George, you haven't had a game to look at yet, but since you've taken over the program what have you learned about the state of the program and how much territory do you need to cover to get it where you want it to be?
"I think it's a rebuilding process. Obviously we have some good skilled athletes I think that can make big plays. I think at the level that we want to play at you win the game up front, offensive line, defensive lines. I think obviously recruiting has to take place the next couple years to get this program where I'd like to see it."
You have two games early in the season where instant replay will be used. I was wondering if I could get your thoughts on replay and whether you are looking forward to the experiment or not?
"I'm used to instant replay from the pros. It's not exactly what the pros have. I've never been a big believer in instant replay. I think if you are going to do it you go the route the NFL goes but obviously it's a lot more expensive to do it that way. I understand why the Big Ten is doing it. Obviously it's a good Big Ten rule; Big Ten to Big Ten…I'm anxious to see how it does work with a Big Ten official in the stands."
Did you sign off on it or was that a conference decision?
"I think that was a conference decision. My own personal opinion, if I had to make a decision I would have said no."
How emotional is it going to be for you on Saturday taking your team on the field at Camp Randall after all you've been through the last couple years?
"I think just to be able to take a team on the field is good enough. But I tell you it is a great place to play a game. You're facing a Big Ten team that is a typical Big Ten team that has a great crowd, involvement in the game and a well-coached team. Again, we have a lot of unknowns. That is the big problem any time you play a first game. They have a new coordinator there and just how much they retain to their old system and their new system defensively. We have a lot of young players and just how they react on the field and how they handle that type of situation will be interesting."
What's the support been like in the coaching fraternity since you got this job?
"I tell you what, it has been a great situation for us here. Coaching is coaching. I think coaching's a fraternity, as you said. I think people understand, guys that work the game and guys that work at it and guys that do what they're supposed to do from an NCAA standpoint. I think they understand that coaches are going to coach and life moves on. I don't think they harbor on anything that happened in the past."
How confidant are you in your quarterback and can you talk about your progress offensively and what you would like to do ultimately offensively when you get your system in?
"I think our quarterbacks are all talented athletes. Obviously, they don't have enough grass underneath their feet as far as enough sunrises to sunsets as far as just experience is concerned. But they all can throw the ball well, which I think is the No. 1 thing I look for in a quarterback. And they all have a good head on their shoulders so they can make the right decisions, which I think is critical for young quarterbacks that they make right decisions and they basically do the things necessary to get you in a good play and out of a bad play."
What will your strengths be early on?
"I would say offensively…we have some skilled kids…that have ability to do things with the ball when it's in their hands. Obviously we have to put hats on people to block…"
"Defensively, I think the secondary area is probably the strength of the defense. There are some good athletes back there that can do a lot of different things."
When you were hired you talked about, ‘until we can run the football and stop the run, we won't win big.' How confidant are you that you made strides in both of those areas?
"I think we have made strides in both areas. We've gotten better running the ball, sustaining blocks and finishing blocks. And obviously we you get better offensively running the ball you get better defensively because you have to see it every day. We've improved… obviously not where I'd like to see it right now but I think we'll get better with each and we just have to continue to recruit the right players so that—I think coaching is a part of the game—I think good players win big games. I think we have to get more big, big-time players here to get that done."
How much do you need to run Alex Haynes on Saturday just to keep the ball away from Wisconsin?
"Alex will get his opportunities but I'll play all three tailbacks. That's the way I want to do it because I think it's a long season and you need to keep fresh legs out there. Alex will get his opportunities as will Dontavius Wilcox and Curtis Francis, who I've been very impressed with as a true freshman, as far as ability to see daylight and get thing going."
How much trouble do you think it will be to put a dent in the Badgers' lines on both sides of the ball?
"Obviously watching film that I've seen they are stout on both sides of the line. I think the big thing is going to be sustaining blocks and stopping penetration… It is going to be a chore, obviously, because I think they are good. I think Wisconsin's offensive line is very good and I think the defensive line is very stout up front and makes a lot of plays upfront. Again, we'll have our work cut out for us. We obviously are going to throw the ball but I think the big thing is that we have to be able to run the football if we are going to sustain anything in that ball game."
You've seen another talented running back from Wisconsin in Michael Bennett with the Vikings. What are your impressions of Anthony Davis?
"I think he's outstanding. I think he's a great daylight runner. He runs strong, he makes people miss. And when you are running behind a big line like Wisconsin has it only makes him better because I think if he gets into your second level I think he's extremely dangerous. Plus, he makes enough guys miss in the hole. He's a running back that you look for—they make the cut in the hole, not before it. So you have to make sure that you know where you belong defensively from a responsibility standpoint."
George O'Leary verbatim
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