to go next week. That would be the plan.

QUESTION: With Jared out for the rest of the game, how do you think the offense went after he left?

ANDERSEN: It was good to see some kids step up and make some plays. Duck (Jeff Duckworth) comes back in there, and he continually makes plays for us. He catches some big balls, and he's a young man that has to really just prepare himself the right way.

A lot of that during the week is mentally because he can't go out there and take a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday practice. He can't do that. He gets himself ready to go. I think Coach Beatty has done a good job of developing that.

But that's been the challenge. We've talked about it all year long, have a couple of wide receivers step up and help Jared out. Well, today there was no Jared, so they had to help our offense out. We're getting better in that area.

QUESTION: Seven sacks from seven different players. How important is it to not have just one guy doing that?

ANDERSEN: It's awesome. I don't know I've ever been around seven sacks from seven different kids. They'll be very excited about that.

There was a lot of moving parts to that defense today and a lot of communication. It's good to see them get some pressure.

I'm sure there's a couple others that wish they had a couple more sacks. We'll go back and look at it and see.

QUESTION: Coach, is Jack Russell your kicker right now?

ANDERSEN: Yes, he is.

QUESTION: When the leadership council decided to go to the red helmets, do they tell you why or give you a reason? Is that just their call?

ANDERSEN: We didn't talk about that too much this last week. I just felt it was time they want to break out the all red eventually, but I felt for homecoming, the red was about where we needed to go with the helmet and move on from there.

They like the helmet. They like the white helmet. Kids like change. They all do. They all want something new and fancy, whatever it may be. We'll just keep going through it.

They'd wear a pink one next week and a black one the next week, if we'd let them. We've got the two. We'll mix them up.

QUESTION: You mentioned (Jack) Russell being the kicker. How has he performed in practice? Do you have any qualms about him going on the road?

ANDERSEN: Yeah, you know, I do. We'll just have to practice through it. It's definitely a situation. We're going to have to handle that situation, and we're going to have to be dynamic a little bit maybe sometimes on offense. But Jack will prepare.

The good thing is, if you sit back in the positive of this whole issue we have is it's we're snapping the ball, and we're holding the ball very good, and that's a good sign. So the next kicker that can step up there and just put them through, that's going to help all the kids.

Not going to sit here and point fingers at anybody. I work with those kickers every Wednesday. So I'm as responsible as anybody for that ball not going in.

QUESTION: Coach, how is (Tanner) McEvoy doing back there, and what's the best thing you can say about him, please?

ANDERSEN: Best thing I can say about him, he's a serious presence in the middle of the field. He's 6'5", 200 and however many pounds, and he is fast. I'm really proud of that kid. You want to talk about just finding a way to get himself on the field.

If you'd have told me or you'd have told Tanner a year ago right now that you'd be playing Northwestern at Camp Randall, he might have said, ‘yeah, that could happen.' But say you're going to be starting free safety, no, not so fast. So he has done a great job.

He's a very smart young man. He's very intelligent. He is pre snap, you look at him, that's a good looking free safety in the middle of the field. He's grown and developed. Showed some signs today again of making progress.

QUESTION: Coach, we haven't even mentioned the running game yet. Is that because this is kind of what you expect? 286 yards. Melvin (Gordon) with another 70 yard touchdown. This is status quo at this point.

ANDERSEN: No, it should definitely be mentioned without question. They should all be mentioned. The offensive line to the tight ends to the fullbacks to the wide receivers to the quarterback checking it and those tailbacks running the football. Those young men are very talented. We're all very lucky to have them in this program, and they continue to work.

They work so well as a unit in the run game, and it does take all of them. It's great to have unbelievably gifted kids running the ball that can go the distance at any moment.

You've got to take a long, hard look when it's week in and week out, week in and week out and people are ganging up on you. The offensive line and Joel was able to make those checks. It's impressive.

Again, some of the things go unseen sometimes.

QUESTION: Every defense gives you different things and the game plan's different. Were the checkdowns that he threw to the backs more of a part of the game plan going in, or had you guys decided we need to have that outlet more than we've had it in previous weeks?

ANDERSEN: I couldn't really, from a strategic standpoint, know how they went about that from an offensive standpoint at game planning, but I do know this. We were pass blocking better. We really were.

Probably the back looked and felt pretty comfortable that he could get out and get into a checkdown position rather than chipping on the inside or the outside.

QUESTION: Coach, I just got to ask on a lighter note, did you know what Bo Ryan was going to do with the Jump Around?

ANDERSEN: No, I didn't see him. Did he jump around out there? I didn't see it. He's probably a better athlete than I am. I didn't see it. Were his basketball kids jumping around with him?

Maybe we'll have to have a Jump Around competition someday. We'll see.

QUESTION: Did you get an update on Darius Hillary's injury? And is Jakarrie (Washington) pushing for that third corner slot now?

ANDERSEN: Darius had a good smile on his face. I think he's going to be in a good spot. Probably going to be a little bit stiff tomorrow. But he felt like he could have come back if he'd had to have. It was good to see.

Jakarrie is making strides. You're talking two true freshmen playing corner in the Big Ten, in the biggest situation they've ever been in in their lives as far as football goes. He's I'm feeling better and better, and I know the defensive staff is feeling better and better about just putting him on the field.

Ultimately, we'd love to have a package where we can get four corners on the field and possibly put Dez (Southward) back there or whoever it's going to be, and we'd call it a dime package and go four corners and a safety and put Michael (Caputo) or somebody else in the box and have Chris (Borland) as a backer spot.

We went to that a little bit in the second half today for the first time. So, yeah, we're definitely feeling more comfortable.

QUESTION: Coach, I apologize if you don't want any negative thoughts, but Stave's interception and overall play today, what do you think?

ANDERSEN: Again, no negative thoughts coming out of me today. I thought Joel continued to progress. He threw that deep ball swirling wind out there a little bit, and he dropped that deep ball right on Abby (Jared Abbrederis) for a tremendous play.

We're going to continue to progress. The throw game, I believe it's improving. We're catching the ball better. I think, Joel, you always have a few throws you'd like to take back. We're going to keep working on it. It's important to him. It's important to Coach Lud(wig) and the offense.

I like the way, when something doesn't go their way, it hurts, but they keep moving. That's a sign of a good offense and the quarterback.

QUESTION: Gary, after the two weeks now, do you feel like the mojo is back after today?

ANDERSEN: For me, yeah, I got juice right now. I'm pretty fired up on the whole deal. The kids are I'm sure you get a win, and the win puts people in really good spots. That's ultimately what you do this for is to win football games and take care of young men.

They'll feel good. They'll be happy tonight and excited. It was a long stretch after the Ohio State game.

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