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November 15, 2014

Gary Andersen

Melvin Gordon


COACH ANDERSEN:  Unbelievable game by‑‑ this football team was hit right in the face with some major adversity at the beginning of the game.  And they just kept on battling.  I'm so proud of the kids overall.  Proud of this team.
I thought this guy, the best of the best.  Unbelievable.  And I know the first thing he's going to tell you is about his teammates.  So I'm going to tell you how special a young man he is.  I've said it all year long:  Ever since I got a chance to meet him, almost two years ago now, I knew it.
But you just keep‑‑ he's a special kid, off the field, on the field.  He's absolutely unbelievable.  Like I say, I think the best of the best.  But this football team was great today.
The defense, after getting some bad field position, they fought the turnover scenarios, kept on battling through that, which was great to see, and then just basically shut them down after that.  And this team keeps growing and developing and they made some nice plays today.  But it's his show.  NCAA record, are you kidding me?  Have at it.

Q.  This is for both of you.  Is the Heisman race settled do you think now?  I mean, I gotta ask.
COACH ANDERSEN:  No.  A long way to go and keep on fighting.
MELVIN GORDON:  More games.

Q.  Melvin, what does a game like this mean to you?  Breaking a record, setting records, on a big stage against a quality opponent with a championship at stake.  It's hard to believe that there's a better scenario for you out there?
MELVIN GORDON:  This game meant a lot.  Forget about the statistics.  I knew if we lost this game, it would be tough for us to get in the Big Ten championship.  It was pretty much the end of the road for us.  These last few games are very important.
So overnight, and just during the week, you know with the teammates, we always stress these last three games, it's on us.  It decides our fate.  So this game was so important.  And to come out here and play the way we did, it's a great feeling.  We just gotta keep it going.

Q.  Gary, through three quarters, I think Melvin had a big play to set up all your scoring drives.  When you have a guy that's in a zone like that, how does that just change how you guys approach things and how much of a luxury is that for you?
COACH ANDERSEN:  Well, it's a luxury I've never had before as a coach.  I can promise you that much.  To see a performance like that was amazing.
But I feel like this team was ready from the moment when they got in there, and Melvin took full advantage of the situation that was there.  And those kids in front of him were some big holes there.  Some great opportunities for him to get to the next level.  And when he gets to the next level, it's almost impossible for one person to be able to bring him down.
We've seen that for his whole career at Wisconsin.  But if it's going and it's working, you want to keep going to it.  And that's what the mindset was with Coach Ludwig, and I thought he did a great job of mixing up the run game and mixing up Tanner to get him in there, Joel being able to throw the ball, get Joel on the move a couple of times.  I thought the game was called fantastic.

Q.  Melvin, can you describe the record‑breaker, because it seemed like you kind of slid it through the hole, didn't seem like anybody could even get an arm on you, and you high‑stepped it in to avoid another tackle get the record and the dramatic so to speak?
MELVIN GORDON:  I didn't even know I was close to a record like that.  I was kind of just running to win.  I seen him shifting over and it was a power play, usually don't take a backside.  I just kind of predetermined it.  I kind of new they would all sell out going to the left.  So I pressed it a little bit, cut back and just made it happen.
COACH ANDERSEN:  Just made it happen.  See how easy it is?

Q.  Melvin, this is Derek's first game back in a while blocking for you.  Can you talk about how that might have helped, how it made a difference?
MELVIN GORDON:  It's always special when I have White back there.  My comfort level is I'm so comfortable with White back there.  And I told him, after the Purdue game, I'll start you out one more game, if you don't play the Purdue game, I need you back regardless what's going on.
And he understood that.  And it's just good to have success back there, especially with him back there, because we've been through a lot together.

