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Nov. 24, 2012

Penn State vs. Wisconsin
November 24, 2012

VIDEO: Post-Game Press Conference

Bret Bielema
Head Coach

Opening Statement: I cannot say enough about our kids. They invested a lot to get back on the right track, and they came out and played a four quarter plus game. Obviously we lost two games here as of late to the two teams in our division that we are fighting for a title with. And to come up on the short end... you always think that you get tested where only the strong survive, but we obviously learned a lesson beyond our years this year. I thought that our guys were really resilient and I give credit to Penn State. They executed down the stretch and took advantage. I think our defense wore down a little bit and we weren't able to make some first downs on offense. They had a big play there after the fourth, with a third and extra long, then two big passing plays that they hit for a touchdown. We have a tremendous opportunity. And the fact that we did get ourselves into the championship game and to have the chance to play for a Big Ten Championship, it's something I know our kids will be excited for. As far as injuries go, I don't know anything other than (Jared) Abbrederis and (Kyle) Costigan, and I do not know anything further about them.

Q: Are you fed up of losing in overtime?
A: I think as a group, I always stress that you can only play better football as the year goes on. Before the offense took the field, we decided to go for two if the touchdown occurred. But we used our two-point play on the other touchdown.

Q: Why do you always seem to come up short in these games?
A: We were running out of guys to get it done in the fourth quarter and in overtime. The good news is that we were in the game. A lot of times, teams get into these situations and they don't even get close. I give credit to our guys there, but obviously we need to pull through.



Q: Kyle French missed a kick against Ohio State, but said he was confident all week. Have you lost confidence in your kicker?
A: He did kick pretty well this week. I made a decision that we needed to be perfect all week, and he was. We said it after the second kick on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and he was 100% and he looked pretty good out there today. We had tough conditions today with the wind; they were really struggling during the pregame. It was a tough 43-yarder to kick in a windy game.

Q: Is it going to be tough to rally your guys this week with the Big Ten Title game coming up?
A: I know that is a concern, but with this group...I mean when we left yesterday from Camp Randall and Nebraska had beaten Iowa, there was a sparkle in our guys' eyes that they were going to get the chance to play in that game. Where you have an early season loss similar to what we did with Michigan State, I know that that will be our rally cry and I think I need to be really, really smart. We backed off on this week physically and the amount of contact. We have played a lot of physical games and it is clearly taking a toll.

Q: After the first two possessions, you had eight straight punts. Did you see what went away after the first two?
A: Yes, I think two things happened. We were getting on the perimeter and the edges, then they started to widen their techniques and started playing outside in, and we never got back on rhythm on that. I thought there were quite a few third down drops where we had some guys open in that stretch. We had some nice opportunities in the fourth quarter at the end, but in that second and third quarter stretch there were some third down hits where the guys just dropped the ball. Our guys need to continue to move forward and that's it.

Q: What was the decision behind playing (Marcus) Trotter?
A: We that thought we might get Chris (Borland) back, but after Wednesday, it didn't look like he was playing. He just wasn't at the point where he would be ready for Saturday. During the course of the week, we made the decision to play Trotter. He didn't play a clean game but he played halfway decent out there today. He didn't stand out.

Q: Have you taken something away from Monte's (Ball) record?
A: He knew what went into that touchdown today when he got it. It is a tremendous accomplishment by him and everyone around him, but it is obviously not as fulfilling as a win would be today.

Q: What is (Curt) Phillips showing you in terms of resiliency on the drives today?
A: Just what kind of person he is. He got his tail knocked off a couple of times and bounced back every time. He knows that when he comes off of the field, he and Matt (Canada) have great conversations about where the ball was going to go, if it went and what they felt good about coming into the next series.

Q: What did they do to get your run stopped?
A: I think they (PSU) were playing their edges tight, making the ball go outside wide and changing their technique. They actually substituted in against our big personal. We brought in an extra defensive lineman and went five down, which presented a little challenge for us. We just couldn't find our rhythm and couldn't make the completions.

Q: In the late fourth quarter, in the red zone, was there any concern about getting the ball in for a touchdown?
A: If we get the field goal, we need the touchdown to win anyways. I just felt good about the call. Earlier, we converted a fourth and five and we had a penalty. I saw an opportunity, but they were off rhythm and I just didn't think we needed to go for it there.

Q: How big was the momentum swing after the touchdown call was overturned?
A: Our guys saw it upstairs and thought he was juggling it, and obviously it came out. I thought another critical one, where they stopped and I called time out, we were pretty sure that the ball was out when Mike Taylor flipped the guy and ripped the ball out. It had to be close. One of these times, that break is going to go our way. A couple of plays bounced out of our fingers this game, and we just needed to make a big play and get some momentum.

Q: Do you think (Ryan) Groy is going to play next week?
A: I think that he is going to play. He ran Tuesday and Wednesday, but just wasn't responding as fast after he made progress. After Wednesday I just didn't feel that he was going to be ready to practice full speed on Thursday, especially with an injury like that.

Q: Can you just take us through the offensive play in overtime on that one yard play?
A: We ran a power to our right and it looked like Jordan Hill made an unbelievable play there, and it looked like it was blocked up. If he didn't block that one, I think that Monte (Ball) would have been in the endzone on that one. It was a big hit.

Q:Can you appreciate what they (PSU) have done this year and what Bill O'Brien has done this year?
A: Yes, of course. My feelings have not changed since before the season in Chicago. They were in a tough situation, both the players and coaches. They have played extremely well to get to eight wins and obviously we knew we were going to have a battle in here today, and that was exactly what it was. To lose to two teams who are going to finish ahead of us in our division in overtime, we give credit to them. Our guys are just banged up and battled and resilient and trusting and faithful, and they are going to get rewarded for it. I don't know if it is going to come this Saturday, or in a Bowl game or in five years from now.

Q: Has it occurred to you and the players that you guys are the best team in the Big Ten with the situations with the other teams?
A: We do not make the schedule. We do not make the rules; we just play by them. We lay the schedule out in front of the guys and told them what we needed to do. We told them to take care of the Indiana game and they did.

Q:Can you compare these three overtime losses to anything you have gone through?
A: Nope, nothing in my lifetime as a coach. I do not think I have heard of a team that has gone into three overtime games and came out on the losing end. It is not a record I want to set. The fact of the matter is that it is what happened. And it is not what happened but how you react to what has happened.

Q:Do you think it will aid your guys since they were in this situation last year?
A: Without a doubt. That is how they are wired. Just their natural reaction on Friday after what happened to Nebraska, it was the feeling of, "Here we go. Let's go back to this rodeo again." And our guys have been there. I think they are going to know what to expect from the preparation, going there early to the media. It is unlike any other game we have played in and our guys will have a week to be there.

Q: So much commotion coming into the game, do you think you matched that early on during this game?
A: I think coming into the game blazing, scoring two touchdowns during the first two possessions. Defensive came up the first time, and obviously they came up with some critical stops. Our defense has played well and was pretty resilient all year, and we are playing with some guys that are pretty banged up. But I thought that our guys came out and matched them.


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