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August 2011 Archives

The Voice: Give these Badgers some time to shine

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The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgWe interrupt this off-season of investigations, scandal and free advice on how to clean up college athletics to bring you -- at long last -- a football game. The Badgers and UNLV ring in the new season Thursday night at 7 p.m. It is one of 15 games on the schedule as fans can get a jumpstart on another season.

The Rebels are hoping to build some momentum under second-year coach Bobby Hauck, who no doubt will look to re-create the magic of John Robinson's UNLV team eight years ago, when it came to Camp Randall Stadium and shut down the Badgers 23-5. That represents the last regular season non-conference loss. Since that setback on Sept. 13, 2003, the Badgers have rolled to 28 straight non-league victories.

To keep that streak alive, and to have a shot at another memorable season, here is one observer's list of things to watch in 2011:

Protect your quarterback.
Russell Wilson is many things, including mobile. Just when a defense seemingly has him lined up, Wilson's quick feet can get him out of trouble. That said, given the fact his backups have taken exactly zero snaps in a college game, Captain Obvious here just wants to point out that this man really needs to stay healthy. In a perfect world, Joe Brennan can get some work in certain situations. The coaches have been very encouraged with his improvement in training camp. The same can be said of Joel Stave. The hope is that those two can continue to grow at a steady pace, and not be forced to play because of injury.

Better luck for Borland and Taylor.
Keeping with the theme of healthy players, the Badgers clearly are a better defense when linebackers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor are on the field together. If his shoulders cooperate, Borland can be a playmaker along the lines of what J.J. Watt did a year ago. With healthy knees, Taylor moves very well. Together, they can help make this a very good defense.

Do not expect a finished product in September.  

Nearly every year, it happens. The Badgers play a game that is closer than most fans expect. Then the worrying begins. Last year they looked choppy at times against San Jose State. The following week they needed a blocked PAT to hold off Arizona State. In 2007, The Citadel gave Wisconsin trouble.

Going back to a couple of Barry Alvarez's Rose Bowl teams, in 1998 the Badgers needed a big play from quarterback Mike Samuel to help them get past San Diego State. A year later they lost to a not-very-good Cincinnati team. My point is the Badgers will not always be the smoothest bunch early in the season, but the better Wisconsin teams tend to hit their stride in October and November.

Looking pretty early is always welcomed, but don't panic Thursday night if they look a little rough around the edges.

Don't worry, they will be hungry.
A rather predictable question players and coaches have heard     regards how they will avoid complacency following a Big Ten championship season. Center Peter Konz has a pretty good answer.  

"As much as I hate to say it," says Konz, "losing the Rose Bowl gives you the sense that you have not fulfilled everything that you wanted. This group of guys, especially the seniors, still feels like we've got something to prove."

"There is something essentially Wisconsin that says, OK, we are still unproven.  None of us is a '5-Star' (recruit), we know that. There should be no question with anybody that the fire is still there."

As long as the Wisconsin Badgers keep that mindset, I believe they always will have a chance to do something special.

Let the games begin.
FB_110831_Brennan_Joe.jpegSeconds after Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco connected on a touchdown pass to Lee Evans, the UW's all-time leading receiver, Joe Brennan was texting Flacco's younger brother, John.

Even though the score came in a meaningless NFL preseason game, Brennan couldn't resist the temptation to tweak his friend -- John Flacco, a sophomore wide receiver at Stanford University.

"Nothing but playmakers coming from the Udub,'' texted Brennan, the UW's backup quarterback going into Thursday night's season opener against UNLV at Camp Randall.

John Flacco didn't know how to respond.

"He didn't answer,'' said Brennan. "It was like, 'What the heck is that suppose to mean?'''

Later that night Brennan and John Flacco had this exchange on the phone.

Flacco: "What are you talking about?''

Brennan: "Lee Evans, dude.''

The light went on for John Flacco -- just as it has for Brennan during training camp. Brennan, in fact, credited Joe Flacco for some timely words of advice and encouragement over the summer.

Recalled Brennan of their conversation, "He just told me, 'Believe in yourself, believe in your abilities. You know what you can do. Just go out and attack every day.'''

Jersey guys tend to stick together. Brennan and the Flaccos are from Audubon, N.J.; a suburb of Camden. Brennan went to Camden Catholic, the Flaccos went to Audubon High School.

A few years ago, Joe Flacco befriended Brennan.

"When I went home after spring ball, I got a chance to talk with him,'' said Brennan, a redshirt freshman. "He was curious to see how things were going.''

"Not well'' would have been the answer since Brennan struggled in the UW's spring game. But instead of dwelling on the negative stats, he tried to use the experience as a springboard.

"With the way things went for me in the spring, I felt really motivated,'' Brennan said. "I felt there were a lot of things that I could work on and improve on.

"Although my performance was very up and down and inconsistent, I knew that I could sharpen that up and learn from my mistakes. I felt kind of confident.

"The spring was definitely good for me and I felt like I could take some momentum into the fall. I just had to believe in myself and my abilities.''

Brennan got an opportunity for more reps in practice when quarterback Jon Budmayr began experiencing soreness in his throwing arm and numbness in his fingers.

UW coach Bret Bielema said Budmayr was seeing a nerve specialist in Cincinnati and that a decision on whether he would need surgery might be made by the end of the week.

If Budmayr is sidelined for the season, it would bring even more urgency to developing Russell Wilson's backups: Brennan and walk-on Joel Stave, a true freshman out of Whitnall High School.

"Jon is a great leader and teammate,'' Brennan said. "This week, he has been helping me with game preparation and how to go about studying the film for an opponent.''

When asked where Brennan has made the most improvement, Bielema said, "Communication.  You'd better have confidence in what you're doing ... and what you're saying (in the huddle).

"You could tell there's been a little bit of a change in him. He made the comment to me (last Friday), 'Coach, I'm ready to be the No. 2 quarterback. And if called upon, I'll be ready.'''

In this context, Brennan admitted, "I have a better grasp of things. I feel good, I feel confident.''

Joe Flacco would be pleased to hear that.

Lucas at Large: As coordinator, Ash heads back upstairs

FB_110830_Ash_Chris.jpegUp or down? That's always been the question for college football coordinators, especially defensive coordinators. Should they call the game from the press box or the sidelines?

"I'm really going back to where I've been most of my career,'' said Chris Ash, who will call the defensive signals against UNLV from the Camp Randall Stadium press box Thursday night.

Coming into the 2011 season, Ash and Charlie Partridge are co-defensive coordinators; sharing the title previously held by Dave Doeren, who's now running his own program at Northern Illinois.

Ash joined the Wisconsin staff last year after spending eight of the past 10 seasons at Iowa State. On game days, he coached the Badgers secondary from the sidelines. That was a big change.

"I've always been up in the press box,'' Ash said.

That's where UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst calls the game.

It's not just about sight lines, either.

"It's really just about your comfort level,'' Ash said, "being in an environment where you can think calmly, you can make adjustments, and you can take notes, things like that.''

Ash pointed out that one of the keys for a defensive signal-caller being upstairs is making sure "you've got guys on the field that you can trust and who can communicate with the players.''
 
That's the case with this staff; particularly with the off-season addition of linebackers coach Dave Huxtable, who was the defensive coordinator at Central Florida the last three seasons.

Ash and Partridge, meanwhile, also worked together at Drake and Iowa State, which is where they first crossed paths with DeMontie Cross, another new hire who's now coaching the UW safeties.

There is one drawback to being in the press box, Ash confirmed.

The lack of energy.

"You don't feel like you're really, truly a part of the game,'' he said. "Being on the sidelines, you're part of the action and I will miss that.

"But when I'm calling the defense, I don't want to get caught up in all of that. I want to be thinking about the next play and the next series and the adjustments.

"When you're on the sidelines, you really have to have poise not to get caught up in the action. I tend to get a little hyper at times and I think I'll be best suited up in the press box.''

Badger men open season ranked No. 1 in Great Lakes Region

MXC_110829_Darling_Krause_Ahmed_Connor.jpg

From left, Maverick Darling, Elliot Krause, Mohammed Ahmed and Reed Connor will anchor the Badgers' efforts in 2011.

Winners of nine-straight NCAA Great Lakes Regional championships, the Wisconsin men's cross country team opens the 2011 season as the region's No. 1-ranked team.

The Badgers top the regional rankings, which were released Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. UW also finished the 2010 season ranked atop the Great Lakes Region.

In all, UW has taken the crown at 15 of the last 20 runnings of the NCAA Great Lakes Regional and seeks its 10th-straight title when the event moves to Toledo, Ohio, on Nov. 12. The following year, the Badgers are scheduled to host the 2012 NCAA Great Lakes Regional at the Zimmer Championship Course in Madison.

Big Ten Conference teams hold down six of the top nine spots in the USTFCCCA preseason rankings, with five of the top six squads hailing from the Big Ten. UW leads the way, followed by No. 2 Indiana, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Michigan and No. 6 Michigan State. Purdue checks in at No. 9.

The USTFCCCA will release the preseason edition of its national rankings Tuesday.

USTFCCCA Men's Cross Country Rankings
Great Lakes Region - 2011 Preseason

1. Wisconsin
2. Indiana
3. Ohio State
4. Notre Dame
5. Michigan
6. Michigan State
7. Butler
8. Cincinnati
9. Purdue
10. Indiana State
11. Eastern Michigan
12. Marquette
13. Kent State
14. Xavier
15. Dayton

Lucas at Large: Bielema's Twitter message - 'Be smart'

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Bielema_Bret_BT_Media_Days_11_8.jpgBoise State football coach Chris Petersen was among the first to take a stand on social-networking and ban his players from using Twitter during the season.

"It's just a distraction that we just don't really need to have right now," Petersen said. "There's plenty of time in their lifetime for Twitter."

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier followed suit and noted "we have some dumb, immature players that put crap on their Twitter and we don't need that, so the best thing to do is just ban it."

Kansas coach Turner Gill has also banned the use of Twitter during the season.

"The reason we decided to not allow our players to have a Twitter account," Gill said, "is we feel like it will prevent us from being able to prepare our football program to move forward. Simple as that."

UNLV coach Bobby Hauck is among the most recent to ban active players from Twitter.

"We did a lot of research around the country," Hauck said. "Everybody in our league has a policy on it. You see the SEC and different people making policies, so we just decided to rein all that in."

Hauck added the policy "gives young guys less of an opportunity to make a bad decision."

UNLV wide receiver Phillip Payne was suspended by Hauck last season for "disciplinary reasons" after making some disparaging remarks via Twitter following a loss to Nevada.

"I can see why some people have banned it to be quite honest," said UW coach Bret Bielema.

A number of Badger players are active on Twitter. Bielema is paying attention, too. "We bring up guys who really post dumb things and try to show how stupid you can look at times," he said.

"We've basically always worked under the premise, 'Don't put anything out there you wouldn't want your mother to read or don't put anything out there that could motivate our opponents.'"

Bielema has always felt that having a bunch of rules can lead to a bunch of rule violations.

"I haven't banned it," he said of Twitter. "But I will, case by case, ban someone if I find them to be really really inappropriate with what they may be Facebooking or tweeting or all that jazz.

"On the same account, I think it's freedom of expression and I really don't want to be that guy that comes across as this absolute dictator that does not let kids be who they are in today's age."

Former UW player Troy Vincent, who has been working for the NFL in the area of player development and engagement, spoke to the Badgers on this topic among other things last week.

"He threw up a couple of examples of guys in our room," Bielema said, "who had tweeted something recently and how inappropriate or how silly you could look."

Bielema has been an inconsistent, if not infrequent user of Twitter.

"I try to tweet," he said. "I'm not that creative. I feel like I'm boring everybody."

But he did use Twitter to announce his captains.

"I went home at 10 o'clock and every news station had it covered," he said. "So there are some benefits to getting information out there in a controlled manner."
FB_110827_Borland_Chris.jpegStretching. Icing. Massage.

It has all become second nature for UW linebacker Chris Borland.

"It would feel weird not to do it,'' he said. "It's just part of my day.''

Three times a day during training camp.

