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December 29, 2009
Wisconsin – 20
Miami - 14
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by quarterback Scott Tolzien, game MVP John Clay, and Head Coach Bielema.
We'll get started with an opening statement from Coach Bielema.
COACH BIELEMA: For our team to finish the season the way they did, one thing we talked about from last January, was finishing. One of the five team goals we had going into fall camp.
The group of seniors we have leaving us accomplished so many great things on the field and individually as they received certain honors and recognition. Catapulted us now into the 2010 season with both of these guys coming back with us. I think it can lead to some special things.
What we have to do is keep in mind why we made the growth, why we were able to get to where we are today, be able to beat a very, very good football team. I have the utmost respect for Randy Shannon and his staff and what they're doing with that program. We just wanted to give everybody a good value for their ticket price out there today. Hopefully that, and everybody watching at home, were able to see a very good football team.
Move that forward and open it up to any questions.
Q. What can you say about the performance of your defense.
COACH BIELEMA: Oh, you know, we knew our defense was going to have to play very, very well tonight to hold them to 7 points. Ultimately we gave the 7 points on the kickoff return. Time in and time out, to go out and do what they did.
You know what, our defense plays well when they stick to the plan. One of our main goals was to get after their quarterback. When he goes, they go. Really felt we kind of disrupted his rhythm all day. Weren't allowing them to get any type of rhythm that made them move the chains consistently.
We knew they were going to make big plays. What we had to do is line up and play every game. Some critical turnovers that our guys forced were really, really big in the game.
Q. Could you talk about how you were able to control the clock the entire game, how important that was.
COACH BIELEMA: That's what we do. Are you from down here? We're time-of-possession fools.
As a young coach, you go about your business. You just handle things. When I came a coordinator, I didn't really understand time of possession, how critical it was until I came here. It was around Coach Alvarez. Every year that I was here under him, we led the Big Ten, were one of the best in the country in time of possession.
I always say, It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out if you got the ball longer than they do, you have a better chance of scoring more points.
That rule can be changed, though. I was having a conversation with Coach Kelly formerly of Cincinnati, now of Notre Dame. I think they were worst in time of possession. Obviously pretty good, too, what we do, we need to be great in time of possession, and that was critical.
Q. Did Lance show you again that he's ready to go?
COACH BIELEMA: Scotty can tell you, everybody has been waiting for Lance to continue forward. Lance is a very gifted athlete. He's a very tough competitor. He gives everything he can. He's my best kickoff coverage player. A very selfless player that believes in what Wisconsin represents. Hopefully this is a good indication of what he can do in the future.
Scotty made two great reads to get him the football, had several great reads today, but they were really locking on Garrett. Gave Lance a chance to get the ball. Scotty did a fine job of finding his way through that.
Q. Talk about the feeling of vindication. You came down and played this game last year, didn't work out so well for you. This time you come down, beat a pretty good Miami team handily. Talk about that a little bit.
COACH BIELEMA: Well, you know, I think we were all challenged a little bit. Anybody that returned from last year's squad, you know, the game in the first half wasn't clean, but we were in. We just did not play Wisconsin football in the second half. We let some things happen. I think we really felt that we didn't do what we were supposed to do for four quarters. So we reevaluated, we took steps forward.
As a head coach, I didn't really change what I do. I changed certain aspects. Our players didn't change overnight. But they changed the details of what they go through. The cumulative effect is what you saw today.
To get to 10 wins from where we were a year ago, what people thought of us, I think we looked within ourselves first, then we just kind of moved ourselves forward. A lot of it has to do with these two guys sitting beside me.
Q. Coach, except for these two big runs, Miami did a pretty good job to stop the run. Basically they managed to keep the runs under three yards. Did you adjust and decide to use your tight ends more? Lance actually caught 128 yards, which is about half of what he did the whole season. Did you plan that before the game or did you just adjust?
COACH BIELEMA: Yes (laughter). If we're having trouble running, you got to throw the football. That's kind of what we've done all year.
I appreciate the stats. We'd like to run the football. They did a good job. What you have to understand a little bit with Wisconsin is we kind of take a boxer's mentality offensively. Where you at, where you at, throw the body punches. Eventually that cumulative effect will be a W, and that was what was able to happen.
Q. Can you talk about one or two things that you saw don't that make you optimistic about how things are going to go next season?
COACH BIELEMA: There's a lot of time between now and then. A lot of players that contributed today are coming back. That's what gets you excited. We have a great strength and conditioning program. I think the players would agree. The changes we did in the weight room. Ben Herbert has done a tremendous job.
If we can have as much growth individually in our players to move us forward to get to where we have to have 11 guys playing together in the fall, that's what I get excited about.
And John doesn't care. If he's not in there, he knows Montee Ball is going to go forward. If John and Montee aren't in there, Zach Brown is going to do what he needs to do. Scott is our starting quarterback. He was a guy that watched Dustin go through everything a year ago.
This year probably helped Scotty, all the things that Dustin did. Here is a senior quarterback who got beat out for the job and was his biggest fan the entire year. That doesn't happen all the time.
You know, for us to be good at Wisconsin, they have to be good football players. I understand that. But they have to be great people. That's what I get excited about.
Q. John, coach just mentioned something about when you and Scott coming back next year. That is a definite for you or something you have to think about?
JOHN CLAY: No, definite. I'm coming back. I've been telling you this whole year that we got an explosive offense. The sky is the limit. I'm missing Mickey and Garrett.