Q.  Melvin, can you explain when you thought you might have a special day in you?  Was it the first half you had 200 plus yards?  And for Gary, were you cognizant of any of those records?  Were you aware that he was getting close?  I'm sure you knew he was in the process of something special.
MELVIN GORDON:  You never know when you're going to have a special day, to be honest.  Every day you want to play great and get your team on board.  You never know when a special day comes but it's a great feeling.  That's pretty much all I can say to that.
COACH ANDERSEN:  I was unaware of any records other than when you see that happen, there's that many yards churning that way, you think there was some special things out there for him for sure.
And it was great when he got it and it was at a time in the game where he still needs to be in there that he got it, and we didn't have to press and take a chance with him in the fourth quarter when doing what's best for Melvin and the football team is to get him out of the game when we did.  I was happy that he could break it and have that opportunity.

Q.  A minute ago you said you thought this team was ready for the moment.  But at 10‑3 after one and down 17‑3 with all the turnover issues, anything you could put your finger on why and was there a turning point in all of that that got it back in your direction?
COACH ANDERSEN:  No, I don't think there was really a turning point.  We're kind of our own worst enemy.  We had some success and we lose the ball or something bad would happen to us.  But it's still the same thing, defensively we had a chance to get out of a couple of those drives.  We didn't make some plays.  It wasn't just one thing.  It wasn't one situation.  It wasn't one side of the ball.
I think we started off.  Kids were ready to play but didn't kind of go our way.  But, again, they were unfazed.  When you play a good football team, they'll do some things that cause you some problems.  They throw a nice ball against a very difficult scheme that in fact we had not seen and they get a touchdown on us in that position.  So I guess we need to coach them better against that scenario because those kids were in a hard spot.
But there wasn't a flipping point for the offense or defense.  They stayed well grounded and fought through it and it was an amazing day to watch.  It was a whole football team.

Q.  Gary, if you'll answer second.  I don't recall too many greater defensive performances in recent years.  If you'll chat about that.  And Melvin, you're as humble as you are gifted, but you know us media guys, first you get the Ron Dayne record, then you get the Big Ten record, and then the FBS and it's going up.  And congratulations.  Can you just tell us how much that means to you, all the blood, sweat and tears for something like this on this stage in a game that means so much to your team, please?
MELVIN GORDON:  It's a special feeling.  Just working with Coach, just pushing us to the max, so many days waking up early and just hard, work, sweat, to see it pay off, with me and my teammates, going out here having the success.  Like I said, it's a great feeling.  Words really can't explain how I feel or my teammates feel.
Like I said earlier, it showed Melvin Gordon and 408 yards, but it should have everyone up there, all the offensive linemen because they really made it easy for me today.  And they allowed me to have a lot of one‑on‑one matchups.  And it's kind of been like that all season.  Those guys have really been looking out for me.  I couldn't thank them more.
COACH ANDERSEN:  Defensively, this group is‑‑ they prepare like really no defense I've ever been around.  And they consistently have done that for, I said a week ago we have three, we'll see what we're talking about this defense in three weeks, and I'll say now, we'll see what we're talking about this defense in two more weeks.
But you gotta look at them, know how well they play together and how well they communicate.  They get on and off the field.  But they're very good in the work week, Tuesday.
They're going to get the plan.  They'll implement it.  They're always focused.  You don't have to walk around say let's go, let's get ourselves up today.  We had some bad days and good days.  They've come back and been prepared.  And moves on to Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
I think they grow, their momentum grows.  They're excited to go out and play.  They take coaching very well.  And I think they have a very good group of coaches that are coaching them.  They believe in the schemes that are presented in front of them.  Then they go have fun with it.  And they play good solid team defense and that was the case today, which you have to against that offense of Nebraska.  If you don't play good team defense, you have some real issues on your hands.

