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December 29, 2010

J.J. Watt



Q. How often do you double-team?
J.J. WATT: Especially in the latter part of the year, pretty often. Teams will either keep a tight end in or they'll throw a runningback on pass plays. Our run plays, there's obviously a lot of double-teams going on.

Q. Used to it?
J.J. WATT: Yeah, I'm used to it. Obviously, it's something I know I'm going to have to deal with all year. So I've learned to handle it and I'm just fine with it. I mean, every defenseman gets annoyed when he's double-teamed. It's very frustrating, but it also makes you a better player because you have to fight through it and it makes you stronger.

Q. How much in terms of your ability to pass-rush?
J.J. WATT: In the second half of the season, I've started to figure out that you better get a pretty straight line to the quarterback if you want to sack because, especially with a guy like Andy Dalton, he's going to get the ball out extremely quick. So I need to get there very fast.
I'm either going to power rush or I'm going to speed rush around the edge. There's not going to be a lot of hand movements from me because it's not very effective.

Q. When you watch him, are you surprised to see he's moderately effective running?
J.J. WATT: He is an agile runner. He can run a little bit. So we have to be careful with our contain lanes and we have to be good with our pass-rush abilities because if we let him outside or we let him run up the middle, he's going to go for a little while. So we need to contain him as best as possible.

Q. (Question regarding being a Central Michigan tight end and where he is now.)
J.J. WATT: It's been an unbelievable journey. A lot of people ask me if I would change it, and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world because the journey that I took to get to where I am today has really made me who I am as a person.
I wouldn't have the work ethic I have. I wouldn't have the - what's the word - the outlook on life that I have right now if it wasn't for everything that I had to go through to get here. So being in the Rose Bowl right now means that much more to me because of everything that I went through to get here.
I'm kind of playing for a lot of my Central Michigan buddies back there because this is a dream come true for any college football player, any football player at any level. So I'm playing for everybody whoever wished they could do this.

Q. How do you think it would have been different if you went right to Wisconsin?
J.J. WATT: I still would have worked extremely hard because my parents wouldn't let me do anything else. They always taught me the right way. But I just don't think I would have the perspective that I have now.
I've seen everything. I mean, I've seen the bottoms, I've seen being out of college football, and now I'm seeing the top of college football. Really I was talking to my high school coach the other day. He told me, You've reached the Mecca of college football. That's essentially what it is. The Rose Bowl is the biggest thing you can really do in the Big Ten.
I'm just taking it all in and having a blast.

Q. Do you realize how rare it is to have done what you have done?
J.J. WATT: A little bit. This last month of December has kind of been a reflection a little bit to take a look back. But for the most part I have to keep looking forward because that's what's got me here. I didn't get to where I am today by reflecting on my accomplishments. I always look forward to the next accomplishment.
So I have plenty left to accomplish in this lifetime and I can't wait to get to work on doing that.

Q. TCU, No. 3 ranked, undefeated. What do you see when you look at them?
J.J. WATT: I see what I see on film. So I see a good quarterback, a very good offensive line, and some very talented skill players. So I don't really see the bigger picture stuff like that. I just see what I'm going to be facing.
So I'm watching Marcus Cannon, what kind of set he has. So all that outside stuff doesn't really matter once the game starts.

Q. (Question regarding Big Ten power against a Cinderella upstart.)
J.J. WATT: From the outside world, it definitely does. The media is definitely going to play it like that, and a lot of the fans are going to see it like that.
But for me, once the game starts, it's a hundred-yard field, it's 11-on-11, and it's 60 minutes to see who is the better football team.

Q. (Question regarding being the Goliath in this matchup.)
J.J. WATT: We're trying to get there, that's for sure. We'll take this role, and if all of college football is looking at us as the Goliath and they're going to be the David, that's fine.
We're going to play 110% no matter what. If we're David, if we're Goliath, we're going to play 110% every play.

