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December 1, 2014

Gary Andersen

THE MODERATOR:  Head Coach Gary Andersen is here and we will take comments and questions.
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† It's great to be here, instead of on an airplane, out recruiting.¬† Excited about the opportunity to play again, get to the championship game.¬† Very proud of those kids, that three‑game stretch at the end was winner take all and we were fortunate enough to get it done.¬† It was a great team effort, fought a lot of adversity again and came out on top.¬† Ohio State is going to be a tremendous challenge, two very talented football teams having great years to this point and I know we're both going to be excited to play.
They have a lot of weapons, they have been good for a long time, for a lot of reasons but they have some very good players, they're very well coached, coach did a good job putting them in the right spots.  Excited to continue to prepare as a staff and get the kids back here this afternoon and get things rolling.

Q.  Gary, Urban on the teleconference was asked about getting into a championship game and that's why you come to Ohio State, to win championships.  Do you think your program now that you're in the second year, you've got your staff, in the division you're in and the state of where you are, do you think it's a realistic expectation every year to at least be having a shot prepping for this game?
COACH ANDERSEN:  I think if you were answering that question regardless of where you were coaching or in whatever conference other than yes you're sending a bad message to your team first of all.
We expect to play at the highest level, it is Wisconsin and there is an expectation level as we recruit young men from the fans to everybody that's out there to play at a high level and get into a position to contend and compete, to get yourself in a championship season at some point during the year and this year we were able to get that done.
I would agree, we're going to look every year and we will start again next January and we'll break the huddle starting January, whatever it may be, same chance.  Our expectation level is to find a way to compete and win our division and find a way to get into the championship game and play for all the marbles.

Q.  Gary, on the teleconference yesterday you said you hadn't seen much of Cardale Jones outside of his high school tape.  I'm assuming you have now.  What sticks out about him?
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† Well, he's‑‑ Cardale is very‑‑ he can make all the throws, that shows on tape, cleanly.¬† Has an extremely strong arm.¬† He's big, I probably don't know how big he is until I stand up next to him, 6‑5, six‑6, 250, he's a kid that is athletic and come run.¬† The last quarterback we played against was a very big kid and I thought he ran the ball well and was hard to bring down, also, so that's going to be a similar challenge.
He was highly recruited and he's a very, very talented player.
He will be in a good spot, he's got a lot of reps and they'll build the offense around him.  The key to any quarterback at the end of the day is who's around him.  And he has talented guys around him and the more talent you have around you, the better quarterback you gonna be.

Q.  You've shuffled quarterbacks over time in your career.  How hard is it when you have a quarterback like J.T. Barrett, he gets hurt the week before the championship game, how hard is it to make that change and prepare with a different guy so late in the season?
COACH ANDERSEN:  I would bet if we were in the same situation, hell, it would be quite simple we would ask the team to be able to rally around reach other and rally around the guy that's going to be taking the snaps, whether it was an offensive lineman, a quarterback, a DB, whoever it may have been.  A lot is made of the quarterback position and he is the young man that gets the ball in his hands every snap, obviously, but it throws a different flavor into the week of preparation, without a doubt.  I haven't been in that exact scenario myself but I'm sure they'll handle it well and surround themselves around each other and be ready to roll.  Again, he's a talented football player so he looked in and he came in that game last week and looked poised and confident to me from what I saw.

Q.  Joey Bosa showed some freakish skills on the field this year, 20 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks, are there many D linemen in college like him?  What do you think makes him so special?
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† A lot of things make Joey special from what I've seen.¬† He did it as a freshman, he's doing it again.¬† Unbelievable talent, plays extremely hard, takes zero snaps off, you couldn't find a snap that young man has taken off all year long. He can do it all, he plays the run well he rushes the passer, he understands the situation he's in, whether it's third and long, third and short, whatever it may be, you can see by the way he plays he understands ‑‑ his presnap awareness is very good, which I say those comments all the time but that's what separates a lot of times a very good player from a great player is his ability to understand the situation he's in.¬† He's well‑rounded in everything he does, but his motor is incredible.¬† He plays with the right mentality, in my opinion.

