September 6, 2009

Post NIU: Notes and quotes

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin football team waited nearly nine months to avenge an ugly bowl loss to Florida State. On Saturday, against an up and coming Northern Illinois squad, it took a late defensive stand to seal the win.

After holding a 28-6 lead late into the fourth quarter, the Huskies suddenly started gaining momentum and fought back into the game.

Following the game, several players spoke to the media. The following are some notes and quotes from the season opener that was.

Notes:

-On the injury front, Louis Nzegwu did not participate in the opener and was on the sideline in shoulder sling.

"As you noticed, Louis wasn't out there," UW head coach Bret Bielema said. "So that took away another defensive end. He hurt his shoulder a couple of days ago, actually on Wednesday. I found out on Thursday afternoon that he wasn't going to be available for this game."

Bielema said the injury wasn't as severe as originally thought and that Nzegwu would be monitored on a week-to-week basis, though no timeframe for his return exists.

With him out, freshman Anthony Mains filled in throughout the game. And Bielema was pleased with the way the defensive line played as a group, considering the limitations they were faced with.

"I thought our D-line, they're survivors," Bielema said. "We got to get David Gilbert oiled up and then O'Brien Schofield and J.J. Watt just played their tails off.

"That's something that we get excited about because I really felt that group had a lot to prove coming into today's match up."

-Freshman linebacker Mike Taylor, making his first collegiate start, seemed to get dinged up at one point early in the game when he took a knee to the head, but he returned to the action and didn't seem phased.

In fact, he logged five tackles and stripped a ball from NIU running back Me'co Brown late in the first half that gave the Badgers an opportunity to extend the lead. On the next play though, Scott Tolzien threw an interception when he was hit as he threw the ball.

Still, it was a good debut for Taylor.

"Mike was all over the place," Bielema said. "I know on a couple of occasions, he wasn't in the right alignment or the right call. But he plays fast, he plays hard and he's very important.

"I think Mike takes a lot of pride in being a Badger and playing the way out there that he did."

-Freshman wide receiver Kraig Appleton (hamstring), along with both John Moffitt (pectoral) and Bill Nagy (foot) did not play in Saturday's game.

-Junior quarterback Scott Tolzien finished 15-for-20 passing with 257 yards and one touchdown. He did throw two interceptions however, although one was a direct result from a protection breakdown.

-Freshman quarterback Curt Phillips saw his first game action as a Badger. He finished 3-for-5 with 24 yards passing. He also logged 34 rushing yards on four carries.

Quotes:

-Garrett Graham on his chemistry with Tolzien:

"He came in a couple of times last year. In the Iowa game we hooked up a couple of times and I thought he did well. Tonight, I thought he did great. I'm looking forward to next week."

-Gabe Carimi on holding on to the victory:

"We left too many points on the field and better teams are going to beat us. So, if we eliminate that, I think we can. I think we can have a good thing going if we play Wisconsin football and don't make mental mistakes."

-Travis Frederick on his first start:

"I talked to a lot of the older guys. I talked to John Moffitt obviously, Bill Nagy, Jake Bscherer and Josh Oglesby. Most of the guys on the line, older guys, they helped to calm me down and helped me to realize it's just what we do in practice. It's the same thing. All it is is a different guy that you're going against."

-Isaac Anderson on catching the first pass of the game:

"I was sitting in the hotel all day and I was just running that play in my head all day. Man, I got to catch this ball. It's going to be there, like you said. I just thank God for the opportunity."

-J.J. Watt on slowing NIU's run game:

"We definitely stopped their run. Near the end we lapsed a little bit obviously, but we came back and finished the game and got the 'W', which is obviously what we are working towards. It was great to get."

-Jake Bscherer on UW's run blocking:

"I can't really speak for the entire offensive line, but personally, I think there was a few plays where I was on edges that I can definitely improve on and just cover guys up a lot better."

-Chris Maragos on NIU's final offensive play:

"Actually, I wasn't supposed to be in that position. It was supposed to be Jay Valai that was to the field there and covering my guy. They came on an empty formation and Jay went to the wide side of the field where his guy was uncovered so I went down and covered for him and I told him just to rock back to the post. So, again, I was put in the position to make a play and the play came to me. I just tried to capitalize on the play that was there and fortunately for our team, that happened."

-Scott Tolzien on his first collegiate throw:

"That's a dream first play and it happened. It was exciting and a great start to the game.

Tolzien on having any nerves:

"It was more at the hotel and waking up and more than anything just waiting for the night game and waiting around so much. Once we got over here, I mean there were a few butterflies, but nothing extreme. I felt pretty settled in."


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