But, you know, just like you saw today, Lance stepped up. We got Scott coming back. All the wide receivers coming back. Sky is the limit for this offense. I'm not going to miss any opportunity to be a part of this again.
Q. Coach, you talked about the importance of beating a ranked team. Do you feel like this win validates the season?
COACH BIELEMA: Uhm, I don't know. You can say it does whatever. It finishes the season, I know that. It made us have 10 wins, which doesn't happen all the time in college football. Made us win our Bowl game, which didn't happen the last two years. Made us win a ranked opponent, which hopefully will put us in a good spot in the rankings.
I'd be telling you something that isn't true. The main reason we wanted to win the football game today was for each other. I got to get on these guys. I made John mad. I made Scott mad. Guys get upset for a little bit. It's all in everybody's best interest. I hear things I don't like to hear, but it makes me better. I'm going to read things that I don't like to read.
The bottom line is how you handle that criticism and how you move forward. For us to have 10 wins, but we don't know those three games we could have won.
Q. Scott, how do you think you developed as the season has gone on dealing with pressure and being able to throw? Seemed today you had guys inches from your face and still made the throws you have to make.
SCOTT TOLZIEN: Definitely, there's no substitute for game experience. One thing I've tried to do ever since coming into the program was, you know, stick to the plan and trust the coaches, trust the system and work hard. That combined with all the talent we have on our offense has really made my job come along real smoothly throughout the year.
With that being said, the one guy that has really been the bonus for me has been Dustin. Coach Chryst, I have the highest respect for him and the job that he does with our offense, with the quarterbacks.
But to have a guy like Dustin that has been through it, I really did learn a lot from him last year. You think of Wisconsin football, and you think about tough, gritty competitor. Dustin was all of those. Sitting back on the sideline, I said, When I get my chance to play, that's what I want to be. I want to play like Dustin.
He's been nothing but help for me this year, just seeing how he dealt with it last year. I'm really going to miss playing with Dustin next year, that's a for sure.
Q. John, what happened on that first run in the second half when you got banged up? Was there a conversation with the coach on the sidelines in the third quarter before you went back in?
JOHN CLAY: I got caught up on my ankle kind of tweaked it a little bit. You know, I talked to him. You know, coach has been saying, I got all the confidence in my guys. Zach and Montee, you know. Okay, I didn't play most of the third quarter. Montee stepped up big, made plays for us.
You know, we don't miss a step when we switch runningbacks. I was able to come back the fourth quarter and help this team. Montee did an excellent job the third quarter for holding this team.
Q. Coach, how special is this for you to send the seniors off with a big Bowl win?
COACH BIELEMA: Very big. Our seniors, I've said it a million times, but it would do injustice to our senior captains, our senior leadership. Sometimes you got to go through a few scars to get to where you want to be. Those guys went through that. Our biggest leaders throughout the entire winter conditioning, summer conditioning, and this fall. And to get to this game, I let Jaevery talk to the team last night. He had every reason in the world to think about other things, all he wanted to do was have another win this football team. It's great. It's special.
They passed it on. I know as we carry forward, the guys that are going to be seniors next year will carry a lot of those same things.
Q. Coach said earlier that they might have worn down the way you controlled the ball, it's what you do. Did you feel them beginning to weaken at all at defense? Did you feel like you had the momentum physically in the game in the second half?
JOHN CLAY: Yeah. I knew that we had that in the beginning, right in the beginning of the game. That's how we started off. You know, our offensive line, we got big guys up front. We know that. They punish the guys up front, the D-line up front. Coming to me off the backfield, 230 plus, you know.
COACH BIELEMA: 30 (laughter)?
JOHN CLAY: That's just wearing down the defense. We see. That's what we do. Wisconsin football, we just run the ball. Third, fourth quarter, you could see them sucking air, had their hands on their hips, just waiting for this to get over with so they could move onto the next stage.
SCOTT TOLZIEN: I just remember Coach Settle, our runningback coach in the pregame, telling us it's going to be a four-quarter game, to not shy away. That's the way we want it. That's traditionally where we have the most success, in the fourth quarter, when we're just pounding guys.
I think the key was just focusing on the next play. I mean, you could see Miami was maybe getting tired. But I think the key for us was just focusing on us and just keep grinding, doing our thing, just pulling the next play, assignments on, be physical, and the rest will take care of itself.
Q. Scott, what does it mean to you guys to finally beat a highly ranked, high-quality opponent?
SCOTT TOLZIEN: Yeah, I mean, we kind of came in this season with a little bit of an underdog mentality. I think everyone realized that up to this game we had won the games we were supposed to win, but there wasn't a big win, per se, against a ranked opponent, you know, just a real like exclamation point really.
I thought this game kind of provided that for us. Like it was mentioned before, there's no better way to send out the group of seniors than this way. To get remembered finishing out their careers on a game like this.
Q. Coach, all last off-season you used the disappointing loss in the Bowl as kind of a motivator, keeping guys working hard. How do you turn that the other way this off-season?
COACH BIELEMA: Well, I think everybody should strive for excellence. You know, as we move forward, they have to keep in mind what got 'em here. You know, kind of take it to the next level. If you want to try to think of it in those terms.
I think Scotty just said a great thing. I love to hear my players talk and talk things we really believe in. One thing Scott just said was talking about, you know, how you individually have to play better. You know, you just have to think about where you're going and taking one step at a time.
First thing we'll do is we'll get through a great winter conditioning. If our guys buy into that and make the progress they need to make there, then we'll go to into spring ball. We'll go from spring ball into summer, we'll go from summer into fall, take it every day as it comes.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Congratulations.
End of FastScripts