Q.  Gary mentioned about the adversity the team faced early.  You did as well with the two fumbles.  Correct me if I'm wrong, I think after the second one, was Evan Simon talking to you on the sideline?  Can you take us through from the time you got to the sideline after that second fumble what he said to you and how your emotions shifted after Warren forced that fumble and got you guys the ball back when it was 17‑10?
MELVIN GORDON:  After the second fumble I was kind of just out of it.  We had the momentum and we were driving down the field and then to fumble like that and lose the ball, it can really shift the game around.
It was kind of depressing.  It was my second fumble.  No running back like to fumble.  It's probably one of the worst things you can do.  To have two in a game, it really tears at the confidence out there.  And Coach Simon just stayed with me like he has been all year, told me to keep your mind into it.  You worked so hard.  Nobody can take this moment from you.  Stay in the game.
So it's a lot of guys that are looking up to you to make some plays.  And it was a lot of guys.  It wasn't just Coach Simon that was talking to me.  It was all my teammates.  I thank them for that, because it was tough for me.
It was tough for me, those two fumbles.  The turning point, I think they scored, got some points off those two.  I'm not sure.  Can't remember.  Trying to forget it.

Q.  Warren caused the fumble and then you guys went down to score?
MELVIN GORDON:  Had to step up.  And I just want to thank the coaches, too, just for sticking with me.  It's easy for a running back to fumble, and especially when you've got Corey to take you out and put the other back in.  So I just want to thank them, too, for that.

Q.  Melvin, when you made your decision to come back, was a moment like this what you were thinking about, not 408 yards or anything like that, but the situation the team was in and the ability to perform like you did today?
MELVIN GORDON:  Yeah, you think about it all.  From the beginning of the season, you know, it's going to be some point where you have to face adversity.  And we understand that.  That's just how the game works.  And we're coached to be ready for it.
That's how we're coached.  And we get to the Big Ten championship, be exactly what I thought it ought to be.

Q.  Melvin, you talked about coming back, going against (indiscernible) and Abdullah, being among the greats with Ron Dayne and all those other guys.  What's a day like today?  This is for both of you, what does a day like today do for the legacy of Melvin Gordon?
COACH ANDERSEN:  Well, it's a great legacy in my mind.  And again I always go back to it, but I've got a lot of‑‑ if we just talk football about it for a few minutes, which I will, it's kind of hard for me to do it with him because I see how he affects the teammates in such a positive way.
I'll never forget the day we communicated back and forth and Melvin had made the decision that he was going to come back.  And it was a pretty simple conversation.  But he had no idea how happy I was at that moment, probably.  But he made it for the right reasons.  And he did make it to come back to make a run at some special things individually.  And his legacy is going to be left here for a long time, and his footprints are going to be all over these hallways.
But the most important thing is his words are going to be in the minds of many, many young kids on this football team, those 51 freshmen, and he'll carry those records.  I told him this during the game and had a chance to whisper in his ear:  Everything he gets he deserves it because he's worked so hard for it.  He's done it the right way.
And he's an unbelievable talent but he's also an unbelievable kid.  And he's changed lives in a positive way.  And he's given us an opportunity to be where we are today along with many other kids on this football team.  But I'm glad he's got everything he gets.  Every trophy, every record, anything that comes his way is well‑deserved.

Q.  Melvin, you won the single game rushing record.  The guy who owns the career NCAA record in this room and the guy who owns the touchdown record also Wisconsin tailback.  Can you talk about the history?  Can you put in context the history of being with these guys and kind of blazing your own path with guys like Ron Dayne and Montee Ball?
MELVIN GORDON:  It's an honor to even be brought up with either backs.  And it just goes back to show you how special Wisconsin is having three backs holding three records is special.  Like I said, I'm just honored to be brought up in the same sentence as Mr.Dayne and my boy Montee.  Like I said, we always get a great coaching staff, great teammates.  Great players around us to be successful.  That's pretty much what I can say to that.

