Transcript Of Coach Ron Zook's Media Luncheon Remarks

Coach Ron Zook
Coach Ron Zook

Oct. 21, 2008

Opening Statement:

"I'm really proud of our kids. They didn't get caught up in all the expectations and tried to do everything that the coaches asked them to do. I think we made a little bit of progress, which is awfully important that we build on that this week and going to Camp Randall they're a much better team than people might think. With 1:20 or 1:30 to go they're up, 17-13, I believe, on Ohio State, so they're a football team that is very, very dangerous and angry. We learned last year that when you go to a Big Ten stadium and play against a team that is backed into the corner a little bit, you better have everything going as well as you can have it going. So, our guys understand the importance of the game and understand the type of game it is going to be. As we talked last night, last year's (game against Wisconsin) was the most physical game I've been involved in for a number of years. There is no reason to think it won't be the same kind of game."

On Wisconsin's quarterback situations:

"They are going to do what they do, Wisconsin is going to run the football. They have an offensive line that when they stand up, the sun goes away. They have obviously three very good running backs. I know P.J. (Hill) might be banged up a little bit, but I'll tell you, the other guy is just as good and their fullback is a powerful guy. Our guys, particularly our linebackers, understand they better be strapped up. They're not going to change their offense. They are going to do the things that they do and both those quarterbacks, for whatever reason, things happen and that is just the way it is. Travis Beckum, he's an All-Pro guy, he's a guy that can be a tight end, he can be wide receiver, he's just a good player. If you remember, there were some things that happened last year in the game and that was the last thing I looked at about 11:30 last night and I wish wouldn't have, I mean, they're a good football team."

On whether either team has a specific sense of urgency:

"Well there better be a sense of urgency because this football team we're about getting ready to play, we'll need all the urgency we can get. Like I said, when you go on the road in the Big Ten, everyone knows that's a tough place to play. But our guys know, it's the same thing I said that week, we need to take care of use. We need to make sure we're doing the things that we have to do for us for us to play the way that we're capable of playing. There is no question we respect this team and they know how good this team is. It is going to take an all out effort."

On being the favorite for the second time in a row against Wisconsin:

"Well, I don't pay attention to who is favored and who is not favored, otherwise that is why you play the game. But I know this, they are a tough football team and it is a tough place to play and our football team understands that and that is the bottom line."

On the physical aspect of the game:

"We told our players to put the big boy pads on because we're going to need them. It was a big thing we talked about last year and putting the tape in it shows they are big and physical guys. It doesn't matter whether they're playing Ohio State or Penn State, they are going to try to get after it and they are going to do what they do. One thing about them is they do formations and movement and you have to decide, 'Is Beckum a tight end, is Beckum a wide receiver?' and with the motion you have to make sure that with your defense, all the stuff is checked. They can get you out of whack real quick."

On Wisconsin's record:

"Yes, I am surprised in terms of their record. They have a very tough schedule. I'm surprised at their record because obviously they're a better football team than that."

On Wisconsin being a threat because of the chip on their shoulder:

"Absolutely, I'm sure they'll throw caution to the wind and they're going to let it go. We said to our football team last night, it will take everything we have and the thing we can't get caught up in is not worrying about anyone else; we have to take care of us. We know it's going to take everything we have and we're going to have to play our best game. I think last week was probably our best game to date. It's going to take better than that. Our guys understand that and as long as we prepare the way we're capable of preparing and go up there and lay it on the line, then you see what happens. Once again, I said earlier that I was proud of out guys because they all the expectations and all of those things go and they just played to have fun."

On the defense changing to old school form:

"We started on it last night. I don't know if it's necessarily a challenge, but their offense is a challenge. This is just smash mouth line up and get after it football. This is what you grew up with and there's no question; they're going to come downhill at you. We call it the Wisconsin power. It's funny watching last night; you watch Jay, you watch Antonio stealing and bounce in there and off of guys; our guys better understand that they better be strapped tight."

On preparing to play a tougher style:

"I don't know if you prepare differently mentally. It's going to be a physical game and if there's one word we talk about this week it's going to be physical. I'll go back to the game last year, I remember walking off the field thinking that that was as hard hitting and physical football game I've been around in a long time. Both teams just lined up and knocked the crap out of each other. We were fortunate enough to come out on the right end but I wasn't going to want to go any longer."

On Wisconsin's defense:

"Defensively they play very sound defense, a lot like us, a lot of quarters. They have eight starters back and I think six of them are playing right now. The strength of their defense is probably their defensive line. They have three starters back and they have guys who create havoc. The one guys is up for any award that a defensive lineman could possibly get, number 92, Shaughnessy. The linebackers are very sound players, Mike is a new starter and I've been very impressed with him. Of course we all know what number two can do, the athleticism he has, he's like a strong safety-type guy who's playing linebacker."

On having confidence going into the Wisconsin game:

"Does it help you? It probably does. But it still comes down to the preparation and it still comes down to the mindset. Whatever happened this past Saturday is over with. Whether you win or you lose you put that behind you and that's a great football staff (Wisconsin's) and they're going to do the same thing. In their minds they've won every game and this is a game that they've got to have and they're going to everything in their power to get back on the right track."