"It will equate to about an hour,'' he said. "I'm pretty used to it.''

Borland's daily routine is the result of the surgery that he's had on both shoulders.

"It's more pro-active than anything,'' said Borland, a third-year sophomore from Kettering, Ohio.

The Badgers have had a plan for Borland since practices began in early August.

"We walked the line between getting rest and getting reps,'' Borland said.

That has been critical to getting him ready for the Sept. 1 opener against UNLV.

"The coaches were really smart,'' he said, "and I just followed their orders.''

Going into training camp, UW linebackers coach Dave Huxtable outlined his needs.

"The big thing with Chris is that he has missed a lot of football being out last year and last spring,'' Huxtable said. "The number one thing was getting him back into football shape.''

The Badgers have been very cautious with Borland -- which has tested his patience at times.

"It was tough,'' said Borland with a sigh, "especially not having played much football last year.''

The toughest part was adjusting to the early contact.

"After the first day of hitting there was soreness,'' he said. "But that's just from hitting for two hours against our big offensive line after not having hit for over a year.

"I was a little concerned after that, but it was nothing serious.''

In addition to getting himself physically ready for the season, Borland has also been adjusting to playing mike linebacker. He played outside when he was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2009.

Huxtable believes Borland has all the qualities needed to play in the middle.

"He's instinctive,'' Huxtable said. "He's a leader. He's smart. He's got a good football IQ. And he's a tough kid; a kid that likes the kind of responsibility that comes with being a mike linebacker.''

Borland played very little on defense at Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering. He was primarily a running back or slot receiver. As a senior, he saw spot duty on defense.

"I played some safety and linebacker,'' said Borland, who was not asked to fill a gap. "I either blitzed or I guarded a guy; I wasn't slotted in the hole.''

There weren't many college recruiters who thought that he could play for a BCS program. But those who did saw Borland as a linebacker. He saw the same thing and was prepared for the transition.

"I feel like a basketball player who develops a skill set of a guard (at an early age),'' Borland said, "and who grows late and becomes a 'big' later (Not unlike former UW 'baller Jon Leuer).

"I feel like that's what happened with me from running back to linebacker.''

Which helps to account for his playmaking abilities.

Borland, a hardcore competitor, likes the idea of playing more aggressive team defense, too.

"We don't want to be known as a bend-but-don't-break defense,'' he said. "I don't think any defensive player likes that mentality. We're getting after it more this year.''

It was suggested to Borland that he might be less vulnerable to shoulder injuries at mike (middle) linebacker because he would generally be more squared-up to the ball-carrier. He agreed.

"But the onus is on me to not fly around and be wild; I can't have my arms out and be reaching,'' he said. "They say it's style of play. It's more about technique and not getting overextended.''

It's more about being on the field when needed, too; and shouldering responsibilities, so to speak; hence the daily three-step routine. Stretching. Icing. Massage.

"It would really feel strange not to do it,'' he conceded.

Off the mat with coach Kyle Ruschell

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Thumbnail image for Ruschell2101_Midlands.jpg

 

UWBadgers.com caught up with assistant wrestling coach Kyle Ruschell after recently completing World Team Training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo. The USA Wrestling world teams held training camps at the Olympic Training Center in preparation for the world championships in Istanbul, Turkey in September.

What is World Team Training camp?

The World Team Training camp has the top wrestlers in freestyle in the nation come to train together in Colorado Springs.

What is your training schedule like?

My training schedule is pretty similar to the guys. I am on the mat with them every day and working out when they do. I also travel to get freestyle instruction of my own. 

While I was out in Colorado Springs we had two workouts a day either wrestling twice, a lift and time on the mat or a run and then time on the mat. 

What did you learned at camp that you will bring back to Wisconsin?

I learned new technique and how to attack certain positions. While I was out there I also picked up how to get my point across to my wrestlers. By being part of the practices out there, I recognized new ways to run practices to give the guys in our room a different feel, instead of the same workout week-in and week-out.

Did you ever attend World Team Training camp as a student-athlete? If so, how is it different attending as a coach?

I did. While I was out there as a student all I looked at was new technique for me. Now when I go out there I watch every time a coach is doing something so I can bring it back to Wisconsin. Also, I never really paid attention to the flow of practice and how it needs to be planned out so you're not just bouncing all over the place.

What else have you been doing this summer?

This summer I have been in Wisconsin working with the guys, training for the Olympic trials in April and coaching wrestling camps.

What are you looking forward to this year at Wisconsin?

I am looking forward to our young guys stepping up with opportunity. These guys work hard and I know how bad they want to succeed. I am excited to help them reach their goals. 

 

 

 

Lucas at Large: Badgers have options for production at tight end

FB_110824_Byrne_Jake.jpegExcluding specialists, Brian Wozniak was the only player who showed up twice on the UW depth chart that was released this week. Wozniak was listed as the backup to Jacob Pedersen and Jake Byrne.

"From a knowledge and physical maturity standpoint,'' said UW tight end coach Joe Rudolph, "I expect him to be able to jump in there and help at both positions.''

There's no question that Wozniak knows what to do at tight end and H-back. The only question is whether he can stay healthy. In training camp, he has been dealing with a hamstring injury.

"We're kind of beat down a little bit,'' Rudolph said of his position group overall.

That would apply to redshirt freshman Sherard Cadogan, who was listed as the backup to fullback Bradie Ewing on the depth chart. When healthy, Cadogan will also be utilized at H-back.

"I like his work ethic; he busts his tail and he's very physical,'' Rudolph said the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Cadogan. "He's a guy who can jump in at fullback and be a lead blocker (for the tailbacks).

"At the same time, he can go up on the line of scrimmage and execute. Guys like that are hard to find and they can give defenses some issues with personnel groupings. I like his development.''

Rudolph considered playing Cadogan as a true freshman last season.

"I was right on the brink of playing him when Bradie (Ewing) was banged up,'' Rudolph said. "But we did some things with Ryan Groy (at fullback) to help save him that redshirt season.''

The biggest challenge for Rudolph will be replacing the production of All-America tight end Lance Kendricks, who led the team in receiving in 2010 with 43 receptions (15.4) and five touchdowns.

Kendricks, a second round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams, has already become one of Sam Bradford's favorite targets. Through two preseason games, he leads the Rams with six catches.

Rudolph believes that Pedersen can help fill the receiving void left by Kendricks.

"He kind of brings you a good balance between what he does as a run blocker and pass receiver,'' said. "He's learning to work from the point of attack position on the line of scrimmage.

"Last season, you pretty much of thought of him in passing situations as the second tight end (to Kendricks) and he could complement the run game. This year, he's where Lance was as a junior.''

In 2009, Kendricks caught 29 passes for 356 yards and three touchdowns. Most defensive coverages were shaded to tight end Garrett Graham, who ended up with 51 receptions and seven TDs.

Although the Badgers don't have a proven pass-catching tight end -- along the lines of Kendricks, Graham or Travis Beckum -- Rudolph is confident in Pedersen's skills as a receiver.

"He got thrown into the Ohio State game on a play he's never run before and he executed it,'' he said of Pedersen. "When his number was called, he also made two big plays at Michigan State.

"That's something that comes natural to him. He just needs to continue to develop.''

Rudolph has high expectations for Byrne in a dual role as a blocker and receiver.

"He's a physical, physical blocker; he's tremendously strong,'' Rudolph said. "And he's really rounded himself out in the passing game. I think he's really going to help us there this year.

"He's more of a complete tight end than he's given credit for.''

Wozniak, incidently, has switched from jersey No. 49 to No. 85.

Sam Arneson, a freshman tight end, is now wearing No. 49.

"Sam is very mature for a young guy,'' Rudolph said. "He's 250 pounds, physical and strong. He really has good hands, too. It's a matter of getting techniques down and understanding the offense.

"But he's getting there, he's getting there fast.''

Rudolph is just as excited about two other freshmen: Austin Maly and Austin Traylor.

Maly needs no introduction to local high school fans. He starred at Waunakee. Traylor, who's from Columbus, Ohio, has the length and physical bearing of Chris Chambers; only he's bigger.

"The freshmen guys have obviously been thrown into the mix with a few of the injuries that we've had in camp,'' Rudolph said. "But they all compete. And I like their skill level, too.

"Whether we play any of them this year depends on where the other guys are when they come back. But there's great competition there and that's what you always want.''

UW coach Bret Bielema said Tuesday that four true freshmen are expected to contribute: tailback Melvin Gordon, linebacker Derek Landisch, cornerback Darius Hillary and one wide receiver.

That wideout could be either Kenzel Doe, who's listed No. 2 on the depth chart behind Jared Abbrederis; Jordan Fredrick or Fred Willis.

The Voice: NCAA must avoid 'collateral damage' in punishments

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgWhen the Badgers and UNLV open the college football season next Thursday, there will be joy across the land. In Badger Nation, there is great anticipation and a high preseason ranking. For many, next week cannot get here soon enough.

National media members also cannot wait for Sept. 1. Why? Because they get to report on an actual game, not the many off season problems that have made for a brutal last several months.

Last week's news of an NCAA investigation into the University of Miami's football program is the latest in a string of high-profile schools under the microscope. This one is worse for a couple of reasons. A rogue booster who claims to have given players extra benefits ranging from boat trips to cash tends to make some of the other violations pale in comparison.

But what really makes this one sting is that some of those who must deal with it are folks I know, and more importantly, are folks who had nothing to do with whatever might have happened.

Athletics Director Shawn Eichorst and his right-hand man Steve Waterfield made the move to Coral Gables just four months ago. Football coach Al Golden and basketball coach Jim Larranaga are preparing for their first seasons at Miami. I don't know the coaches personally, but I do know the administrators. Try to imagine what they have walked into at "The U."

Both Golden and Larranaga have excellent reputations. So too do Eichorst and Waterfield. UM President and former UW Chancellor Donna Shalala is very lucky to have them on board. While Eichorst admits there are difficult times ahead, he strikes me as someone who operates on logic far more than on emotion, a trait that will come in handy for the next several months. Shawn Eichorst did not sign up for this mess, but the University of Miami is in good hands with its first year AD.

So how do we fix the on-going problems in college athletics? Earlier this month, NCAA President Mark Emmert had a summit with 50 university presidents. If there are going to be more meetings, it might be a good idea to include some coaches. It also might be a good idea to include those who have broken the rules -- from former coaches, players, boosters, agents and runners -- anyone who is actually part of the problem and is willing to talk about it and be part of the solution.

No offense to those in academia, but I tend to doubt that many have a working knowledge of what really goes on in the high pressure, win big and win now world of major college athletics. I don't say this to insult school presidents.  I just believe their world is a bit different from the average coach.

UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez is one of many who says the NCAA rule book is way too thick. Focus on what is most important and enforce those rules accordingly. It is encouraging to note that Emmert agrees with those sentiments.

As for enforcing those rules, it is best to zero in on the party or parties directly responsible, such as coaches who allow such behavior, or any other person of authority who turns a blind eye. Emmert himself has talked about being sensitive to what he calls "collateral damage," in other words, penalizing those who had nothing to do with the violations. People have talked about Miami possibly facing the death penalty, but I tend to doubt that will happen. To be honest, I hope it does not happen.

My hope in all of this is that the NCAA can somehow beef up its enforcement staff, and make it clear that the risk of breaking the rules will far exceed the reward of not getting caught.

In the meantime, is it Game Day yet?

Lucas at Large: Budmayr forced to play waiting game

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FB_110823_Budmayr_Jon.jpg

UW quarterback Jon Budmayr was more alarmed than scared the first time.

"At first,'' he said of the tingling in his fingers, "I kind of knew what it was, so it wasn't scary.''

That was in early August. Now the tingling has been replaced by numbness.

"These two fingers are completely numb,'' he said, wiggling the little finger and ring finger on his right hand -- his throwing hand. "Towards this point, it kind of creeps into your head a little bit.''

Budmayr, who came into the fall as the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, is hoping to get some answers as soon as Thursday when he visits a nerve specialist in Madison.

"I have unbelievable faith in our doctors,'' he said.

But there is a worst-case scenario: surgery.

