Ready to Deliver the Package

Last year was supposed to be the season where running back Zach Brown broke out of his funk. After back-to-back games with costly fumbles, Brown was relegated to third-down duty, make cameo appearances in the UW offense. Now entering his final season, Brown is looking to get back to his old ways and contribute in the backfield.

MADISON - After breaking out with 450 yards in his final four games his freshman year, Zach Brown played third string behind Clay and P.J. Hill last season, managing only 305 yards on 55 carries last year.

Always feeling like he was all-around player, Brown approached the last offseason wanting to enhance his capabilities in order to provide an added component to the run game after he was challenged by running back coach John Settle to regain that competitive fire.

But after a ball-security problem against Wofford and Minnesota, Brown was benched in favor of Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year John Clay and up-and-coming freshman Montee Ball.

After another positive offseason in which Brown added some weight and confidence, the senior from Palm Beach, Florida, is running with a purpose again, showing poise and speed in the offense for Wisconsin.

Badger Nation: Do you feel like this is your last season? Do you have that mindset that this is your last season and you need to make a big impression?

Zach Brown: Well, yes and no. I am just trying to come out here and just trying to play for God. I just want to play for best. I am going into it thinking it's my last year because you never know when it's going to be your last game. I learned that from Luke Swan. I am just coming out and playing like it's my last practice.

Badger Nation: What was last season like for you? You admitted that you had some confidence problems earlier in the year and with John Clay and Montee Ball having good seasons, you were relegated to third-down duty. How big of a challenge was that for you?

Zach Brown:Definitely was a tough year. This is a team game. I had my troubles but I felt I rebounded in the end and played good. It was great to see John and Montee come together, carry the load and take this team where it needed to go. I was more of the third-down back and I needed to be effective with that position. If it was good for the team, it was good for me. Whatever helped us get where we needed to go.

Badger Nation: Did you ever waver with your confidence or did you stay confident despite your bumps in the road?

Zach Brown: Oh, well, I think at one point I did waver with my confidence, probably after the Minnesota game when my fumble was returned for the touchdown and almost cost the team. But after I had my concussion, we had a bye week and I just gathered myself together. I knew nothing had changed since fall camp. I just needed to be the player they needed me to be, and I was able to do that at the end.

Badger Nation: We have seen a lot of speed, burst and quickness from you this spring. Is that something you focused in on during the winter conditioning season?

Zach Brown: Yes, and I feel quicker. I give the thanks to God and the strength and conditioning staff. They do a lot of good stuff with us during the winter program, and it really shows out here on the field.

Badger Nation: You were pretty pumped last fall when you told me that you gained six pounds. You said that was a lot for you, so what did you do this winter? How did the strength staff change you and your makeup?

Zach Brown: Well I started working after break, I reached 220 pounds. I was trying to stay there but once we started doing stations for conditioning, I dropped down to a solid 210. I think I am solid right there and that is good for me.

Badger Nation: How does 210 pounds make you the best running back you can be?

Zach Brown:I think it's good. I am not too heavy, so I can keep my quickness. At the same time, I think I can pack a little bit more of a punch when I lower my pads. I just have to add something different to my dimension. John and Montee are power backs, so I am trying to do something different for the team.

Badger Nation: The Wisconsin offense has so many strengths with so many experienced players returning. In your eyes, what's the strength of this offense?

Zach Brown:That's a good question. I would have to say … I don't even know. Our strength of out offense is like you said, all the experience players. The thing is, we all have to be on when it times to play. We know we have a strength with our offense, but we have to show it, and we have to show up.

Badger Nation: What does a healthy John Clay mean to this team and what does a healthy John Clay mean to you?

Zach Brown:A winner. John is just an amazing running back, and he did all his success with bad ankles. I am anxious to see how he is going to look with good ankles. I am looking forward to him having a good season for this team.

Badger Nation: The same question, this time about Montee Ball?

Zach Brown:He's going to be a good one, too. The funny thing is that Montee came in and everybody started talking right away about all quick he was and how quick he caught on to the system. For him, he just needs time to learn so he can grow as a running back. I think it'll show in fall camp and during the season with how much he has grown.

Badger Nation: Through two weeks of camp, how do you feel you have approached these practices and how do you feel that have gone for you and this team?

Zach Brown:I think they are going well. For me personally, I am just trying to come out here and take what I learn in the meetings and show it. In the past, I've been told something in the media room and then do something different on the field. I've taken the coaching points better this spring and I feel I am more patience. In our running game, you've got to have patience to follow your blockers and to hit the hole when you see it. I am trying to get better at it, but my patience gives me an advantage.

Badger Nation: Are you excited for your senior season or do you wish you had more time?

Zach Brown:You always wish you have more time, but there's a beginning, a middle and an end to everything. I am looking forward to end and to see what I do with it.


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