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October 6, 2012

Bret Bielema


THE MODERATOR:  We'll get started with some opening comments from Coach.
COACH BIELEMA:  Very excited about our guys today.  I thought they put in a lot of good preparation.  There was a huge emphasis during the week about playing a four‑quarter game. 
Starting with our preparation and how we handled ourselves, I thought they did that really well.  It's good to get a couple guys back. 
I thought the way our defense played for four quarters, you could see to get Brendon Kelly back, Pat Muldoon back, some guys up front to give us some pass rush there at the end.  Good to get Shelton Johnson.  He's not quite there I don't think, but to be able to give us some depth at the safety position was huge. 
You know, the game was, I thought, was going to be affected by the wind.  Most of the time, as a head coach, if we win the toss, we take the ball, but I wanted‑‑ made a decision to defer today just because I thought the wind was going to be a factor.  And obviously, kind of the way it closed out, that was a critical part. 
I thought Montee really closed out the game there at the end.  Saw some mojo go in the direction.  He had great presence out there on the field. 
And Joel Stave again continues to impress me.  He doesn't do everything right, obviously will get better with every game.  But what he gives us there is really, really something special.  That's just going to keep getting better.  And i can't say enough about our special teams. 
I thought our punter, Drew Meyer, again, today sometimes hitting into the wind was critical with some of his punts and our coverage units were pretty good as well. 
With that, I'll open up for questions.  I think from an injury standpoint, nobody severe.  I think Dip kind of hurt his shoulder there.  But other than that, nothing significant.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  The package, we've been repping that probably at least four weeks, might have been in our fifth week.  We've been trying to get it in the game. 
The offensive coaches and myself felt wanted to give Curt an opportunity to get out there and show what he's got.  It wasn't anything as:  Joel, we were going to do it on the third series, and that's what happened.  Obviously it didn't work successfully.
But Curt's a guy that's got a lot of respect in the locker room, a guy that can bring some mojo.  He's really got a good attitude and just want to give him an opportunity to get out there and something that we can expand in the future.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  Well, the pick was‑‑ obviously when he got hit, he threw the ball high.  But obviously you can take that and spin it however you want.  But I think Curt‑‑ Joel knew all along what the plan was with Curt coming in.  We've practiced it all month.  So nothing really shocking to anybody.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  Well, no, I think he just‑‑ he got cleared on Tuesday to practice.  The club that Muldoon had, Shelton had one that was about three times that big.  It just didn't feel comfortable.  They started narrowing it down.  He's 100percent cleared.  I just meant getting reps and doing the things you do during the course of the week.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  Yeah.  I think Shelton really wanted to see how he felt.  He actually hadn't had full contact since the injury.  And Caputo‑‑ I don't know specifically if Chris made a comment and said let's get Shelton in there, didn't know how the speed of the game was coming at him.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  No, I thought‑‑ no, I think today was a really good point.  Montee and James‑‑ James went in, I believe, on the second series. 
Melvin got to play around the edge there.  And I think those guys in general kind of knew‑‑ there were certain personnel groupings where only them are going to be on the field so we practiced the exact looks that we're going to give them during the course of the week. 
But, again, I thought it was going to be a four‑quarter game.  And it's kind of exactly how it panned out.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  They're all important.  First quarter and second quarter and third quarter and fourth quarter were all good.  It was nice to see our guys kind of take control in the fourth quarter and kind of manhandle the guys up front.  I think offensively there's some nice plays that were opening up for‑‑ I think the play that broke it wide open was James's screen play.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  Not every time, but pretty close.  I agree.  I think that play, in particular, and others are really looks that come off our run game, to be quite honest. 
It's not just the efforts of Abby and Joel throwing it.  It's a lot of great looks up front with our "O" line, our fullbacks and tailbacks, tough play to defend.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  Kenzel, he's been real good.  I saw that first one; I actually turned away, I don't think I saw the one he put down on the field right before the half.  But it was a little tougher day. 
I was watching some of those games earlier and saw where there were some games that were critically affected.  I think the Northwestern/Penn State game, there was a play where a guy misjudged it, it's not a difficult thing with that wind whipping out there.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  It was great.  All of our guys, but James is the guy that last week I knew wewould in retrospect‑‑ I made the comment to Coach A making the offensive guys, I don't want to be talking about not giving reps on Sundays, I want to see it happen Saturdays.  And obviously to get him involved and hit that play was critical. 
