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December 29, 2010
BLAKE SORENSEN: I had to put his mic down here because he's so short. Don't let him tell you he's 5' 9. He's about 5' 6.
Q. He's not even that tall.
BLAKE SORENSEN: He's not even that tall. Coach B said that before, he got so angry.
Yeah, he gets really offended. All those small jokes, he gets so offended about it.
Q. He admits he's got little man's syndrome.
BLAKE SORENSEN: That's why he's good. He plays angry.
BLAKE SORENSEN: I think it got brought up. I really didn't know till this week, someone asked a question. So this is a neat deal, but I'm more glad that we're playing the Rose Bowl. That's more important.
Q. Perhaps you've gotten more playing time. (Indiscernible).
BLAKE SORENSEN: I'd say definitely. Obviously this is the most I've played. You know, I felt very comfortable this year. I thought I was productive. And you know, obviously the team is doing the best we've done since I've been here. So yeah, it's been a very rewarding year.
Q. Why do you think the Big Ten gets a bum wrap nationally?
BLAKE SORENSEN: I think we do some. I think last year we did our part in turning it around. We had a good bowl season.
SEC gets a lot of talk as being the best conference in the nation. And you know, the last couple years they've deserved it. I think the past couple of National Championships have come from the SEC. But Big Ten is looking to turn it around each bowl season, make a statement, and I think it's important to do that.
Q. What do you think the biggest misconception is that people have outside of the central part of the United States that have about the Big Ten, because when you say Big Ten football, they think of certain teams.
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. I think Wisconsin is what they think about; big, slow, smash-mouth guys, no-skill guys, guys that can't run. So that's the perception, but we'll play against anyone anywhere, and that's how we think.
Q. Do you think it's up to you guys to change that perception?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. Definitely. That's the only way you can do it. You get one shot a year to play these teams, and that's the only way to do it is to play these teams and bet 'em, and hopefully they'll be quiet.
Q. Iowa defeated Missouri last night. Did you watch any of that?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. Yeah.
Q. Are you surprised they pulled it off given all the controversy that they've gone through recently?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. They had a lot of turmoil going on. Every day I look in the paper, something new is happening with Iowa. So I thought it was pretty impressive they were able to pull that out, and it was good for the Big Ten.
Q. Five wins and top 15 last year, bowl season. Is there a chance here to really make a jump, you guys obviously facing a Top 5 team, Ohio State...
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. I think it's huge. You know, if we do well in this bowl season, we won't have to hear about it for the next year.
Q. Do you think so?
BLAKE SORENSEN: I think so. I mean last year we had a good bowl season last year, we didn't hear much about it.
Q. I was going to say, you just mentioned it. I totally forgot about it.
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. This is kind of we have one chance to do it and we gotta take care of business.
Q. Do you think the fact that Michigan, and Penn State to a lesser degree, has hurt the overall image of the Big Ten?
BLAKE SORENSEN: I think so. When you think of the Big Ten, you think Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State. Those kind of have been the three big cogs over the years.
Q. You guys have had a ridiculous amount of success, and for some reason, you mentioned it, you haven't cracked into that little --
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. I think we're starting to get there, obviously. Those teams have had success for a lot of years, and Wisconsin the past 20 years we've been good, but over the long period of time we haven't.
Q. You've seen a lot of good teams this year offensively that have good running backs. Who are the best running backs you've seen this year?
BLAKE SORENSEN: I thought Michigan State had three good running backs. You know, Michigan had some fast backs as well, but I think TCU guys run pretty hard.
Q. Do those guys compare at all or are good running backs just good running backs?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. Good running backs are good running backs. One thing I know is those guys run hard. They'll put their head down and run right over you. They have a lot of speed.
Q. Did you have a first impression of J.J.?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Of J.J.? Yeah. Actually, I went to a Minnesota camp and J.J. was there in a recruiting visit. I just kind of heard about him.
