Jim said this morning that Cesar [Ruiz] and Mike [Onwenu] might play together. How would that work?
“Well, you know Mike is working through some things, his back… gosh, there’s three more days of practice left so we’ll kind of see how it all shakes down and like every day, we’ll roll the balls out and see who the best guys are and the best guy for us to win. Could both share time. We’ll just see as we go. Still too early to tell.”
Even if Mike’s healthy, do you feel like Cesar’s one of your best five right now?
“Cesar does a nice job. His athleticism, his initial quickness, the way he can recover on a block. I mean, both of them bring great things to the party, but to say he’s one of the best five right now, that’s just a little too early to tell just because of where we are. He’s played two games. Did a nice job in there. There’s things that all of them need to work on, just as Cesar needs to work on some things, but he’s doing a good job.”
Enough to make you think about it, though?
“Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, you think about it. Every day you’re thinking about, hey, how can I change this lineup, how can I make it better? Every day is a day in here is—you want to make sure you’re working, that you’re unsettled. You don’t want to become content. Content becomes laziness, and that’s not a good thing, is it?”
Why are you looking at me?
“I’m not. My wife sometimes says that: ‘This isn’t the Marriott, pick up your stuff around here.’”
[After THE JUMP: scouting Wisconsin’s defense, why Drevno went back to coaching from the field, where Ruiz and Bredeson won’t play, and more evidence Drevno should always listen to his wife]
No sympathy for the hours?
“No, no sympathy. No, she’s a good lady. But yeah, sometimes you’ve got to just take it on the chin.”
Have you been coaching from the field more recently?
“Yeah, for the last—since the Rutgers game I’ve been down on the field, yeah.”
What prompted that?
“I just feel like being around the O-linemen, you know, all week I’m in the room with them, Greg’s down there, we’ve got two experts down there working together, seeing them, talking to the linemen, talking about looks that we maybe did see on the film. We can talk through that and adjust that. I just feel more comfortable about it.
“Upstairs is really good. I can see everything, but I kind of like the chaos, the intensity, the swing, the ebb and flow. It kind of gets my blood flowing. It gets my juices going. I feel like I coach better when I’m on edge, when you’ve got to make a quick decision.”
Do you feel like it’s made a difference?
“Ehh, you know, I think we’ve been winning. Does it contribute to me being on the field? No, I don’t think so. I think that I’ve had more interactions with those guys to make some different game-time decisions. I think it’s helped, but those guys have been playing better. It’s been a whole team effort, not just me being on the sidelines.”
Juwann [Bushell-Beatty] was your offensive lineman of the week. Did he grade out highest?
“Yeah, did a really nice job. Juwann had his best game of the year, and it was really neat. I got to turn on the Wisconsin film of us last year and see Juwann and he did a nice job. I mean, he’s playing some high-level football right now. He’s got great confidence, working hard, every snap is his last in practice. He’s doing a great job. Really pleased for him.”
When you’re on the field are you also interacting with Brandon a little bit?
“Yeah, talk to him, talk about the upcoming plays that are coming, talk about the different things that he needs to look for, which has been good. Helping him out, besides with Jim, so it’s nice to be there. Somebody sees a face and you can interact with.”
Wisconsin places such an emphasis on shutting down the run. What’s that going to mean for Brandon Peters this week? Are you expecting to see more out of him?
“Well, it’s like every week we go in you want to have a balanced attack, so whatever it takes to win the game. We’ll kind of see as we get in there and see what they’re like and what they’re doing and how they’re trying to defend our stuff. Every week brings a different gameplan, but they’re a very good defense.
“They’ve got a very salty front. They’re an odd front. They like to try and knock you back. The backers do a good job of flowing. The secondary’s outstanding. You look at their depth, I mean, I think they’re all juniors and seniors. Very experienced, played a lot of games together, so they’ve done a good job.
“And that front, it’s a 3-4 front so it’s a little bit different, and they play it traditionally 3-4 where they’re a yard off the ball with those defensive linemen and they’re trying to knock you back to free up the backers. They’re trying to take away some different things in that front, so it’s unique.
“Most people who play that front want to move the front, so they start to slant themselves out of it and bring zone pressures trying to defeat your passing game and different things, but they’re trying to win on the backend with the secondary and trying to create some pass rush and different things when they get to third down. They bring some exotic looks.”
Will you see some twists and games from them up front?
“Absolutely. They do a lot of different things. It’s very similar to the NFL. in the NFL, third down, it’s exotic because you don’t know what you’re going to get, so you really have to apply rules and be in the right position, great communication from the center and quarterback and if you have to re-ID something you have to do that. It’s fun. It’s a fun deal when you go against stuff like that to try and strategize and put a gameplan together to be able to defeat that.”
