Gary Andersen: James White, Melvin Gordon work well together

Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen spoke with the media
Tuesday morning on the Big Ten’s weekly coaches teleconference ahead of the
Badgers’ game against Indiana.

Andersen discussed Wisconsin’s BCS conundrum, the effort
required to vote in the coaches Top 25 poll and the impact of running backs
Melvin Gordon and James White.

Here is the full transcript of Andersen’s conference call:

Andersen: Obviously it was a great game, great
victory for us out of conference. To play the way we played against what I
think is a very talented BYU team was a great victory. Great for the kids to be
home. Individual efforts, I thought Chris (Borland) was well deserving of the
award that he received for the week. He had a tremendous game coming off a hamstring injury and playing the way he
played. He adds a little extra juice and energy to that defense from a leadership
standpoint. It’s great to have him on the field and get him back where it needs
to be.

I also thought that Dez Southward and Nate Hammon also came
in and did a lot of things against tall receivers to play some man coverage
that we haven’t really asked those kids to do this year on defense, which was
important for us.

Indiana is a spread team. Very different than BYU as far as
the moving parts. It’s still a spread team. It’s still a pace team. But
athletes on the outside. A lot like we faced last week were very impressive.
But the run game is very impressive from Indiana. Has been for weeks and weeks
this season. They have a pretty good offense line. Those running backs are
making big plays for them. So it will be a big challenge for us.

Defensively, as far as our offense goes, we’ve got to
continue to do what we do. We’ve got to continue to work to get that third down
ratio up. We were better last game. But that’s big for us is staying manageable
down and distance situation.

If we do that, we seem to play pretty good on offensive side
of the football. We’ve got to take care of the football better. We lost the
turnover battle last week 2-1, and you can’t do that if you expect to win every
week.

Q: Do you own a soapbox? If you do, do you plan to start
telling people how good your team is?

A: No soapbox on my end. We’re just going to keep on
grinding away and do what we do. I guess I kind of sound like a broken record
when I say it. But I think this team will be known as a good team. They have an
opportunity to be known as a great team, but they’ve got to go out on Saturdays
and win.

We’ve got three more regular-season opportunities to do
that. I think they’ll get the recognition they deserve if they continue to be
steady and play against very good people week in and week out and find a way to
win games.

Q: So campaigning is not up your alley?

A: Nope. It’s not my style. It’s not my deal. I’ll
let the other people that handle that stuff handle it, and we’ll try and just
play on the field the way we play and represent Wisconsin well.

Q: Can a spread offense wear a defense down, and how does
it compare to a traditional power running game?

A: I think one of the keys, if you’re going to be
successful in a football game against a fast-paced, spread offense, you’ve got
to believe that you can somehow, some way try to control tempo and dictate
tempo a little bit, if you will.

It seems like a little bit of a weird statement I guess for
many people. But I believe you can. The coordinator, the signaler, the kids on
the field, it all works as one to get lined up and get in position to not be
out of position when the ball is snapped.

You can’t buy into the, “Hey, we’re going to get worn
down” factor. They’re on the field, too. So they’re going to get worn down,
and if they’re subbing, we should have time. The officials in this conference
do a great job of allowing us to be able to sub when they sub. So that helps
us.

On the offensive side of the ball, the best way to deal with
the spread offense is to find a way to keep them off the field. It’s hard to
score when your offense is not on the field. That’s kind of our recipe for
success. Does it always work? No. But that’s what we try to put into kids’
minds and the coaches minds.

Q: How much does the NCAA limitation on practice hours
during the week limit what you guys can do? Do you feel like there is more you
want to practice?

A: It works great for us. We don’t even quite use all
the hours during the week. We try and do everything fast and quick to get
through it. But the number of hours is a non-factor for us.

Q: What’s worked so well with Melvin Gordon and James
White getting both carries?

A: First off, their unselfishness and their care
factor for each other. They’re not in there saying, “It’s my turn. I’ve
got to get 25 carries or whatever.” As it comes, it comes. They deal with
it. They don’t count their reps. They make their reps count. The credit goes to
those kids, and the credit goes to coach (Thomas) Hammock as far as coaching
them that way.

Their success comes because I think they’re tremendous
practice players. They’re tremendous preparers. They take care of their bodies.
And they listen to what they’re coached and the direction they’re supposed to
head and I think they’re tremendous team players over and over, week after
week, day after day.

Q: From a physical standpoint, which makes each player
good, and how do their styles work together?

A: I think Melvin learned a lot this year dealing
with learning how to run between the tackles and dealing with running between
the tackles. And James has really helped him. It’s helped Melvin understand
protections better and better. And James did some tremendous things last week
in protection. So I think it’s a great complement for Melvin to be able to
learn from James and then James to be able to learn from Melvin the way Melvin
does some things on the outside. And what he did last year he’s continued to do
this year.

They look at each other and they definitely learn from each
other. They learn from their coach. Their styles are different, but they’re
also the same. Because our offense doesn’t have to change with either one of
them playing. They both have big-play capability, which is really a vicious
weapon when you’re a running back.

Q: Do you prefer not to be involved in the coaches poll
during the season?

A: I’ve been on it a few times. I’m not going to say
it’s a grind. It’s a responsibility and I think it’s a responsibility that when
I have it, I take pride in it and do my best to make sure that I’m at least
educated on the teams that I’m voting for. But it does take time. It’s not a
burden. It’s a responsibility like I said earlier. But it is something you have
to plan for. You have to take time and invest some time in being able to do it.

It’s not something you can sit down in five minutes and just
put a bunch of names down on a piece of paper. It’s a big part of the deal.
You’re not always right. People are going to disagree with you, with the way
you vote. But you just have to do your best, and if you accept responsibility,
I believe you should put the time into do your best and make your best effort
and put your emotions and feelings aside and vote for the people you believe
are the best teams. It is difficult because you don’t get to see everybody.

Q: Is that something you would do personally? And how
much time does it take?

A: Last time I did it, I was at Utah State. You’ve
got to get it in. Many times we played night games. So we were flying home,
sitting in airports or wherever we were. And we tried to get the scores off the
Internet. Yes, I did do it myself with the support of my DFO (Director of
Football Operations) as far as giving me the scores. What they’ve done in the
past and where they were. The hardest thing to really look at in my opinion
when you’re doing that is the teams that are kind of the up-and-comers. The
receiving vote teams and those teams that are on the backside.

You’re from Toledo, correct? Obviously they’re a team that’s
playing well and doing some great things. We were right there a year ago.
Giving those guys the credit with who they play, sometimes they get lost in the
mix I believe. You’ve got to be careful with those teams that are trying to
break into the top 25.

Q: What has Brendan Kelly meant to this team, and what
have you seen from his progress?

A: Brendan is a big part of this football team and
he’s shown that especially I think the last four, five, six games. He’s gotten
more. He was hampered with some injuries earlier in the year.

He’s really learned to manage his body and understand how to
practice to give him an opportunity to get out on the field. He’s a very
athletic young man. He’s a good pass rusher. He’s good against the run. He’s
very intelligent. He can get into his zone drops when we ask him to drop and
move.

He’s done some very good things for us. He’ a big part of
our substitution defense. Depending on who we’re playing, he may be a starter,
he may be a rotator. But he’s accepted that role very well and I’m proud of
him.

Q: How important is it for a guy like Warren Herring to
be in the mix?

A: Warren has done a great job. Him and Beau (Allen)
are a great complement to one another. They continue to rotate through there.
Warren brings some athleticism. And Beau brings the athleticism and a bunch of
strengths. They’re a good complement to each other at that nose guard spot.

Warren has played a lot of good reps for us this year and he
will continue to do so. He wants to make every play, which is a great thing to
have when you’re a defensive lineman. His want-to to make plays is very, very
high.

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