I was giving Devin‑‑ I thought he was going to score.  I saw the break that he was going to get, the outroute, I thought he was going to streak down that sideline; but he kind of lost his footing there and came forward.  Obviously anytime he can turn turnovers into points, it's huge.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  Very encouraging.  I told our guys, too, made an emphasis before the game today.  We prepared well all week.  And guys have gotten into it. 
And Matt Shaughnessy was our guest captain.  He came back last night and gave a great message about taking advantage opportunities.  When things don't go wrong, it's really somebody testing you and see what your response will be. 
And I made a special plea to our guys today to have some fun.  You guys will see him, I don't know if anybody ever crosses Ray Ball, but our guys make huge fashion statements on game days.  They all wear their shirts and ties. 
Ray Ball comes in and he has this nice collegiate look.  And everybody‑‑ I just kind of made him stand up and everybody took notice, we all laughed.  I said:  That's my point today.  We work way too hard and put in too many hours not to enjoy this.  Win football games and have fun doing it.  I thought that really came out today.  I think our guys enjoyed playing in the fourth quarter, especially.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  You know, Tom, like I said, that wind was playing tricks out there with the kicking game and stuff.  I knew our defense could play well. 
Obviously came alive on a couple of plays up inside.  I've been stressing to our defensive guys‑‑ and I give a lot of credit to our staff‑‑ if we can just line up and play and make them earn every inch they'll be hard to score on because you've got some plays, there's a couple plays where 44 comes out of nowhere and makes a huge tackle.  Same thing with 53.  We've just got too many good athletes that can run.  If we keep the ball in front of us, eventually we're going to make that defense‑‑ make the offense stop.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  Yeah, you know Nebraska had a couple of plays, we had some key plays that went deep.  And actually Joel throws a pretty good deep ball.  So I think that those things to defend, what we've gotta be able to do is set it up, but we also have to execute the run plays that come with it as well.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  Yeah, that was huge.  Might have been the biggest play for anybody on the field today.  I believe that was a 48‑yarder. 
And Kyle has been good in camp at times.  Just at times seems to mis‑hit it, but I thought it was a huge confidence boost today.  Have a lot of faith in Kyle and hopefully it's going to be a lot of good kicks moving forward.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  Yeah, we did.  I think two things, Tom, that I said it right away because I mean it:  When you have defensive line depth, that helps your pass rush instantly.  Those guys were getting after it third and fourth quarter.  Quarterback's a good athlete.  But we knew we wanted on keep them in the pocket and be able to move it around.  We did some bring pressures, some five‑man pressures that I think were critical as well.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  Yeah, Dip's a high motor guy.  Watching the hit film this morning.  He had a huge sack a year ago in that game.  Dip is‑‑ he makes me mad a lot, but he's probably one of my favorites just because as hard as he plays.  He's kind of a fun kid to be around, kind of a knucklehead in certain ways.  It's kind of one of those things where he brings some energy, plays a lot harder than others.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  You know, it didn't pop into my mind.  I get it except for our game a year ago, if I remember, we couldn't do anything the first half, and we were able to do a few things at least in the first half.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  Yeah.  He got stronger.  He's been right there.  I've said it before.  NFL personnel come through there, they haven't been down on him.  They've been impressed with how quick, how agile, how strong he looks, and to finally get some yardage was really, really positive for him and obviously to find the end zone is nice as well.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  I think‑‑ I don't know for sure‑‑ but somebody told me that Ray Ball ran into him.  That's one guy you don't want to run into would be Ray Ball, besides him looking nice in his sweater and tie.  I think that's what happened.  It was kind of like when they were running out for the PAT field goal.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  About what? 

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  Start again. 

Q.  Off microphone. 
COACH BIELEMA:  I thought we were being a little aggressive.  We called timeouts to get the ball.  That's why we called a timeout when they failed to convert on third down, which stopped the clock, which gave us the ball.  We go two‑minute offense. 
Obviously you have I think two first downs.  And at the end there just trying to run the clock out because we weren't going anywhere and there was like eight seconds.

Q.  Did you think about a Hail Mary?
COACH BIELEMA:  No.  Very athletic, that catch he made over on the sideline, just as a side note, our trainers grabbed me, said that all indicators for that Illinois play were very, very positive. 
Everything was checking out, at least the information I was given.  But that was a big‑time catch, a big‑time play.  He's got tremendous, tremendous hands.  Very gifted, a kid that‑‑ I think his upside is just unbelievable.

Q.  ( Question off microphone )
COACH BIELEMA:  Defer to them.  I don't see anybody that's mad or upset.  I see a lot of guys that are upbeat.  They believe in winning football games.  One of the things I love about our tailbacks is they're really good players, but obviously they're very good people.  They just want to get better and make themselves improve.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach. 

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