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September 27, 2014

Gary Andersen

Wisconsin – 27
South Florida - 10

GARY ANDERSEN:  Well, that game was obviously a tale of two halves.  Very proud of the young men in the second half the way they came out, kind of the concept or the idea that we had last week when we needed to get the game flipped in our favor kind of happened a couple times in this game, and after the big punt return we were able to score, we came back out three‑and‑out on defense, get a punt return, we score.  It was big, again, it's all three phases being involved.  And then we also did a nice job of a huge play by Lubern; what an unbelievable play by a true freshman in a situation to make that play at that moment was impressive, great effort, great care factor.  Those are the plays that change games and those are the plays that often times change seasons.  You have to have a few of them.
South Florida, they're fast.  Showed up, faster than I thought.  They absolutely were, and they ran very, very well.  I think their coaches did a nice job of identifying the man coverage that we wanted to be able to play, and they got a couple things on us that was executed very, very well.  Good coaches.
But in the second half, there was really no adjustments.  There was no magical speeches.  I just asked the kids to settle down a little bit and just play.  I feel like we were pressing.  I don't think we were tight, I don't think we were prepared poorly, I think we were just pressing at that time, and they handled it well, came out and had a nice second half.  Adversity hit us right in the face, and we came out and answered in a big way in the second half.

Q.  Regarding the slow starts at Western Illinois, Bowling Green, offensively I'm speaking, are you more mystified or annoyed at this point as to what's going on?
GARY ANDERSEN:  Yeah, I would say frustrated.  We need to come out of the tunnel and have some success.  I'm not saying you've got to go score a touchdown your first drive, but you've got to act like it's a football team that is in a situation to change the game at any moment on offense, defense and special teams in your favor, and whether that's a 10‑ or 12‑play drive, or whether that's a big play somewhere.  It just felt like we were leaving opportunities out there on the field, and you just can't do that.
So yes, it is frustrating, and it's a little frustrating for all of us right now.  But those kids, they're frustrated, too.  Very happy about the win.  But they're looking forward to Monday.

Q.  Was this the kind of tough, physical game that went into the fourth quarter that you thought your team needed, especially since Big Ten play starts next week?
GARY ANDERSEN:  I don't know if I thought we needed it.  Looking back it was definitely a four‑quarter football game.  We've played four of them now, and two of them have been there in the fourth quarter for an opportunity to win it or lose it.  But we reacted well to all the situations that came in front of us.  We didn't always execute well, but I thought we handled the scenarios, which is good to see.  But getting out of a tough game and getting out of the fourth quarter is always good for a team.

Q.  What was your demeanor like at halftime?
GARY ANDERSEN:  Just like this.  I was pretty mellow with them.  I didn't feel like I needed to get after them at all.  I didn't think it was that spot.  Last week I felt a lot different at halftime as far as where we were, even though it was 40‑10.  It was just different.  This game did not have that feel to me at all.  I just wanted them to not press, and when I look at that, a lot of times, and I feel like that as a head coach or as a position coach or as a coordinator, I look right at myself first:  Is there something that I can do to help them understand that, hey, the guy next to me will make plays, this offense will take care of itself, this defense will take care of itself?  I'll put a lot of thought into that this weekend.

Q.  A couple times this year you've gone for it on 4th down.  Today you opted to go for the field goal.  What was the reason for the departure there?
GARY ANDERSEN:  A couple things.  It made it a two‑score game, which I thought was imperative at that moment.  And we had not been doing a good job on the base power play.  I mean, Taylor's foot got stepped on two or three times when he's trying to pull out and hand the ball off.  We fumbled the ball when we got in the red zone once before.  So at that point in my opinion, the right thing to do was to kick that field goal and get a two‑score lead.