Q.  Gary, every team has its moments of adversity.  If you're compiling a list for your team, what's number one?
COACH ANDERSEN:  Oh, I would say the Northwestern loss.  That was kind of a critical moment for us to be able to circle the wagons and all of us look in the mirror from coaches to players to trainers to weight guys to secretary, everybody, what can we do to be better.  That turned out to be a very positive turning point but there was a lot of adversity that came with losing a tough ball game on the road against a good Northwestern team and we left a lot out there on the field in that game and a lot of things went into the loss, not just this aspect or that aspect, we didn't play well.
They recovered.  Secondly, I would say not the football side of it but the way these kids have handled the situations that they have had off the year this year with a lot of family members and people, that's brought us together, there is no doubt that that's helped this football team grow and, you know, kind of become even closer than they were before.

Q.  Question about your relationship with Urban Meyer.  What was the last conversation you guys had?  How recent it was?  When was some of the first conversations you had when you coached under him?
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† The only comment, we ‑‑ championship games‑‑ (Laughter) he wasn't there this morning, got you!
Last conversation with urban would have been last week, probably Monday or Tuesday talked a little bit about where we were and just general conversations.  Nothing real big out of that conversation.
The first conversations with Urban was when I had the opportunity to come back and work for him, quick phone conversation then I drove to Salt Lake City with Stacy and myself and Stacy and Urban and Shelly sat down and ate dinner and talked about coming back to Utah for the job and it wasn't about X's and O's, it was about who he was, who I was, I had heard a lot he had heard a lot, and we got to know each other, the wives got to know each other and it was good.  It was good to know we shared a lot of the same views, family, our beliefs, care factor and kids, which is always important to me, whether I'm trying to work for somebody or whether I'm trying to hire somebody and it was obvious with urban the key things I think are important he also believes in.

Q.  Gary when talking about the Northwestern game you talked about leaving things out on the field, I'm you're can you say if last year's Ohio State game, there were some penalties, communication on the back end, in the first half, what are the things that jump out from that game for you, that prevented you guys from winning?
COACH ANDERSEN:  All those that you just said, I can see all those plays right now in my mind.  Probably the most critical one was the ball that got over our head there at the closing of the second half.
That was a big play, and the punt situation, if I remember right they dropped the ball, we had a turnover, but didn't get it because we were illegal formation, I think it was.  You remember all the bad things!
This will be a game that we can't afford to make those mistakes, and usually in a game that you're in or that's a tight game or you have a chance to be able to win or be in it at the end if you're not in that position you've made mistakes that can hurt you, assuming you have a talent level enough to be able to hang with the people that you're playing.
That was the case in the last game.  We'll have to learn from that and if you look back at the Northwestern game there were scenarios that were similar, the fundamental things that we usually do so well, tackle, stop the run, run the ball well, we didn't do well on that day and that's why we lost that football game.
We can't let that happen to us in this game because we know it's a quality opponent.

Q.  Gary, at this point in the season do you throw up your hands and try to figure out what's behind the slow starts and do you worry that you can bounce back from them, too?
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† Slow starts are always an interesting topic of conversation, I think about them in my own mind a little bit, what's the perception of the "slow start?"¬† Sometimes the defense isn't playing well, a slow start can be making mistakes that are uncharacteristic, a slow start can be a team has too much emotion or not enough emotion.¬† There are a lot of things that can go into that, I don't necessarily see the last game as a slow start, it was on the scoreboard, I saw two good teams battling it out and I saw another team making too many mistakes, and that cost them and that allowed the team to gain great field position and then score on two short fields, and, you know, I saw say staff and offense that had to adjust and realize that they were not going to sit there and let us throw the ball and‑‑ excuse me, run the ball and have a good scheme.¬† It's definitely not part of the plan to get behind by fourteen points, 7 points or 3 points or 1 point.¬† But, I don't know, slow start, whatever, we've created our own enemies in those situations, so a fast start if we scores the first three drives and they score the first three drives, to see that's a slow start on defense.¬† A lot of times those don't get talked about.¬† We were ready to play, they were ready, when they walked out things just didn't go our way early and we again were our own worst enemy so characteristically things that we did that we were able to take away and not have happen to us in the second half, tackling, gaps, took care of the football for the most part.

