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December 27, 2008
Champs Sports Bowl Kickoff Luncheon Press Conference
Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema
"We have enjoyed the week in Orlando, especially when we call back home and hear what the weather report is on a daily basis. I think the kids have been able to relax and enjoy the environment here. We have stayed at an absolutely phenomenal hotel in (Rosen) Shingle Creek. We have had a good week of practice, got a little bit of rain on us yesterday, but our guys are excited and ready to hit the ground running tomorrow."
On the perception that Big Ten teams can not compete with the speed and quickness of teams from the south and the west coast, and if he feels Wisconsin needs to change its style to keep up:
Well, it's the same people who told us that when we beat Auburn here three years ago; the same people who told us that two years ago when we beat Arkansas ? that we can't do what we can do. Last year, we lost to a Tennessee ballclub that did a great job of executing and we weren't able to do it. I think people tend to focus on the national championship game, which garnishes a lot of attention, but the part that jumps out to me last year ? I saw Michigan pretty much handle a Florida team and we beat Michigan earlier in that year. I watched Florida on film, saw the speed and the athletes that they had, and then watched Michigan go out there and do what they did. So you've got to build your argument with all of the facts, not just the ones that you want.
On Florida State's defense and their success on third down (where they lead the nation):
They have been very effective, especially in particular games. The games we tried to feature or look at were teams that were similar to us ? the Boston College game jumped out to us right away, a team that kind of runs the same stuff we do. But any time you have success on third down, you are going to be successful overall. There have been games where they haven't been as productive in that category, which resulted in points and a negative outcome on their behalf. But for us to have success, we have to move the chains. That's what we have to do is keep the chains moving. Any time you have the football longer than they do, it increases your chances of scoring more than they do so a couple of things we have to do from an offensive standpoint just involve keeping our offense out there and let our defense stand on the sidelines.
On his offensive line:
Our offensive line has been a strong point for us all year. We've got three seniors in Vanden Heuvel, Kemp and Urbik. I think Urbie has started over 50 games in his career. Unfortunately for him, he got a little bit of a stomach virus this week so he missed a couple days of practice, but those three guys in particular have not only set themselves up for what they have done here in college, but they've got a chance at the next level. Also, the guys behind them ? our running backs ? have to be able to execute and also our tight ends, those guys have to keep blocking downfield and give us an opportunity for a big play.
On the week of practice in Orlando:
We've been able to get a few guys back. There are a few guys who missed some time when we were back in Madison ... there were as many as seven players this week who were down with a little bit of a stomach virus that was carried over from Wisconsin. We were really affected by that the last few weeks and throughout bowl practices. But we have been able to stay pretty healthy. I thought that our guys really practiced well. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...I thought their legs got a little heavy, so we backed off yesterday and today will be a very light walk-through so we should be full-go on the defensive side of the ball. When we lost Jonathan Casillas and Shane Carter, the good thing was that happened very early in bowl preparation so that won't be a surprise for us here in the end.
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