How is Joel Stave faring with his throwing issues, and how frustrated is Melvin Gordon by his surprisingly low rushing totals through two games? Those were among the biggest questions Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen faced Tuesday on the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference (full audio right here).
Below is the full transcript of Andersen's remarks, cleaned up for clarity. Coming one day after his weekly Monday press conference in Madison, there wasn't necessarily much news to report. That said, Andersen elaborated more on the status of Stave, saying the quarterback's status "is still the same," though "he's moving in the right direction." In Andersen's eyes -- or, at least in the perspective he shared Tuesday -- all signs are positive regarding Stave. That, along with his comments on Gordon, were probably the most interesting portions of Andersen's teleconference.
Looking forward to a big game against Bowling Green, who obviously is a quality opponent. What they've done this season speaks for itself. They score a bunch of points, they've got some very talented weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback, wide receivers play at a high level. They protect [quarterback James Knapke] well and they throw the ball quickly, but the big key is their ability to run the football effectively and physically has been very impressive. So a great test for us; we're looking forward to playing at home, and we need to make sure that we prepare for the next few days the way we need to prepare to play a quality opponent, which Bowling Green definitely is.
RE: Melvin Gordon. What kind of a luxury is it to have a guy that's a go-to back?
It's great to have Melvin. Melvin -- I've said this many times -- he's a tremendous teammate, he's a tremendous player. He's looking forward to this season continuing to move forward. I don't think he drew it up -- nor did we -- with the number of yards he's had to this point. But he's excited about the opportunity to get out there and compete. He has some high, lofty goals for himself, as we do for him also. I think he's a feature back and he is a very talented young man and a terrific, terrific teammate. We're looking forward to watching him have a great year as we move forward.
Have you seen some progression from the wide receivers this week?
Absolutely, that is the plan. Alex Erickson is going to have his role, and we are definitely in need of a couple of young men stepping into the forefront at the wide receiver spot. Not just in catching balls, but in helping the offense down the field through the blocking scenarios. Catching balls is the highlighted part of the wide receiver spot; I think you're going to see the tight ends continue to grow in this offense and develop with Sam Arneson and Troy Fumagalli getting out there. Fumagalli is going to be an integral part of the offense as we move forward. So we have to do that in the passing game to make the strides that we're going to need this week to win and as we continue through the season.
What's Joel Stave's status now?
Joel's status still is the same. He's moving in the right direction, I believe. Talking with him [Monday], we had a good talk out at practice. It's kind of just moving in the right direction. Practice time for him is kind of structured how Joel feels for the day, and it's been good. I like where Joel is; again the most important thing for me right now is to see him continue to make strides. He's happy when he's out there. He's got a good look in his eye. He's involved in practice wherever he can potentially be involved in practice or he feels comfortable.
What kind of a challenge for you as a coach has it been to handle this properly?
It's always a challenge for a coach to deal with, in my mindset, for the young man, and that is my care. That's been a little more difficult at times throughout this situation because it is so very highlighted and it seems like every step that Joel takes is underneath a microscope, and that's very frustrating for Joel. But that's part of the world that we live in. Because of that, it's been something that I think a lot about.
Right now, I'm trying to help Joel get through the situation. We communicate a lot about it, we talk a lot about it, but we don't sit and think about it all day long because I think he's progressing in a favorable way, and I believe Joel thinks he is, too. That's what I think is helping him now is we're getting back to normal. But it has been a very difficult situation for me and for Joel just because I want Joel to get back to Joel's normal ways of throwing the football and just feeling comfortable in daily life.
Wisconsin is one of just four teams nationally to rank among the top 25 in all four major defensive stat categories. Talk about the key to your defensive attack.
No. 1 is, when you're successful, the players are good players and they give you an opportunity to be successful. I think the position coaches and [defensive coordinator Dave Aranda] with the defense do a nice job of communicating, game planning the correct way and putting kids in a spot to be able to be successful. We'll obviously continue to be challenged against a great offense this week, but consistency is the key.
We're doing some fundamental things pretty well. Tackling is one of them I think we've done pretty well. We will again be tested very, very critically, I suppose, this week with the tackling. We have got to tackle well to play well against Bowling Green on defense. It's worked well.
Our kids study hard, they focus, they practice well. They've bought into the scheme and that's the most important thing, where are the kids mentally and where are they physically, and having good players.
Are you concerned at all that pollsters, and maybe the selection committee, will rely largely on margin of victory and look at teams to see how much they won by against lesser opponents? Are you concerned that's going to become more prevalent in the sport?
No, I don't. I guess I just look at myself and I think I don't really have time to worry about something like that. So I think we'll be in a good position if we win football games and other teams will be in good positions if they win football games.