How do you feel physically after a game like that Jim and how long does it take you to recover?
"Physically, I feel pretty good – better than I felt during the game. It was tough sleeping Saturday night, but, you know, I woke up Sunday and we went in and had the shake out run with the captains and stuff and got in the steam. You know, right now I feel pretty good."
Jim can you talk about the effect of having Anthony Davis back dressed for last Saturday's game? I know he didn't play, but how that's affected the team and its morale.
"Well, I mean, when you've got such talented running backs from the starter to the fourth string, it—you know when you lose a guy like Anthony it is going to hurt the team, but when you've got guys that can fill the void it makes it easy on you. And, you know, Dwayne (Smith) and Booker (Stanley) – you cannot say enough about their performances these last couple of weeks and the way the offensive line played. You know, it was a confidence booster just seeing him on the sidelines in his pads and you know, getting a couple of plays, you know, at the end of practice the last couple days of last week and just being on the field was a big lift for the team."
Jim, there was a shot of you on the sidelines getting the rib pads put on and worked on when you went out hurt in the game. Was there any doubt in your mind that you were coming back in? How important was it for you to get back in and were you even surprised that you were airing it out as soon as you got back in there?
"I was happy with the play called the first play back. I was—you know, I'm just glad that coach White has the confidence in me to be able to call that play on my first play back knowing that, you know, I am going to get the job done. There was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to come back. There was a doubt in my mind if I was going to be able to come back and then as the game went on in the second half and I was able to kind of stretch and loosen up and get back into the rhythm of the game, you know, it started to feel better and I just kind of realized maybe it was just the hit that it didn't really feel right and I kind of lost my wind and stuff like that. Maybe it wasn't, you know, too serious of an injury and that I was able to get back into the game and get going again. So, I mean there was never any doubt in my mind that I was going to get back into the game because it was way too close at that point to, you know, to think about taking any time off."
Jim, if you were a defensive coordinator scheming to stop you as a quarterback, how much effort or emphasis would you put on looking for designed running plays where you get the ball whether it is on a draw or that bootleg?
"Umm... not much. I mean, I had a just a couple designed plays. I mean, there are always those designed plays for me to run the ball in the game plan. How often they get called is a different story. I was surprised at the first call down there when I ran in my first touchdown and I was really surprised when we called the quarterback draw, especially, you know, with the way we were running the ball. But, you know, looking back at it, I knew what he was—coach White was thinking because I knew what kind of defense we were going to get – if we spread the field out down there inside the five. And you knew they were going to go seven across the goal line and only have six in the box, so I mean, you call quarterback draw with a motion, everybody puts a hat on a hat there is nobody left for me. So, you know, it was a great call by Coach White, but you know, I don't know how many times he is going to call a designed play for me to keep the ball."
Do you wish you could pass it more sometimes or are you comfortable when you get a lead like that just to hand it off and then sit on the lead and then wear them down with the running game?
"I am totally comfortable running the ball because of we can run the ball like we have been these past two weeks, when we do throw the ball, everyone is wide open. You now, the reads are there, they are quick. They are easy. Guys are just sitting there waiting for the ball when you throw the ball and it is kind of nice. This is the type of team we have. These last couple of weeks we haven't been getting blitzed as much and teams have been sitting back in zones and we have been running the ball down their throat. I am sure, you know, before the season is over we are going to need the passing game to, but it just seems like the way to go right now is to run the ball and do what we got to do."
Jim, one guy early on Owen Daniels made a big impression in that West Virginia game. He hasn't made as many catches recently. Is that just due to ball distribution? Is he not getting as many chances just because the spread hasn't been used as much the last two weeks? What is your opinion on that?
"Just kind of the way the offense, the game plans have been going in the last couple of weeks. You know, we put him in there—we spread him out as the Y, as the tight end and we run seams with him and we'll run him across the field on formations with the dig coming behind it and stuff and we just haven't needed those kinds of routes these last couple of games. You know, during the West Virginia game we knew that the linebackers were going to get a little bit of depth and we knew we were going to have to hit our check downs, our underneath stuff to win the game and that's what we did and now with the play action fake and how well we've been running the ball, the linebackers are stepping up and you know you are getting your down the field stuff and that is just the way the game goes, I mean that is just the way the coverage dictates and that is just the way it is going to be."
Jim, have figured out what the exchange problem is with you and Donovan Raiola? You had another one on Saturday. Is it one person's fault over the other? Have you discovered the source of that problem as it has continued?