Q. (No microphone.)
J.J. WATT: It was a combination. It took a lot to get here physically. It took a lot of hard work in the weight room, a lot of hard work in the kitchen eating. I mean, it's tough to put on as much weight as I've put on.
Mentally it took a lot, too. I've really matured over the last couple years. I've kind of grown as a person. I just have a whole different perspective on life right now. I'm really just loving every second, taking it all in, because I understand that this is a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

Q. What did you weight?
J.J. WATT: When I left high school, I was 228. When I started my first game in Wisconsin, I was 286. Now I'm 292. So I put on somewhere around 60, 65 pounds since high school. That's a lot of food you got to put in your stomach.

Q. And after the flu?
J.J. WATT: Oh, yeah. After the flu last year, I dropped 23 pounds. I dropped down to 269. That was Fresno. I didn't get it all back until I think after the Northwestern game, which was like a seven-game spread. That was extremely difficult.

Q. Was that a target weight?
J.J. WATT: Actually, even after last year, we didn't know if I was going to D-tackle. I kind of kept my weight down on purpose because I didn't want to move to D-tackle because I liked playing defensive end. But now Coach B has assured me that I will not be moving from defensive end.
I'm right around 290, and that's exactly where I want to stay.

Q. (Question regarding the offensive line and being overshadowed.)
J.J. WATT: Not at all. Not at all. As long as they keep creating the holes they do for our runningbacks, as long as they keep putting up the points they do, they can have all the limelight they want.
They deserve it. Offensive linemen don't get credit a lot of the time. But our offensive line is one that definitely deserves every single thing they get because they're one of the biggest keys to our success this year.

Q. How do you compare Dalton to guys you played?
J.J. WATT: A lot of people compare him to Scotty T. Scott and him are very similar as passers, but Dalton is a little bit more of a runner. He's a little bit more agile than Scotty.
But he's just a very good quarterback. I mean, he was in Heisman talks all year for a reason. He's the quarterback of a 12-0 team for a reason. He's a very good quarterback who doesn't make very many dumb decisions and he's always going to be smart with the ball.

Q. (No microphone.)
J.J. WATT: Yeah, I found some things I can take advantage of, which I'm excited to take advantage of. I also saw that he's a very good football player. He's an All-Conference player, All-American for a reason. He's big and he's athletic. For his size, I think he's 330 pounds, he moves very well for that size.
He poses some good challenges, but I see Gabe every single day, so there's not much I haven't seen.

Q. (No microphone.)
J.J. WATT: I believe it's Blake Sorensen. Blake, he works hard. He's a guy who is going 110 miles an hour when he's on the field. He's very overlooked. Outside he's very overlooked. In our locker room, he's one of the key players. We look to him as a senior leader. But he deserves a lot more credit than he gets.

Q. Out of high school did you have any other alternatives?
J.J. WATT: Out of high school? Yeah, I had offers to Wyoming, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Purdue, Colorado, then a couple others, Northern Illinois.

Q. So Central?
J.J. WATT: Well, I committed to Central Michigan, to Coach Brian Kelly. Then he left for Cincinnati, so I committed to Minnesota. Then Coach Mason got fired, so I committed back to Central Michigan. The offense didn't work like I thought it was going to work, so I came back to Wisconsin. It's been unbelievable.

Q. Probably where you always wanted to be?
J.J. WATT: I just wanted to play Division I football. I just wanted to play football in general. When I was coming out of high school, I was looking at North Texas, White Water, Division II, Division III. Anywhere I could play football, I just wanted to play. Now I'm playing in the Rose Bowl. I never could have imagined it would have turned out like this.

Q. (No microphone.)
J.J. WATT: I'm very happy he did. They told me I was too small to play tight end when I was in high school. So I always joke with them, now I'm a defensive end, 290 pounds. I joke with them a little bit about that. But I'm definitely glad he survived the curse.

Q. How did you handle the move from offense to defense? Was that something that you welcomed or did that take a little bit of soul searching?
J.J. WATT: I very much welcomed it. The best part about defense is you control your own destiny on every single play. On offense you have to wait for somebody to throw you the ball. On defense, when I first made the transition, I was all over the place. I was running wild.
I think that's kind of why I'm successful today, is because I have that kind of mentality where I'm just going to run around and try and make plays. Might not always have the best technique, the coach might not always like it, but at the end of the day I'm going to try and create as much production as possible. I think that's what's happened.

