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December 27, 2019
Q. You were on a Rose Bowl-winning team, obviously, that is remembered very fondly. It's different circumstances this year but in your mind, how much do you think winning a Rose Bowl can kind of shape how this team's remembered, because of what it means to Wisconsin?
COACH RUDOLPH: Yeah, I think first off when you get a chance to play in a bowl, from Coach Alvy to Coach Chryst, guys have always expressed the importance of not only going to the game but the importance of the game itself. And what you remember more than anything is how you play.
And I think it would be huge for this group. I think it would be awesome for them, an awesome accomplishment. And I think it's something that they really want. And we've just got to keep reminding them how much they want it out here and help them enjoy for this one.
Q. The Rose Bowl, you don't have to win the Big Ten to go to the Rose Bowl now with the playoff format. Does that matter in your mind, does it take away from the luster --
COACH RUDOLPH: The Rose Bowl, it's like a one-game season, you know what I mean? It's a celebration over the game and the opportunity you have within it. And I think that's the way you approach it. So to be in the Rose Bowl is pretty awesome and the opportunity is pretty awesome. So we'll approach it that way.
Q. Obviously you guys haven't faced Oregon this season, but these two teams do have some history. They did play in the Rose Bowl not that many years ago against each other. What do you know of Oregon and the defense, and what are you going to do to prepare for them?
COACH RUDOLPH: Well, it's been fun watching them. I think, I watched them throughout the year periodically as they would pop up. But studying them, they had a great team both sides of the football. They complement each other. They play extremely well together.
Defensively they're very multiple. They create a lot of problems for you, shifting at the snap and pressures and I think they do a good job of game planning and creating packages for certain opponents. And I think personnel-wise, player to player, they've got outstanding play-making ability. They're not waiting on a couple of guys to make the plays.
I think they've got a lot of guys over there that can impact the game in a big way. So it's a big challenge for us.
Q. Can you talk about the leadership role of Jonathan Taylor and what he means to the offense?
COACH RUDOLPH: Yeah, I think Jonathan, from day one, even as a young player has just led by example, how he's approached success, how he's approached opportunities that he had to grow from. He's steady, and he always brings a focus and an intensity to what he does and he's just an absolute pleasure to be around.
Q. Tyler Biadasz, obviously won the Rimington, a special honor, you've coached him his whole career. Where have you seen him become -- how did he become the best center in the country? That's kind of a simple question. How does a guy get to that point?
COACH RUDOLPH: I think he's kept developing his confidence. And it's not always easy for the center, especially some of the tough looks that you see at times and you see like some things that come in and their game plan, fronts or pressures. And to be able to get that communicated and sometimes it could be the first time you see it.
It takes a lot of confidence. It takes a lot of kind of the experience of having done it. And I think the biggest thing I saw in him was he always had a steadiness of approach. And I think that's just helped him continue to grow. Never took something that didn't go well for him, never took it to heart and thought I couldn't do it. And never thought when he did great that he had it all figured out. Just a steadiness of approach to keep improving. And I think that's why you see him where he is now.
Q. Hard to quantify offensive line play a lot of times for those outside the program. Is it fair to say he's one of the best offensive linemen that's played here even though there have been a number of them?
COACH RUDOLPH: I think any of our guys or guys that have played in the past, you watch him and you're proud he's wearing the Motion W, you know what I mean? The way he approaches stuff, how way he handles himself. That's how I've done it -- guys I've played with would look and go, okay, this dude, I like this dude. They would say that about him.
Q. When you played in this game in '93, would you ever thought the legacy would grow to the degree that it has of the school playing in this event?
COACH RUDOLPH: I don't think we knew that. I mean, for all of us, except the coaching staff, it's the first bowl game we'd ever been to. We didn't know -- we just believed what was told to us and how each day it worked.
And it's awesome to see the program continue to grow, and it's obviously the people that have made that happen, the people that have been around it from administration, to coaches to players. And I think that is a cool legacy, because that was kind of one of those ones -- we knew about the '63 team, so the message has always carried forward. So, to be able to go there and do that and see where it is now and get another opportunity this year is pretty cool.
Q. What do you tell your players, the guys, about your experience? Do they ask? Do they seek your input on that?
COACH RUDOLPH: They do. I just tell them: I told them when you're there the stuff that you do, kind of the stuff that was told me, when you're at an event and doing something enjoy it, be in the moment at that time, enjoy it. But when we get together and we work, we work.
I go, and the focus is all on that that day. And I said the thing you'll remember more than anything else is the game. You'll remember how you played. That's what you remember more than anything. And so try to, the whole experience is what you want to come away with and embrace, but in the end it's going to be how you play what you remember more than anything.