"I don't think so. I don't think it is—you know—if we all got. As a center and as a quarterback we have so many jobs out there on the field. We've got so many things that we've got to see and so many calls that we have got to make. And you know when you are down there and you get the play called and you've got the game clock to worry about, the 25-second clock, and make sure everybody is in the right place. Guys are on the ball, of the ball. To make the right call at the line for the center, for blocking schemes and you know so much is running through your head that sometimes you are not thinking about well the snap. You know, I've got to get my hands under there for the snap or it has got to be in the right place at the right time. There is just so much other information you need. You know, I don't think we had a center-quarterback exchange on Saturday. Maybe one (where I) kind of bobbled it, but I still got it and got it to the running back, but you know, none on the ground. That is a big step for us because you know I think this is the first game we have won where we didn't have one on the ground, so that's actually kind of nice. I don't see it being a huge problem. It is something that if it does happen and we do lose the ball on it could be a huge effect in the game. It could lose the game for us. Obviously, we don't want it to happen, but I don't see it being a big issue right now. We are going to keep working at it; we are going to keep, you know, doing our thing. I mean, we take a ton of snaps every day and a ton of snaps at practice all week and you know, it is just—I can't explain it."
Your other two tight ends (Tony) Paciotti and (Jason) Pociask aren't really known as pass catchers obviously, although each has caught his first one in the last two games. Have they planted a bug in your ear after those catches to do that a little more?
"Well the tight end is always open no matter what play we run. It is just the way it is going to be and then you watch film and you see different. But, Paciotti - me and him just got done lifting together and he's like ‘you know who we're playing this weekend?' And I said, ‘yea, we are playing Penn State.' And he asked, ‘you know where I am from?' And I said ‘Yea.' He said ‘I am going to have a lot of fans there that are going to want to see me catch the ball.' I said, ‘I already threw it to you once this year Tony, let's not get over—' We joke around about it, but you know the tight ends are in every route. They've got a route—they're in the progression. We've thrown to them a lot more this year than I think we have in the past. We've thrown to the backs a lot more. The wide receivers are getting a fair distribution of the ball. I mean, it is not like we're keying in on one guy and being like ‘This play is going to this guy, this play is going to this guy.' It is who is open on that play and I think we have done a fairly good job of distributing the ball throughout the year."
Jim, Penn State has gotten off to a rough start. There was a tough loss at home this weekend. How much more dangerous are they than their record shows?
"If you watch the game, like I was watching their game before our game last this past Saturday, and they are pretty dangerous. They are athletic and they are big on defense. And on offense, they've got that quarterback that came in after Zack Mills got hurt and played a pretty impressive game for being a young guy. And it is just the things where—you know the last couple of weeks we've—especially after the UNLV game I think it kind of planted a bug in our ear, like we need to prepare and we need to go out there and play well. These last couple of weeks we've had great preparation, during practice and film study everybody is into it. I think it how well we prepare and how well we are trained going into the game is what is going to determine the outcome of this game. You know, Happy Valley is a great place to play. I am going to be sure to go up and shake Joe (Paterno) Pa's hand after the game because he is an idol in my mind. It is going to be a good ball game and they're a better team than their record shows and I think we know that and we know not to underestimate them."
Jim at the beginning of the year so much of the talk was about how many weapons you guys had on offense, would there be enough footballs to go around to keep everyone happy and that was before you had a couple of tight ends and now three running backs all emerged to show that they can get the job done offensively. How is that gelling? Do you feel like the team is getting in more of a rhythm in the sense of who to get it to when and finding an identity on offense?
"I think so. I think this was the cleanest game we have played all year. Goal-wise, we set all of the goals that we accomplished this game. You know, we through the ball effectively. We ran the ball effectively. The O-line played well. You know, everybody contributed into the win and it's a luxury like coach said when me and Brooks (Bollinger) were battling at quarterback, it's kind of a luxury to have two quarterbacks that can go in there and do the job. And I mean you look at every position and you have somebody that is a backup who can be a starter, who can come in and do the job, at tight end, at wide receiver, at running back. It's more of a luxury than anything else. I think with the way we distribute the ball through the air and on the ground, I think everyone will be happy."
What did winning the conference opener on the road do for you guys, especially given the conference record in the last two years?
"I mean it's a big confidence booster. It's a big confidence booster for me because Illinois has kind of been a thorn in my side the last couple of years. You know two years back, two years ago when we went down there and Brooks ended up getting hurt and we ended up coming back and then losing it, and last year, things just didn't seem to go right against Illinois. But, this year going down to Champaign and playing a team who I think is going to end up beating some people this year and beating them on the road and you know, doing it in a fashion that is Wisconsin football is a huge confidence builder for the team."