He was just this lanky, awkward-looking kid, and when he was going to transfer, I actually hosted him on his official visit. So I was able to show him around, didn't know what kind of player he'd be, never thought he'd be the player he was today. Just kind of convinced him to come here, said, work hard, hopefully you'll get a shot at playing, not knowing he'd be the best defensive end in college football.
Yeah, first impression was lanky, random kid, but from day one at campus, he's worked harder than anyone I've seen.
Q. So that was a camp at the University of Minnesota?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Right. That was the first time I saw him. I was on a visit there when that whole thing was going on. I met him there, and I met him again on his official visit to Wisconsin. I hosted him.
Q. Was that like the fall of '06?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. He played his freshman year, yeah. That would be '06 at Central Michigan. Then he took a visit in the spring.
Q. To Wisconsin?
BLAKE SORENSEN: To Wisconsin.
Q. So you saw him --
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. That would have been, probably yeah, the summer before, so probably like '05.
Q. Can you believe that kid is now as big as he is?
BLAKE SORENSEN: No. It would be like telling you you're going to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in five years.
So yeah, he deserves everything he got. He works so hard, and you couldn't find a better kid.
Q. I have to ask you this other question. Have you ever heard of something called Shake Weights?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. It's ridiculous. We've actually been using them a lot lately, get those biceps working.
Q. You don't actually use them?
BLAKE SORENSEN: No. No.
Q. Does anybody have them as a joke gift or anything?
BLAKE SORENSEN: No. I don't even think -- I don't even think that would be a funny -- it would be a funny joke. I haven't seen any Shake Weights.
Q. What's your senior year been like? I mean you were coming in as the fourth linebacker behind Chris, Mike and Culmer. And Chris goes down. You've had a pretty solid senior year. Just kind of talk about your year in general.
BLAKE SORENSEN: Sure. My year's been unbelievable. Team wise, we're playing in the Rose Bowl, and that's been awesome. I got more time this year, thought I was productive and made some plays, and I was able to be a key component of the defense, so it's been a lot of fun.
Q. Where does your versatility as a linebacker come from, that you can really play, if you need to, any of the three positions? Is that something that you learned in high school or is that something that was kind of cultivated when you came here?
BLAKE SORENSEN: I think it was kind of cultivated when I came here. My first two years I played all three spots. I didn't really know where I'd fit in, and it ended up helping me.
I was able to shuffle around, and this year I kind of settled in to one spot, but give a lot of credit to the coaches. They did a great job.
Q. Offensively, TCU, do they have as many play makers as any team you've faced this year, from the quarterback to the running game, many wide receivers? Are they as talented as anyone you've played this year?
BLAKE SORENSEN: I would say. It starts with their quarterback. Andy Dalton is a great quarterback, and they have a lot of speed at the skill positions. So yeah, they have definitely as much talent as we've seen this year.
Q. How does Kerley compare?
BLAKE SORENSEN: He's a special player. They put the ball in his hands any way they can. And he's quick; he's fast, and he's tough to tackle. So it'll be a big challenge for us.
Q. Can you talk a little bit also about Dave Doeren and what he's meant to you in your career? And his skill set is linebacker. Can you talk about how he's helped make you the kind of player you are and have the season you did this year?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. I owe a lot of my career to Coach Doeren. He's been a huge part of my success. Ever since I came in, he's a tough, hard-nose coach. Made me learn the defense, made me who I am today.
Q. How was working with Culmer and Mike helped you guys just overall defensively this year? Just with obviously Culmer, his veteran, experience, and then with Mike, with his natural ability?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. Those guys are great to work with. They're both playing to their own strengths. Like I say, Culmer, he's a veteran; he knows everything. And Mike's just a special player. He's going to be a great linebacker here, but it means a lot. Really close to those guys off the field, and there's no better way to cap it off than a Rose Bowl.
Q. How do you think the senior class kind of has grown together? Throw your coach in there, too, because he's been with you through all the years. How have you guys kind of grown from the very good first season, kind of a dip in the middle and now you guys are back on the rise again.
BLAKE SORENSEN: I think we've really matured a lot, kind of created our own legacy. I had a good year, had a couple down years. We really gelled together and worked hard through these last two years, kind of made our own mark, and I think we did that.
