Head coaches Bret Bielema and David Shaw addressed the media for the first time Sunday evening to discuss the Rose Bowl match-up between Wisconsin and Stanford.
The following is the audio file from that conference:
The following is the transcript from that conference:
COACH SHAW: Thank you very much. First and foremost, we're very excited, of course, to be going to the Rose Bowl. This has been our goal all along throughout the year, through our highs and lows, this is what we kept pointing towards, and our guys work extremely hard to get here.
We're excited to be representing Stanford University as well as the Pac‑12 in this Rose Bowl game. I think we're going to have an exciting game. I think you're going to hear a lot of mutual respect from both us and Wisconsin. I think we admire the way that each other plays. We play a physical style. We play an exciting style, and I think it's going to be one heck of a game. I can't wait.
GINA CHAPPIN: Thank you, Coach. Next up I'd like to introduce the head coach for the Wisconsin Badgers and Big Ten Champions, Bret Bielema.
COACH BIELEMA: Thank you. Here at the University of Wisconsin, give a lot of credit to Stanford, obviously, to earn the right to represent their conference in the granddaddy of them all in the Rose Bowl. We played our way into it with a win as well this weekend and are very excited to return to Pasadena and have an opportunity to play in a game against a great opponent.
A lot of respect, like Coach Shaw mentioned, not just for winning and losing games, but just the way they do it. I think it's an exciting match‑up. One that I knew our kids were instantly excited about in the locker room after last night's win. Nothing but great days ahead and excited about the opportunity.
GINA CHAPPIN: Coach, thank you. We'll now open it up to questions for the media.
Q. Let's talk about this match‑up in the Rose Bowl. Both teams are pretty much similar, very physical, and good up front. Talk about that and talk about how each team is basically similar in this match‑up?
COACH SHAW: I think Coach Bielema and I actually had a conversation a year ago with the Paul Bear Bryant Coach of the Year banquet, and we had talked about how much we've looked at each other's film and how much we've admired the way that each other plays. This is going to be probably the first team really for both of us that it's almost kind of like a mirror image where our guys on defense are going to see some things that they recognize, because they go against them in training camp and spring ball. You're talking about double teams and pulling guards and full backs and tight ends and quarterbacks that use play action. It's going to be some very similar styles. But at the same time we have our own uniqueness as well.
I think there's going to be a little bit of a chess match as we get into this thing. But I think once again it's going to be excite to go see something familiar on film.
COACH BIELEMA: I couldn't agree more. Obviously, offenses have a lot of similarities. And looking today, I looked up online and the statistics show it's obviously going to be a great defensive match‑up as well. Two defenses that, because of the type of kids that we recruit and the type of players that we bring into our program, we'll be very similar on that side of the ball. And the kicking game will be an important role as well.
Q. When you guys made the change to go to Hogan at quarterback, can you talk about what he's been able to bring from a physical standpoint with his physical skills and also some intangibles that you can't see unless you're in the huddle with him?
COACH SHAW: First, physically, the mobility is what jumps off the film when you watch him. Just being able to escape the pocket. You don't have to call the perfect play, because if it's not there, he can pull it down and run. We can also have some of our designed quarterback runs for him as well. He's run for a lot of first downs. Most of his scrambles have been for first downs which has been great.
But what you don't see in the stat sheet is that he's a young kid, but he's one of those guys that steps in the huddle and acts like he's been there for years. He doesn't get rattled. He's been hit. He's made mistakes. He's done the wrong thing at times, and it never affects the next play.
That's what you're looking for as a coach. You're looking for a guy that stays in the game, even when it gets tough, even when it gets hard and never waivers and never changes. That's why he's been so successful for us.
Q. Coach Bielema, can you please talk about the difference offensively that Stanford is compared to your last two Rose Bowl opponents? And TCU and obviously, Oregon, it seems they're quite a bit different than those last two opponents?
COACH BIELEMA: Yeah, obviously, those two opponents you referenced to are more of a spread style offense. Definitely bring a whole set of issues in their own right. One of the parts‑‑ I haven't studied Stanford other than watching from afar. But the tempo was obviously a lot different, just the manner that they go about their business. They're playing for success and have had changes to their strengths. Coach has done a great job of recruiting and obviously the dividends have been high.