That would put an end to his season.

Budmayr is not ready to throw in the towel; not yet, not until every option is exhausted.

"God has a plan for me and this is just part of the journey,'' he said. "It's just a matter of figuring out how we're going to treat it (his arm) so that we can take the steps to move forward.''

Budmayr had to take a step back the first week of training camp when his right elbow acted up. X-rays showed that he was suffering from a ruptured bursa sac; accounting for the swelling.

"That was the initial diagnosis, which was correct,'' Budmayr said. "The bursa sac cleared up and we expected the numbness and tingling to go away, which it hasn't.''

He has encountered the tingling sensation in his fingers and soreness in his elbow before.

"But for whatever reason in this camp,'' he said, "it got to a point where I just couldn't throw. I didn't have any velocity on my passes like I had before so that's why we shut it down completely.

"Basically, there's something going on with the ulnar nerve. At the beginning, the swelling was causing the irritation. We got the swelling out but it's still causing a problem.''

So that's why Budmayr is taking the next step: seeing a specialist.

"We'll get it figured out,'' he said confidently.

Until then, the splint will remain to immobilize his right arm.

"When I bend it,'' he said, "there's a shock that goes through my arm into my fingers.''

Budmayr has tried adjusting by doing everything with his left arm; writing, brushing his teeth, etc. He has been also adjusting to a different role during practice as a de facto quarterback coach.

"I'm embracing my new role,'' said Budmayr, a redshirt sophomore from Woodstock, Ill.

That largely entails working with redshirt freshman Joe Brennan and true freshman Joel Stave.

"I've been helping them anyway I can,'' he said.

Truth is, they've both been getting more reps in Budmayr's absence.

"They've definitely made strides and both of them are benefiting from the reps they're getting,'' he said. "The best way to learn is through the reps. And they've improved a lot from last spring.''

Budmayr has also tried to assist Russell Wilson, who has taken over as the No. 1 quarterback.

"He's done a great job of picking it up,'' he said of the offense. "Now there are just little things. Since I've been through it longer, he'll ask questions and I try to give him as much feedback as I can.''

Has Budmayr been surprised on how quickly Wilson has gained command of everything?

"I am surprised because it's pretty complex, 'he said. "At the same time, he came in here full-go and you could tell this was important to him. All that work over that first month is paying off now.''

On Sunday, Wilson and fullback were Bradie Ewing were named co-captains on offense.

Guess who couldn't be happier by the results of the vote?

"It's a great deal to have them represent us,'' Budmayr said. "Like I've said many times, Russell is a good guy and he's a Badger now, which is great for us. Bradie has been a Badger his whole life.''

Budmayr is still a Badger, too. Don't forget that. Don't forget him.

"It's so hard to be out here watching the guys go through these practices,'' he said wistfully. "My biggest thing is getting healthy so I can get back out there with them. I just want to play.''

Badgers release depth chart for season-opener

FB_110822_Wilson_Russell.jpgWith the Badgers' season-opener vs. UNLV just 10 days away, head coach Bret Bielema announced has announced his projected starters. Bielema released his first depth chart of the season late Monday.

Among the items of note:
- Senior Russell Wilson, fresh off being named a team captain Sunday, will be UW's starting quarterback.

- The tandem of junior Montee Ball and James White share the top line at tailback, with redshirt freshman Jeff Lewis and true freshman Melvin Gordon listed together at the No. 2 spot.

- Sophomore Jeff Duckworth and true freshman Kenzel Doe are each listed No. 2 at the wide receiver spots.

- A pair of true freshmen cracked the two-deep on defense, with Derek Landisch sharing the No. 2 line at one outside linebacker spot and Darius Hillary backing up senior Antonio Fenelus at cornerback.

- Junior Marcus Cromartie shares the top line with senior Devin Smith at the other cornerback spot.

- Junior Shelton Johnson is the No. 1 free safety following a battle for the starting job throughout fall camp with sophomore Dezmen Southward, who is listed No. 2.

- Sophomore Alec Lerner will handle kickoff duties, while senior Philip Welch shares the starting spot on field goals with redshirt freshman Kyle French.

- In addition to starting at wide receiver, sophomore Jared Abbrederis will also handle punt return duties and combine with sophomore RB James White on kickoff returns.


Wisconsin Football Depth Chart  |  Printable Version (PDF)

Offense    
QB 16 Russell Wilson (Sr.) 5 Jon Budmayr (So.)
RB 28 Montee Ball (Jr.) / 20 James White (So.) 22 Jeff Lewis (Fr.) / 25 Melvin Gordon (Fr.)
FB 34 Bradie Ewing (Sr.) 86 Sherard Cadogan (Fr.)
WR 1 Nick Toon (Sr.) 15 Jeff Duckworth (So.)
WR 4 Jared Abbrederis (So.) 6 Kenzel Doe (Fr.)
TE 48 Jacob Pedersen (So.) 85 Brian Wozniak (So.)
TE 82 Jake Byrne (Sr.) 85 Brian Wozniak (So.)
LT 58 Ricky Wagner (Jr.) 63 Casey Dehn (So.)
LG 72 Travis Frederick (So.) 75 Zac Matthias (So.)
C 66 Peter Konz (Jr.) 79 Ryan Groy (So.)
RG 70 Kevin Zeitler (Sr.) 64 Robert Burge (Jr.)
RT 67 Josh Oglesby (Sr.) 78 Rob Havenstein (Fr.)

Defense
   
DE 93 Louis Nzegwu (Sr.) 97 Brendan Kelly (Jr.)
DT 95 Patrick Butrym (Sr.) 96 Beau Allen (So.)
DT 87 Ethan Hemer (So.) 91 Jordan Kohout (So.)
DE 11 David Gilbert (Jr.) 92 Pat Muldoon (So.)
OLB 9 Kevin Claxton (Sr.) 36 Ethan Armstrong (So.)
MLB 44 Chris Borland (So.) 59 Marcus Trotter (Fr.)
OLB 53 Mike Taylor (Jr.) 13 Conor O'Neill (So.) / 30 Derek Landisch (Fr.)
CB 10 Devin Smith (Sr.) / 14 Marcus Cromartie (Jr.) 21 Peniel Jean (Fr.)
SS 24 Shelton Johnson (Jr.) 12 Dezmen Southward (So.)
FS 7 Aaron Henry (Sr.) 43 Michael Trotter (Fr.)
CB 26 Antonio Fenelus (Sr.) 19 Darius Hillary (Fr.)

Special Teams

   
P 98 Brad Nortman (Sr.) 94 Kyle French (Fr.)
K (FG) 18 Philip Welch (Sr.) / 94 Kyle French (Fr.) 96 Alec Lerner (So.)
KO 96 Alec Lerner (So.)
18 Philip Welch (Sr.)
LS 62 Kyle Wojta (Sr.) 56 James McGuire (So.)
H 98 Brad Nortman (Sr.) 12 Nate Tice (Sr.)
PR 4 Jared Abbrederis (So.) 7 Aaron Henry (Sr.)
KR 20 James White (So.) 4 Jared Abbrederis (So.)

Badgers elect captains for 2011

FB_110821_Ewing_Bradie_2.jpg

Bradie Ewing is one of UW's four captains for 2011.


Four seniors will carry the tag of team captain for the Wisconsin football team this season after a vote of their teammates Sunday.

Fullback Bradie Ewing and first-year quarterback Russell Wilson will represent the Badgers' offense as captains, with defensive lineman Patrick Butrym and defensive back Aaron Henry elected on the other side of the ball.

The announcement of captains by head coach Bret Bielema in a team meeting capped a busy day for the Badgers.

Despite the fact the team had a day off from practice, the players spent more than two hours signing autographs and posing for photos as part of Football Family Fun Day at Camp Randall Stadium. The annual team photo, as well as shots of each position group, followed before the Badgers met as a team.

Ewing played in all 13 games as a fullback last season and scored three touchdowns -- one rushing and two more receiving.

Wilson transferred to UW from NC State, where he was a three-year starter at quarterback and a three-time All-ACC selection. He totaled 93 touchdowns in his Wolfpack career -- the second-best mark in ACC history.

Butrym has played in all 39 games the past three seasons for UW and started on the defensive line in all 13 games in 2010, when he recorded 28 tackles -- including 3.0 for loss.

A second-team All-Big Ten pick last year, Henry started all 13 games, recorded 58 tackles and picked off a pair of passes.


FB_110821_Landisch_Derek.jpgIn high school, Derek Landisch was so versatile that his Hall of Fame coach -- Hartland Arrowhead's Tom Taraska -- felt like he could have probably played any position except quarterback.

From the perspective that Landisch, an all-state linebacker, had the athleticism and the savvy to excel in a variety of different roles, Taraska paid him the ultimate compliment.

Taraska, now retired, compared Landisch to Chris Borland.

"I've heard that,'' Landisch said sheepishly of the comparison. "But Chris has established himself on the college level and that's something I haven't done yet.''

Borland, a throwback to the one-platoon era of college football, has played outside linebacker, rush end and middle linebacker for the Badgers, along with kicking extra points and returning kicks.

In 2009, Borland had such an overall impact that he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Now he's hoping to bounce back in 2011 after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury.

Borland has seen enough of Landisch in training camp to be impressed with his upside.

"He's athletic and he has potential,'' Borland said. "He's a little ball of energy.''

Both are listed at 5-11, though Borland has filled out to 245 pounds while Landisch is 225.

"Derek is very strong,'' continued Borland, a redshirt sophomore from Kettering, Ohio. "All the freshmen are strong, but he's explosive and that's something not a lot of guys have.''

What's the best advice Borland could offer Landisch?

"Focus on the little things to get better,'' he said. "A lot of guys don't take the little things seriously enough. Little things accumulate. You have to stay on top of everything on and off the field.''

There's no guarantee that Landisch will even get on the field this season for the Badgers. Like a majority of his teammates in the freshman class, he's a candidate to be redshirted.

On the other hand, UW coach Bret Bielema has never been shy about utilizing first-year players; particularly if he feels like they can contribute on special teams and bolster the depth at a position.

Landisch sounds like he has a firm grasp of the situation. "I'm trying to help the team anyway I can,'' he said. "It changes from day to day, so you've always got to be ready as the next guy in.''

That has been the case for Landisch who has been getting reps behind Mike Taylor and Conor O'Neill. When they've been out with injuries, he has taken advantage of his openings.

How has Landisch stayed ready? "You have to take mental reps on the sidelines,'' he said, "so when you do have the opportunity you know what's going on.''

UW linebacker coach Dave Huxtable has played a noteworthy role in getting him ready, too.

"He's intense, he coaches with passion,'' Landisch of Huxtable, the former Central Florida defensive coordinator. "He's a very good teacher in meetings. He makes you want to do good for him.''

Landisch has been driven, in part, by something Taraska was fond of saying.

"If you're not getting better, you're getting worse,'' Landisch said. "So he (Taraska) basically told me to get better every single day whether it's in the film room, the weight room or on the field.''

Stay humble and do your job.

Landisch got that advice -- along with his work ethic -- from his father, Robert.

"He works third shift as a bread distributor,'' Landisch said. "He'd go to my high school game and have just one hour of sleep before going to work at midnight.

"Seeing that commitment out of my dad made me work harder.''

Coming into the UW training camp, Landisch felt like he may be able contribute immediately.

"I felt like that -- anyway I can -- whether on scout team or filling a backup role,'' he said. "I've just tried to work my tail off and let the rest happen.

"The best thing I can do right now is get in the film room and learn from my mistakes. I have to keep my nose in the playbook, too. The biggest adjustment for a freshman is the mental side of things.

"All the guys have been really helpful and supportive. They'll tell you what you're doing wrong, and what you're doing right. They're always helping you get better.

"Mike Taylor has been helping me day-in and day-out with reading keys and stuff on the field. The toughest part so far has been getting used to the tempo at practice.''

Landisch has been pragmatic in the approach that he has taken to earning playing time.

"I take it one day at a time,'' he said. "I don't even look at the next day's schedule.  Team meeting, I focus on the team meeting. Position meeting, I focus on the position meeting.