Q. What's your favorite memory from '93? Is there one -- beyond the obvious winning, is there one where maybe it's still, after all these years, still strikes you as amazing or cool?
COACH RUDOLPH: It's probably the one you see all the time -- Bev scrambles out of the pocket and heads down the left sideline and we're all freaking chasing him down there. And I remember that and I remember the defense making stops at the end, being able to do nothing but give them energy and scream.
That's what you felt, both sides of the ball. That team was all in for each other, and that's what this group's like, that's pretty cool.
Q. What are the biggest strides that Jack Coan has made as a quarterback this season?
COACH RUDOLPH: You know what, Jack's had -- I'd say he's had a complete season. He's battled through things, he's battled through injuries. He's had games where everyone loved him. He's had games where he wished he had done better. And I think that's what a season's all about. And you learn about guys who they are as people and leaders and are they steady? Are they going to be focused? Are they able to take things and grow from them? And are they able to handle successes and still have the same approach they had before?
Man, he's a steady, steady dude. And I think this team really appreciates that about him, and that's probably where I've seen him grow the most. And I think from that steadiness, I think his confidence has continued to grow. He realized he can be himself, and being himself can take him to some high levels.
Q. Phil Simms has worked with him really for about the last couple of years. Do you see any of his influence, any of Simms' influence on Jack, and where does it come out if it does?
COACH RUDOLPH: I think the biggest things, especially with guys who work outside, I think it shows their commitment to wanting to be great. And we see Jack, I'm sure there was some input and some things he took away from that experience that I hope he takes away from other experiences.
So he's just focused on trying to be the best him. And I love the guys who use all their resources and try to do that. But Jack is ultra-coachable, and is as good a kid as he is a player. And that means a lot in this program.
Q. Given that Jonathan is so much a part of your offense what is Jack's role in the offense?
COACH RUDOLPH: Well, the offense is built to be multiple. It's got to be over a course of a year you want to have a very balanced offense. You want to be able to run it and pass it consistently. And there are going to be certain games where you have to run more to win and certain games you have to pass more to win. Defenses will reflect that how they approach you.
But I think it's complementary. I think we need -- as much as we need those offensive linemen to block for Jonathan we need those receivers to be there for Jack. The whole group has to play off each other. I think that's when the offense is running its best.
Q. What makes Jack unique among the quarterbacks you've worked with?
COACH RUDOLPH: I'd say, not to repeat myself, but I would definitely say the steadiness. I don't think that's a position that's very easy to be steady in. I think it's easy to feel really good when everyone likes you. And I think it's easy to feel disappointed or angry or down when people are second-guessing you. And to see his approach has been -- I'm impressed with him as a person.
Q. What's impressed you about Oregon's defense on tape?
COACH RUDOLPH: Personnel first, they've got great athletes. They've got size. I think they do an outstanding job of getting off blocks and tackling in space, which probably reflects why they're so good and the numbers are so good behind them.
I'm also impressed by how multiple they can be. They create a lot of problems, a lot of shifts of the front and movement of the front. And those guys are all on the same page with it. So those things have stood out to me.
Q. Faced anybody who has quite as much variety -- you mentioned everybody has some kind of (indiscernible) package or third-down situation, but Andy employs a lot of different stuff there? Face anybody who is that multiple?
COACH RUDOLPH: I don't know. I don't know that we have. Different types of things -- sometimes as a team that doesn't do much but they come out and do something completely different that can throw you off. But there's multiples (indiscernible).
Q. How much stress does that actually put on your center who is obviously the best in the country, but it's more than you've seen, so how much more stress does that put on him to make those reads?
COACH RUDOLPH: I think the goal of it, I imagine, is to stress everyone. That's what it does. It's not just his communication but it's guys around. I always say, you don't hear anything unless you're ready to hear it. So they've got to hear some things that are going to happen last minute, some communication, and be sharp with it. But I think that puts a stress on all of us.
Q. Obviously faced a lot of phenomenal defensive players in that league, in particular at the end. Have you seen a freshman be as productive as what they've got in Thibodeaux?
COACH RUDOLPH: No, I think he's as good a freshman as I've seen. He's explosive. Kept improving as the years have gone on. The real deal.
Q. As an offensive coordinator looking at that, can you talk about how the lines are always developmental and the further you are away the earlier you play. How unique is that to see it from a freshman where on your side it would be like a freshman starting at left tackle, to have a freshman starting at his spot?