Q. Bret, do you think there is any chance Wisconsin fans could get tired of going to the Rose Bowl?
COACH BIELEMA: I don't think so. They've been great out there the last two years. It's the granddaddy of them all as we always tell you. And this year because of the trials and tribulations we've been through as a team, it has been a very popular team with our fans, I believe. And the way they played on Saturday night in Indianapolis I'm sure will give everybody great reason to travel to Pasadena and see a great show.
Q. You guys have been to the Rose Bowl two straight years. What do you have to do this year differently than the last two years?
COACH BIELEMA: We've got to play better on the game field. There is no doubt that we played two very, very good football teams that were able to beat us in two very hard‑fought games. It came down to the wire with a play here, play there.
I think our kids, one thing you heard from their comments after the game yesterday, they gave great respect to the games of the past, but also realized that to be able to come out on the winning edge, it's going to have to be one play at a time. Every play matters in every phase of the game, and that's the only way you can win in big ballgames.
Q. If you look at some teams defensive stats, they'll have one, two, maybe three guys who really had a lot more tackles than everybody else. That's not the case with your defense. I'm curious if that's dictated by scheme, or if it's because you rotate enough guys in there where you have that many play makers where there are so many guys bunched together in terms of the number of tackles and productivity?
COACH SHAW: I think it's a couple of things. Number one, it's just like every coach. You preach team defense. Coach Mason, Derek Mason, our defensive coordinator and associate head coach has done a phenomenal job getting our guys to buy into the team defense. Every week it's a different guy that stands out. We don't have a lot of guys that break scheme to make a play outside of the scheme. They just do their jobs and count on everybody else doing their jobs. That's part of it.
The other part of it is, yeah, we do rotate guys. We play a lot of guys. There have been games where we played 22, 23 guys on the defensive side just to keep everybody fresh, keep everybody into it, and to realize that different guys have different strengths. There are some things that some guys can do when they get into the game. So we've been able to keep guys fresh, the tackles get spread out, and what I love about it is our best players don't look at the stat sheet on defense. They don't look at how many tackles or sacks that they have. They look at the total defense numbers, and that's the only thing that matters is the number that's on the scoreboard.
Q. Coach, I apologize if you've answered this already, but Melvin Gordon and James White and a lot of the players that you're getting involved here as of late, how important is it to get the extra practices going into the Bowl game?
COACH BIELEMA: It's always a benefit with the younger players who make the most gains in a short amount of time. It's critical for us. One of the things that we try to build into our program in preparation from year's past and developmental practice is to bring along young men that really aren't on the playing plans as far as the game and the execution. But to bring those young players along development‑wise is a big part of why we have success year after year.
Specifically to Melvin, obviously, I don't know if I have a player on our roster that has grown over the last three months as much as him individually and the ability he can bring to the games.
Q. I'm not sure how many people gave you guys a chance to be in this game this season. Do you feel like you've flown under the radar a little bit, David?
COACH SHAW: No question about it, with good reason. The aerial show that started off the beginning of the season down in Southern California and the ground assault that started off at Oregon. You couldn't help but look at those two teams and the numbers they put up so early in the season, and the fact that we sputtered, to be honest, in the beginning of the game. But what I love about our guys is even when we didn't play well, we found a way to win in the fourth quarter. We have a good way of finding a way to win the game. Finding a way to finish games very smartly, very tough with a tough mindset, thankfully. We were able to thankfully get wins against both of those teams and squeak out a couple more at the end of the year to put ourselves in position to get into the championship game and to finish it off.
Our guys are very conscious not so much of the perception of us, but just the fact that we knew we lost a lot of offense. A lot of offense walked out the door. You're talking about one of the best quarterbacks in the history of college football, and our top linemen and a bunch of guys that left, our top receiver and a tight end, all leaving. The guys wanted to make sure the standard of play stayed at a very high level in order to give ourselves a chance to be where we are.
Q. Bret mentioned special teams might be a factor in this game. I'm just curious. Your kicker, Josh Williamson has had some ups and downs. How has he handled this year based on last year? How has he performed?
COACH SHAW: First, that's Jordan Williamson. Jordan has grown up a lot. He's not been perfect this year. He's been more steady. He's a phenomenally talented young man. I say it all the time. He kicks 60‑yard field goals very smoothly with rhythm. When he stays in his rhythm, he's as good as anybody. But it's part of being a young player.