Q.¬† Gary, Ohio State 24 in all in the Big Ten over the past 3 years.¬† What has gone into that?¬† Not only recruit ‑‑ Is it the introduction of a Coach like Urban or is it something else?
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† I haven't studied them that much, because we don't cross paths with them a lot in our film, evaluation, we don't see them a lot during the year, last year we played them so early we went through the rest of the year and virtually never saw them and before the crossover and the minimum game, I don't remember a break‑down game, maybe there was one or two other once that had Ohio State in them.¬† I haven't seen them that much in the last two years.¬† I know they're very, very well coached.¬† Starts with urban and it goes all the way through but what I know of their coaches they're very well coached.¬† They have a tremendous university with their tradition, they recruit very well and they pride themselves on being an elite scenario.
Much what I envisioned in my own mind when I think about the University of Wisconsin.  They're on a heck of a run and it's been a great roll so we will see what happens next.

Q.  Gary, can you breakdown your rushing numbers by quarter?  It's a steady progression in the third quarter, there is a peak with outrageous numbers, what do you attribute that to, is that you wearing down other teams, a feeling out process?
COACH ANDERSEN:  I hope it's a little bit of both of those.  Our goal in our mind is that we do wear people down as he we play a football team, that's definitely it the tight ends, the running backs, the full backs, the identification of how people are playing us, you would surely hope as we got into the second quarter and into the third quarter if there is information we can get passed down to the field from the box to Coach Ludwig and they can make adjustments at half time that would help us be able to get it to the quarterback and allow him to check or find the runs that we like on that certain day against certain defenses they're playing because we do see people play us very different.  It's hard to sit down for Coach Woods and Coach Ludwig and create a box that they're going to see, it changes drastically every week because not many people play the way we play so you're getting a lot of information on game day that has to be themed and digested and obviously put into a different type of game plan, a different run, whatever it may be.  We do take pride in thinking that we get stronger as the game goes o our physicality will take over and make people not as interested in playing as they were the first snap of the game as the game goes on.

Q.¬† I think you were asked about will write and you talked about the receivers looking better in practice but I think you will agree until they do it on the field with 80,000 there, that is a break‑through for him.¬† Do you anticipate that this will give him a kick in the you know what?¬† Make him more assertive on the field?
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† I would sure hope so and I couldn't agree more, there is nothing like making a big play in a big‑time moment in the a game that she had take a young man and put him to a different level.
That would be the expectation of Robert and I hope that's the expectation in Robert's mind, which I'm fairly sure it is.  He's been waiting for the opportunity and it was right there in front of him and he made it.  The talent is there, he's continued to grow and develop and it has definitely improved in practice, and looking forward to seeing how it helps him move forward because we all know we sure could use him out there on a consistent basis.

Q.  Gary, Melvin's numbers don't lend themselves to sitting or thinking that he's being overworked but is there any concern about him wearing down here?  The last two games have been particularly physical and Ohio State figures to be along that same line.
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† It is definitely in my mind and concerning.¬† This last stretch was unbelievable physical.¬† You look at that Iowa game and you look at the Minnesota game and the amount of yards he ran, the amount of carries he got, the amount of times he was tackled, the amount of times he was gang tackled, it all‑‑ it takes I it's toll without question.¬† Again I go right back to Melvin, communicating with him, asking him how he feels and how he's going through things and he seems to be great.
It's got me on high alert and the only thing I can do is listen to Melvin Gordon, because I know Melvin is going to tell me what his mind seat is, and he will be 100% ready to roll on Saturday, but how I can help him get to where he is today so as good as he can possibly be on Saturday, I know I'm going to do everything I can to help him.

Q.  Is there any scenario that you know of that Wisconsin could get involved in the College Football Final Four?
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† No.¬† I'm not saying no, I'm saying I don't know.¬† I don't know, I just‑‑ I don't even know who the top four guys are right now.¬† I might guess and be pretty close, but we're just going to let all the chips fall where they May and we'll keep battling and fighting and swinging and we'll see where we land.¬† I will know where we're ranked at the end of the year if we're fortunate enough to be in that position and we'll just keep on playing today.

Q.  Back to Melvin's body and work load.  Do you know at this point based on talking to Corey after the game on Saturday do you anticipate that he will be able to give you more this week than he did against Minnesota?
COACH ANDERSEN:  I would expect more.  Corey had no issues at all in that game and felt very good when I talked to him over the weekend.
I expect that will be the same today.  The best thing is he'll get more practice this week and that will be big for him.

Q.¬† Are you in favor of a six to eight‑team playoff?
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† Stirring up‑‑ I'm happy to be playing the 13th game, how about that one?¬† I will leave that stuff alone!

