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December 16, 2011

Sounds from Badger football

MADISON - When several key Wisconsin football players were made available to reporters earlier this week - - marking the first time any player was available since the Big Ten championship game - - it was essentially a free-for-all.

It seemed as though most media outlets in Madison, and even some from Milwaukee, took the opportunity to chat with some of the players.

BadgerBlitz.com has compiled some of the more interesting comments from Wednesday night's session.

BRET BIELEMA

On learning things about Oregon by watching games against opponents with similar styles to UW:

"The obvious one for our offense, everybody is going to point to Stanford. A little bit of LSU and a sprinkling in there of some other schools, especially with our one-back system and 11 personnel. On defense the ones that will jump out to you are USC, a little bit of Washington and Arizona State. You just want to have schematically similar teams as much as possible."

On whether any bowl prep changes will be made this year compared to last:

"One of the things I've prided myself on is trying to gather as much information about teams that have had success. I've asked and talked to several coaches during the offseason to get their bowl prep itinerary. A lot of people want ours for the success we've had at other places. So nothing really jumped out to us. We played the No. 2 team in the country to a two-point game. I get it. We lost the game. I don't like the way we started that game so that will be a greater emphasis."

On whether he expects teams to prepare for Conor O'Neill on special teams:

"I think on kickoff coverage for sure. It's probably more difficult on kick return or punt return scheme, but kickoff coverage, if you've got a guy that's making plays you're going to definitely try to find where he is and gameplan accordingly."

On whether Russell Wilson has set the bar too high for any potential transfer quarterback coming in to UW:

"I told Russell during the recruiting process - - I knew it was a battle between us and Auburn - - and I said how are you going to go and beat that performance? The guy won a national championship and won a Heisman. Here you're going to have an opportunity to work for those things. I get it. I suppose there is a point and counterpoint to everything."

On whether bowl prep has been easier with the coaching staff staying in tact (so far):

"I never batted an eye with Dave. I was going to let him, even though we were playing him, because I really felt he was a big part of our success. Paul Chryst was interviewing for head jobs. I made it very clear to Paul that if he was fortunate enough to get one of the head jobs that I'd want him to coach in the Rose Bowl, even if one was in our conference. That's just how I'm wired. Plus, how much more could Paul learn about us that he didn't know over the past six years. It's something fun to think on the outside world."

On Jeff Duckworth's confidence after Big Ten title game:

"I think it will be huge. You can literally see the confidence grow during Purdue with that first big catch. After that one I kind of saw it come around a little bit. He was a little banged up and I still saw it coming. I think that 4th and six catch would boost anybody's confidence."

MONTEE BALL:

On the differences between UW and Oregon's high-octane offenses:

"I believe we're a lot more balanced than they are with me, Russell and the wide receivers we have. We've just got to make sure that we execute. Just execute on every play and score on every drive."

On the effect the upperclassmen have had on the younger players:

"Just to start out with what Russell did, when he first got here he immediately jumped on this practice field and started throwing around with wide receivers and critiquing their routes and stuff like that. From that day on he hasn't stopped. Then with what I've done during the offseason and carrying it through the season, hopefully the freshmen look back on it and really work hard."

On not letting his upcoming decision become a personal distraction:

"That's why all I've done up to this point is fill out the paperwork, turned it in and left it at that. It could become a distraction. I've just got to focus on Oregon and that's mainly it."

On what the other Heisman contenders were saying about him:

"They were telling me stuff like great stuff this season. That I really worked hard and to keep my head up high. There was some stuff about good character and that I'm a really good guy. Andrew Luck was telling me he was in his car somewhere when he was listening to the first Michigan State game on the radio. He said he almost wrecked his car with how crazy it was. They told me to tell the team good job to keep fighting after those two losses. Trent Richardson said whoever won the Doak Walker was deserving. He said we were all deserving but only one could win it. He told me good job and that we have a great program. Stuff like that."

On his relationship with Robert Griffin III:

"He's just extremely down to earth. He doesn't fall into hype and he just keeps himself grounded. He's really easy to talk to. He's funny. He's got crazy socks and all that stuff. I got along with him well."

NICK TOON:

On what sticks out about the loss in last year's Rose Bowl:

"The loss. Honestly, yeah, the loss. We didn't take care of business the last time we were out there and we're looking to change that this year."

On straying away from wide-eyed approach:

"We've been there before. Most of the guys here have experienced a Rose Bowl and played in a Rose Bowl. We know what it's about. It's a business trip this year. That's not to say it wasn't last year, but we know what to expect. We know what we've got to do to win and we'll do that."

AARON HENRY:

On the lasting impact Russell Wilson will have on the program:

"For a kid to come from NC State to come here with a chance to play, it's truly special. I think it can catapult this team for years. Some of the things he's been able to do and the successes he's had here, if you're a quarterback out there and you're looking for a pro style offense with a great offensive coordinator and a line that will block for you, running backs that are out of this world and wide receivers that can catch the ball and people that won't complain and worry about their own stats, this is the place to be. We knew he could throw the ball and what he was capable of, but him fitting into this offense was a masterpiece."



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