BadgerNation: What were your initial impressions from Sunday’s scrimmage and how the offense performed?
Joe Rudolph: This is what I shared with some of the guys afterward. They worked from the standpoint (of) I didn’t see guys waiting to see how long they were going to go. They worked. There was times where we lack a little bit thinking through mentally, all the details, the importance of not beating yourself assignment wise, pre-snap penalties and ball security. If we’re going to be successful, you’ve got to bring that to the table.
Defensively they do a great job of stressing you right down to the last minute, but then you got to make those decisions at the last minute and execute. It was great for us. Every rep we get is ultra-valuable. We need to have our best week this last week.
JR: It’s kind of what I have seen from all the guys. I love the way he works, and he has a true toughness about him, which I love. There are certain things he really has to work on. When he’s focused on the details of what he needs to work on, he can be pretty darn good. When he doesn’t, he’s not as good as we need him to be.
That’s the grind for us right now. If each guy can be detailed up enough to be accountable to do their job the way we’re asking them to do it, we have a chance to be all right. If we don’t, then it’s going to be a grind. That’s the challenge right now for us as a group, for me getting them to do it, for them doing it and working together to make it happen. Hayden is right there. Work, tough, all those things, so this last week is going to be important for us.
BN: Are you happy with your depth right now on the offensive line or does it need to get considerably better before the fall?
JR: I just think it’s really competitive right now. With Dan (Voltz) out, there’s Dan and Tyler (Marz) who have played a lot of football. Other than those two guys there aren’t a lot of guys who have played a lot of football. It’s competitive and it’s got to remain that way. You’re looking for opportunities for guys to step up and take things over. You want to give them opportunities to do that and you want a young player, who feels like a young guy, to realize that this (chance) might be me.
You can see that second (unit) is all freshmen and one freshman who just got here a couple weeks ago. When you’re trying to express to them the value of a rep in practice, individual or team, that value means a lot more when you’ve struggled on scout team for two years and you’re fighting to get on the travel squad. It’s my job to help them feel that and understand that. They’ve got to step up into those roles to create depth.
BN: What went into the discussion in the meetings rooms about how you are going to use Tanner McEvoy on offense? He’s so talented and gifted but you don’t want to overuse him.
JR: He looked good on O. I have no problem there (laughing). I think we have a good group who can complement each other well. I think that’s what you’re looking to do. Like any team, you have so many variables and you’re going to use them to fit you the best. I think he’s a dynamic football player and it shows when he jumps on (the offense’s) side of the ball. Boy I really like what a lot of the receivers are doing. I think that growth all has to happen together if we want to have it right.
BN: You talk about variables, D.J. Gillins gives the offense something with his dual capabilities, which he showed in the scrimmage. Where does he fit in with what the offense is trying to do this year or down the road?
JR: I just like the way he compete. I think it’s starting to slow down a little bit for him, so he’s getting the words out, the verbage and the calls. As he goes on through the spring you can see that emerge. That’s what you are hoping to see. You’re hoping to see some guys where it’s settling down for them and they are just playing. I thought he competed his tail off and did some really nice things (Sunday).
BN: Where is the big challenge with you wearing the two big hats with the role of offensive coordinator and offensive line coach?
JR: I just think the way our coaching staff is structured makes it work. You know Paul (Chryst) is going to be involved a ton with the offense, and he loves it. I think it’s the right thing. That’s where his passion lies. For me right now, I’m grinding getting that line group together and then adding in to everything else. I think we’ve complemented each other well the last three years. That’s what you work to do, keep complementing each other and finding where you can make it better all the time.
BN: Every coordinator has a big “to-do” list in the spring. How many of those things do you feel confident you have checked off or accomplished thus far?
JR: I think we are still working. I think you could check some things off if you wanted to check some boxes, but if you are really trying to exhaust that opportunity and make it great, they are still open and you are still working at them.