July 31, 2007
Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
On his quarterback:
"The thing I enjoyed during the course of the spring was the competition they have going right now. I'm really a firm believer, even back in my playing days, that anytime you have competition, it brings the best out of people. Tyler Donovan was able to go into a hostile environment last year at Iowa and get his first victory. That's my alma mater, they called me names I've never heard before, so to go in there as a starting quarterback and win that first game for him as a starter was huge. Then he came back and won the Buffalo game and handled himself well during that two-week stretch. It's very hard for me as a head coach to envision him not being the guy. He has a lot of advantages over Alan Evridge. The thing I like about Alan is he came into our program a year ago, and paid his own way the first semester. He really wanted to be involved in our program but we didn't have a scholarship. He just bought in every day to what we were trying to do. We have a dramatically different program from what he came from. I was at Kansas State when he was there getting recruited, but he's really bought into the way we do things, which is a little bit different offense. And actually, Dustin Scherer, our third-string guy, really had a good spring as well. So we have some good things happening there. I can tell you it will be one of those three guys but other than that, I really expect sometime during camp we'll go ahead and make a move-whoever it may be."
On his team:
"The difficult part that we have right now in our program, probably is some of our better players are juniors and the guys that play a lot as sophomores, guys like Travis Beckum, Jonathan Casillas, DeAndre Levy, Jack Ikegwuonu, Matt Shaughnessy, that they're in the infant stages of their playing time, but also are some of our better players. It's a good thing because we have them back for a couple of years. Next year on our starting defense, we'll only have one senior projected right now, Nick Hayden who will be a loss after the end of next year. Offensively, if (Tyler) ends up being the starter, we'll obviously lose him and our two wide receivers but basically the core of the group will be back after that. The guys that we'll see emerge, I think Andy Crooks at the tight end position. Even though he's not maybe a productive player, he's a great team guy in the locker room and huddle. Everyone always worries about the quarterback, so whoever ends up being that guy, will have to be a major focus for us. And then defensively, I really expect Jack Ikegwuonu, Matt Shaughnessy, DeAndre Levy, to roll in those leadership roles."
On the Ohio State game:
"The great thing about the Big Ten is the way the schedule works out. A year ago we didn't have the opportunity to play Ohio State and it was kind of the way it all panned out but I would love to see the computer that spit out that we play Ohio State and Michigan back-to-back. That's a nice random, blind draw. The fact that maybe some other schools don't even play either one of them but, you lay it out, you put it out in front of us, there's a saying in our program, it's a 1-0 mentality and we won't deviate from that. I don't care who we're playing but once we hit about 10 days out from our opener against Washington State, everything we do in practice, everything we put on the boards, everything we put in the locker rooms, or handouts in their locker will be on Washington State. As soon as we play Washington State, win or lose, the next focus will be on UNLV and we'll progress that way all the way through the schedule. Until things change or the Big Ten adds a team, whatever that ends up being, that's probably how it will remain for the future."
On how P.J. Hill's expectations this season:
"We did too good our first year, so you set yourself up for high expectations. I do know this, just like our season and like P.J. (Hill)'s dealing with right now, it's better to have high expectations than low expectations. It sounds like a song, but it has a lot of truth in the fact that I'd much rather have people prepare in how good you're going to be rather than is he going to be any good at all? P.J. is a very confident young man, and handles himself well on the football field. He's had a year to change his body, not just in the weight room but as you get older, your body changes and matures. I think he's had a great year as he works with John Dettmann in our strength program. One of the things we're going to probably de-emphasize, last year, everybody wanted to talk about how many hits he's taken and how many yards he's gained. We're going to handle it and hopefully he's going to have some people in that position behind him that get him good numbers as well in relief."