Big Ten Teleconference: John Palermo

Wisconsin defensive line coach John Palermo addressed the media at the weekly Big Ten teleconference

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Questions and topics paraphrased from assorted media present


Opening statement:


We are very happy that Jimmy (Jim Leonhard) won the defensive player award. Obviously we are disappointed with the way we played. But credit has to go to Northwestern—they outplayed us in all three phases of the game.


Coach, could you talk about the play of your defensive line this year, particularly Anttaj Hawthorne?


Yes I can. I think right now at this point we are playing very well up front. Anttaj Hawthorne, who is a junior for us, has become a force in the middle for us. I think right now he is still second or third in the league in TFLs. He is just a good, sound, fundamental football player. We are also fortunate to have Jason Jefferson, another big guy in the middle, as well as two very good defensive ends in Darius Jones and Jonathan Welsh.


What aspect of Northwestern impressed you the most?


Well, I'll comment on us from a defensive standpoint. I thought they did a very good job offensively keeping us off balance. They did some things that we had not seen before. They obviously tricked us on a couple plays to their credit. We just did not play very well, but again, give them credit. They kind of got away from what they normally do offensively and put some things in for us that hurt us.


From an offensive perspective I think again you have to give credit to Northwestern. They did a fine job.


Do some teams, not to say that your necessarily did, but do some teams say, ‘oh this is Northwestern,' and how do you keep your team from taking an opponent too lightly?


Well, I don't know that. We try to overcome that as coaches, obviously every week, because everyone in this league is capable of beating another team if the other team does not play well. So I think in this business you have to be ready to play every week. It is always going to be a physical game. There are very good staffs in this league that are going to do the best that they can to attack you.


Was one of the things that Northwestern did to surprise you putting tailback Noah Herron in the slot?


Well, that is obviously one of the things—they went to a lot more empty formation. They took ‘33', put him out as a slot back and they ran a reverse with him, they ran some option with him. They had done some things that they hadn't done previously and they did a great job attacking us. He played very well, as did number 18, I believe Wright is his name. And I think their quarterback is a good, solid player that really helps them offensively instill what they want to do.


On Anthony Davis:


Since we have had a couple days off we have not seen Anthony other than our trainers. We expect that he would be back for the Minnesota game. This is obviously a good time for us to have a week off with our football team is pretty tired and banged up right now.


On the '93 Michigan game and what that meant to the program:


I think that was obviously one of the games that kicked off the success that we've had here and allowed us to compete with the Ohio States, the Michigans, the Penn States. And now the way the league is going—you never know. Iowa has a great year one year, Northwestern has a great year, we have been able to have two or three good years. Minnesota is having a great year this year, Michigan State obviously. Again, if you don't come ready to play in this league, obviously you can get beat.


But I think what that probably did for us is it gave us some credibility across the country particularly from a recruiting standpoint.


Even now where you have situations where fans rush the field, like Ohio State this year, do things like that make you think back to that Michigan game?


Yeah, I think it does enter your mind particularly with a big win. I think what we have done here from a security standpoint has helped that. I think it is smart that when the kids want to come down on the field that they allow them down on the field rather than getting them all stacked up, which is what happened at the Michigan game. So based on some things here to relieve the pressure, here at Camp Randall, which hopefully an incident like that will never happen again.


Coach, you mentioned that any team could beat anybody on any weekend. Could you see a scenario where we would have a bunch of teams with two losses?


I think it is very possible. We obviously have to go up and play a very good Minnesota team. If we play well and are able to win that game then there is a good possibility that we could get back in the mix. I don't think there is any question that there is a strong possibility that the conference winner could have two losses.


There could be a lot of teams with that chance…


Well, I hope we are one of them.

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