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Gary Andersen Purdue press conference: Preparing for Boilermakers, thoughts on defense so far in 2014

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Wisconsin prepares for Purdue Saturday, which boasts an offense that's given some defenses fits this season.

The Monday after the Wisconsin Badgers dismantled the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 37-0, head coach Gary Andersen spoke with the media at Camp Randall Stadium. Among some of the topics discussed: the defense's impressive play, preparing for Purdue and one of his running backs teaching him about a new piece of technology.

WISCONSIN DEPTH CHART — WEEK 11 VS. PURDUE
OFFENSE
QB 2 Joel Stave (Jr.) OR 5 Tanner McEvoy (Jr.)
RB 25 Melvin Gordon (Jr.) 6 Corey Clement (So.)
FB 34 Derek Watt (Jr.) 20 Austin Ramesh (Fr.)
WR 86 Alex Erickson (Jr.) 9 Jordan Fredrick (Jr.) OR 15 Rob Wheelwright (So.)
WR 3 Kenzel Doe (Sr.) 12 Natrell Jamerson (Fr.)
WR 16 Reggie Love (So.) 17 George Rushing (Fr.)
TE 49 Sam Arneson (Sr.) 48 Troy Fumagalli (Fr.)
TE 46 Austin Traylor (Jr.) 44 Eric Steffes (So.)
LT 61 Tyler Marz (Jr.) 62 Walker Williams (So.)
LG 73 Dallas Lewallen (Sr.) 71 Ray Ball (Jr.)
C 70 Dan Voltz (So.) 63 Michael Deiter (Fr.)
RG 54 Kyle Costigan (Sr.) 55 Trent Denlinger (So.)
RT 78 Rob Havenstein (Sr.) 74 Hayden Biegel (Fr.)
DEFENSE
DE 34 Chikwe Obasih (Fr.) 6 Alec James (Fr.)
NG 91 Konrad Zagzebski (Sr.) 95 Arthur Goldberg (So.)
DE 45 Warren Herring (Sr.) 93 Jake Keefer (Jr.)
OLB 58 Joe Schobert (Jr.) 24 Keelon Brookins (Fr.)
ILB 59 Marcus Trotter (Sr.) 32 Leon Jacobs (So.)
ILB 30 Derek Landisch (Sr.) 43 Michael Trotter (Sr.)
OLB 47 Vince Biegel (So.) 41 Jesse Hayes (Jr.)
CB 8 Sojourn Shelton (So.) 4 Devin Gaulden (Jr.)
SS 7 Michael Caputo (Jr.) 21 Peniel Jean (Sr.)
FS 31 Lubern Figaro (Fr.) 19 Leo Musso (So.)
CB 5 Darius Hillary (Jr.) 25 Derrick Tindal (Fr.)
SPECIAL TEAMS
P 90 Drew Meyer (Jr.) 38 P.J. Rosowski (Fr.)
FG 10 Rafael Gaglianone (Fr.) 97 Jack Russell (Jr.)
KO 37 Andrew Endicott (So.) 10 Rafael Gaglianone (Fr.)
LS - P 56 James McGuire (Sr.) 60 Connor Udelhoven (So.)
LS - FG 60 Connor Udelhoven (So.) 56 James McGuire (Sr.)
H 90 Drew Meyer (Jr.) 56 James McGuire (Sr.)
PR 3 Kenzel Doe (Sr.) 86 Alex Erickson (Jr.)
KR 3 Kenzel Doe (Sr.) 6 Corey Clement (So.)

Here are the highlights from Andersen's presser:

-- Andersen begins the press conference by stating how important junior cornerback Darius Hillary has been to the defense's success, stating "he's played fantastic, he is good in his man skills, his physical skills and he is a good tackler, and I think he needs to be thrown out there as a big part of this defense that has become fairly successful in the last few weeks of what they've been doing, and his work ethic and everything else is what we are about as a football team on and off the field."

-- Andersen said Purdue "is an offensive football team that causes you a lot of problems, and they've got two very fast running backs, as fast as we've played all year long as far as sheer speed." He noted how the offense has changed from last year and likes to spread defenses out. He likes the two defense ends (seniors Jalani Parker and Ryan Russell) and their pass rush.

-- Andersen fully expects junior wide receiver Alex Erickson to play Saturday at Purdue. Later in the press conference, he said Erickson may practice Tuesday but is not sure of the timetable. Junior running back Melvin Gordon, however, would be full go if the team had a game tonight.

-- When asked about defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and what makes him excel, Andersen noted a combination of his assistant coaches, talented players, and Aranda himself being the "recipe for success"

-- More on defense and all the players working as a unit doing their individual jobs: Says it's important, especially this week. Andersen said Purdue's spread offense will make them play "11 man defense" this week. Also notes how defense has been able to rotate in younger players to get in reps in certain subpackages.

-- Andersen doesn't think the chemistry's different on the defense this year from last year

-- Andersen, when asked if he's underselling the defense, stated he's sticking with his assessment that there's still a lot of the regular season left, and when the season's done is when they can judge how well they played in all three phases of the game and ultimately through wins and losses. Says the defense has played with a bit of an edge. "So they've played well, they've done tremendous things, and I'm proud of them. We're sitting in a great spot, and what they have done to this point is continue to get better, but they're going to be judged, as we all are, on our last performance, not really one that's ahead of us."

-- Andersen sat next to Corey Clement on the plane ride back from New Jersey on Saturday. He noted how he listened to Clement saying how important it was to go back home and how things are. Andersen admitted it was just a random seating arrangement and that Clement helped him use his new iPhone, though the head coach stated, "I'm not any better at that, so I'm not very coachable in those situations, I guess."

-- When asked about true freshman kicker Rafael Gaglianone and his mental toughness, Andersen said his Brazilian kicker was mentally tough but "my biggest concern with Rafael is keeping him grounded. He's kind of a whatever. He walks on the field and people want to cheer for him. I want to make sure that he realizes that, you know, he might have been a little bit of a I don't know, a teacher's pet or something early on, but he better keep performing to keep his edge and let him understand where he's going. But he is tough."

-- Andersen says he judges the special teams unit as whole. "Last week we did play special teams, and I look back and I say, did they change the game in our favor? Ultimately that's what we ask ourselves as a special teams unit every single week, and they absolutely did this last game, with the field goals, and the blocked punt was a huge momentum changer, and we were solidly consistent in all the other areas."

-- On a question about the end of the first half with a lot of time burned off, Andersen mentioned he didn't want to get in a panic frame of mind. Here's the full transcribed quote:

"We could have spiked it, I suppose, and given ourselves the opportunity to run two plays instead of just one more, but I felt like I didn't really want to get on the headphones at that point and tell Andy what to do. I didn't think I needed to do that with Andy Ludwig, I really don't. And, number two, I didn't want to really take two shots of throwing the ball at that moment, in the end zone, with that score. I felt like getting three more (points) would be fantastic. So you pop a run, you get it, then it got down to 10 seconds, that's it. All of the sudden, no timeouts, 10 seconds left, procedure (penalty), half's over, you got major issues on your hands, so that's why we decided to kick it with 10 left."

-- When asked about the true freshmen wide receivers stepping up in Erickson's absence, Andersen noted how progress had been made that week and it was good for them to make some catches but also get lined up and block.

-- On when he thought this coaching staff believed a feel that the season was not over yet and that the defense would stout and making plays many thought they couldn't, Andersen said the Maryland game would be his turning point. "They got a chance to be special so hopefully we can help them get there and then we will get themselves there as we move through the next few games."