Q.  Obviously the Big Ten starts next week.  Do you like where you're at or are there still some things that you're kind of wondering about that maybe you wish you weren't wondering about?
GARY ANDERSEN:  Yeah, there's definitely a lot to wonder about.  I'm sure every football team in the country has that.  I like this team.  I love being around them; they're fun to coach.  I've said that many times, and I say it because I mean it.  We have a lot of work to do, we really do.  The inconsistencies that show up, we can coach better, we can prepare better as individual players, and make sure that we're presenting it as coaches in the right fashion and we're prepared when we go out there on the field to do our best.
We'll work hard at that, but I'm always unsettled, I suppose.  If we would have played very well today, I would still feel very unsettled walking into Big Ten play.  But I like these kids and I know they're going to give it their best.  The one thing I will say that has not gone away from four games is this team plays with unbelievable effort.  You can pull it up on tape and watch these kids play very, very hard.

Q.  Can you describe your overall comfort level with the passing game headed into Big Ten play?
GARY ANDERSEN:  Yeah, not real good.  It's just not.  It's inconsistent and there's a lot of pieces, again, that go into that, and we're going to work hard as an offense to get better in the throw game and 3rd downs because if we can't, it's going to be a little difficult as we continue to move forward.  You're not always going to hold teams to 10 points and eight 1st downs.  It's not going to happen.

Q.  Two weeks in a row your defense has allowed kind of clusters of big plays that have been answered with making plays of their own, takeaways.  Are you okay with that equation at this point in time?
GARY ANDERSEN:  No, not really.  I'm okay if a kid makes a big play.  The big tight end, No.80, catches the ball, we're in man coverage, he makes a great play, and in my mind that's a big play.  Do I like it, no, but hey, that's football.  The wheel route down their sideline there when it's a 10‑point football game, that's inexcusable for all of us, and it all starts with me.  The big plays do have me a little bit concerned.  It was nice to see us making a play on the deep ball; that play that Sojourn made on the deep ball today was very encouraging to get that ball out.
Defense is defense, but 10 points is 10 points, which is fantastic.  They played very, very well.  But we do not want to be known as a defense that gives us big plays.

Q.  Derek Landisch had another big game.  How important has his leadership been for this defense?  Game in and game out he's really stepped up for you.
GARY ANDERSEN:  Yeah, he is a tremendous leader.  In fact I talked to Derek just before I walked in here, and it's gaining momentum, too.  He becomes stronger and stronger.  His presence is felt on the field, his presence is felt in the locker room more every single day and every single week, and you can see it on Tuesday just as well as you can see it on Saturday.  He's a huge part of that defense, and there's some of those kids that are out there playing right now that need to continually learn how to prepare consistently, and they should follow Derek Landisch.

Q.  Considering you thought your team was pressing the first half, how important was it then to come out in that opening series the second half and the offensive line to establish itself?
GARY ANDERSEN:  It was big.  I thought it was huge.  I talked to them about this, just six more inches, how many times are we just an ankle away or a leg tackle away or Melvin sees a hole that's another foot wider instead of six inches, sure, he's going to break it and he's going to go, and that showed up, and it was big to have him react and have the positive plays that they had in the run game.  That was great.  It was a huge positive and got us moving in the right direction.
The 90‑yard drive there after the turnover was huge for us to be able to move the ball down the field and have some success.

Q.  What is your level of concern with Melvin losing a fumble for another game?  On top of that he obviously responded very well, 30‑plus carries.  Does that give you great confidence?
GARY ANDERSEN:  The fumble today, I don't think that there's any running back in the history of the world that would have any chance of not fumbling that football.  We got a 3 technique running through the middle of the defense and hit him on the exchange.  That doesn't worry me at all.
But if Melvin was standing right here, he'd say, that's my fault.  That's just the kind of kid he is.  But that's not his fault.