"I take it one event at a time so I can give it my best.''

And if that should be good enough to earn Landisch a spot on special teams?

"Anyway I can help this team,'' he said, "that's what I'm all about.''

So what has Landisch enjoyed most about his first college training camp?

"Just being around the guys and playing football,'' he said. "I love to compete, I love this game. There's no where I'd rather be than here.''

Borland has obviously already rubbed off on him.

"Heckuva player, heckuva motor,'' Landisch said. "He's a great guy to learn from.''

Lucas at Large: Resilient Oglesby keeps on grinding

FB_110819_Oglesby_Josh.jpeg

UW offensive tackle Josh Oglesby, helmet in hand, dropped to one knee on the sidelines after completing some post-practice conditioning with his teammates Thursday at Camp Randall Stadium.

Pausing to catch his breath and collect himself (all 330 pounds of himself), Oglesby then bounced back up on his feet; like he has done so many times following six knee surgeries during his football career.

"I'm a little sore,'' said Oglesby, a fifth-year senior from Milwaukee.

Had this been the toughest practice of the training camp thus far?

"It was one of the toughest,'' Oglesby said. "There were a lot of reps, a lot of full-speed game reps; then, of course, at the end that's always a little tough (running from one goal line to the other).''

"But you just have to keep going because you know the guys are counting on you and you can't be the guy who lets everybody down.''

It's hard to imagine anyone training harder than the offensive line. Perception or truth?

"There's no rest for the wicked,'' Oglesby answered with a big smile on his face.

Asked about the high tempo of practice, he said, "That's the nature of the game. There could be a sudden change (a turnover, for example) and you'd have to go out there and just go.''

Thursday's workout lasted nearly three hours; highlighted by a scrimmage that included Big Ten officials. "By making practices harder,'' Oglesby pointed out, "the games become easier.''

Much earlier, some two-plus hours earlier, UW offensive line coach Bob Bostad had called everybody up during a feisty one-on-one drill with the defensive line.

Bostad's face was red, his language was blue, his message was clear.

"He wanted us to stay competitive,'' Oglesby said, "but he reminded us that we were going against our own guys (teammates) and we had to make sure we didn't do anything stupid.''

Oglesby admitted that the grind of camp has begun to wear on everyone. "When you see the same person every day (across from you),'' he said, "things get a little edgy.''

Surprisingly, there have been few confrontations or fights this fall.

"Last year it seemed like it was breaking out every day,'' said Oglesby, adding that he even got involved once or twice; which was a little out of character.

"But our practice energy has been pretty good this year and a lot of people haven't felt the need to get one going.''

All in all, Oglesby had to be proud of "getting through'' Thursday's practice. Or not?

"The point is not to get through it,'' he said. "The point is to get better.''

With some satisfaction, he added, "I think I did today. It was my second time taking game speed reps since hurting my knee. Anytime I can do that, it makes me a better player.''

Oglesby admitted that he was still in the process of "trusting my knee'' and there was much to be encouraged about. "I'm close to being back to form'' he said. "For the most part.''

Over the last week or so, Oglesby has been getting a majority of the reps at right offensive tackle in the absence of redshirt freshman Robbie Havenstein, who has been sidelined with an injury.

Havenstein has been pushing Oglesby and Oglesby has been pushing Havenstein.

The competition has been healthy for everyone on the O-line with the exception of right guard Kevin Zeitler, who still hasn't returned from an ankle injury. Ryan Groy has been holding down his spot.

Oglesby looked at his own progress and said, "Always room for improvement. I can never be complacent. I have to come out every day and realize I'm not where I want to be; I should be better.''

The Badgers will soon begin game-planning for their first opponent, UNLV.  "Everyone is looking forward to getting the season kicked off,'' Oglesby said. "But we have to get through this week first.''

Completing his media responsibilities, Oglesby headed for the cold tub to bring down his body temperature. That would be followed by ice on his knees, a shower, a message, training table, meetings.

"Then I'm going home,'' he said, "and going straight to bed.''

Two-a-days continue Friday.

GEN_110818_Alvarez_Barry.jpgUW athletic director Barry Alvarez had no trouble digesting what NCAA president Mark Emmert put on the table for consumption during a recent two-day retreat with school CEOs in Indianapolis.

Among other things, Emmert wants to streamline the balky NCAA rule book. Not only does he want to clear up the language, he wants to make sure the penalties match the crimes.

Following the summit, Emmert acknowledged, "The rules are in some cases too complex, unenforceable; in some ways convoluted and some ways irrelevant.''

Alvarez couldn't agree more.

"The NCAA rules have gotten way out of hand,'' Alvarez said Wednesday. "The rule book is way too complicated and you just don't have enough people to enforce the rules. It has to be cleaned up.

"Here's what you want to ask your coaches, 'What rules do you need? What rules don't you need?'  We have to eliminate a lot of the foolish violations and define what a secondary violation is.''

Emmert believes the NCAA is spending too much time trying to interpret and manage secondary violations; time and dollars that would be better spent focusing on the bigger rule violators.

"To a lot of coaches, a secondary violation is not a big deal; it's a slap on the wrist,'' Alvarez said. "If you really want to clear up secondary violations, take money out of their pay checks. Fine them.''

Addressing the current NCAA checks-and-balances, Alvarez said, "We need to move in a speedier fashion on how you punish someone and how long it takes. It's just too convoluted.''

Citing today's landscape in college athletics, Alvarez also suggested, "Instead of punishing schools, maybe we should start looking at punishing the individuals that are responsible.''

Could what is alleged to have transpired at the University of Miami, happen elsewhere?

"Sure it could,'' Alvarez said. "Potentially, it could happen anywhere.''

How difficult is it to identify and isolate a rogue booster?

"That's where you need everybody on the same page,'' Alvarez said. "Kids talk. Somebody will hear it; second-hand, or whatever, it will come back, whether it be to a strength coach or grad assistant.

"That's why you need somebody close to the players; somebody who knows what's going on. That's how you get your information. You have to have tentacles that go out in the community.''

Whenever there's such media scrutiny of a program -- like there is currently with Miami -- does it sound the alarm and help other programs educate their people on the inherent dangers?

"It does,'' Alvarez said. "Ohio State would be a good example of that.

"Bret (Bielema) met right away with his players and talked to them about what you can and what you can't do if you're still on the team as far as selling bowl stuff and different memorabilia.''

Does he think former deputy A.D. Shawn Eichorst knew what he was getting himself into at Miami when he left Wisconsin to take over as the Hurricanes' athletic director?

"No, I don't think Shawn knew that they were going to be investigated,'' Alvarez said.

How will he respond to the situation?

"Shawn will attack it; he'll find out what the facts are,'' Alvarez said. "He's an analytical thinker and he's smart. He has poise under fire. I know that he won't rattle under pressure.''

Meanwhile, under the proposed NCAA makeover, there's pressure on Emmert to elevate the academic standards, including raising the Academic Progress Rate (APR) for postseason competition.

Schools that fall short of the APR would not be eligible. "We want to make a decision to set clear academic expectations for participation in any of our tournaments,'' Emmert said in Indianapolis.

Also being considering is raising the minimum grade-point average for incoming student-athletes from 2.0 to 2.5. Alvarez is definitely on board with the academic revisions.

"I'd go along with that 100 percent,'' he said.

But Alvarez is less certain about increasing the value of a scholarship to include "full cost of attendance.'' Emmert said most of the schools presidents are in favor of doing so.

"It sounds like everybody is leaning towards that and I have no problem with it,'' Alvarez said. "I'd like to help the student-athlete. However, we have to be consistent in what they can get.

"If it isn't consistent from school-to-school, it can become an unfair recruiting advantage.''

Like everyone else, Alvarez is waiting to see what happens, if anything with Texas A&M in light of the speculation that the Aggies are thinking about leaving the Big 12 and joining the SEC.

"It sure looks like A&M is not hiding what it's trying to do,'' Alvarez said. "That's a domino and if they did leave that would start the domino effect.''

What about future Big Ten expansion?

"I think we're fine with 12,'' Alvarez said.

If other conferences expand to 16 would that put the Big Ten at a disadvantage?

"No, I don't think so,'' Alvarez said.

What about the prospect of four "super'' conferences?

"I wouldn't be surprised,'' Alvarez said.

What about naming a college football commissioner to oversee the sport?

"I haven't heard that proposed, but it might be something to think about,'' Alvarez said.

Position Preview: Forwards

In the final installment of a four-part series previewing the Wisconsin women's soccer team's roster, head coach Paula Wilkins breaks down the Badgers' forwards.

8/15: Goalkeepers  |  8/16: Defenders  |  8/17: Midfielders

Senior forward Laurie Nosbusch has led the Badgers in scoring in each of her three years on campus after posting seven goals as a freshman, six as a sophomore and 10 as a junior. She's back for her senior year and head coach Paula Wilkins is looking for her to continue that production in 2011.

"Laurie will be a key returner for us," Wilkins said. "She's been the leading scorer the last [three] years and will be a focus for many teams."

With Nosbusch firmly entrenched, Wilkins is turning toward a trio of freshmen to play off the senior. Specifically, Wilkins feels that Wauwatosa East product Cara Walls can provide a good counter.

"I think a good complement to [Laurie] will be Cara Walls," Wilkins explained. "She adds a different dimension that Laurie doesn't have and that's the ability to get behind people with some speed. She has the ability to score goals and they've found a great combination rate already between the two of them this season."

Walls is coming off a strong performance at the US Youth National Championships, where she helped lead FC Milwaukee to the Under-18 title. She scored four goals in the tournament, including two in the championship game, to lead all scorers.

Fellow freshmen Olivia Tehan and Nikki Greenhalgh also are coming off championship seasons and look to carry that momentum to the Badgers' season. Olivia Tehan was teammates with Walls on FC Milwaukee's title-winning team, while Nikki Greenhalgh led her high school team, Novi, to a state championship in Michigan.

"I think they bring great athletic dimension, can put people under pressure and cause problems with their work rate and athleticism," Wilkins said. "They're getting better every day in practice."

Wilkins is also hoping to see the return of Paige Adams, who was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in 2009 after scoring three goals and adding three assists. But Adams missed all of the 2010 season due to injury and is still working her way back.

"Paige Adams was hampered with an injury last year and is coming off that right now, but she's a great combination player and I think we can keep the ball in the front half of the field more with her," Wilkins said. "She has a fantastic work rate and has great runs off the ball. She'll be a good complement to Laurie and Cara."

Position Preview: Midfielders

In the third installment of a four-part series previewing the Wisconsin women's soccer team's roster, head coach Paula Wilkins breaks down the Badgers' midfielders.


Head coach Paula Wilkins will have no shortage of options when it comes to her midfielders in the 2011 season.

At least eight different players can be relied upon, she explained, including 2010 second-team All-Big Ten honorees Erin Jacobsen and Alev Kelter.

The two excel in different facets of the game. Jacobsen tallied two assists on the year and added standout defense from the midfield position, while Kelter was third on the squad with three goals and eight points.

"Erin has always been a great defender at center-mid for us," Wilkins explained. "She is one of the reasons why we've been successful defensively. She stops a lot of the problems before they even start and has been very good.

"Alev is a physical force in the midfield. She's a returning second-team All-Regional and All-Big Ten player and will be looked upon to score some goals with her head, which is what she's really good at, and be a dominant force in the midfield."

Wilkins is looking at Monica Lam-Feist and Lauren Cochlin to pick up where they left off last season. Lam-Feist scored both goals in the Badgers' season-ending loss to Marquette in the second round of the NCAA tournament and finished third on the team with three goals and was fourth with seven points. Cochlin added a goal and assist to finish the year with three points and will look to use her speed in 2011.

"Monica has really good vision and is a good distributor of the ball in the midfield," Wilkins said. "She's able to connect a lot of parts and is dangerous in the front half of the field. Scoring the last two goals of the season against Marquette, she's coming on stronger and stronger offensively.

"At the very end of the season last year Lauren really came on strong and she had a great summer preparing. Her speed is unmatched on the team and a lot in the Big Ten. She'll be looked upon to create some problems getting behind people."