Q.  Gary, I know originally you said the Heisman, it's not over yet, still long way to go.  But it's been hard for running backs to win this award, only one since Ron won it in'99.  What does the country need to know about this guy as far as where he stacks up with the best players in the country?
COACH ANDERSEN:  I think that's Mr.Dayne, right, Melvin?  You know, where does Melvin stack up?  I guess that's the question at the end of the day, where does he stack up with the rest of the country as far as players?
I don't really know that.  I think he's the best of the best.  And I think he proved it today on a national stage when he was given the opportunity, and he's done‑‑ there's some great players out there.  Neither one of us are going to sit up here and discount any other great players that are out there.  Those decisions are going to be made by other people.
But I'm just telling you if I make that decision it's going to this guy right here in any way, shape or form.  Again, that comes without zero disrespect.  But it comes with I know what he's about.
And everything that's right about college football is Melvin Gordon.  He's an unbelievable talent.  A lot of people have God‑given ability, but a lot of people don't do anything with that God‑given ability.
He's taken it to the highest level, in my opinion.  It's going to be fun to see how it all goes down.  I'm excited at the end of the day for him.  But again his mindset right now is let's move ourselves onward.  We've got a big one next week.  And that will be his focus and he'll come out just as prepared this week as he was last week.

Q.  Melvin, you said you didn't know about the record beforehand.  But when you were sitting on the bench in the fourth quarter and they showed you on the big screen with the record there and the crowd was chanting your name, they were chanting Heisman, can you describe what that experience was like when you realized what you had accomplished?
MELVIN GORDON:  It felt good.  It feels great.  I mean, it's a great feeling to see your hard work pay off.  And it was just great.  My teammates is so excited, too, they got me amped up.  I was trying to hold back a little bit.  But after they told me, man, I felt so good.  And like I said, I just want to thank everyone around me, because all my teammates had a lot to do with everything, man.

Q.  Gary, you faced a top 20 defense in the country today and a school that's prided itself on its black shirt defense legacy for years and years.  Why did you run for 600 yards on them?
COACH ANDERSEN:  Well, I guess you have to ask the offensive coaches if you break that down.  But there was some very good schemes and difficult to handle, I'm sure, as I saw looking out there.
I don't spend a lot of time with those offensive coaches.  I'm a lot more involved this season with the defensive guys.
But I do look at practice every single day and there's a lot of moving parts and there's a lot of physicality to it.
When those kids get a little momentum going, they pride themselves on being able to physically run the ball.  I think their execution‑‑ we can never underestimate the power of the check of the quarterback.  That's another thing within our offense, many times when they have success it just gets sometimes lost.
But Joel's ability to understand presnap awareness and rotations within a defense is really as good as I've ever been, second to none.  I've never seen anyone that's been able to do that as consistent as he does and gives our offensive linemen a chance to play with leverage, or offensive linemen a chance to get on to the blocks where they have an opportunity to succeed.
So a lot goes into that.  And I would say the same thing on the offensive side as I said on the defense, this team prepares very, very well.  And they practice smart against each other.
And they understand that the workload is going to be less as far as the physical workload this time of year.  I mean, we're out there for at the most 16 periods.  There's more walk‑throughs and stuff.  We'll get them fresh.  But with that comes an understanding that you have to stay focused in those times.  I'm proud of those kids.

Q.  There's been a lot of questions about the historical performance that Melvin put on.  But what does this mean for‑‑ this win?  Where does this rank for you and this program and what you're trying to get accomplished here?
COACH ANDERSEN:  This is a big win, for all of us.  And personally this is a game where you get a lineup and you get to coach against Nebraska and you're Wisconsin and it's your second year in the Big Ten and there's a tremendous opportunity against a ranked opponent.  They've lost one game all season long.  We can go on and on.
It's a tremendous victory for all of us, every single person.  Every Badger in my opinion should be so proud of these kids.  But it's a big win.  It's a big victory.
Walked into this moment and we're prepared, but now what we gotta do is back it up next week.  Right?  This is what you do this late in the year.
We talked about it all year long, it's easy to start.  Winners can sustain and maintain.  But only the great ones can finish.  And that's where these kids are at right now.  But this game was a lot of fun to be part of.  Thank God I'm here.