Q.  Brighter lights, bigger stage, how do you balance excitement of that versus staying focused in that?
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† There is a lot of positives going into this game from the first game of the year.¬† That was a big spotlight, big moment, NFL stadium, night game, that's the only other time we played at night‑‑ second time excuse me that we have played at night this year so we will look at that and lean on that.¬† We have grown up a lot since that last night game.¬† As far as excitement level it's impossible to get any bigger and have more on your plate than you had last week in a game.¬† All those that went into it from Senior Day to the axe to the ‑‑ winning the championship on our side, and a rubbing can you say crowd, everything was there.
Haven't even tweaked the pregame for the Senior Day.¬† All those things were‑‑ could be a potential curveball.¬† I think they handled it well, I think they will be at peace with themselves this week, it will be normal operating procedure.¬† Get on a plane on Friday, have time with their families, we're going to try to get there early so they can have good, quality time with their families on Friday night and Saturday and then the night game so I don't anticipate them being anymore amped up than they always are but it is a championship game and I think they will be excited and handle it well.

Q.  Gary when you were asked about adversity, you said off the field with family, can you share any specifics that have contributed to that area, that have brought people closer together?
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† Yeah.¬† We all know what D.T., what Derrick went through with his mom and just when the kid goes out on those situations, Tyler had a family situation, it keeps on rolling through here, Kyle's mother, there is just‑‑ there is not one thing that stands out, boy, that was that moment, but I just see the kids supporting each other as they go through those situations and that's not necessarily on the practice field, it's walking the hallways, it's in meeting rooms, on Sunday when you walk by and you see those kids together and the things that they're discussing, they're just there for each other.
It's what you‑‑ it makes you feel good as a coach I guess is the easiest way, to know that kids don't just walk out of the locker room at 5:30 and go home and not worry or think about their teammates and that's what you always hope that you have and this crew has done that with the youth.¬† I've talked many times about the leaders on offense and defense, and it goes much deeper than that with these kid ask what they have gone through because I can promise you what they have gone through when I was that age I would have had a hard time handling that scenario and I'm sure the support their teammates have given them help them fight through it there are good days and bad days but they fight through it like a bunch of tough guys, like they are.

Q.  Gary, the coaching carousel is spinning, curious if you're paying attention to it or if you had a thought on the coaching change at Nebraska?
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† No real comment on that.¬† Bo‑‑ my knowing of him, spending time at the meetings and things, he's a good person.¬† I can't consider him a friend, but he's an acquaintance and I never like to see that.¬† For staff it's difficult, it's part of the business, everybody understands that and I'm sure they will all move on and be successful in whatever direction is takes them.¬† The thing that worries me the most about the coaching carousel is the hold on to your assistants and that's always a worry this time of year.
I'm very frank and upfront with the assistance and I ask them to give me any information they get and I would hope most people would try to do the things the right way if they want to come after your guys, which usually happens, it's a good spot but there's gonna be‑‑ when you've done what those coaches have done this year with an unbelievable group of kids there's gonna be opportunities for coaches and hopefully we can keep 'em here and that's what's the most concerning for me.

Q.  Gary, your defense doesn't have necessarily the star power it did from last year but how would you describe their identity and how it's developed over the course of the season defensively?
COACH ANDERSEN:¬† I would go back to what I've said.¬† They're the "no name crew eye "and somebody has the got to step up every week and there are certain young men that leave everything out on the field and when they walk off the field they're exhausted, if you see Michael Caputo after the game there is not much left to give and I can go on and on with Vince Biegel and Derek Landisch I can go on and on and on with those kids, what I think there's probably what, 14, 15 kids rolling through there, we don't have a bunch of ability to sub guys out at the outside linebacker position or at the inside linebacker position, those kids are playing almost every snap, the corners are playin' every snap, the safeties are playin'‑‑ for the most part it's P.J. back there on "Mike" playing almost every snap.¬† They're gritty, they're very smart, they're intelligent, they understand how to take everything from the film room and put it out on to the practice field.¬† I think they're very well coached.¬† It means a lot to them at the end, when they get the opportunity to put that the "W" on and jog out of the tunnel and play for the University of Wisconsin there is a lot of pride for that and they're fun to watch and they're going to grow up and continually get better assist the years go on.
THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, Coach.
COACH ANDERSEN:  Go Badgers!  On Wisconsin! 

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