Leigh Williams and Lindsey Hamann are two midfielders who are looking to come back from ailments and Wilkins believes both will be factors.

"Leigh Williams, after getting mononucleosis and not being able to play in the NCAAs against Marquette, I think is going to come back with a vengeance her senior year," Wilkins said. "She adds a scrappy mentality that we need out there, but she's also a great attacking threat and has a great work rate.

"Lindsey Hamann has been battling injuries the last few years but we're expecting her to play a role in the midfield. She brings a good combining ability just like Julia [Roddar] and she'll be experienced in that way."

A pair of freshmen will also be looked upon to bolster the midfield play in Julia Roddar and Krissy Many. Roddar becomes the first Badger to hail from Sweden after she saw time with the Swedish National Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 teams. Many helped Naperville Central in Illinois to three conference and regional titles.

"Julia brings some international experience with the Swedish national team," Wilkins said. "She's a very good technical player who can connect passes and will create good combination play in the front half of the field. She has a good engine and good work rate and I'm excited to see her.

"Krissy Many is just a really good physical presence in terms of what she can do. She's very good in the air, almost equal to Alev, and I think that element will be something we need."

With proven commodities, players looking to build on late season success, players looking to bounce back from injuries and players looking to make a name for themselves, things are looking bright for the midfielders in 2011.

FB_110817_Welch_Philip.jpegA couple of years ago, UW placekicker Philip Welch was struggling.

On the recommendation of Taylor Mehlhaff, a former Badger specialist and 2007 All-American, Welch read a book and got himself back on track.

A couple of weeks ago, Welch was struggling.

 He reread a book -- the book that Mehlhaff originally recommended.

"It applies to a lot of things,'' said Welch, a senior from Fort Collins, Colo.

The soft-spoken Welch, who tends to measure his words, has gotten considerable mileage out of the book, "The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance.''

Welch wasn't necessarily looking to improve his serve and volley, either.

Timothy Gallwey wrote the book; one in an "Inner Game'' series dealing with various limitations that can keep an athlete from success; such as self-doubt, nervousness and lapses of concentration.

Gallwey's training approach is not just limited to sports. But placekickers are a pretty good study, if not starting point.

Nobody seemingly deals with the "Inner Game'' more than specialists.

Chapter One for Welch could be entitled: "Trusting your body and/or leg and letting it happen.''
In Welch's own words, "Stop telling your body what to do and just do what comes natural.''

That would have been so much easier if Welch hadn't strained the quadriceps in his kicking leg.

It happened over the summer, and he has been paying the price for the injury in training camp.

"I was doing a lot of things wrong with crossing over too much and not getting enough hip through the ball,'' Welch said, "and I ended up just overworking my leg.''

Despite having already proven himself as a college kicker -- one of the best in school history -- Welch admitted that he felt the "pressure of going into the season and wanting to have a perfect year.''

The pressure has since magnified with the emergence of Kyle French, who has been pushing Welch. French is a redshirt freshman from Menomonee Falls.

"I feel more pressure on me right now,'' said Welch, "than I did gaining my spot my redshirt freshman year (2008). But I'm usually good with pressure. I usually handle it well.''

That was the case in '08, when Welch converted on 20 of 24 field goal attempts; the third-best single-season percentage (.833) at Wisconsin. His career percentage (.771) ranks No. 2 at UW.

But this is really the first time that Welch has been pushed competitively to hold on to his job.

"In high school, I was the only kicker,'' he said, "and I put all the pressure on myself.''

Welch reiterated that he sees the pressure "as something that gets me motivated.''

What about the "inner game'' of lining up a field goal on the field?

"If I handle it mentally well,'' he said, "I'm usually happy with the kick even if I don't make it.''

What does that "inner game'' entail for Welch before the kick?

"I'm trying to think about not thinking,'' he said. "I kind of program myself to go numb -- just letting my body take over and do whatever comes natural.''

In a different context, UW punter Brad Nortman was asked about the "inner games'' that he may have played, particularly during his formative years as a college specialist.

"Even though a lot of people questioned me, especially my freshman year,'' Nortman said, "I never really questioned myself. I don't think I ever wondered, 'Should I be here?'''

Detailing his own confidence going into his senior year, he said, "It's not like I'm spinning the roulette wheel and hoping the bounce is going to be good.

"I've put a lot of time into it, so it really comes down to preparation. If you prepare yourself, there's nothing to be worried about.

"I believe firmly in the philosophy of working hard. I extend that to all things in my life. I work hard in the classroom and on the field. It's truly the key to success and I try to embody that.''

Northman believes this can be a special season, not only for the specialists, but for the Badgers.

 "It's important for guys to remember we're a team,'' he said, "and we're doing this together.''

Nobody realizes that more than Welch.

 Who has kept him motivated during this bumpy stretch in camp?

"The whole team,'' he said softly.
The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgOnce again, there are a handful of rules changes in college football, and at least a couple of those changes could create some very interesting scenarios that could go a long way into deciding the outcome of games.

Perhaps the most complex change involves low blocks (see a recent Lucas at Large blog on the subject from Mike Lucas). In a nutshell, the following players can legally block below the waist:

• Backs completely inside the tackle box who are stationary at the snap

• Linemen completely inside the seven-yard limit at the snap (that means seven yards from the middle lineman of a formation)

• Generally speaking, defensive players may block below the waist until the ball has gone more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage (they cannot block low against an opponent in position to catch a backward pass)

Again, those are the low block rules in a nutshell. It goes deeper than that, but let's avoid turning this into a low block clinic -- I am not smart enough to be an instructor. The key is for the players to get a handle on what they can and cannot do, which has added to the importance of having officials at practice when the Badgers scrimmage.

"In all of my years as a head coach," said Bret Bielema, "we have had more meetings with the officials this year than at any other point."

He adds that the low block rule "will significantly affect the game."  

A couple of other changes will be easier for fans to notice, and perhaps result in more drama.  

The first big change involves unsportsmanlike conduct. For years, rules makers have been trying to put a lid on showboating, and this year, a display of "Hey, look at me!" can take points off the scoreboard.

For example, the offense has a third-and-one from the opponent's 30-yard line. The running back breaks free and is on his way to the end zone. With no defensive player in the vicinity, the running back decides he wants to dive into the end zone from the 2 yard line. If that happens, the offense will be smacked with a 15-yard penalty from the spot of the foul, turning a touchdown into a first-and-10 from the 17-yard line.

Imagine a close game in the final minute or two, and an official has to make that call against the home team.

Another major change is a 10-second runoff after a penalty in the final minute of either half. Bielema says this rule has been "my main summer project -- when to use it. We have a number of tapes. Paul (offensive coordinator Paul Chryst) has met individually, not only with Bill (Big Ten Supervisor of Officials Bill Carollo), but also with a couple of officials who have come here on campus, so there is a lot of dedication to the rule."

An example of how this rule works -- Team A, down by two points, is at Team B's 35-yard line. Trying to get a little closer to kick a field goal, Team A runs a play. The runner is tackled in-bounds at Team B's 28-yard line. With the clock running and just: 08 remaining, Team A races to the line of scrimmage, but is guilty of a false start. The officials throw the flag and stop the clock with: 05 remaining. Team B accepts the penalty and wants the runoff. Game over.

What a way to lose.

There are a few other rules tweaks, some specifically in the name of player safety. One such adjustment is intentional grounding. A passer needs to have an eligible receiver in the area, but the receiver does not need an opportunity to catch the pass. By rule, mere presence is enough to avoid an intentional grounding call.

Those are some of the changes. While everyone tries to figure out the low block rule, I really am interested in how the unsportsmanlike conduct and the 10-second runoff rule will change the course of some close games this season.

As entertaining as college football is already, I have the feeling fans across the country could be in for even more late-game fireworks this fall.

Position Preview: Defenders

In the second installment of a four-part series previewing the Wisconsin women's soccer team's roster, head coach Paula Wilkins breaks down the Badgers' defenders.


The Badgers return the core of their defensive unit that was the stingiest in all of the Big Ten last season.

For the season, the Badgers led the league by yielding just 11 goals overall and 0.52 goals per game. The squad also posted 12 shutouts on the year to tie for the conference lead.

In addition, including overtime periods, the Badgers did not give up a goal in span that lasted nearly 930 minutes last season from Sept. 5 to Oct. 15. This snapped the previous record set by the 1985 team for most minutes without allowing a goal.

Head coach Paula Wilkins is relying on veteran leadership in 2011 to produce similar results, starting with senior Meghan Flannery, who was a first-team All-Big Ten selection last season.

"We have Meghan Flannery returning who is an All-Big Ten player and will anchor the back," Wilkins said. "She's been great in the transition from midfielder to outside-back to center-back. She's a good leader and has good field vision."

Also part of the defensive unit are juniors Lindsey Johnson and Joana Bielefeld and sophomore Catie Sessions. Johnson, who was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team in 2009, started all 20 games a year ago, while Bielefeld played in 14 contests after transferring in from Ohio University. Sessions played in 19 games and, like Johnson, earned a spot on the All-Freshman squad.

"Lindsey Johnson and Catie Sessions were both All-Big Ten freshmen at one point. They're great attacking defenders with great mentality to get forward," Wilkins added. "They'll be generating a lot of our offense there.

"Joana Bielefeld has had experience there. She'll play essentially in the back or outside wide. She had great experience in the spring coming from Ohio University."

A pair of youngsters also could play prominently in the defense, including a member of the Badgers' freshman class.

"Lauren Reid is a young freshman who has come in and shown promise," Wilkins said. "Being able to play off the left side, she's very technical and has a really good engine. I think she's going to be another good attacking back in the style that we like to play with.

"Ali Heller, who is coming back slowly from injury, will probably play a role in one of those spots as the season wears on. We're hoping to get her back in the mix very quickly."

With these pieces in place, the defensive unit looks to be a definite strength going into the new season.

Former Badger Markolf lands at UIW

MBB_110816_Markolf_Ian.jpgCame across this article in my news feed recently about former Wisconsin big-man Ian Markolf. The 7-foot center from San Antonio has apparently decided to return to basketball and will play for NCAA Division II school Incarnate Word in San Antonio.

Markolf spent two seasons on the Badger hoops team (2009 and '10) before leaving the program. He remained in school at UW during the 2010-11 academic year, but has now transferred closer to home.

"I just got the itch to play basketball and Incarnate Word seemed like the perfect fit for me," Markolf told television KENS in Texas. "I grew up playing with some of the guys on the team, and I started talking to them this spring about maybe transferring here.
 
"It turned out to be a pretty simple process. Incarnate Word has a great academic program, and I think I'll have a chance at some great business opportunities when I graduate. I'm also going to get the chance to play basketball with a great group of guys."
FB_110816_Doe_Kenzel.jpegAt 5-foot-8, Kenzel Doe doesn't cast a long shadow. But the UW freshman wide receiver has already made a favorable first impression on Big Ten Network analyst Howard Griffith.

As part of BTN's preseason tour, Griffith was in Madison last week. Along with his studio co-hosts, Gerry DiNardo and Dave Revsine, he watched the Aug. 8 practice at Camp Randall Stadium.

Obviously, he came away impressed with Doe.

At the end of the 30-minute Wisconsin preview show -- which first aired on Aug. 14 -- DiNardo and Griffith each singled out their "Newcomers of the Year'' on the Badgers.

DiNardo named tight end/wingback Sherard Cadogan, a redshirt freshman from New Jersey.

Griffith went with Doe.

Do the math, Griffith implied.

"When you look at the wide receiver position,'' he said, "there's a need for someone to step into that No. 3 position (behind Nick Toon and Jared Abbrederis).''

Griffith also noted Doe's potential value as a punt returner.

In addition, Griffith observed, "One of the things that really struck me was the fact that he (Doe) was working with the quarterbacks and talking football before practice.''

That told Griffith that Doe "wants to be special'' and has a "high football IQ.''

Griffith has a pretty good track record on such things. After watching the Badgers practice last August, he tabbed tailback James White as his Newcomer of the Year.

White went on to become the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year after rushing for 1,052 yards. In short, Griffith's ability to judge talent might be a byproduct of his own ability and talent as a runner.