COACH RUDOLPH: I think it is. I think they've done a good job of working him in in some spots earlier in the year. And you see him find his home about midseason and you see him blossom here at the end. I think they've done a good job of bringing him through it and bringing him along to get him to this point and then giving him opportunities for his natural ability to just go cut it loose and play. So I think they are helping him along the way, and I think he's rewarding them for it.
Q. How do you end up getting a quarterback from Sayville, not a hotbed for high school football. I'm from there.
COACH RUDOLPH: I've been out there a few times, played some lacrosse, thrown the ball. But, I don't know, there was just a connection there, and which was -- I always say like attracts like. When he came out, saw the plays, met the guys, most importantly. There was something in that that I think he felt at home about it. And so that's always the right fit. So over time those have proven to be the right fit.
Q. Is there something about Jonathan's game that's underrated or people don't notice as much?
COACH RUDOLPH: Honestly, it's probably the consistency of just being a great player and doing things consistently that are like, wow. And when you're so consistent with it, it just doesn't happen once or here or there, I think it can almost seem like that's just the way it's supposed to happen.
And I think when you take a look at some of the stuff, you're like, damn, that's different. And I just think it's his approach to it. I think those two things are -- that stands out to me, because he consistently does some amazing things.
Q. And there are players who might skip the bowl games, but he chose to play. What do you think that says about him and his commitment to this program?
COACH RUDOLPH: I think it says just that. He's committed to the guys, you know what I mean? Those are his teammates. And he loves them. And he's going to play for them and they're going to play for him. So I don't think there was probably a lot of thought behind it. But I say that and there probably was a lot of thought and it probably came down to that. It probably came down to how you feel about who you get to go do it with. And if you care more about them than anything else, then you play the game. And, yeah, that's Jonathan.
Q. What's it been like watching Derrick (phonetic) and Tyler, two guys from the same small school, come in, have the impact they've had over the last three years together?
COACH RUDOLPH: Crazy. Small school. Man, and they were winners there and they carried on that winning approach, that winning mindset here. And I think they've probably always pushed each other and enjoyed doing that for each other along the journey. And I think they continue to -- they have fun back and forth but they count on each other in a big way. And it's awesome to see.
Q. Talked to Barry about the '93 season, the '94 Rose Bowl, and he still gets all amped up about that. I know it's a long time ago. What are your comments about that game?
COACH RUDOLPH: I mean, biggest thing I remember is the game itself. Like all the stuff around it was awesome. But probably biggest thing before the game was probably of all the stuff we did, walking on the field and seeing all that, and that was awesome. We'd never been to a bowl before. There was no one there except coaches that played in a bowl game or been part of one. So to see that was incredible. And then I think it was just going out and getting that first hit and rolling and playing and Bev scoring late. And then the defense coming up with some big stops. And you remember all of it. We were in it together. We knew we needed each other. That was huge. So we approached it that way.
Q. Talk about in the locker room after, when it was beginning to set in that the journey had ended with a victory.
COACH RUDOLPH: I don't think anyone really wanted it to end. And I don't think we thought about it ending. I think we just enjoyed the win. And really enjoyed it and had fun with it and enjoyed each other and didn't think much more than that. Like accomplished that goal that you had a chance to come out here and do.
Q. You have a couple of players on offense who could be in position to make quite a bit of money this spring and in the NFL Draft (inaudible), and the game, playing in this game. What would you say about the culture here that the guys want to finish it out regardless of what it may mean for them individually?
COACH RUDOLPH: I think what someone gains or doesn't gain from their experience is truly up to that person. And I think these guys that are part of this team, they feel connected to these teammates and to this team. And I think they love them and that's where their mind is and probably couldn't imagine themselves not being out there. And so that's pretty cool. It speaks to a culture and it speaks to the belief that these guys have in themselves and in the guys they get to go out there with, and I think it's a great thing about this game.
Q. For a guy like A.J. who has been such a big part of this team for four years and obviously to be here and experience some stuff, but who can't participate on the field in a game like this.
COACH RUDOLPH: It crushes you that he can't play. Love him and what he's been able to do here and his commitment here. And it crushes you. And hopefully -- I don't think he's to be the example of this, but it's just a snapshot of how fleeting the opportunities that you have are. And hopefully someone also appreciates theirs a little bit more because they know how bad he would want to be out there and playing with this group. But we love him. We know he's there with us and he's going to be screaming his head off and cheering and helping those guys and coaching them up, and we wished he was dressed and out there. But we're going to need him to be all those other things.
Q. Some young guys that started to emerge in bowl prep that maybe we haven't seen this year that kind of got you excited?