On how the kicking game went:

"All except one I thought he kicked well. One he tried to kill and it didn't go worse, but that's what happens. I'm not a golfer but if you try to kill the ball sometimes, it doesn't go where you want it to go. I thought he did a nice job; I was happy with him. I thought the kickoff coverage was good, and once again, those are all things we've got to continue to work on and continue to short up."

On the place kicker job being open:

"No, you like him to be loose but Matt has a tendency sometimes to be too loose. That's what happened, he didn't get his hips through. When he knows what he does wrong I know he'll get it corrected."

On how Derek looked during pre-game:

"I never watch him. I don't ever want to know."

On Derek being prepared:

"I think he was."

On seeing Jenkins in the safety returns:

"We are a two-safety team so you'll see them both back there. I was really happy for A.J. We've been so close so many times on our kickoff returns and we've had some screw-ups back there in communication and so forth. We've been one guy here and one guy there and we keep saying it's going to happen we just got to keep pounding. I'm just happy for A.J. and the whole kickoff return team. You saw Mikel [LeShoure] going all the way down to the goal line and he's a very smart football player. A lot of times a young guy like that may have hit the guy in the back, but he stopped and let A.J. cut off of him, which for me, that's a smart football player as a freshman."

On the lack of turnovers:

"We've all talked about it. Turnovers a lot of times just come for whatever reason and we've stressed that we're not doing anything different from last year, in fact we're doing more of it. You talk about turnovers, you talk about how important they are, you talk about margin of error. All you have to do is go look at the top teams in the Big Ten and the top teams in the country; the teams that are doing well in turnover margin are the teams that are going to win games. If you go back and look at the number of yards our offense had this past week, the number of yards the offense had against Minnesota, the number of yards the defense gave up against Minnesota and the number of yards we gave up against Indiana; they're almost exact. Why? Turnovers. I told them last night, we feel so differently today because we didn't turn the ball over."

Junior QB Juice Williams

On the offense:

"I think the number one thing is what Locksley is doing with Juice. The more comfortable Juice is, the better he's going to be. I think the more weapons you have the better you're going to be. You think about Regis, he got six catches for over 100-yards, I think that's the first time in over four years that anyone's gotten four straight games over 100-yards. You think about Cumberland, you think about A.J., you think about Will, you think about the running game. Jason Ford has 172 yards. The more weapons you have, obviously the harder it is for the defense to defend. I think that the offensive coaches and Coach Locksley are trying to do the things that the defense gives you. When they put a lot of people down in the box to stop the run, then we're able to throw the football and Juice is doing a nice job of that."

On Juice's improvements:

"He's going to grow from year to year but he's also going to grow from game to game. I think I said that after the Missouri game that he's going to continue to get better as the season goes along and as a coach, that's what you expect your players to do and you should be a better football team at the end of the year than you were at the beginning of the year."

On Corey Lewis playing to relieve Xavier:

"We've been going back and forth with that with Corey probably the last two or three games. I wanted to get Corey in there. Ryan [Palmer] is still a couple weeks out, he got x-rayed and I think it will be six weeks this coming Sunday. He's getting close but we're in the stretch now; we've got seven games to go. He turned eighteen so I thought he was old enough. We kind of joked about that when we told him we were going to play him because he's eighteen now and old enough. He's excited about it and I noticed a little different intensity out of him yesterday."

On Lewis playing both sides:

"Obviously you want to make it as easy on him as you can, but once again he's a freshman and he's going to keep getting better and better."

On the young guys performing so well this early on:

"I think the one thing where we're a little bit different is that you would like to get to the point where you don't have to play that many freshmen, and we will. We don't have many freshmen who are in half the win positions. In other words, they're able to play and gain experience and do the things that you like for a guy to do to bring them along a little slower. Unlike two years ago when Juice had to be the starting quarterback when he wasn't ready and last year Regis. When it's put on you as a freshman that you have to do it. As you get older you can handle it, but you hate for the young guys to have to go through that pressure. I think for the most part the majority of the freshman have been able to grow and are fortunate enough to live with the inexperience that you have to live with."

On Corey Lewis' playing time:

"Absolutely. Corey just keeps getting better and better and I love his leadership. Here's a true freshman and he's going to be a good player. He's got a couple fumble recoveries and when he bursts, he bursts. We talked about using him and Josh on offense. He's a freshman as opposed to Josh being a sophomore, but we can use them both and they can both do it."

On Jacob Charest:

"Jacob really wants to play, which you want. You want him to get in there and compete. I think he'll be glad that he didn't and hopefully we don't have to use him, but once again, he's two plays away from being a starter."

On Charest looking good for what he's seen:

"Yes, he's been involved, he's up, he travels. He's been involved in the offense and in the game plan. It's hard to prepare every week knowing the chances of getting in aren't that great, but that's something that you have to do."

On playing Ford this week based on his performance last week:

"I don't know that it's any easier, we played him in the Penn State game and asked him to score a touchdown, but I think you'll see Jason continue to improve. There's still a lot of rough water out there and those guys will continue to improve and get better and better. I'm sure every time he runs a football and every time he's on the field I think they get better. I think we have to realize and remember that they still are freshmen and there are still going to be some things that we have to get corrected."

On injuries:

"We're beat up a little more than normal but we won't miss anybody because of injury."

On Palmer's injury:

"They x-rayed it and the message I got was that there was very good bone growth so that means everything is growing."

On Palmer getting back to football:

"That's that other thing, he's got to get back to playing and back into football shape but he's doing everything he can do."