While at the University of Illinois in 1990, Griffith set an NCAA record by accounting for eight touchdowns in a game. He played 11 seasons in the NFL and earned two Super Bowl rings with Denver.

Griffith has not been the only person to notice Doe's energy level.

"I love the way he approaches things,'' said UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. "It's important to him and he comes out and, for the most part, plays with energy.

"He has put himself in a position to where he's going to get a lot of opportunities to prove if he's ready or not. Hopefully, he's a guy who keeps warranting reps.''

As a mid-term high school graduate, Doe was able to enroll for the second semester at Wisconsin and take part in spring practice. That gave him a jump-start on learning the offense.

"I'm very happy that I came here in the spring,'' said the 170-pound Doe, a native of Reidsville, N.C. "But I knew that the practices were going to get a little harder and more intense in fall camp.''

He also knew that he had to get more consistent in catching the football.

"That's a receiver's No. 1 priority: catch the ball first and run second,'' Doe said. "In the spring, I was trying to get used to the pace of the game.

"I really wasn't frustrated (over the drops). I thought, 'Hey, they're throwing the ball at me so obviously they're expecting a lot out of me. I've got to accept that challenge.'

"Right now, I'm playing much faster than I did in the spring. I'm starting to get a feel for the offense and defense. I know the plays and I don't have to think as much. It's just go, go, go.''

Doe went home for three weeks over the summer and worked out with his older brother; a former high school quarterback who played wide receiver at Fayetteville (N.C.) State.

"He tried to make me better every day,'' Doe said, "by encouraging me to run routes and catch extra passes because you never know when your opportunity is going to come.''

Raised as a Tar Heels fan, Doe knew little about his new quarterback, Russell Wilson, from Wilson's time at NC State. "Now I'm just trying to do what I can do to get that chance to be out there on the field with him,'' Doe said.

Toon's injury and Manasseh Garner's hernia surgery during training camp have thinned out the wide receivers, making it difficult to identify who might take over at No. 3 and No. 4 in the rotation.

"Does it affect you? Absolutely,'' Chryst said. "There's a reason why we have camp. There's a tremendous amount that has to be learned and honed. We just have to find a way to make it work.

"There are some things that we're doing that the guys have to make sure we're on the same page. In this instance this fall, we have a quarterback who's trying to learn the receivers, too.''

It's a numbers game -- in more ways than one. In high school, Doe was No. 8. Last spring, he wore No. 81. With the graduation of wide receiver Isaac Anderson, he's now wearing No. 6.

"It's just a number,'' Doe said. "You make the number, the number doesn't make you.''

But there's another number associated with Doe: 103-0.

He hasn't been on a losing team since he was 13.

"I don't have any personal goals,'' he said. "I'll do whatever I have to do to help the team win.''

Position Preview: Goalkeepers

In the first installment of a four-part series previewing the Wisconsin women's soccer team's roster, head coach Paula Wilkins breaks down the Badgers' goalkeepers.

Wisconsin returns all four goalkeepers from last season's roster that put forth one of the finest defensive seasons in school history.

The Badgers allowed only 11 goals in 20 games which is the fewest for the program since women's soccer became a sport in the Big Ten Conference in 1994. The team was even better in conference play, yielding just three goals to establish another program best.

From Sept. 10-Oct. 10, the Badgers held nine straight opponents without a goal, matching the 1985 squad for the longest shutout streak in school history.

Then a junior, Michele Dalton posted eight shutouts in the nine-game stretch and finished the year with 11 clean sheets, the fourth-best number in school history and the most since 1989. Dalton was named second-team All-Big Ten for the season and head coach Paula Wilkins is counting on her again in 2011.

"Obviously [Michele] had a great season last year and her return will give us some stability and some experience in there," Wilkins said. "She'll be looked upon again to manage the game well and we'll need her to make some big saves to keep us in the game like she did last year."

Joining Dalton are fellow senior Lauren Gunderson, junior Olivia Hoff and sophomore Genevieve Richard.

Gunderson started both games she played in last year, including a clean sheet against South Dakota State on Sept. 10.

Neither Hoff nor Richard has seen time in net for the Badgers, but have gained valuable experience throughout their careers.

Hoff won two state championships with FC Milwaukee in 2007 and 2009 and Richard gained experience on the international level representing Canada at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in New Zealand in 2010.

"Genevieve Richard comes with great experience playing in the U-17 World Cup which obviously makes the environment for the starting position competitive," Wilkins said. "Olivia Hoff has gotten better and better every spring, while Lauren Gunderson brings great experience and has gotten opportunities in the past.

"I think it's one of the most experienced goalkeeping crews that we've had in my five years here."


FB_110815_Dippel_Tyler.jpgThe C.O.P.S. were waiting for UW coach Bret Bielema after Saturday morning's practice at the McClain Center. They had the passageway to the ramp and locker room blocked.

But a smiling, gracious Bielema was in no hurry to avoid them.

Instead, he warmly greeted the C.O.P.S. and introduced the group of kids, young adults and moms and dads to the Badger football players, who came over to mingle and sign autographs.

C.O.P.S. is the acronym for Concerns Of Police Survivors, an organization that assists in "rebuilding shattered lives'' of surviving families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

That's the mission statement of the national organization, which was established in 1984.

Besides providing resources for family members and affected co-workers, C.O.P.S. provides training to law enforcement agencies on survivor issues and education to the public.

Representing the Wisconsin chapter of C.O.P.S. was Kalvin Barrett, who was one of the event coordinators for Saturday's meet-and-greet with the Badgers, tour of the facilities and luncheon.

Barrett, a Dane County deputy sheriff, wore jersey No. 58 when he played at Wisconsin.

That was many pounds ago.

Today's slimmed-down Barrett bears no physical resemblance to the 319-pound nose tackle and offensive guard who earned four letters for the Badgers from 2000 through 2004.

But the infectious Barrett smile is still present; linking then and now.

"Obviously when I was here I wanted to be in the NFL like everyone else,'' said Barrett, a native of Spring Valley, Calif., who started six games at right guard in '01 and two at left guard in '02.

When his pro dreams didn't materialize, Barrett fell back on his education. For a couple of years, he worked as a recruiter for Kaye Bassman International, an executive recruiting firm in Dallas, Texas.

Following that stint, Barrett wound up teaching seventh and eighth grade science in a Dallas suburb. He also helped coach the football and wrestling teams.

Less than three years ago, Barrett moved back to the Madison area and began working in the Dane County Sheriff's Office. He couldn't be happier, either.

"I love that I'm in law enforcement,'' he said, "and I have the ability to help people and make a difference in the community through events like this one.''

Barrett can relate to C.O.P.S. on a personal basis.

When he was 12, he lost his father -- a San Diego County marshal.

"When I was 12 or 13 or 14, I would have loved to have an opportunity to get together and socialize with other people who were in a similar situation,'' Barrett said.

In addition to other things, Barrett added, C.O.P.S. can help fill a void in a single-parent home. Again, he can reflect on first-hand experience. After his father died, he was raised by his mom, Teresa.

More than anything, Barrett just wants to give back to others. If he could start his own nonprofit, the mission statement would be along the lines of "To do great things for great people.''

"I realized that I've been blessed,'' he said, "and I have an opportunity to make a difference, why not do it? People look at me and say, 'You played for the Badgers, you can make a difference.'''

That's what he and others were doing Saturday.

"Look at the excitement and the smiles on their faces,'' he said pointing to the youngsters. "They've been provided with a special day that these kids will remember for the rest of their lives.''

You got the impression that Barrett wouldn't soon forget, either.
FB_110813_Konz_Zeitler.jpg

The presence of Big Ten officials for Friday's UW football scrimmage was the equivalent of a classroom lab and training session for the players and coaches on some of the new rules for the 2011 season.

There's a new rule on celebrations or taunting; unsportsmanlike acts that are now a live-ball foul. There's also a new rule providing for 10-second runoffs on penalties in the last minute of halves.

From the UW's perspective, the most important rule change or interpretation involves low blocks or blocking below the waist; a rule that may have an impact on run-oriented offenses.

The irony is that the rule has already been tweaked since last spring.

"When we put it on paper, it came out a little different than what our intent was,'' said Bill Carollo, the supervisor of Big Ten officials. "There are checks and balances and we made a mistake.

"One thought was, 'Let's just wait and see how it goes.' That was the original answer and I said, 'Unacceptable. We can fix this.'

"Now we all realized that it was going to be a lot of extra work. But we can clear up the confusion. We can get to the coaches in June and July and when they go to training camp.

"They haven't taught the players the new rule yet; so let's get with the offensive coordinators and the head coaches and make sure they understand how it's going to be implemented.''

The old language dealt with the "adjacent'' sideline and an imaginary North-South line.

"We didn't like the rule,'' Carollo said, "because it was going to be hard to officiate, hard to coach and hard on the players who had no idea what was their adjacent sideline.''

Previously, the rule stipulated that low blocks were LEGAL with X-number of exceptions.

This season, the rule stipulates that low blocks are ILLEGAL with X-number of exceptions.

"It will be a major change for the offensive coordinators,'' Carollo said.

Wisconsin's Paul Chryst talked about the rule change following Friday's practice.

"Right now, I feel like we've got a good understanding of it,'' said Chryst, noting that Carollo and Big Ten referee Dennis Lipski have broken down the rule in film room sessions with the UW  staff.

"We've been able to go back through all of our plays that were low blocks and see where, 'OK, this is legal and this isn't.' We came out of it pretty clean.''

Will it hurt a team like Wisconsin? "I don't think so,'' Chryst said.

Will it change what you do offensively? "Not really,'' he added.

Looking back on some low blocks that would have been flagged, Chryst suggested, "It would have been a penalty on Saturday with the naked eye and a 'We made a mistake' on Sunday.''

Upon 24-hour further review, he said, "The film would have said it's legal.''

Chryst, in general, has appreciated the dialogue with Carollo and Lipski and others.

"We feel like we're well-informed,'' he said. "We got what we wanted to get from them. How do you see this (play) when you're watching it? I'm anxious now to see how it's applied.''

The intent all along has been to make it a safer game for the players.

"Guys were getting their legs blown out,'' Carollo said.

So, what are some of the exceptions when you can block below the waist?

Those who can are running backs that are stationary at the snap and within the tackle box.

Those who can are the offensive linemen on the line of scrimmage.

If a player is in motion, he can block low as long as he's moving from the inside to the outside.

If he's split wide and motions from the outside to the inside, however, it will be a foul.

"Basically now anything from the outside back towards the ball is going to be a foul,'' Carollo said, "unless you started as a stationary back in the backfield or on the line of scrimmage.''

FB_110812_Allen_Beau.jpeg

It dawned on Beau Allen that he didn't look like the other defensive tackles on the video. That piqued his curiosity. Why was he different? Allen looked up each of their weights and heights.

"And I realized I was 40 pounds heavier than a lot of these guys,'' he said.

Allen, who lettered as a true freshman, weighed 335 in the Rose Bowl.

Reflecting on the 2010 season, he said, "I didn't think I was super slow or anything like that. But I got pegged as a run-stuffer; kind of a first or second down player but not really a pass rusher.''

There's an old coach's cliché that applies here: the tape doesn't lie.

During the off-season, Allen studied the techniques of other college players at his position.

"I was looking at these other guys,'' he said, "and I realized that I wanted to make myself more of a three-down guy, more of a pass-rusher. I thought it would be better for my endurance.''

In particular, Iowa defensive tackle Mike Daniels, a 275-pound senior, caught his attention.

"I watched some cut-ups on Daniels, who's a beast,'' Allen said. "It's funny because Patrick Butrym met him in Chicago (at the Big Ten media days) and texted how he's a really nice guy.''

On film, Allen said, Daniels was very explosive.

"We'd watch a cut-up of the good plays,'' he said, "and then we'd give a presentation to the rest of the D-line. Why were they good? What carries over to us? How can we emulate that clip?

"I thought it was really good and helpful.''

The film study wasn't limited to college players.

