December 15, 2010

Brennan relishes each opportunity

MADISON - Watching Joe Brennan during developmental practice over the past weekend it became obvious very quickly that the freshman quarterback has a cannon.

It seemed as though there wasn't a throw on the field he couldn't make. At 6-foot-3, Brennan has all the measurables needed to be successful at the collegiate level. How is he progressing?

In an attempt to solidify answers to those questions, spent some time with Brennan. The following is a question and answer with the New Jersey native.

Not that you've been through a full season, obviously you were redshirting and didn't get through a full season, but is it coming a long pretty well? How would you say it went?

Brennan: This year, I think coach Paul Chryst is molding me into the quarterback I want to be. This whole year I'm just trying to take things one day at a time while trying to develop and make improvement. With this bowl prep I've had a good amount of time to get a grasp on things and things are starting to come to me a little bit easier. That's what's good.

Bowl prep is kind of underrated, especially with developmental practices. Instead of being on scout team you're doing Wisconsin stuff with these guys.

Brennan: With these past few days (at time of interview) Scott Tolzien has been able to take a break and get his body healthy. He's been another added coach to us and some of the developmental guys. It's just great to get some rep and then we can go over the thought process of the play that just occurred.

You hear it all the time when you talk to younger guys, but that transition from high school to college is so difficult just because of the speed of the game. Is that pretty accurate?

Brennan: Yeah, but at the same time you're playing football and you just have to use the skills God gave you sometimes and not try to overcomplicate things.

What is the toughest things? Is it the playbook? How big is that?

Brennan: The playbook is pretty big. I don't have it down yet, I don't think any of us have it down by heart. Scott has got it down pretty close, but it's definitely something that takes time to get down.

You can see the connection between Jon Budmayr and Jared Abbrederis just because they've played with each other for however long. Do you have a relationship with a particular wide receiver?

Brennan: Right now I'm just trying to build chemistry and get to know each other and get a rhythm with all of them right now. I'm sure that will continue to develop. Right now we're all trying to get to know each other. We just keep developing together.

Any of those young guys that you're throwing to on a regular basis stand out to you?

Brennan: I'm getting together with all the guys and they're doing a great job.

I know this is a pretty exciting time, as a scout team player throughout the year do you take pride in winning a Big Ten title?

Brennan: I definitely take pride in that. We do a great job getting our defense ready each week. I take playing scout team quarterback to heart. It's just something I take very seriously. I get to go against one of the best defenses in college football so it's definitely something that I don't take lightly.

Every day I get to go out and go against the J.J. Watt's, Aaron Henry's, Jay Valai's, and Culmer St. Jean's. For me, why not take that serious? For scout team I believe it helped me get a lot better in regards to developing. For our defense disguises coverage's a lot so I try to line up and recognize what they're going to run so it's good getting to see what a starting defense does.

They don't take it easy on you.

Brennan: No. Our defense goes 100 percent every play so I've learned to get the ball out a lot quicker and really I just have to trust my timing and location with my receivers. That's what has helped me get things going a lot faster.

Talk about what it's like when you see Scott and how he won the Unitas Award, what have you learned from him?

Brennan: Scott is a great role model. One attribute about him that I recognize is his consistency. Each and every day he comes out and is throwing the ball right on point. Each and every time he's being a great leader. And each and every time he's making the right decision on the field. It's been great for me just to watch his daily routine. Someone who has understood the quarterback position as well as him, I'm truly blessed to come out here every day and watch him.

That's got to rub off on you. You look at a guy like that who went into his junior year as basically an afterthought. Nobody thought he'd be a starting quarterback. I don't know what the rotation will be like after he leaves, but that's just got to give you motivation to keep grinding on every play.

Brennan: Scotty is one of the greatest competitors I've ever had as a teammate. That definitely rubs off on you because you want to go out there and compete every day. It's good.

No Badger fans have really seen you play unless they are from your home area, but describe your game. What do you have? Watching you in practice it was obvious you have a very strong arm.

Brennan: I think I have a solid arm, but right now I think I'm making good pocket movement. Right now I'm just trying to understand the offense as good as possible. I'm just trying to take it one day at a time and not overcomplicate it. I'm just trying to get better each day.

Are you able to run a little bit or are you more of a pocket guy?

Brennan: I like to stay in the pocket and make the throws. When pressure comes I'm not afraid to get outside of the pocket. I haven't really gotten outside of the pocket. I guess I was doing it in scout team a lot, but in here I try to go through my progression. I'm just trying to work through my reads and work into check downs.

In high school we would have check downs on a couple of plays but I was usually able to get through my first, second and third reads. So check downs are something I'm really trying to integrate in my play.

Just talk about being on scout team a little bit. That's got to be a little bit redundant learning a new offense each and every week, but who was your favorite player that you got to scout or emulate this year?

Brennan I can't really think of one off the top of my head. I don't really look at it like that. I just look at just being able to go out there and be in a live pocket. I get to work timing with my wide receivers. The teams we play all have the same kind of route trees and stuff, so a lot of the plays come pretty similar to the playbook. I just try to work the timing and stuff like that. Each day I just take it and take it for myself and stuff I can gain on. Each week has pretty much been the same. I can't say it's been different with a certain quarterback I've been emulating.

Talk about the other part of being a student-athlete. How has that side been going for you? Are you settled in and have the groove of that?

Brennan: The structure and the scheduling is a lot more complex in college, but I've been able to get in good routines and good study habits. You just try to knock out a little bit each day. That's what I try to go for when it comes to schoolwork.

Have you found a pretty healthy balance and did it take some time?

Brennan: Yeah, you definitely have to find a balance and organization in college. That's two characteristics I had to learn in order to develop.

I know you've been outside and that weather is pretty nasty. You've got to be looking forward to that weather in LA coming up in a couple of weeks.

Brennan: It's going to be a great time. I'm very excited. It should be a nice time to hang out with the guys. But we're going over there and we're going to win. This is something that we know comes around only once in a while and we're going to go in there wanting to win. I'm pretty sure we're going to have our time to hang out with each other but I think the attitude out there is going to be pretty serious.

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