Q & A with Jim Hueber

BadgerNation.com spoke with the UW offensive line coach during the Badgers' week of preparation leading up to Saturday's Big Ten opener

How would you grade your linemen to this point in the season?

"The whole thing doesn't matter. Right now we are 3-0 so everybody is getting a good grade. We need to start over. There is a different tempo. There is a different look at things when you get into the league. We know their [Penn State's] preparation is going to be different because they are opening up the league. They have the same goals that we do. So in that respect there is really; there is no reason to even talk about the other games. I mean it is all pointing forward now."

How does the preparation change then?

"I just think there is a different; on the inside I think everybody would tell you there is a different feel in the air. There is a little bit more, you know, you are playing those [non-conference] games and they are all important. But now you get into the league and now you know every game, if you want to get where you want to go… you've got to win every game. Regardless of what happened to you before then, when you start the season you have to win and you can't win the next one until you win this one. So, it puts a little added pressure on you because these games count in where we are going at the end of the year."

[Head coach Barry] Alvarez commented on Monday that you always strive for perfection even though it is an impossible goal. How close can you get and when are you content?

"It is all a relative term. ‘How close can you get?' You know, with five guys in there that have to play in concert with each other (on the offensive line) I don't know if you'll ever achieve it. But that's the deal. You open up every spring practice, every fall camp and you talk about trying to play the perfect game even though nobody has. That's how you look at it. How close can you get? Somebody might grade, you know, 95 percent and if you have somebody on the other side grade 75 percent it doesn't make any difference. It truly is, with my group, it truly is that all five guys play well together."

Do you go home, and if you win you feel happy, or do you have to have a certain performance level you have to achieve?

"You know what? I have to say this to you. George Seifert said something and I thought he was crazy when he said it but now that I'm a little bit older I see it the same way. The highs you get from winning are never as high as the lows are you get from losing. So, you know, you are happy when you win but it is never as high, as bad as you feel if you lose."

So is all the work just to avoid that feeling of loss?

"Well, I think the work is the same reason why you are in coaching: the teaching. You want to see the plan that you put together work. You want to find out if you've done the right things. I think you work, obviously, you are never working to lose. You know, you are trying to win. But it is not to avoid losing. I don't ever fear losing. I don't feel good about it. But I don't fear it. The object is to win."

You have only allowed one sack this season—

"I think people that are astute and look at the game are going to know. We are doing a better job. We are looking at protections better. I think people that watch John Stocco know that he gets rid of the ball. I think they watch our running backs, Bernstein in particular, protect. They know that if all three things are working that it's all in phase. So, when you look at it in that respect, you say to yourself, OK, well, the protection is better, the quarterback is getting rid of the ball and you've got a chance, you've got a chance every time."

How much does the scheme have to work in concert with Stocco?

"It won't make any difference how you block something if he's not secure in the fact that he can let the ball go. Or, who it is that's being turned loose and where the ball needs to go if that guy is loose. So when you look at it and you put all those things in. They all have to be together. If there is any hesitation in any phase than you have a chance for trouble. Then when you have trouble you can wind up with a sack."

The offense has had some uncharacteristic problems in short yardage situations this year, particularly the fourth down plays inside the five—

"Well, we were on the goal line and didn't score. And then we had a short yardage the other day with the fullback and we didn't make it. We made it with the sneak. It doesn't make any difference if you make it with him running into the end zone or you make a half a yard when you need a half a yard. So, there are still situations. We broke it down, broke it down and I think we've got a pretty good handle on what it was. We just worked to correct it."

What were the corrections?

(smiled and gave no comment)

Are you happy with the run blocking overall?

"Like I said, if you've got guys, you've got different running backs in there, you've got people that are running for yardage and you know what, there is a mesh that has to happen there too. Guys have to be comfortable looking at the blocking schemes and running the ball behind those guys. If we keep blocking it OK, they find a way, like Booker did Saturday; he finds a way to get up there over 100."

In the flow of the game when the short-yardage problems occur…

"Unless it is way late in the game you can't get involved in that. The emotion of it carries itself. To raise hell about it and think that the game's over because you didn't take a short yardage that's too short-sighted to do it. And, you know, had we thrown a fit on Saturday [in Tucson], who knows, maybe we wouldn't have come back and scored in the fourth quarter. The kids may have gotten down on themselves. We can't look at it that way. If we don't make it then there is something wrong and let's go after it the next time.

"If there is a correction to be made, if somebody's got a glaring error, and I can't tell you anybody thought that at the time, and until you watch the film you are not going to make a correction. So to lose your personality and stand on the sideline and raise hell, unless you know exactly what you are talking about the kids will know you are blowing up for no reason. Cause they are searching for an answer too. There has never been a guy that's lined up that I know that's every played for us that's lined up and said, ‘let me go in here and make a mistake and see if I can screw this up.' The kids will know if you are not giving them an honest answer."

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