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Gary Andersen Press Conference: Previewing the Spring Game

Andersen confirmed all quarterbacks -- essentially, all players -- will get snaps in Saturday's spring game. Also, quick notes on the running backs' place in the passing game, standout offensive linemen this spring and more.

Gary Andersen says James White and the running backs will again be a factor in the passing game.
Gary Andersen says James White and the running backs will again be a factor in the passing game.
Leon Halip

Gary Andersen met the media on Monday to discuss this afternoon's open practice and Saturday's spring game, providing a few interesting tidbits along the way. I just had two large sandwiches (three, if we count the chipwitch) and could really use a post-lunch nap, so here they are, without further ado:

--The Badgers will have what Andersen called a "sprige" today: a light scrimmage of about 70 to 80 snaps. Players had the weekend off, so this will be a good chance for them to transition into Wednesday's regular practice and Saturday's spring game.

--Asked if all quarterbacks will play on Saturday, Andersen said, "Yeah, everybody will get reps on the whole football team. That's important to me in the spring game. The young man that's come in and put in the work -- he deserves to get out there in front of the fans, his family members, whoever may come, and it's on TV. So every kid will get reps."

--More quarterbacks: Curt Phillips and Joel Stave are still separated from the rest of the pack, and the big thing moving forward especially for those two is "the confidence factor."

"What we're looking for right now in those first few kids is the ability for the offensive line, the tight ends, the wide receivers, the running backs, to look that quarterback in the eye and say, 'I know you're going to get this done for us. We'll make plays. You have the ball. Just get it to the right spot, and we'll do the rest.'"

--When asked about the possible inclusion of the running backs into the passing game, Andersen candidly said that will again be another factor:

"We've talked about that, and I think our screen game will continually develop. That takes reps and timing. But James [White] has very good hands. Melvin [Gordon] can catch the ball well. He's missed a fair amount of the spring, but I think he'll be back and be ready to go.

"So the screen game and then also putting them out there at the wide receiver position because you're in certain personnel groups. Defenses have a harder time reacting to get skill on the field. James runs very good routes and has very good hands out there. So I do see that being a big part of the offense as we move through fall camp and into the season."

--When asked for his impression of the offensive line this spring, Andersen signaled out tackle Dallas Lewallen, as well as guards Ray Ball and Ryan Groy.

On Lewallen: "Dallas has done a really good job. He's had to do so many things, so many reps, so many spots he's been at."

On Ball: "Ray is another one. Ray has come a long way. He's a backup right now, but Ray has battled every day. Those two kids come to mind."

On Groy: "Obviously, Groy is the leader of that group. He's done a tremendous job of being a senior because the numbers are so low. He's played guard. He's played tackle. He's been out there taking snaps. He's been an awesome leader and really what you want as a coach."

--With several players on the defensive side of the ball, including starting nose tackle Beau Allen, Andersen said "there's some real key pieces to the puzzle that aren't out there." No cause for alarm, of course, but it was more of a reminder that 1) this is still just the spring and 2) we still have a while to go before personnel decisions and such are actually made. Andersen did say Allen still won't practice this week and neither will outside linebacker Brendan Kelly, though he is "real close."

--Andersen said he wants 80,000 to 90,000 people in attendance for the spring game. His facial expressions, though, indicated he knows what we already know: there's no way that's happening.

--Andersen praised new tight ends/special teams coach Jeff Genyk for his first spring in Madison, saying the two are "ironically" similar in their timing and special teams philosophies. Andersen also said safeties coach Bill Busch will be involved in special teams, particularly the punt return and punt block units.

--On the subject of reps, though, Andersen continued with some true coachspeak: "Same thing I always say: don't count your reps, make your rep count. It might not be too many, but they'll all get an opportunity to play."

--Asked about BTN airing all the spring games, Andersen said he doesn't think it provides any sort of advantage, though he has been watching as much as possible.

--More in the praise department: Andersen complimented the work of first-year strength coach, Evan Simon.

"He has a big care factor. It goes way deeper than just getting them big and fast and strong. The strength coach has spent more time with each young man in the program than the assistant coach does because he's down there every single day.

"The biggest difference that I see in our young men is their ability to 'prehab' to avoid rehab. We use those terms all the times with the kids. We see them doing a lot of the extra stuff. Many of the things that Evan has brought, and he goes out and really stresses himself on learning, is what can we do if the young man has a shoulder, has a hamstring, whatever his deficiency is? We want to do a great job of helping him to prehab that to avoid rehab."