UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Seniors keep focus on Saturday

Before Tuesday's practice, the seniors wanted to make sure everyone was on the same wave length. The coaches were excused from the room and quarterback Scott Tolzien delivered the message.

"Scotty T talked about how we have to take everything one day at a time," said senior wide receiver David Gilreath. "Mainly, he talked about our focus on these last three games."

That was confirmed by senior captain Culmer St. Jean.

"Scott is a strong person and he speaks how feels - he's not afraid to say things," St. Jean said. "We all have strong characteristics in our senior class. We're able to speak to each other and we're able to talk to the group in a way that everybody understands.

"What Scotty brought up needed to be said - we need to focus. That's what got us here. And that's what it's going to take in the next three games. We don't have to play out of our element. We don't need to be doing anything other than what we have been doing. That's the secret ingredient."

On Saturday, the Badgers will be returning to Camp Randall Stadium for the first time since Oct. 16 when they pulled off the upset of No. 1 ranked Ohio State. That game started off with a bang when Gilreath returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Seems like forever ago.

"It has been awhile, and I can't wait to get back out there and experience that feeling again from being in front of our fans," Gilreath said. "I want that feeling back."

How many times has Gilreath seen replays of that kickoff return? "A bunch," he said.

So he took us through it again.

"We had a Trap Left, so I tried to set it up that way," he explained. "I knew from watching film that Ohio State had three guys coming down the field to the left and if you gave them a little head and shoulders fake, you could set them up.

"My blockers did a great job of pushing them out, and I just cut back inside. At the same time I saw their kicker coming toward me, I saw Bradie Ewing on my side and he was going to take care of him. That's when I was thinking, 'I'm outta here' but I was also thinking 'Don't get caught.'"

Did he hear the crowd? "Once I got to the end zone," he said with a grin.

Gilreath admitted that he was flattered Saturday when Purdue kicked away from him. "It was pretty cool," he said. "But if it happens a couple of weeks in a row then I'll know I'm doing something."

Two years ago, Gilreath burned Indiana as a running back, not a kick return specialist. The Badgers used a Jet Sweep (also called a Fly Sweep or a Speed Sweep) to spring Gilreath for 168 rushing yards on just eight carries. That included two touchdowns, one of 90 yards.

There are many different ways to execute the Jet Sweep. The most common is when the slot receiver comes in motion before the snap, takes a direct handoff from the quarterback and sweeps the opposite end from where he started. The play has become a big part of the UW offense (which has utilized a variety of ball-carriers in this role: Gilreath, Isaac Anderson, Nick Toon and Lance Kendricks).

The objective is to get the ball on the perimeter as quickly as possible. The Badgers have run the play so often and successfully that when Gilreath starts in motion, the opposing linebackers are usually calling it out. "I don't know exactly what they're saying," Gilreath said. "It's different every time. But you do see them pointing on defense and they do have a signal for it.

"They may know it's coming, but we also have a run up the middle (where the ball is faked to Gilreath and given to the tailback). If they flow or over-pursue too much, they'll give up that run.''

Gilreath has never been the featured runner or receiver. Not on a regular or consistent basis. But he has been valuable to the Badgers in both areas. He has 57 career receptions for 917 yards and three touchdowns. He also has 58 career rushes for 442 yards and three scores.

"Can't complain," said Gilreath, whose 2,782 career kickoff yards are the most in Big Ten history. "There are limited opportunities so hopefully when I touch the ball I can do something with it. Make a play, make an impact. If it's making one catch on third down, I'll do what I have to do."

That's his focus.

And the team's.