He's had moments where he picks his head up and wants to see it go through, and he puts the ball to the left. He's made some huge kicks at the end of the year, big kicks against UCLA, biggest kick of his career against Oregon to win the game. He's been a great kickoff guy for us.
He's grown up a lot, and I'm really excited about what he can become in these next two years.
Q. This is your third straight Rose Bowl, but you haven't won any of the previous two. Obviously, following in the footsteps of a guy like Barry Alvarez who won three Rose Bowls. Are you feeling the pressure this year to get one of these finally? Because it's nice to get there, but winning it is a whole different ball of wax, obviously. Are you feeling any personal pressure here?
COACH BIELEMA: I feel pressure in every one of them. You want to win every game you play in. The Rose Bowl is no different. It's a culmination to a season, so there is a lot more emphasis. It stays in your memory a long time. I'm not ashamed of getting to Pasadena. I'm not ashamed of the way we played the last two games.
But to get an opportunity to go to Pasadena and play a great opponent in Stanford, and get a win if we were able to, would be a special achievement. Especially the way our teams battled to even get the opportunity here.
Q. Coach Shaw, can you talk about the thought process that went into making the quarterback change with Kevin Hogan?
COACH SHAW: Sure. The Cliff notes version of it is Kevin Hogan was not in our quarterback competition early on. He didn't have a strong enough foothold in what we were doing, so we started the season with Josh Nunes. Josh played really well in the beginning, played an unbelievable game against UCLA, a few weeks later played the best game of his life against Arizona. He was our conference player of the week.
After that, our production started to slip. But at the same time, Kevin Hogan started to show real signs of understanding what we were doing. We gave him a few plays early in the year because of his mobility to give him a chance to get on the field and use his athletic ability as a companion to what Josh Nunes was doing.
We got into the Colorado game and really planned on splitting time between those two. Josh took the first couple of series, and then when Kevin went in, it was like everything changed. Kevin really took over. He took the ball and ran. He threw it great. He handled the change of protections. He handled the running game which was paramount for our quarterbacks. And he made plays with his legs and threw some great balls. For us, after that game, it was pretty much a done deal.
It was a sign of his growth and maturity throughout the year, because, make no mistake about it, if he played early in the year, we wouldn't be where we are right now because he wasn't ready. He started showing signs, we started giving him opportunities and he took advantage of those opportunities.
Q. I wanted to get your thoughts on the progression of the offensive line, and specifically Kyle Costigan and Robert Burge and how they've really grown into their roles this season?
COACH BIELEMA: Yeah, I couldn't be more pleased with the development. Obviously, made a coaching change after the second game of the season, after the Oregon State game. Put Bart Miller in charge of the offensive line. It's grown every day since then. Playing at a high level this past game, especially. Those two players particularly, Robbie Burge is a fifth‑year former walk‑on that has built his body into what we see today. He really played well yesterday in relief of Kyle Costigan who was cleared for the game but hadn't practiced with us.
He'll be back with us full go for the Rose Bowl. But those two players in particular, the way they move their feet, their hand placement, the execution of what we ask them to do, have really made big strides during the course of the season.
Q. Can you talk about the circumstances that led you guys obviously in the Leaders Division to jump over Penn State and Ohio State because of their own transgressions and get that chance to play Nebraska and obviously you win that game and you get here to the Rose Bowl. Can you talk about those circumstances? It's got to be odd to follow that path in.
COACH BIELEMA: Well, the journey to every team goes on each year as independent to their own. We've obviously done a lot of good things here over the course of the year to put us in a position. I believe it was probably in week nine, week eight or nine, when we played Indiana. We knew if we won that game just because of mathematics and eliminations, Penn State and Ohio State weren't able to play in the championship game, if we won versus Indiana, we'd have an opportunity to play in Indianapolis for the championship game. We won that game quite convincingly in a day that I think our guys took a step forward. They had two heartbreaking losses to Ohio State and Penn State in overtime, and then obviously came back and responded very positively against Nebraska.
So I understand the question and everything that goes into it, but we're proud of where we are and who we are and what we represent and are very excited to play in the Rose Bowl.