Badgers safety Hunter Wohler: ‘This is not what I came to Wisconsin for”

MADISON — The Luke Fickell era hit a new low point Saturday with a 24-10 loss to Northwestern in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score. Wisconsin got out-played and out-coached in every aspect of the game as it lost its third-straight. That led to an emotional post-game scene with words like embarrassed and frustrated dominating the conversation. That was certainly the case with Hunter Wohler, who spoke passionately about what is ailing the defense and the team overall.

Here is everything the junior safety said.

(note: questions edited for clarity)

Q: What is going through your mind right now:

Wohler: “There’s zero words. I have no words. I really don’t. This feeling sucks. I can’t even describe it. This hurts a lot. And where to go, right now, I don’t know. But we’re gonna have to find a way, we’re gonna have to figure it out. And we will. But right now I really have no words.”

Q: Is it fair to say the coaches and players don’t have answers for what has gone wrong?

Wohler: “There are no answers. We just have to play better. I mean, we come out soft, we come out flat, we have zero energy on either side of the ball. And we get whooped around the field. There’s no answer to getting smoked. We have to be better. We’re soft, we’re not physical, we’re not doing the things that that coaches ask us and we go out there and expect to win. That’s not how this game works, especially not in the Big Ten.”

Q: Where does the resiliency have to come from to find answers?

Wohler: “Guys got to look inside themselves and find out who they really are, and if they really want to play this game, and if they really want to be a part of this team. Because this is not what I came to Wisconsin for, to be completely honest. This is miles different from what I grew up watching. And obviously I take responsibility for being a part of the team. Whatever we can do to figure this thing out, we’re gonna do. But it’s got to be individually. Saying one thing and trying to get everyone together, it only gets you so far. It has to come from from within and like I said, guys got to take a look inside themselves and find out what they really want.”

Q: When things don’t go right, a lot of people blame the coaches. It sounds like you’re putting it on the players

Wohler: “There’s no perfect call. There’s no perfect assignment. Nothing that the coaches could have done differently tonight would have made us win that game. We played horribly, we were flat, we had no energy, we couldn’t do anything on either side of the ball. 100% on the players, and I don’t blame coach Fickell. I don’t blame coach Tressell. I don’t blame the coaches for what happened today, what happened last week. We’re not good enough right now and we have to find a way to get that right.”

Q: Have guys throughout the locker room bought into the new staff?

Wohler: “That’s a tough question. I think there’s some people that are bought in and we need to get everybody. This game doesn’t happen with one or two people. It happens with a full team whether you play, whether you start on Saturdays or whether you’re running scout team during the week. It takes everybody and clearly we don’t have everyone on the same page. I don’t blame the coaches again. There’s nothing that the coaches could have done to fix what happened today. They’re really isn’t.”

Q: What happened to allow Northwestern to start 10-for-10 on third down?

Wohler: “We didn’t execute. We didn’t challenge them. We know where the sticks are on third-and-5. We know they have to get five guards to get a first down. When we play passive, we don’t challenge them, they’re gonna take what we give them. We gave them easy yards, we gave them easy first downs. We didn’t come out and we didn’t do what we talked about doing, do what we say we’re gonna do. Came out flat, didn’t challenge anybody and we got pushed around.”

Q: Do you have any idea why the defense hasn’t performed to the level it needs to?

Wohler: “Not really. It just comes down to want to. How bad do you really want to be a part of this team? How bad do you really want to play this game? How bad do you really want to win? You can look at all the different statistics, you can look at this and that, but at the end of the day, it comes down to who wins the game and who has a higher score at the end of the game. Defensively, we aren’t doing enough, obviously. Just have to play and we have to be better. There’s no formula, there’s no one solution, just got to be better.”

Q: Tanner Mordecai said they are going to find out what everyone’s give a shit factor is. Do you agree?

Wohler: “Our backs are up against the wall like they have never been before. How many guys really do give a shit about this team, about this program, about this culture, about winning and losing and about each other. There might be some weeding out that we need to do, because right now, the things that we have going on is not what Wisconsin football is, it’s not what Wisconsin football represents and we have to find a way to get rid of the problems and come up with some solutions.”

Q: What is the locker room like after that kind of loss?

Wohler: “Upset, it’s quiet. There’s nothing to say after getting your asses kicked. I mean, we just got pushed around the field. For some reason, we had nothing to say about it. We got beat by Ohio State, I was pissed. You should be pissed after losing a game that you could have won. Come out last week, and we’re flat and you stink. Should be pissed after that. We come out this week and do the same thing. There’s nothing to say around the locker room and to the guys that can change the way anybody feels right now. We’ve got to take a step back and figure it out.”

Q: Indiana was supposedly a wake-up call. Did the guys respond the way you hoped?

Wohler: “We can have the best week of practice and the best week of preparation in the country. And if we don’t come out on Saturdays and find a way to win and actually play the game that we can play, who cares what we did during the week. It doesn’t matter at all. It really doesn’t. Until we figure out how to play as a team and really want to win and need to win, nothing else is gonna matter.”

Q: Is there any situation where you’ve seen guys not buying in? What does that look like?

Wohler: “Lack of effort, lack of care, and I take responsibility for not calling guys out. The locker room is very tight. And we have a lot of guys that really, really love being together and love being around each other. But it comes a point where someone has to speak up and be the asshole. Someone has to tell people to stop screwing around and stop going through the motions and play. Otherwise, get out. We don’t need people here that aren’t gonna give their hearts for this team. So there’s going to be some weeding out. Every team has to do that. And we’ve hit rock bottom right now and when you hit rock bottom, you take a long hard look at yourself. That is what’s going to have to be done over the next 24 hours. That’s all we have, because there’s a game next week. So, we’re gonna have to figure it out real quick.”