Q.  You mentioned the passing game.  Obviously you're not going to change quarterbacks, you've got your offensive line the way it is.  I know you've talked about the wide receivers have to earn trust to get playing time, but do you get to the point where you've just got to say with the young kids, you know what, maybe we can throw somebody out there and see if they make a play for us?
GARY ANDERSEN:  Yeah, and I didn't see a bunch of plays that I thought, wow, we just didn't make them today.  Obviously we need to throw the ball better at times, and it's a fingertip to Sam, and there's a throw here and a throw there.  I'm a little bit more worried about the fact that when we throw the ball early, we're not throwing it real well, and that's something‑‑ and hopefully we can continue to overcome.  We'll continue to also work with the quarterback position, and like everything else, it's always‑‑ we're going to battle through and we're going to work to throw the ball better.  We're going to have to if we're going to, again, be a good football team and ever have a chance of being a great football team.

Q.  Those takeaways, what do you shoot for in a game, and how are you doing in that regard?
GARY ANDERSEN:  The goal is three.  We're doing okay.  I couldn't off the top of my head tell you what we had today.  I should but I don't.  Two?  Our goal is to get three.
Now, the number of plays they ran today is going to be pretty difficult to get to three turnovers because their plays were way down.  But I think‑‑ I would say when we are moving towards an aggressive defense, we're making strides in that area, I think we're making strides in getting to the quarterback, but in this game early, we didn't.  We did not, and we turned the ball over and gave them opportunities.  Late we did.

Q.  With Gordon did you notice a demeanor change in the start of the second half?  Was he angrier or did things just open up, because he was talking with players, too.
GARY ANDERSEN:  Yeah, he definitely had some physical runs that had a purpose when he came out at halftime, there's no question.  But he had energy, he had excitement, he was ready to go at the first of the game, but when you get in that position, in that situation, trust me, I could never be that guy.  I couldn't see what he sees on the field in a million years.  But I just felt like he thought he was so close, and that probably frustrated him that he was so close, and that probably gave him a little bit more energy, a little bit more juice, and showed him, too.  But he ran hard in the first half, too, I thought.

Q.  Was he pressing like everybody else in the first half?
GARY ANDERSEN:  I didn't feel that at all, no.

Q.  You didn't feel that?
GARY ANDERSEN:  No, absolutely not.  I felt he was creeping the holes.  There was a lot of those runs he was getting in there with four or five yards and sometimes there was absolutely nothing, and eventually it started to open up a little bit.  But I did not feel like he was‑‑ and I can't even say I look at one person and say that kid was pressing.  I just felt that.  That's myself.  I didn't look at a kid and say, oh, man, settle down.  Again, I look at myself and feel like for some reason if I have that feeling, then I'm going to share it with the kids and I'm going to try to get it fixed.

Q.  Nolan got racked pretty good during the fourth quarter.  Is he okay?
GARY ANDERSEN:  Yeah, yeah, he seemed great after the game.

Q.  Melvin and Corey have had pretty similar carry numbers coming into this game and then Melvin got a majority of them today.  Was there a reason behind that?
GARY ANDERSEN:  No, not really, just the feel of the game.  I'm sure Thomas and Andy just wanted to keep Melvin in there and give him chances, so a lot of carries for Melvin today, and I think he's deserving of those carries on this particular day.

Q.  Sam Arneson came out late in the third quarter, looked like he tweaked his ankle or something.  Did you think he was 100 percent when he came back in, and overall how important is he to your passing game?
GARY ANDERSEN:  Yeah, the trainers cleared him to be able to come back in, so I'm assuming if he wasn't 100 percent, he was definitely good enough to come back and play.  It's hard to keep that kid off the field.  Again, he seemed fine to me the way he was moving around.  He's a huge part of the throw game.  We'll continue to grow and develop, and we need to make those lay‑ups that we missed today with him on the one situation.  But Sam is‑‑ we're sure glad he's there because he's a big part of this offense.

Q.  You mentioned the fumble wasn't Melvin's fault.  What happened on that run when a guy comes free that quickly?
GARY ANDERSEN:  Yeah, I've got to see that on film.  I don't know if it was a technique issue or a missed assignment, but we had a little bit of a problem today with initially at the point of attack on the line of scrimmage moving backward on the snap.  Are they jumping our snap?  Are we giving people an opportunity to not mix up our cadence, because boy, they were getting in there pretty quick, and we haven't had that issue.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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