Q. How big of a stepping stone do you think this game could be to take this program even higher the next couple of years, because as experienced and talented as the senior class is, you guys have a lot of good players coming back next year. Could you talk about the stepping stone that this game could potentially be?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. It could be huge. Coming off last year we beat Miami and that was a really big boost in the off season, and a Rose Bowl win means a lot more than that. So it's big for the under class and big for the tradition of the program and big for moving forward.
Q. Who are you worried about on the TCU offense? Who scares you, besides Kerley?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. I'd say Andy Dalton is a guy that I've really been impressed watching film of him.
Q. What's impressed you?
BLAKE SORENSEN: You can just tell he really leads that offense. He's kind of like -- the guy's been compared to Tolzien. He can run as well. He really commands that offense, and when guys aren't open, he can run for first downs. He's a great athlete.
Another thing, their backs really run hard. They'll put their head down and run right over you.
Q. You had mentioned the senior class and kind of growing together. How would you describe how your coach has changed in the last five years?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. I think he'll be the first one to admit he's grown just as much as his players have. Kind of going back to that Michigan State incident, you know, he got a penalty. And you know, he put blame on himself right after that. He looked at himself after the season and said he needed to change, and he put a lot on us as well.
Yeah. I think everyone has grown with the team, starting at the top with Coach Bielema.
Q. Were you surprised by that, that he got that penalty? What do you recall about that?
BLAKE SORENSEN: That whole game was disappointing, but I think at some point the game in that season was kind of a turning point. A lot of things changed after that. We really changed the way we work, and it's led to this.
Q. You got an offense at Wisconsin that looks a lot like TCU's offense from the standpoint of running backs and people that can catch the ball. I know the styles are different. Compare those.
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. I think the first you look at offensive line, both big, strong guys that can move people. Quarterbacks are both leaders on the team, both poised guys. And you know, both teams have fast guys.
Kerley is a great weapon for them. Kind of like we have David Gilreath for us. So like you said, different styles, but similarities are pretty similar.
Q. (Indiscernible). (Question about the grass.)
BLAKE SORENSEN: I don't think so. We practiced on grass yesterday. It really only takes one practice to get used to, and we went to that field the other day. It's as good of a field as you're going to find. So I don't think it should mean a whole lot. We'd like if the grass was a little longer to slow down those TCU guys. But I don't think that's going to happen.
BLAKE SORENSEN: We're going to go outdoors. I don't think they have it indoors at the practice facility.
Q. The weather is supposed to be okay on Saturday, a little cool.
BLAKE SORENSEN: Is it? Yeah. I mean I wouldn't mind if it rained. It would slow down their passing game.
Q. (Indiscernible). What do you think is at stake for this team and this program in this game? You've had a great year. (Indiscernible).
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. You know, you don't want to put it on one game, but at the same time this could mean a lot for the program.
When you come here, all you hear about is the last three Rose Bowls. So this is our chance to make our own mark and really send these young guys into a great off season and really put Wisconsin on the map. A lot of people will be watching this game, so it's a chance to make a statement.
Q. Have you done anything fun so far yet?
BLAKE SORENSEN: We went to Disneyland and we went to Lawry's yesterday, which that was an awesome deal.
Q. I've seen the video of it. I've never been there.
BLAKE SORENSEN: These things are 16-ounce prime ribs. Travis Frederick eight seven of them.
Q. 16 ounces and he ate seven?
BLAKE SORENSEN: Then they cut him off. This lady was serving. She'd been serving for 20 years. She said she's never seen somebody eat seven. This lady was probably 70 years old. So...
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. I guess we just absolutely killed TCU in the amount of meat we ate.
Yeah. He would have kept going. I think he could have got 10. The record was 10. He wanted it. I think he would have had it. He said I don't have to play in the game so I'm going to keep eating.
BLAKE SORENSEN: Yeah. I think Moffitt only ate five. He was thinking about the game at the same time.
End of FastScripts