Q.  Looked like you figured some stuff out defensively after it was 17‑3.  Just what adjustments were made or just what change with their unit after they got off to that fast start?
COACH ANDERSEN:  We missed a couple of tackles early on, if you saw that, and I mentioned earlier the big pass that got over our head and we were backed up with some very, very short fields.  So they did a few things.  We adjusted to it.
We felt like our pressures‑‑ we could get our pressures switched.  They're a check offense.  And we were able to get our pressures flipped on them very quickly.  That seems like it's something that's very easy to do.  It's unbelievably difficult to do in a matter of two seconds to flip a pressure from one side of the field all the way to the other side of the field.  That's really good communication by the kids and by the coaches to get it to them.  I thought that was a big factor also.
Not every.  There were some scenarios where it was possible.  There were some calls where we can tag them.  Some of them were just pure calls.  But those coaches did a nice job of getting those things flipped in critical times.

Q.  What happened to Corey on the touchdown run, and how did that affect your ability to use him the rest of the game?
COACH ANDERSEN:  He was okay to come back after half.  The only thing that was a little bit tough there for a minute when he wasn't there, he went back in the locker room for a few minutes was‑‑ Melvin had a couple of big runs.  I felt he was tired and wanted to use a timeout.
And we did end up using a timeout after the catch, our sideline, I guess we're down to about the 10‑yard line we took a timeout there which we needed for Melvin to be able to catch his breath.
So after that, I felt like the drives were sustainable for Melvin to stay in there and handle it and did a tremendous job with it.

Q.  In that first quarter, when the offense was having problems turning it over, seemed there was more of a quarterback rotation changing on the fly, was there a conversation between you and Andy or a decision on his part to dial back and settle into Joel a little bit more?
COACH ANDERSEN:  No, just we were kind of in the openers.  You want to see how they're going to adjust to different scenarios and different personnel groupings with Tanner in there and with Joel in there.
And it wasn't‑‑ there was really no thought of how many plays they're going to play or when they're going to play but we did want to see some certain things early to see how they were going to adjust to it.  That's what the offense wanted to do.
But Joel was in a good moment.  And I think we all felt that it was important he continue to move and play and when we started to move the line of scrimmage with our big people, which we didn't do early.  We didn't really get those runs early like we were getting, which is always part of football, but we were able to get some of those with the spread runs early.
But as soon as we got it opened up with the runs with Joel and Derek in there, and our 21, 12, 13 personnel at that point, we just decided we didn't need the spread runs as much until we got into the red zone, we had a couple of plays we wanted to get out there and they were big plays.

Q.  Still a lot of football to be played, but with two regular season games left you control your own fate.  How do you view the chance at going for a Big Ten championship or at least having that opportunity in your hands?
COACH ANDERSEN:  It's great to be in this position.  That's why you play.  You want to get to this spot to where you have an opportunity to control your own destiny.  And right now we control our own destiny.  We know who we have out there left to play.  And there's some tremendous challenges and very good football teams that are left.
But you really can't ask for more than when you start the season, when I asked those kids to set their goals at camp, we usually set them every six weeks, but during the season we set them one time, we hold onto those goals all the way through the season.  Every one of those goals they set for themselves from a team standpoint will still be attainable with two regular season games left.  We're all in a great spot.  They deserve it.  Very proud of them.  Excited to see what happens in the next 14 days, I suppose.

Q.  Looked like one of the keys was the ability to shut down their deep passing game.  You started Hillary on Westerkamp, which I know most teams don't put their number one corner on Westerkamp.  I imagine you had to have confidence in Shelton up against Bell.  Anybody else.  Can you explain the thought process there and how you thought it turned out?
COACH ANDERSEN:  Yeah, we really have not this year gone into a spot and said Darius is the nickel and that's where he plays a lot certain scenarios.  And we get Devin on the outside and we get Sojourn on the other side.  As complicated as we are right now on defense, as much as we're carrying, if we put on top of that the ability for the corners to continually flip and be matched up with a guy, it's going to get harder than it already is to be able to communicate.
Without getting too technical in football, that's just the facts.  So I felt good about those kids lining up against very talented receivers.  We know what those young men have done in the Big Ten this year and for years in the past.
But Sojourn, it's good for Sojourn to get in those moments.  It was a big boy fight out there that he needed to get himself in.  He didn't win every battle, but I think he won his fair share against a very good player.

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