"We were watching a Warren Sapp cut-up,'' Allen said of the former All-Pro defensive tackle from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, "and we were trying to hit this one move that he's really good at.''

Allen is no sap. That's why in late January, he decided it was time to do something about his weight; it was time to reshape his body; especially since he was up to 341.

"It was nothing really prescribed by the coaches,'' he said. "It was mostly me wanting to change my lifestyle and get healthier -- along with getting smaller.

"I definitely had to change the way I ate. I was eating a lot of big meals infrequently and it's better to eat small meals frequently. It's more about when you eat certain foods than anything else.''

As a freshman, Allen ate dorm food when he wasn't at the post-practice training table.

"One thing I had to do this summer,'' he said, "was learn how to cook.''

Just before the start of the UW's summer conditioning program, Allen went grocery shopping with his mom, who had driven him back to Madison from their home in Minnetonka, Minn.

"I'm picking out all the good food that I think I need,'' he said, "and I round the corner of an aisle in the store and I see Coach Herb (Ben Herbert) in the meat section.

"It was a random encounter but it turned out perfect for me because he helped me pick out everything I needed and it lasted me the summer.''

Herbert, UW's strength and conditioning coordinator, knows the value of nutrition.

"He also understands we're college kids and we don't have a million bucks,'' Allen said.

Grocery bills can add up; particularly for offensive and defensive linemen.

"It's pretty expensive to live in Madison; the rent is high,'' said Allen, making his own pitch for scholarships to include full cost of attendance. "Plus, I've got to maintain my weight. I eat a lot.''

Allen has been eating a lot better, too. So much so that he reported to camp at 314 pounds.

Herbert showed him "before'' and "after'' upper body photos as positive reinforcement.

Seeing what he looked like when he was 341, Allen said, "I was a little ashamed, to be honest.''

Upon further review of the "after'' shot, he added, "It was cool and exciting. It's nice to know that you can change your body like that. It's an accomplishment that makes you feel good.''

How good?

"My pass rush has gotten better and so has my endurance,'' he said. "I definitely feel the difference on the field during one-on-ones and I feel better throughout practice.

"I feel like I have better quickness and a little more explosiveness.''

Going into his second college training camp, Allen just feels different all the way around.

"It's easier knowing what's expected of you -- knowing the drills and the progression of practice,'' he said. "But it's a little more taxing just because you're not a freshman anymore.

"As a sophomore who played as a true freshman, I have expectations for myself. I know what I'm capable of, I guess; and I hold myself to a high standard and I'm trying to live up to that.''

A year ago, he thought that he had the answers.

"But I had no idea,'' he said.

This year, he can point to what he gained (experience) and lost (27 pounds).

"Things have really paid off,'' Allen said.

Lucas at Large: Ewing provides offense another backfield option

FB_110811_Ewing_Bradie.jpegBradie Ewing was relieved when the Green Bay Packers resigned free agent John Kuhn.

"I thought they were going to lose him there for awhile,'' Ewing said.

Ewing's interest in Kuhn is understandable.

As fullbacks, they're both members of the same fraternity or brotherhood.

"It just takes a few guys like John Kuhn to open people's eyes,'' Ewing said. "We can do some of that third down running back stuff -- we can catch the ball and do some different things.''

Not everyone accommodates or embraces fullbacks to the degree the Badgers and Packers do.

"Our offense,'' said Ewing, a senior from Richland Center, "leads to a good opportunity for fullbacks to catch some passes because often the defense overlooks the blocking fullback.

"Coach (Paul) Chryst is good at setting things up with certain plays. So if you have the hands ...''

You're going to get the ball.

Ewing is pretty sure-handed even though he was rarely used as a receiver in high school. When he wasn't running -- and he rushed for over 2,000 yards as a senior -- he was a pass blocker.

The 6-foot, 245-pound Ewing admitted that this is the most confidence anyone has shown in throwing him the football "other than my brother and my dad in the backyard.''

Last season, Ewing had the same number of receptions (eight) and touchdowns (two) as promising tight end Jacob Pedersen, who has taken over for last year's leading receiver, Lance Kendricks.

Ewing could be even more valuable to the offense this season as a receiving option because of the lack of depth and experience in the wide receiver rotation beyond Nick Toon and Jared Abbrederis.

The keys for Ewing are "seeing the ball out of the quarterback's hands, looking the ball in and getting upfield.'' In this context, as a potential receiver, he can create some mismatches.

"When I'm split wide,'' Ewing said, "it also gives our quarterback an opportunity to see what coverage they're in -- based on how they adjust to our 21 personnel (2 RB, 1 TE).

"If a safety or a linebacker splits out there with me, then he knows it's probably man coverage. That gives the quarterback an edge, too.''

The early reviews on quarterback Russell Wilson have been exceptionable. "He's still a little raw in this offense,'' Ewing said, "but he's a great player, a great leader and a great person.''

Wednesday, the Badgers donned full pads for the first time in training camp. "Everyone starts picking it up a notch,'' Ewing said. "Especially the O-line and D-line. They're start banging a little bit.''

In the absence of OTAs because of the NFL lockout, Kuhn and his teammates are in the process of knocking off some of the rust. Meanwhile, Ewing also felt like he got off to a slow start in camp.

"I was struggling a little at the beginning; I felt a little rusty,'' Ewing said. "I was struggling with fits, and my reads. I just needed to get back to my basics and focus on my fundamentals.''

During Wednesday's practice, Ewing held his block on a defensive back for a few extra seconds; resulting in dirty looks between the DB and Ewing once they separated and went back to their huddles.

"I just needed to get my edge back,'' Ewing said afterward. "I felt better today.''

FB_110810_Zeitler_Kevin.jpegIt's a question that comes up frequently on blue collar football teams.

UW coach Bret Bielema shared his answer.

"If you asked our entire roster who's the hardest working guy on the team,'' Bielema said, "I bet you Kevin Zeitler would get more than half the votes; he's so respected for that.''

Senior offensive tackle Josh Oglesby has been counting votes, too.

"I would say he'd get 99 percent,'' Oglesby said. "Kevin is the first guy there and the last guy out. He's always doing extra stuff when no one is watching. His work ethic is unmatched.''

Zeitler, a senior right offensive guard from Waukesha, volunteered a definition.

"Work ethic to me,'' he said, "is no matter what the job is, no matter how minimal it is, no matter how small the details, you give it full effort and you make sure it gets done perfectly.

"My parents always had a great work ethic and I kind of took to the next level in high school (Wisconsin Lutheran) when I realized that I wanted to play college football -- somewhere, anywhere.

"That's when I dedicated myself to the task and it kind of took a form of its own.''

Others have influenced his work ethic, including former UW defensive tackle Mike Newkirk.

"I followed his example,'' Zeitler said. "He was always there (the weight room) doing extra things. Whatever I have to work on -- certain muscle groups or positional stuff -- I try to attack it.''

Does Zeitler, who has started 22 of the last 26 games, feel like he outworks people?

"I feel like I do; I come close if I don't,'' he said. "I try to take advantage of every situation. This past summer was probably the busiest I've ever had, but I got done what I needed to get done.''

Besides strictly adhering to his lifting schedule and taking eight credits in summer school, Zeitler worked on the Camp Randall Stadium grounds crew and also took on some odd jobs back home.

Whether he was power washing and staining a deck, or gutting a house for a makeover -- unglamorous jobs that you would link to Zeitler -- he was preparing himself for his senior year.

"It's going to be sad to see him go because he sets a level of practicing at that position that is second to none,'' said Bielema, adding that Zeitler has never given up a sack at Wisconsin.

Not that many would know that about Zeitler since he carries such a low profile.

"Kevin is definitely under the radar,'' Oglesby said. "But I would say he's our most solid offensive lineman. You know what you're going to get out of him day-in and day-out.

"He might not get the credit that he deserves but people who actually watch and know football know that Kevin is a tremendous asset to this team.''

Whereas former UW All-American left guard John Moffitt was a media darling with his quick wit and media accessibility, Zeitler is simply not in the same discussion; nor does he want to be.

"We are definitely different personalities to say the least,'' Zeitler said. "Moff and Gabe (Carimi) made jokes in the meeting room all the time. I'm just going to be who I am.''

During Sunday's media day, Zeitler sat on a folding chair next to center Peter Konz, a free spirit.

"Like Peter over there, that's his thing,'' said Zeitler, pointing to Konz, who was surrounded by cameras and loving every second. "He wants to be in the media. He has just a great personality.

"Me? I always say if it comes (more media recognition), it comes. I do my job and if someone notices, awesome. And if they don't notice, well, that's still my job, that's what I do.''

Carimi and Moffitt liked to tease Zeitler by calling him a "robot.''

"I feel like I've worked on being human a little bit more,'' Zeitler said with a trace of a smile. "A lot of people have said I've opened up since I've been here.

"I do like it (talking to the media). I think it's cool when I do get a chance to get interviewed because it's more new to me than anything else. I'm always up to talk to anyone. I'll give answers.''

Seniority takes precedent with the seating chart in the McClain Center auditorium.

Zeitler sits in the front row next to Oglesby. Both are on the clock, and across from them is the clock ticking down the seconds, minutes, hours and days to the Sept. 1 opener against UNLV.

"I stare at it sometimes,'' Oglesby said. "This is going to be my last season opener. It's crazy.''

"I'm excited,'' Zeitler said, "because it's my last go-around and I'm just ready to go to work.''

You knew that Zeitler would find a way to get "work'' into the answer.

That's his job, and the way he goes about it, whether he's on anyone's radar or not.

"It really doesn't bug me that much,'' he said, shrugging.

Someone's paying attention. Zeitler is on the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award watch lists.

"My goal is to have the best season I possibly can; individually and as a team,'' he said. "I can't get any more specific. I want to do my job the best I can.''

The Voice: Budmayr's approach a lesson for all of us

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgImagine you are in the third year of your job. You know you still have plenty to learn, but you have gone about your business the right way. You have earned the respect of your bosses and your peers. You seem to have put yourself in position to earn a promotion.

Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, along comes someone with a very impressive skill set and more experience. He joins your "team," and now your promotion may or may not be put on hold.

Welcome to Jon Budmayr's world.

Last spring, most of us probably assumed the redshirt sophomore was in line to be the Badgers' starting quarterback. That was before the UW's biggest off-season story unfolded, with Russell Wilson transferring from NC State to UW.

Now, most observers assume when the season begins on Sept. 1, it will be Wilson at the controls.

Maybe that is how it will be, but there is an old saying about the word "assume"--it can make an (blank) out of you and me. Get it?

Maybe Wilson is the key ingredient to the Badger's offense. Training camp practices will settle that competition, but I get the impression neither Wilson nor Budmayr is assuming anything. At Sunday's media day session, both young men handled wave after wave of questions with nothing but class.

Wilson repeatedly stated that he "is blessed" to be a part of the UW program, and wants to learn as much as he can as quickly as he can.

If this storyline has ticked off Budmayr, he is hiding his anger very well.

"It's good," he says. "Everything, since I've been here, is a learning experience. This is just another one that I am going through. It will help me the rest of my career, and down the road in life."

No doubt a big assist goes to offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, who kept Budmayr up to speed on what was happening as "Russell-mania" was gaining steam.  

"You can kind of control it," Budmayr explained. "If you don't let it become overwhelming, and you just embrace it and go with it, then it can be OK."

Last spring, Budmayr had his ups and downs. Those who watched the spring game walked away wondering about the offense. Keep in mind that many programs keep the defense very vanilla in spring games, with little if any blitzing. The Badgers used a different approach, putting the offense in uncomfortable situations that you might not see in other spring games across the country.   

During the March and April practices, Budmayr had a chance to learn some valuable lessons about on-field decision making. At the conclusion of spring drills, he looked back at practice video. Now, he believes he has a better idea of what he can and cannot do in certain situations.  

Scott Tolzien went through a similar process, and he turned out to be pretty good, right? Budmayr might lack game experience, but he paid close attention to Tolzien's work ethic and preparation.

"Not a day goes by that he (Tolzien) is not focusing on something to get better. Keep working, keep pushing on. Keep trying to get better and improve your skills."