To go back to Cesar for a second, I think he told us a couple weeks ago that you’ve had him rep everywhere but left tackle.
So he’s done a little bit of everything.
How versatile is he and what are you most comfortable with him at right now?
“I think he’s an inside guy. Doesn’t mean he couldn’t go out and play tackle, but he’s probably more suited right now just at the guard position because at the center it’s just so much thinking, re-IDing things, and communicating. For a younger guy in our offense, that’s a hard thing to do. You don’t want to put that on his plate just yet. We’ll get to there at some point in time here in his career, but he makes a nice guard.”
Does he have some of those traits that Mason [Cole] showed you early or Ben [Bredeson] did where he’s versatile and you can start him anywhere maybe at some point down the road?
“Yeah, he does. I mean, he’s a foot-ball player. The way he moves and his feet turn over and the way he can recover, like I said earlier, on blocks, he brings those type of characteristics and skillset like Ben and like Mason and some of the other guys I’ve coached. He has a chance to be really, really good.”
I think we saw Spanellis snapping a little bit.
“Yeah, he’s snapping, playing the center spot. You know, Spam’s coming along. He’s really changed his body. He’s big, strong. I mean, you can’t coach big. He’s in there at some of the extra tight end sets, which you guys have probably seen, so he’s doing good. He’s coming along. He’s gaining the edge. He’s getting going. He’s closing the margin, so it’s fun to see him do that. He’s getting better.”
You excited about all these guards now? You seem to have an overflow of them.
“Yeah, yeah, I am excited about that. I like—the future’s bright. And some of these young guys we have in the program, you watch them in the scrimmages that we do and stuff during practice and it’s really exciting. I tell them ‘the future’s bright,’ I said. It’s fun seeing the smiles on their faces and where we’re headed with this football program.”
Can Filiaga play tackle or is going to be an inside guy?
“He could play guard, he could play tackle. He’s really coming along well. His feet are moving well. He’s lost some weight. He’s understanding. He can process quicker on his feet, so we’ll kind of plug him in there and it’s kind of where the best five is as we move forward here to next year.”
You talked about Juwann’s progress. Where has that come from? Is that footwork? Is that attention to detail?
“I think it’s footwork, it’s attention to detail, it’s a mentality of finishing every play, playing with confidence, believing you can do it. Once you do it once, you do it twice, you do it three times, it’s like, hey, man, I can get this done, I can execute the the technique the coaches are telling me, so it just feeds on each other. He’s doing a good job. He’s working hard.”
Is Ben at right tackle if you needed him to—
“Yeah, he could go out there and play tackle. I don’t foresee that in the future but he could go do that. He’s athletic enough and a good [enough] offensive lineman to do that, yeah.”
Going back to you coaching on the field, you were on the field last year. What went into you deciding to be up in the box and what made you decide to be on the field? There was something that triggered the decision.
“Yeah, I just felt hey, I can go up there, I can see it, adjust the gameplan, kind of see the field better, Pep was up there, we can communicate, and I just, yeah, I just felt in my gut it was just kind of like I feel more comfortable being down there. I felt like being around the guys would help: encourage, adjust, look ‘em in the eyes, see the mentality on the sidelines, where we’re headed. I just feel better down there. I felt like it was better for the offense.”
Was there something in a game that made you think, now is the time I’ve got to be down there?
“You know, it was actually I was having dinner with my wife when we were talking about it.”
Did she advise it?
“Nah, she didn’t advise it but she was just kind of asking and it kind of dawned on me like, you know, maybe that is right. Maybe I should go back down there. Maybe it’s something that’s kind of been pulling on me for a couple weeks and I just did it. Just the football instincts. Feeling like what’s best. You never want to go against your instincts. You got to feel your gut and feel what’s best and if you feel like that’s best then you’re making the right decision for the team, that’s what you want to live with so I did.”
You should always listen to your wife, too.
“You know what, my wife is very special. If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. Right? It’s true, isn’t it? It is true, isn’t it.”
What is this game going to tell you about your offense? What do you want it to tell you about your offense?
“We’re going against a very good opponent. They’re the no. 1-ranked team on defense in the nation. I think going into this game it’s just going to tell us where we’re headed and how much we’ve improved as an offense, and the success we’ve had the last couple weeks is really going to help us be successful Saturday. They’ve got confidence. We’re making plays, we’re doing the right thing, so it’s really a group effort. We’ll see where we are.”