COACH RUDOLPH: Kind of the group as a whole. Isaac's continued to do some good things, Guerendo. And Bracey has done some good things throughout the year and showed up. And Tippmann has done some good things throughout the year and showed up.
And Rucci, and I also call him Wild Bill, but Cundiff, those guys have done a good job. Those bowl practices, there's not a lot of guys out there. So it was fun seeing guys kind of step forward and all of a sudden they're in a role and they have to handle business and there's guys in the huddle with them it's not scout team anymore. I'm excited about those young guys.
Q. Haven't seen him play a lot, but Graham (inaudible)?
COACH RUDOLPH: I thought there was -- there were a couple of games where Jack was a little banged, you weren't sure exactly where he would be, and I thought he just did an outstanding job of preparing. I saw his confidence level improve tremendously. I thought how he handled the huddle, how he handled everyone at the line of scrimmage, how he prepared, I saw all those things kind of come together for him. And I told him those weeks, if you've got go, you're ready, you're prepared that way. I could see it. I could see his development.
It was fun to see that in him and I think he was proud of kind of those steps he made from earlier weeks to where he was then, just through the experience of going through it.
Q. How important was it for him to get a big (inaudible) championship Rose Bowl, even if he might not play, under his belt, the experience coming out here?
COACH RUDOLPH: Those are always a little bit hard to say. But I think when guys get an experience like that and they see how guys around them approach it, you learn something from everyone. And he might learn something from what J.T. does as much as he learns from what maybe Jack does, as well as what Tyler Biadasz does. And just how guys deal with certain things, how they prepare themselves and take care of themselves. So I think it's a great thing.
Q. Can you talk about the parts of Jonathan's game, when you watch him in person, that maybe don't come across on tape?
COACH RUDOLPH: I always say this, when he cuts, he cuts vertical. And there's not a lot of guys that do that. You gain yardage going forward. And he does a tremendous job of being able to cut and being able to accelerate through the cut and really cut in what appears to be a gaining-ground type of motion. And he does that consistently, and it makes him different. I haven't seen too many guys with that type of acceleration, exploding and trying to change course.
Q. When you looked at coming off that first year he had in the production, to be able to pretty much replicate that the last two seasons, what does it say about him, how unexpected is that, how hard is that?
COACH RUDOLPH: It's hard, because not only are you trying to replicate that, but you've got people working to stop you. You're not like, oh, yeah, this guy's a freshman. You've got guys game planning saying you're not going to do this. And I think that gets hard. I think sometimes you've got to take a breath and say I've got to be patient and let that go. But like I said, his approach has been as steady as it can be. And I don't think he takes more on than saying I want to be great today. I think that's valuable.
Q. As a coach, was it disappointing he didn't get to New York, the Heisman?
COACH RUDOLPH: There's nothing disappointing in being able to coach Jonathan. You want everything for him, you know what I mean? And you want all those things for him to experience because you know what type of kid he is and the type of player he is. But I know where his heart is in all of it. And he couldn't be more excited about how he was recognized and he can't be more excited to shine the light and recognize his teammates. So he's doing good.
Q. Jack is banged up a little bit. What were the games where we may have to go with Graham a little bit?
COACH RUDOLPH: I can't even remember.
Q. Because I asked Jack at one point, you don't look healthy, he just didn't want to talk about it.
COACH RUDOLPH: I can't remember. It was after Michigan. It wasn't before Michigan.
Q. He took a hit low at Michigan. Did that affect his mobility?
COACH RUDOLPH: Definitely his mobility wasn't the same for some games as it was for other games, no question.
Q. I'm also curious, there were some games where his throws didn't look as, it looked like the ball lofted a little more. Did that affect his ability to plan?
COACH RUDOLPH: I can't speak specifically to that, but he battled through some things, you know what I mean? And it's always tough. You've got the guy with experience, young guy coming, always hard calls there. But that group really supported each other. That quarterback room was pretty awesome this year. They were in it together.
Q. I know you've got an important game to play but next year, I know Graham, I'm sure, has aspirations for what he can bring to the team. How do you think he will handle the battle at that quarterback spot based on what he's done this year?
COACH RUDOLPH: I would say that room is as confident a room as any. And competition is what drives you all the time. It's what drives you to be a better team. It's what drives you to be a better player. I think it's something that those guys will embrace and enjoy and they'll figure it out but they'll about be in it together when they attack it.
Q. I know you've talked a lot about Moorman this year, how long he's been here and all that. But Paul said the other (indiscernible) is obviously out, but Moorman's ready to go. Are you excited to see a guy like that, fifth-year senior who hasn't done much early on, to be able to contribute in his last year and embrace it the way he has?
