Weekday Warriors

After practicing hard Tuesday, Wednesday and today, with Thursday's practice, according to him being the best one of them all, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema addresses the media for his staff and his players get to enjoy the next two days off.

Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema -


It's been our game plan ... what we did is we basically had some pretty intense practices Tuesday, Wednesday and also today. We concluded with what I thought was our best practice of the week. Mainly concentrated on Michigan the last two days. Tuesday was a preparation Wisconsin vs. Wisconsin. I think we've gotten healthy. Certain guys we've held out during the course of the week but everybody should be back to practice on Sunday. Some of it's going to be new design so it will be a good week of preparation.

I've asked them to be smart about the next two days and how you use them. We're giving them some time away and not to go out, you've got to warn Wisconsin kids, some of them hunt and some of them go run around all day. It doesn't do anything good to save your legs. Hopefully, we're going to take advantage of this time.

When Jonathan Casillas came back last week, you held him out of the nickel. Do you anticipate he'll be able to go full?

Well, a lot of that depends on how he responds next week. He went through three tough days this week, which we don't normally do as a program. I think that will be a good indication and what gives us the best chance on the field. I know he was moving around a lot better today than ever since it happened in camp.

Did Garrett Graham do anything in camp this week?

Garrett did not do anything. He's got a couple of issues. On a play in the Marshall game, got whacked in the shoulder. Nothing structural but just a real bad bruise and that got hit on Saturday in addition to a foot issues. They expect him to be able to go by Sunday.

Was it the surgical shoulder?

No, it was the opposite shoulder on the back. They say it's a spot that wasn't padded up.

What exactly led to Aaron Henry's second surgery?

In his first surgery was obviously reconstruction. When they were in there, there was a piece of cartilage, I am not a doctor, but they were able to sew it down and might be able to save it. Anytime you are able to save that, it's better for the knee overall. That re-ruptured and they basically went in to remove it.

What has he done this week?

He ran Tuesday and Wednesday. Today we didn't do anything because he swelled up after yesterday's workout. We figured if we give him this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and maybe even Sunday and Monday, it's a five-day break there of getting him back right.

He's been through a lot. Has he handled everything like you expected him to?

It's tough on him. Aaron is a kid with such great faith as you guys know and he puts a lot in the everything happens for a reason. I know it's testing him and it's difficult because he wants to be out there in the worse way. Some of those younger corners could use his influence maturity wise and level. I know it's been difficult but as far as anything we've been able to tell, he's been the same guy.

Paul Chryst said some candid things about your offense the other day. What did you see?

We can't miss our opportunities and that's the one thing I came away with. Even after our first game, there were a lot of plays, even though we were able to put up some impressive yardage, plays we left out there. Same thing going into the Marshall game. There were some big hits on some perimeter runs that were there. Obviously in the Fresno game, we definitely did some good things but that fourth-down stop, that should have been in the end zone. There are a lot of things we're leaving on the field and it isn't doing us any good. Against quality opponents on the road or at home, doesn't matter, as our level of competition rises, those things have to decrease.

Marcus Cromartie is not playing but the guy is only 17 and you look at his athleticism, is he just scratching the surface potential wise?

Marcus has got a lot of talent. He's got a lot of growing to do both physically and mentally. He's got all the physcial tools. He's just got to be more disciplined in how he practices. You look at what he's gone through with the hurricane stuff. You think a kid going out and playing cornerback could handle a situation like that? Do you think there is any carry over with everything he has endured?

At the beginning, we gave him a lot of reps because we thought he would be out there now. Down on scout team, he has good energy, he competed but just from what we needed, Devin Smith and Antonio Fenelus give us a better chance for this year.

Your first conference road game as a coach was at Michigan. You look back from your standpoint, how have you really grown as a coach?

I think I've grown with how I deal with you guys a lot (silence). Nobody is funny tonight I guess (laughing). I tell you what, I know I can manage the game a lot better. One thing we've had a strong tradition here is scoring a lot of points at the end of the second quarter and at the end of a game. That I think takes some practicing. We just did our second day in a row of two-minute offense. On the same account, we've got to continue to learn from our mistakes. This past weekend, it was a very difficult environment for players, coaches, everything. Obviously there's been a lot made about a certain call that was made. I've really learned in this profession that taking the high road is the best road all the time. Otherwise things can come back to get you and I've grown in that regard a little bit too.

What do you remember from that Michigan game?

You know, special teams blunders. I was kind of reminded of me last year when we were in our Michigan prep. David Gilreath said to me, "Coach, do you remember calling me last year after the Michigan game?" I told him, "If we had you on our roster, we may have won that football game." I really remember that because on the play Zach (Hampton) dropped that punt, we had called a reserve and I think it was there if we were able to catch that ball and secure it.

And just defensively toward the end of the game, those two plays that we gave up that were big plays and eventually lead to the hit.

There are so many teams using the spread and there are no teams in the NFL that use the spread. Can that be a recruiting tool?

Absolutely. In this last year, we've probably emphasized that more with the type of players we want. Particularly with offensive linemen (because) it's a different protection. We do what the NFl wants you to do and we use that in recruiting. The quarterbacks are the same way and I believe that was one of the big factors why Curt Phillips came here. I believe he didn't want to go to a spread and be a guy that was running all the time and getting whacked. We have used that to our advantage offensively in recruiting big time.

Does that get reinforced when the NFL scouts come through town?

It does and how we use the tight end. If they are a good tight end, over the last two years we've been able to get some really good prospects nationally and have had two tight ends call and question about transferring just because of the way we used our tight ends and the numbers they've been able to put up. When a dad recites the numbers that Garrett and Travis and that company have been able to put up over the last two years, you realize that it has an effect.

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