Bielema Discusses NCAA Rule Changes

Preparing to tweak the spring game if needed and discussing how new rules could impact the game, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema addresses the media following Wisconsin's 12th spring practice of the season.

Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema -

Full Transcript:

Bret Bielema: One of the things that was positive today, unlike some of the other days this spring, guys that started the scrimmage ended the scrimmage. We were able to stay healthy last week for the most part other than Tuesday. This coming Tuesday, we should get Nick Toon back, O'Brien Schofield and one other guy should return. Otherwise going into our last week, I like the progress. Because of the injury situation on defense, we've been playing a lot of guys that necessarily should not fit into our game plan next year. So I was excited to see the offense do the things they did today. I thought they moved the football. There were certain things that happened over the course of the day that we'll be able to correct on film.

Bret, what is Xavier Harris' status?

Bret Bielema: Ever since he's been here, he's had some issues with his back. What we basically did is did a procedure with him is give him an injection that should make the last week more comfortable for him and give him some relief to get through next week. He should be back on Tuesday and if not Tuesday, for sure Thursday or Saturday.

And Blake Sorensen?

Bret Bielema: Blake lifting Thursday strained his pectoral muscle. We should have him back Tuesday, as well. Just wasn't at full strength today to be able to go but nothing serious.

Were you pleased with the way the offense moved the ball?

Bret Bielema: I was, even if the first skelly period when we threw the ball deep a couple times. I though Allan (Evridge) was on, had some good rhythm on his throws. Running the football, as well, I though our guys were patient. Zach Brown had the best run of the day on his touchdown run but that was set up by the most impressive block of the day, other than (Kraig) Urbik's block on a screen pass, by John Moffitt pulled out in front and covered up a safety, making that play.

Evaluation wise, how much do you take out of scrimmages like these?

Bret Bielema: They are huge. We made a big emphasis in last night's meetings, this was as close as you were going to get to a game-like situation in the spring. We had a team meeting at nine o'clock this morning before they went out on the field and stressed what we were trying to do. We started off with first and 10 and second down. You know first and 10, from an offensive point of view, you want to gain four or more yards. From a defensive point of view, you want second and seven or more. So that's what we started the day with because that's the foundation of winning.

(inaudible question)

Bret Bielema: I would reserve until I watch it all on film but just from watching it an observing it, I am getting the offensive call in one year and the defensive call in the other ear, but I thought they executed certain things. Other than a couple alignment errors, I think Allan had to call a timeout because he though Moore was the X in a Z and Z. Things that wouldn't be normal in a game situation.

Is the attention next week still to run the spring game? Has that changed at all?

Bret Bielema: If the spring game was today, we would be able to run. I have dabbled around with a little bit of thought of, if we lose anybody from the offensive or defensive line positions, we would go with some half line skelly like we finished today, where basically only four lineman are going live and everybody else competes.

It probably won't be a definite answer until next Thursday until we find out where we are at.

Bret, do you get any feedback from fans that this is something that they really want a spring game? Do you feel pressure that way to keep it going?

Bret Bielema: No, I like it because it is exposure for our program. We are trying to build it up. I do know this, talking with our strength coaches, there are certain things we do after spring ball conditioning wise and typically there is a pro day where we let all the juniors run for the NFL, we have so many players that won't be able to run, we aren't going to run them overall, and the NFL guy that was talking today, there are four other schools in the conference that have done the same thing because they are so banged up. It's a situation that has unfortunately come about but it's a reality of what we've got.

On the flip side of our guys being a little dinged, everyone, except for one guy, will be heavily involved in our June program. The spring game, if it's good weather I am sure we'll get a good crowd and I think a lot of it depends on that.

Daven Jones caught some balls today …

Bret Bielema: He did but he dropped balls to. I had to get on him early in practice. I thought he put two on the ground that he should have been able to get. Again, it's how you finish and he caught them down the stretch.

A little bit off the beaten path, there's a lot of talk about the rule changes, particularly the face mask rule. Do they make sense to you?

Bret Bielema: And they have all gone through. Every one of them, except for the fair catch rule. The two that I am a little concern with and they asked for our input. So my staff and I sat down and the two that we were most important to me was I really didn't like the clock continuing after an out of bounds play. I really believe if you are down by two or more scores going into the fourth quarter, you may really start to think about a hurry-up type offense. Now the clock will only be stopped the last two minutes of the first half and the second half.

One of the things they asked us to clarify was if we felt it would affect the integrity of the game and I really think that aspect will change how people look being down by two or three scores. That one I was a little bit against. The other one that concerned me was the 15 yards for an automatic facemask. What I have been told, and I am going to get clarification in the summer, is there is no longer incidental facemask. If you brush along a guy's facemask, which use to be a five yards, supposedly isn't going to get called at all. But I was concerned that it would all of a sudden get turned into a 15 yarder.

What the coaches really have to be aware of. We used to get two sidelines warnings before being penalized for any type of crowing the sidelines. Now it's an automatic penalty. There is no warm-up so it will be interesting to see how that pans out.

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