Q. Would the lockout have any impact on your decision what to do next year?
J.J. WATT: It definitely comes into consideration when you're talking about possibly leaving early. Because it's such a big deal, I mean, a lockout would be huge. But at the same time it's something that we can't control. Us as players, as juniors who have to make this decision, we have no clue. There's really not going to be any new information by the time we have to decide.
You kind of have to attack it like there is no lockout because you don't know what's going to happen.

Q. (Question regarding the passing game affecting approach.)
J.J. WATT: He gets it out very fast, so we definitely have to get our hands up in the passing lane. That's the biggest thing. If we can get our hands in the passing lane, disrupt first off his view and second off try and knock a couple balls down, that would be huge because our defensive backs are going to have a tough enough time as it is with their good receivers and how quick he gets the ball out.
But we're going to do everything that we can to make their job easier.

Q. Did you ever hear back from the Friday night?
J.J. WATT: Amy? I talked to her a little bit last year, but I haven't heard back from her this year.

Q. What do you see out of their offensive line?
J.J. WATT: They're a very good offensive line who moves well. They have good feet. They're big guys so they can do a lot of things.

Q. (No microphone.)
J.J. WATT: I would say it's tough to compare them because the offense is different. Our offense is just going to kind of mash the ball down your throat, while TCU's offense is going to do a little bit more misdirection, stuff like that.
But both offenses are very good. It's going to be a great matchup.

Q. (No microphone.)
J.J. WATT: It's obviously difficult, but at the same time we've had three weeks now to prepare, so we're very well-coached and very well-prepared for this. Our coaches have a great game plan in place.
We feel prepared.

Q. Speed-wise, how do they compare?
J.J. WATT: They're very fast. But at the same time we're a pretty quick team. Last year we had Miami, and everybody thought their speed was going to crush us, but we ended up winning the game. We're hoping to have the same type of fortune this year.

Q. Was that coming out of high school you were thinking of going to Central Michigan?
J.J. WATT: I committed to Central Michigan, Coach Brian Kelly, out of high school.

Q. As a tight end?
J.J. WATT: As a tight end, yeah. And then he went to Cincinnati. So then I committed to Minnesota, Coach Mason, as a tight end. He got fired. So I committed to Coach Butch Jones at Central Michigan as a tight end and I went to Central Michigan for a year. I started as a true freshman at tight end. I only caught I think eight passes for 77 yards. I said, This isn't working. So I transferred back. I had to sit out for six months. That's when I worked at pizza, did all that.

Q. Delivery?
J.J. WATT: Yeah, I delivered pizzas, yeah.
Then I got to Wisconsin and I had to sit out that year just on the scout team. I was playing scout team. Got scout team player of the year as defensive end. Then Coach Bielema gave me a scholarship after that year, so I never played on a game field at Madison. He gave me a scholarship, which is awesome. And then I started my junior year. I had a decent year. Here I am today playing in the Rose Bowl.

Q. Your redshirt freshman year you were a reserve?
J.J. WATT: My redshirt sophomore year I was on the scout team because I couldn't play. And then my redshirt sophomore year I was a starter, yeah. Then this year, I'm a starter, yeah. Wild. Trust me, it gets my head spinning sometimes. It's been a wild ride, but every second's been worth it.

Q. (No microphone.)
J.J. WATT: He's a young coach who understands his players. He knows when we need a break. He knows when he needs to push us hard. That's what I really like about him. I mean, two days ago we had an extremely hard practice. We went at it pretty good. And then yesterday he realized, hey, they might have a little bit of heavy legs, so he backed off us a little bit.
That's the thing about him, is he played in the Rose Bowl. He played in the Big Ten. He understands what we're going through. So he can relate to us very well, and he treats us very well.

Q. You came over his second year?
J.J. WATT: I came over in I want to say it was his third year, yes.

Q. What had you heard? Had you heard much about him at that point?
J.J. WATT: Yeah, I mean, some of the players were still Coach Alvarez's players, so they obviously had some loyalty there. There were a lot of good things said about Coach B when I came in. As I've been here, you can just see he's matured so much as a coach. He's become one of the best in the nation, rightfully so. He puts in so much hard work that it's awesome to see him getting so much recognition.

