November 21, 2008

Casillas reflects on career

MADISON, Wis. - All season long, the Wisconsin football seniors have been checking items of its list. This is the last time we'll play at Michigan, this is the last time we'll play Ohio State, this is the last time we'll battle for the axe. On Saturday, those seniors can check of the last time we'll play at Camp Randall Stadium as it closes out regular season play.

The following is a question and answer with Jonathan Casillas as he prepares for his final game on UW's home turf:

Is it hard to prepare for Cal-Poly's unique offense in only a week?

Casillas: It's not really that difficult when you look into it. They're just very different (and) we're not used to anything like that. But now that we've been practicing and repping it over and over again, it's really not that difficult. They don't really have an array of things that they do, but they do it well though.

Is there anything you can compare it to?

Casillas: No, that's the thing. You can't compare it to anything. At first when we were watching film we were like, 'We haven't seen anything like this, it's like high school days.' I think they run it with great ease and they do it very well. They are putting up great numbers on offense, it's going to be a challenge. It's not difficult to prepare against, but they've got athletes and they know how to run it very well.

You said high school, when was the last time you saw the wing-T?

Casillas: Well, my high school team ran it. I didn't have to play anybody against it but we used to kill people with it. That's kind of dreadful when you think about it. I mean, I think they run it very well though. They're putting up 300 yards rushing per game and something crazy like that. So like I said we're going to be up for a good challenge and I think we're up for it.

Did you guys pass as much out of it as they do?

Casillas: Actually, we went to a spread. We spread it out when we went to third down and long distance stuff. It was not really a passing offense.

That's what makes it really unique isn't it, that they can pass as well as they do?

Casillas: They got that big receiver, No. 11. He's an all-American if he was at a BCS school. He's a great athlete, he's a great competitor, that's who they look for when they pass the ball.

This is your last week of regular season preparation, is there a greater sense of urgency than ever before this season?

Casillas: I think so. We all know what's around the corner. If we don't win this game, our season is probably over. A 6-6 team in the Big Ten is not guaranteed anything. That's all looming right now. We're definitely thinking about it. I think we're having a great week of practice and I think it's led by our seniors, including ourselves. It's kind of crazy this last week here, it's my last week playing here. It's sad, but at the same time, it's something to be excited about.

Has it been nostalgic at all too?

Casillas: Oh yeah, most definitely. We all sat back and think about it. I'll see a senior and be like, 'Man, it's the last week,' and they know what I'm talking about. It went by so fast and you hear from all the other guys all the time it goes so fast that you won't know when it hits you. This is it. This is the last week I'm going to play at Camp Randall.

Is there a memory from this week, prepping, that really hit you that this was it?

Casillas: They have seniors talk for the defense and Matt Shaughnessy talked today (Wednesday). It's great to hear somebody talk like that. For as long as he's been here, he's never talked that long to the whole team. It was just great to hear his perspective of his career and his background and how he's feeling right now. I'm not going to be able to hear that in a couple of weeks, or a year from now. It's crazy.

Is there something he said that really stood out that you think you'll remember for a very long time?

Casillas: Well, I mean, he said like all the time we joke around and as a unit defensively how much fun we have, we're never going to be able to have that fun again because we are never going to be intertwined again. You sit back and think about it, that's true. If we make it to a bowl game, yeah, that's only a couple more weeks and then it's over. It's done. That's crazy.

As the season went, every road trip you went on, every game you played, this is the last time, how does this, playing for the last time in Camp Randall weigh, compared to all those times?

Casillas: Well, I mean, as much as you love playing the game of college football, it's nothing like Camp Randall, my home, where I play at. I'm a Badger, I play at Camp Randall and it's nothing like that. There's nothing comparable. Last week, that game against Minnesota, for us battling through adversity like that to win that game, that was just a great way to end my rivalry against Minnesota. Hopefully this week, I can do the same and just basically end it, my last home game, with a victory as well.

What were some of your favorite memories playing here? Was there one that really stood out?

Casillas: My recent member is last week. I mean the jump around was the most powerful and electric that I have ever remembered it being since I've been a part of UW football. I'm going to remember that forever for sure, that was powerful.

How do you prevent against an emotional letdown coming into this week?

Casillas: I think you just let your seniors take over. I think that's what our coaches kind of did, let our seniors just take hold of the team. It's basically on us now, it's how we want to conclude our legacy here. I think we've been doing an okay job with that. People don't seem like they're lax at all, people still seem like they're hungry and they're still trying to improve and learn everyday and that's how you stop that.

Do you have one most memorable moment, with your senior class, with your team this year that really sticks out in your mind?

Casillas: I don't know, I just love at the end of the game knowing that a guy in front of me or a guy next to me that I've been playing with for years had a great game, that we had a great game in general. Like last week, Mike Newkirk had a career game and it's just great to see that at the end of his career, he's still playing better than he ever did and he's still making plays. That's just great for me to see. I love seeing us shine as well as my teammates shine. That makes my day.

What will you miss the most?

Casillas: I don't even know, there are so many things I think about when I think about my teammates. Football, Camp Randall, just being out here in general, in Madison, probably just all the relationships I share with all the guys.

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