"We've done a lot of good things so far this year. You know, obviously we've attained our goal of being 1-and-0 each week. But at the same time it's good to have a bye week, you know, to get some rest, get some guys healed. And, you know, like I said, just getting the rest is a big thing. I think a lot of the guys are looking forward to that."
John, when the game ended Saturday, some had suggested that you guys were just gassed, that, you know, that you couldn't have had this come at a better time. Did you feel that sense of exhaustion when the game ended Saturday?
"Not really. You know, we work real hard. You know, we've got great conditioning. You know, I think the guys are still real hungry. You know, everybody wants to win and, you know, we've been playing to win. And, you know, I didn't get the sense that we were exhausted. But at the same time, you know, it's good to have a bye week to get some rest."
John, you always talked about critiquing your own game. What have you seen, what areas of improvement in your own game have you seen over the last three weeks that maybe you didn't see early on?
"I think it's just being more comfortable in general, you know, stepping up in the pocket. I think early I scrambled too quickly. I'm starting to feel more comfortable in the pocket. I'm starting to see the defense a little bit better. I still need to get better with that, you know, in the first few games I thought I missed a lot of open passes. You know, and I still miss some. I can still get better with that. But I think the biggest thing is just being more comfortable in general."
John, how about the fact that on the other side of this bye week is Minnesota, a team, you know, you're from Minneapolis. It'll be your first career start against the Gophers, first playing time against them. Is that something that's a nice incentive . . . start focusing on next week?
"Oh, definitely. You know, all the games are important, but, you know, this is definitely one that's, you know, close to me, growing up in Minnesota and watching them. And, you know, it's just a great tradition, a great rivalry with them. That's something that I'm definitely looking forward to."
John, speaking of that pocket you've had to throw from, what do you think of the job by the guys up front? And the coaches have given you a lot of credit for helping reduce the sacks, but, you know, only six sacks through eight games, what do you think of the job they're doing?
"Unbelievable. Those guys have just been working so hard. They've been doing an unbelievable job. If you look at, you know, a lot of the sacks were mostly just me, you know, holding onto the ball too long. There was a couple times last game, you know, where I got to have that clock in my head, and, you know, the offensive line does an outstanding job, but, you know, they can't hold those guys off all day. And, you know, as a quarterback you've got to have that clock. But, yeah, they've just been doing an incredible job."
"You mentioned Minnesota. First of all, I can't remember, did they recruit you much? Did you look at them? We hear guys from this state a lot, especially some of the walk-ons, talk about, you know, their dream is to play for Wisconsin. I mean, were you looking at playing for Minnesota when you were a kid growing up or how did that pan out?"
"Well, just growing up in Minnesota, you know, obviously I'd watched them and, you know, I was close to them. I mean, my decision really came down to here and Minnesota. Well, you know, ultimately I just thought this was a better fit to me, you know, just with the academics and the tradition here. And, you know, it varies from guy to guy and, you know, you've just got to go where you feel comfortable and, you know, what you like best and, you know, I liked it here more."
John, you guys have been pretty efficient offensively and you've kind of done what you needed to do. Are you looking for a breakout game? Do you think one of those is in the future here?
"Well, you know, we've done a lot of good things on offense this year. We've held onto the ball. Our time of possession, I think we're, is a lot higher than our opponent. You know, we've been moving the ball. We've been driving it. We just haven't put a lot of points on the board. That's something that, you know, we just can't press. We just got to keep doing the things we've been doing. You know, those big plays will come. We just can't press. And we know we've been doing a lot of good things, we know we can get better, but the biggest thing is we just can't press."
Is that where the growth is though, big plays, or where do you think the potential growth is for the offense from this point on?
"I think a big thing we need to work on is getting better on first down, and that'll put us in better situations. And, you know, like I said, the big plays will come. You know, I need to get more accurate throwing deep balls. But at the same time, I can't force anything. But, you know, like I said, we just can't press and those things will come."
John, we've talked to Coach Alvarez about the concerns he might have with you guys on State Street on Saturday night, a bye week. Are you a State Street-on-Halloween kind of guy?
"No. No. That's something that I've heard a lot about. And I think it was last year, I think I happened to pass by. I don't know. I think I was getting some food or something. That's something that I don't even want a part of. That's just, just crazy and something that, you know, nobody needs to be involved with."
You mentioned the deep pass, John. What's the key to being more accurate on that, do you think? Obviously you've got the arm strength and it's not an easy throw to make. Do you work on that throw a lot, or what's the key to getting more accurate on the deep ball?
"I think I just need to give our receivers a better chance to make a play on the ball. A lot of times I overthrow them, which is good. If you're going to miss that's where you want to miss. But I think if you can keep the ball outside, even if it's short, they can go and make a play on it and it's still in a good position. So I think just giving them a chance to go make a play for us is what I need to do."
John, I know it's obviously ingrained in you guys, the coaches, everybody on the team about the go 1-and-0 every week, go 1-and-0 every week. It's in almost every answer that you guys give to any particular question. Do you find that it's so ingrained in your head mentally that even when you're asked something on campus as you're walking around, talk to a professor or other students, you're just saying 1-and-0 all the time to them whatever it is, or do students and teachers come up and say something to you where they joke about the 1-and-0 thing?
"Yeah, they actually do sometimes, which is kind of weird. But, you know, that's something that, you know, we talk about all the time. And, you know, we can't look down the road and, you know, that's just, it's worked out for us. And I think that's the mindset you have to have. You start thinking about goals down the road and where you want to be down the road, well, you know, and it's not going to happen unless you take care of business right now. And, you know, we've got to do what's important right now. That's been the motto all year."
Can you remember a particular instance that really struck you as funny whether you had a student or professor come up and say something about the 1-and-0?
"Not really. A lot of times people will say, '8-and-0, good job' or whatever, and I'll just say 1-and-0, and then they'll be like, 'oh, yeah, that's right.' You know, just things like that. But, yeah, it's nice to see that though."
After the last game, John, a couple of the seniors were talking about their desire to bring respect back to the program and how that was a real focus for these seniors. What do you think of the job the senior group has done leading and playing this year, and how important was that to them do you think to reestablish that respect?
"Yeah, that's something that the whole team has talked this year, is getting that respect back. And I thought, I think the seniors have done an unbelievable job for us, you know, their on-the-field leadership as well as off the field. You know, they've been in, we've got a lot of old guys, we've got a lot of seniors, and they've been in a lot of situations before. So it's great to have that. You know, there's nothing, nothing new to them, and, you know, they've just done a great job for us."