Q. Is there any instance that stands out in your mind about him?
J.J. WATT: I think one thing that he'll tell you is that he got a penalty at Michigan State, I think it was in 2008, and so I think that his sideline presence has changed. You could just see in him, he understands everything a little bit better.
I think as a coach, he just relates to us so much better. In the beginning, like, he was coaching us, but now he kind of understands, hey, these guys need a break. Okay, we'll give them a break. Hey, they need to work harder, we're going to work them hard.
This year really it's all come together and he's been unbelievable this year. Really couldn't ask for a better coach to play for.

Q. (No microphone.)
J.J. WATT: He brings the presence back there. He's a hard-hitter. This year he's kind of toned it down a little bit, which is good for us because he's playing a little bit better assignment football. He's a vocal leader. He's a guy that is going to get guys riled up when we need to get riled up. He's just a good guy to be around.

Q. In your own case, does that give you an advantage with an opposing offense?
J.J. WATT: It does a little bit, 'cause obviously I played the position so I understand. But now for the most part I'm just going off of what Coach Partridge, my defensive line coach, teaches me and what I see off of film because that's much more important to me than anything that I know because I was only there for one year so I don't know a whole lot. I've only been a defensive end for a couple years, so I'm still learning the game and I have a long way to go.

Q. What are the biggest differences going to a defensive end?
J.J. WATT: The biggest thing I had to do when I came over to defense was slow down because when I first got to defensive end, I thought I could just run around and do whatever I wanted. The coaches quickly told me that wasn't the case. I had to learn my technique. I had to get my fundamentals down. That's really when I became a good football player.

Q. How long do you think it took to do that?
J.J. WATT: It took probably a year and a half. I mean, I'm still not where I want to be, so I have a long ways to go still. But it's taken a long time. I owe a lot of credit to Coach Partridge because he does an unbelievable job.

Q. What does winning the Lott Award mean to you?
J.J. WATT: It means everything because that award stands for more than just football, it stands for off-the-field characteristics. Just to have my name mentioned in the same sentence as Lott is such an honor. That was an unbelievable event down in Newport Beach. I can't thank everyone down there enough because it was truly a dream come true that weekend.

Q. Why did you switch to defensive end?
J.J. WATT: In talking to Coach Bielema during my transfer process, we just thought it would be the best fit for me and where I could have the most success and where I could help the team out the most. That's what I was looking to do, was just help the team out in any way possible. That's really where I fit best.

Q. What did he tell you that he saw in you?
J.J. WATT: I actually asked him if I could play defensive end. He said, All right. I mean, to be honest, I don't know if they really thought I was going to be much of a football player when I came here. I came in as a walk-on, as a scout team player, and they were just going to kind of see what happened. So I tried to make the most of it every single moment I had on the field. Obviously, it's turned out into something great.

Q. Why did you choose to be an defensive end instead of a tight end? Because they already had someone in tight end?
J.J. WATT: I just kind of wanted to run around and have fun. At tight end you have to wait for somebody to throw you the ball. I like being able to create my own destiny on every play. That's what you get to do at defensive end, is run around and just have fun.

Q. (No microphone.)
J.J. WATT: You can talk to agents, but you really have no contact from the NFL. I mean, the only thing I have is I've submitted the NFL Advisory Committee form. So I'll be getting back from them what round they supposedly think I'm going to go in. But that's really all we have at this point.
I mean, other than that, I'm kind of reading the Internet, like everybody else. I'm kind of just listening to Coach Bielema, what he advises me on. But for the most part I'm just focusing on the Rose Bowl really.

Q. When did you send that in?
J.J. WATT: I sent that in a couple weeks ago.

Q. Is there a mandatory time it had to be in?
J.J. WATT: Yeah, there was. And I believe I'll get my results back two or three days after the Rose Bowl.

Q. What's it like going against your offensive line, you're running game, on a daily basis, how hard they are to stop? You know them so well.
J.J. WATT: They're almost impossible to stop. I mean, when you've got two All-Americans on the left side, you have a three-headed monster in the backfield, you also have Scott, Lance Kendricks who can block and catch, it creates such a tough matchup. I'm glad I don't have to face them on the game field. I'm very glad I get to see them on the practice field because I'm seeing the best offense in the country every single day, and that makes me better as a defensive player.

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