COACH RUDOLPH: You do. He's worked really hard. And you can coach him really hard. And he's been through a lot to get here. So his appreciation for it is he understands it and he wants to be great. He gets the importance of it.
And, yeah, I think it sends a great message to any guy at any position, you know what I mean? You work your butt off. It ain't going to happen in one day and for some guys it doesn't happen in one year, two years, three years, and you just keep working through it. And I love those stories.
Q. Is there a certain formula you guys as coaches have found with bowl games that you think works given this program has won five in a row? I'm sure you've been in a lot of different places where they've done things differently and played around with different formulas and all that, but what have you guys done here that maybe you can pinpoint that makes it work?
COACH RUDOLPH: I don't know exactly. I would say focus. And then I would say care for one another, you know what I mean? Focus from the standpoint of you've got to enjoy yourself. You go get a chance for bowls, it's the holiday season, it's all those things, you've got to embrace what you're doing at the time. You can't stay in game mode two weeks out, but I think these guys have a good ability to enjoy what they're doing and then lock in.
And lock in from a practice perspective, from a preparation perspective, how to take care of their body, to do all the things they need to do to be as good as they can. I think what fuels that is how much they care about each other. They don't want to let the guy next to them down. I think those two things together, if you can have them, they can be real for you, can be powerful.
Q. Jack said he gained a lot of confidence in last season's bowl game against Miami knowing he was going to be the guy for two or three weeks, whatever it was. What did you see him out of him that month where he really started maybe taking command of the offense?
A. In the bowl game? I saw it from how the Purdue game ended and coming back and being the guy in the bowl game. I just thought he had a lot of confidence and a lot of steadiness about his -- I don't know, you could just see it in him, you know what I mean? What he felt about himself kind of showed through all his actions, if that makes sense.
Q. Can you kind of expand on that how he maybe built off that in the spring, how did he maybe come back differently after he won that game?
COACH RUDOLPH: I just felt like coming through all that he knew that he didn't -- all he had to do was be the best him. He didn't have to be anything that he wasn't. But that fight to be that best him was not going to be an easy one but it was a comfortable one for him. He knows he'll grind. He knows how hard he'll work, and I think he said if I can do that, then my focus can stay right in that realm, then I think that gave him -- I think it just settled him. He said, okay, this is what I've got to do; let's go to work.
Q. Tyler, obviously he wasn't the guy that necessarily had to come back last season, how is he better from last year to now?
COACH RUDOLPH: I think in a lot of ways. I think he had great comfort from the guys around him. They've been around him for a long time. And I think knowing that he could do it with different guys is not an easy thing. And especially at college. Like you just get used to it.
For him to come back and have the year he had and help elevate the play of guys around him, I think that should give him a confidence and an understanding that knows he can do it wherever he's at. And I think he learned that about himself.
Q. Oregon, what things stick out to you most about their defense, maybe the performance they're coming off of, what they're facing (inaudible)?
COACH RUDOLPH: I think just things stand out. They get off blocks. They tackle extremely well. They're physical. They can be all those things within this multiple defense that shifts into different fronts at the last minute, disguises coverages, brings pressures. It's situational. Can be completely different.
And I think that's a hard thing to do is to remain physical and do all the other stuff. They've proven to do that. And so I think that makes them a great challenge.
Q. Is there a team you've seen this year or maybe recently that you think compares to them at all or just a completely new challenge for your guys?
COACH RUDOLPH: There's some teams we've seen some things that are similar. There's some odd and four down and shift and back and forth. We've seen that a little bit, but I don't think anyone to this degree the amount of stuff that they do. So it's going to be a tough playoff.
Q. Won five bowl games in a row (inaudible) what have you guys done so well to put yourself in the position to be consistent and successful?
COACH RUDOLPH: I think these two things. I think Coach does a great job of telling them to be in the moment. It's the holiday season. It's bowl game festivities. Enjoy what you're doing, have fun with it. And the two key things is focus and caring about each other, because if you can focus in when it's time to go and you could practice great, prepare great, take care of your body, do every little thing you possibly could do to put yourself in the best position to be successful and caring about the guys you get to go do it with, if that's what fuels you to do all those things, then that focus and that care is what you've got to have, and I think that's been consistent. So we've got to rally around that again.
Q. Can you explain what Jim Leonhard has done in his four years here to be as successful as he's been, like how have you seen him evolve? I think people would consider him to be kind of a rising young coach.
COACH RUDOLPH: You can see his passion for the game and passion for the guys. I think you've got to have both. And I think that's what fuels all of it. He understands. He knows the game, and he cares about the guys he coaches.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports