Gary Andersen: 'Unbelieveable and shocking' to play BYU
NOV 05, 2013 12:24p ET
Here is the full transcript of Andersen's conference call:
Andersen: It was a big-time game again on the road at Iowa. A tremendous football team that we had an opportunity to go play. Tremendous crowd. Back and forth battle. I love the way the kids fought and continued to battle through the adversity that they had a little bit during the week and then that they had obviously at the beginning of that game.
It was a great team effort and we found a way to come out on top. We're fortunate to walk out of there with a victory. Moving on to BYU is a very good nonconference team. They're 6-2, they're very explosive on offense. They've got a lot of weapons. They're very good on defense. I'm obviously very familiar with this team and have great respect for them and their program and their coaching staff and coach Mendenall.
This will be a big challenge and we're excited to be back home at Camp Randall. It's been basically a month since we've been here and played a game. Ourselves as a football team, everybody associated with the football program is very happy to come back and be in front of our fans in Camp Randall Stadium.
Q: BYU hasn't given up more than 21 points outside of a game against Houston. What makes their defense so good, and is there any Big Ten team they compare with?
A: I would say first of all they have very good players. They communicate very well and they play great team defense. Bronco is the defensive coordinator. He's always done a good job of putting the right pieces of the puzzle together and giving the best plays on defense the opportunity to make the plays. It's an aggressive defense. They come from all different angles. Much of it's based out of an odd front and they cause some problems.
If I had to compare them to somebody in our league from what I've seen so far this season, it would be probably ourselves here at Wisconsin as far as what we're trying to develop. We're in our first year of this odd front. They've been doing it for many years. But that would be the best comparison that I've seen in this league so far.
Q: Do you worry about focus because you're playing a nonconference game this week, or does putting your best BCS foot forward remove any concern?
A: I don't think it has anything to do with the BCS. I think it has to do with the opponent that we're playing. You flip on the tape and have a great understanding of what BYU has done, who they beat. You look at their schedule and how they've beaten some very good teams and what those teams have done after they've moved on in their season, and BYU has beaten them, or what they did prior to BYU beating them.
This is a great challenge. To me, when you prepare for an opponent, you flip on the tape and you gain that respect very quickly. This is definitely the case with BYU. You understand exactly who they are on defense and the way the kids play. So, we should be ready. I'm sure we are. The senior leadership of this team should have these kids prepared to play every single game.
The bottom line is we've got 24 seniors that are going to jog out there. They've got three opportunities left to play in Camp Randall. If they're not excited about that, then we've got some major problems on our hands. And I know that’s not the case.
Q: What did the 2010 win over BYU do for your program at Utah State?
A: It was huge. One of our big goals when we walked in there from a player's standpoint and a coach's standpoint was find a way to create a rivalry again. We play them almost every year. We did play them every year when we were there. In the past, they've played them almost every single year. To me, a rivalry game is a game that's competitive, that goes back and forth. In the fourth quarter most years , it's a tight ballgame. And that was one of our major goals.
To be able to beat them and win on national television was huge for our program. I don’t know if I can really put in words how important it was. But it got us moving in the right direction.
Q: Does your overall familiarity with BYU help with preparing for a November nonconference game?
A: I think it does for us as a coaching staff. There's some similarities that carry on from year to year. It's a little different. You walk in your first year. You don't know many names and you're watching players trying to get to know them during the week of the game or a little bit of your summer work that you've gone through and just having some familiarity and some understanding who some of the kids are. Seeing familiar names. Understanding the coaches a little bit.
I don’t know fi that really helps. But it may hinder, too, because you try to read too much into it at times. It's part of it. And there is some familiarity, which hopefully helps us. We'll see when we play.
Q: What was your reaction the first time you saw BYU on the schedule?
A: Probably one of the most surprising things of taking this job is actually BYU following us all the way to Wisconsin. It was a little bit unbelievable and shocking. I've got a ton of respect for Brigham Young University. I think all BYU people understand that I do have great respect.
I've been in some great ballgames with them as a player and as a coach. Won some, lost some. But they do it the right way. I know we're playing a quality team with great people. So from that standpoint, it's good. But I was definitely surprised, to say the least.
Q: Would you have subbed out the game for another team you had no connection with if you could have done so?
A: No, I'm good with it. They're a really good football team in the nonconference schedule. Not just because it's BYU. It's because they're so dang good it would maybe not be my first choice. But I'm all good with it this year. I'm excited about that opportunity.
Q: How has James White handled being out of the spotlight in his career and sharing with Melvin Gordon this year?
A: He's been unbelievable. Both those kids are very unselfish, and James has gone through that. It was kind of that way in high school for him and it's been that way throughout his career here.
With James' personality, I think he kinds of likes it. He's kind of excited about the opportunity to not really fly underneath the radar. But he doesn’t sit there and say, 'Well I have to get the ball 25 times. I've earned my right' or what have you. It's not of that within James.
Melvin and James have handled it very, very well this year and really all through spring ball, all through the offseason. They don’t have an agenda. Their agenda is they want the offense to be good and they want each other to be good. And I think they also understand that they complement each other.
James is a terrific leader on the field, off the field. There's much that a young player can learn from the way James handles this situation. He could sit there and say, 'Well, how come I don’t get the ball more?' He played his best game of the year in my opinion this last week against Iowa, who is very stout, tough-minded, a good defensive front seven and a good defense. It was tough sledding for a long time. His patience showed, and he made some plays in the end to allow us an opportunity to win that game. So I'm proud of that kid.
Q: How have you seen James improve since you took over the program?
A: He has a tremendous running back coach in Thomas Hammock. And Thomas is always developing the little things with these kids, and it's so important. I think his ball security has gotten even better than it was in the past. His patience in the run game with kind of a new offensive line and a new scheme has continued to improve as far as the development with a mature back. I know that was important for Thomas.
His physicality has been improved from early in the year, early when we got here. I know that for sure. And then lastly I would say that his leadership ability on the field and in practice. He's become more vocal. He's a quiet kid, but when he speaks, people listen.
Q: What is the overall progress of the secondary as a unit and specifically freshman cornerback Sojourn Shelton?
A: First of all, there's a number of kids that have been asked to do some things that were foreign to them. Leo Musso, Nate (Hammon). Tanner McEvoy. It's been very, very different. And then for Sojourn to come in as a freshman to play and Jakarrie (Washington) to come in as a true freshman to play, they were DBs. But now to come into this conference and play on this stage, all those are very difficult transitions.
Credit goes to the kids for handling it, accepting their role and understanding the direction that they're headed. No. 2, I would say the coaches have done a tremendous job of building them. Now we're not where we need to be in that area. We need to pay close attention. We have been exposed, if you will, a few times this season in the back end. I look at myself. When we get exposed, I look at myself as an issue first. Not necessarily to the position coaches or to the kids. We're working to fix that.
Sojourn's development has been very, very impressive from the first day he walked in here. He was an early graduate, so he came in January. That transition was invaluable for him. I don’t believe he would be where he was today if he wasn’t here from January and through the April semester. Just to get used to college and understand all that comes with that outside of football.
But he has been able to stay status quo and compete every single week and develop himself. It's been important to him. It's been important to his coaches. And I expect real big things out of him for years to come.
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