If you are in Jon Budmayr's shoes, it might be easy to pout. He seems to be taking the opposite approach, which is just what any coach would want to see. It makes me wonder how many of us in the "working world" would react the same way in a similar situation.  

Not that I am assuming anything, but do you really believe all of us would have Budmayr's attitude? We can only hope so.

It is true that sports can present life lessons to the participants. Perhaps in this case, it also can teach a life lesson to the rest of us.

Badgers coming at you in 3D again

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Any Badgers fans contemplating the purchase of a 3D television have at least one more reason to embrace the technology.

ESPN 3D announced the schedule for its second season of college football broadcasts Monday, and the Badgers' season-opener vs. UNLV will lead things off on Sept. 1. The 7 p.m. (CT) broadcast will be the network's first of the season as part of a slate that includes 20 games -- twice as many as were broadcast in 2010.

It will be the second 3D broadcast to originate from Camp Randall Stadium, as the network also carried UW's upset of No. 1-ranked Ohio State last season.

Four Saturdays are still listed as "to be determined," but the Badgers currently are the lone Big Ten team to draw a 3D broadcast.

The ESPN 3D schedule also offers a couple more chances for UW to show up on the network. A broadcast spot on Saturday, Oct. 1 is still open, giving ESPN the option of picking up the Badgers' highly-anticipated Big Ten opener against league newcomer Nebraska at Camp Randall.

Also on the schedule is the Jan. 2 Capital One Bowl, which has a Big Ten tie-in, and the Allstate BCS National Championship on Jan. 9.

Here's an inside look at the makings of a 3D broadcast, filmed as the ESPN 3D crew set up for the Badgers' clash with Ohio State last October:

FB_110809_DiNardo_Gerry.jpegBefore embarking on the Big Ten Network's bus tour -- the first stop was Monday in Madison -- BTN analyst Gerry DiNardo watched one of Russell Wilson's games from last season at NC State.

DiNardo viewed Wilson's least productive game of 2010, a 28-21 victory over Central Florida in Orlando. Wilson completed just 10 of 30 passes for 105 yards. He had 13 rushes for a net 35 yards.

"It was early in the season (Sept. 11) and I thought that he looked OK,'' said DiNardo, the former head coach at Vanderbilt (1991-94), LSU (1995-99) and Indiana (2002-2004).

"Today was more important and I think he looks much better than he did against UCF.''

BTN taped Monday's practice at Camp Randall Stadium, and the crew interviewed players and coaches afterward for its Aug. 14 preview show on the Badgers.

The on-air crew included DiNardo, analyst Howard Griffith and studio host Dave Revsine.

"Here's a quarterback that's going to have many more weapons at Wisconsin than he had at North Carolina State,'' said DiNardo, who studied Wilson's "body language" during the practice.

He cited "one exchange problem'' and how Wilson "doesn't stop at the line of scrimmage and turn around and look at Paul to see what the play is so he's obviously learned'' the offense.

Paul is UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, who also doubles as the quarterback coach.

"If you looked at him right now,'' DiNardo said of Wilson, who's had just three practices with the Badgers, "you wouldn't think he's been on campus since July 4th. That's obviously a very good sign.''

DiNardo has his own book on UW quarterbacks.

"I don't know that he's going to be much different than the best quarterbacks they've had here in the past,'' he said. "The quarterback in this offense has to be able to throw it on first-and-10.

"And he's got to be able to throw it deep on play-action because they (opposing defenses) are going to support the secondary to stop the run game. That's what (Wilson) can do.

"His numbers aren't going to be great. But your numbers don't have to be great. He just has to make sure that he doesn't turn it over. At NC State, he looked like he was trying to force the ball.

"A veteran quarterback has to know that an incompletion is OK.''

What was DiNardo's first impression from what he saw during Monday's practice?

"Good assistant coaches are worth their weight in gold,'' he said. "I think this is a great staff.''

That's important, DiNardo said, because if these UW players are not as hungry as last season's Rose Bowl team, or if there are any signs of complacency, these assistants will deal with it the right way.

"They're just fabulous,'' he said.

From his perspective as a former Big Ten coach, how did DiNardo assess the Badgers overall?

"You see the basics are still there,'' he said. "They can still run the ball and stop the run. Watching their 9-on-7 drill, they lost some great players but it doesn't look that way.

"The foundation is laid. Now they'll need help on the flank (wide receiver), the quarterback has to come through, and they'll need a little more depth at linebacker.''

Referencing that returning core of players, or foundation, he concluded, "You know it's going to be good; you just don't know how good it's going to be until they find those missing pieces.''

Despite the loss of All-American defensive end J.J. Watt, DiNardo said, "I don't think they're going to have anybody as good as J.J., but the defensive line is going to be better and certainly deeper.''

DiNardo has been high on the Badgers since he was on campus last spring.

"I had them winning the Leaders Division before they had Russell,'' he said. "After they got Russell, it supported my argument even more. The big picture?

"There's a great window of opportunity here for Wisconsin to be the dominant team in their division. It's a critical year to take over the division and, from what I've seen here today, I think they can.''

There is a caveat. DiNardo wants to see Ohio State and Penn State on the tour -- up close and personal -- before making direct comparisons between the Badgers, the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions.

"In the spring, when I picked Wisconsin over Ohio State,'' he recalled, "I still said Ohio State was the most talented team. And I'll be surprised if I don't say that after the fall tour.''

The BTN crew will be at Minnesota on Tuesday and Nebraska on Thursday.

"I say this all the time,'' DiNardo reiterated, "I've competed against Nebraska 10 times; once as a player and nine times as a coach. It's one of the giants in college football.''

DiNardo, who has family in the Madison area, wasn't surprised when he walked into Bucky's Locker Room and found T-shirts heralding the Oct. 1 matchup between the Big Red and the Big Red.

Knowing this was the first leg on the BTN bus journey, DiNardo couldn't resist the temptation.

"Wisconsin is the best team I've seen so far,'' he cracked.

Check back on Aug. 21 for the final tally.

Badgers to play finale headliner of Big Ten/ACC Challenge

ESPN has finalized the network and time assignments for the 13th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge Presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods to be played Nov. 29-30. Wisconsin will play in the final game of the challenge when it travels to North Carolina on Wed. Nov. 30. The game is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m (CT) and will be televised on ESPN.

BIG TEN ACC CHALLENGE LOGO.jpgThe 2011 Challenge involves six teams ranked in an early preseason top 25 by ESPN.com senior college basketball writer Andy Katz, including three in the top five: No. 1 North Carolina, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Duke, No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 21 Florida State and No. 23 Michigan.

The Big Ten won the Commissioner's Cup for the second consecutive year while the ACC won the previous 10 Challenges. In the event of a 6-6 tie this year, the Commissioner's Cup will remain with the conference that won the previous year.

The Badgers own the most wins of any Big Ten team in the Challenge with six and share the top winning percentage (6-6, .500) with Ohio State (5-5, .500) in Challenge games.

2011 Big Ten/ACC Challenge schedule:

Date                 Time (ET)  Game                                                         Network
Tue, Nov 29       7 p.m.        No. 23 Michigan at Virginia                            ESPN2
                        7:15 p.m.    Northwestern at Georgia Tech                        ESPNU
                        7:30 p.m.    Illinois at Maryland                                        ESPN
                        9 p.m.        Miami at Purdue                                            ESPN2
                        9:15 p.m.    Clemson at Iowa                                           ESPNU
                        9:30 p.m.    No. 5 Duke at No. 3 Ohio State                      ESPN
Wed, Nov 30     7:15 p.m.    Indiana at North Carolina State                        ESPN2
                        7:15 p.m.    Penn State at Boston College                         ESPNU
                        7:30 p.m.    No. 21 Florida St. at Michigan St.                   ESPN
                        9:15 p.m.    Virginia Tech at Minnesota                              ESPN2
                        9:15 p.m.     Wake Forest at Nebraska                              ESPNU
                        9:30 p.m.    No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 1 North Carolina    ESPN

Bruesewitz loose in Estonia

Between games, Mike Bruesewitz and his East Coast All-Star teammates have had a chance to explore Tallinn, Estonia. Here are a few pictures sent back to the homeland.

1.) Bruesewitz poses with his Big Ten teammates in Old Town. L to R: Anthony Johnson (Pur.), Matt Gatens (Iowa), Bryce Cartwright (Iowa), Bruesewitz and Elliott Eliason (Minn.).

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2.) Bruesewitz finds he's too tall for this Estonian doorway.

Bruesewitz_Mike_Estonia_110806.jpg3.) Mike stops to pose a fellow red-head outside of a store in Tallinn.

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Late rally not enough for All-Stars

Mike Bruesewitz's team, the East Coast All-Stars, have begun play in the Four Nations Cup in Estonia. East Coach All-Stars coach Guy Rancourt emailed this update after Game Two of the tournament.

- - - - - - - -

_MG_0172_copy.jpgAs the team ran through the tunnel entering Saku Arena this evening they were welcomed by a group of Estonian teenagers waving an American flag. The crowd of 3,100 Estonians applauded the team's effort from the previous night, but despite airhorns blowing, fans cheering, and holding NBA veteran Zaza Pachulia to just one field goal for the game, the East Coast All Stars came up short Friday night. A 15-0 All Star run in the fourth quarter gave the group of Americans a 4 point deficit with 2:00 remaining, but the Georgian National Team countered with a 13-0 run of their own, resulting in a 98-81 East Coast defeat.
 
Rodney McGruder (K-State) once again came out ready to play pouring in 22 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to lead the team in both categories. From the start the game was physical and fast as Georgia, the only participant eligible for the 2011 European World Championships, ran out to a quick 9 point lead. The East Coast front line of Jack Cooley (Notre Dame) and Elliott Eliason (Minnesota) responded on the glass to help end the quarter on an 11-2 run, knotting the game at 20-20.
 
The second quarter continued providing runs on both sides as the tandem of McGruder and Mike Bruesewitz (Wisconsin) hit the offensive glass hard for some easy baskets, but Georgia had the final run to open up a 49-42 halftime lead.
 
Early in the 3rd quarter Baye Moussa Keita was subbed out for precautionary reasons due to a minor foot injury, but enough to keep him sidelined for the remainder of the contest. With fouls mounting and the team short-handed Georgia was able to open its lead to 73-64.
 
Georgia again came out quickly to open up a 19 point lead with 7:34 left in the game. Anthony Johnson (Purdue) and Brandon Triche (Syracuse) then found a rhythm and combined for an 8-0 run cutting the lead to 11 points. On the next possession Cooley again came up with a big defensive rebound, receiving an elbow to the face that drew a foul and stopped play. Cooley's small cut under his eye forced him to check out briefly, but all that did was open the door for Iowa's Matt Gatens. Gatens made both free throws for Cooley, then followed with another transition basket to keep the run alive. The feisty All Stars hung tough chipping away at the Georgian lead and had the ball in their hands down 85-81 but simply ran out of gas.
 
Manuchar Markoishvilli lead the Georgian National Team in scoring with 20 points and Pachulia of the NBA Atlanta Hawks led them in rebounding with 9.
 
The team will head into its final game of the Four Nations Cup against tournament host Estonia tomorrow evening. Game time will be 1:00PM EST and televised on Estonia's ETV2.
 
Anthony Johnson - 6 pts, 2 reb
Matt Gatens - 5 pts, 2 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl
Baye Moussa Keita - 1 reb
Brandon Triche - 12 pts, 2 reb, 1 ast, 2 stl
Pe'Shon Howard - 6 pts, 1 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl
Rodney McGruder - 22 pts, 14 reb, 3 stl
Bryce Cartwright - 11 pts, 2 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl
Mike Bruesewitz - 10 pts, 4 reb, 1 stl (Fouled Out)
Jack Cooley - 7 pts, 9 reb, 1 stl
Elliott Eliason - 2 pts, 5 reb, 1 ast

Lucas at Large: Henry strives to hit 'moving target' of success

FB_110808_Henry_Aaron.jpgThere are two wrist bands on his right hand, and two on his left.

Each means something to Aaron Henry, the UW's senior free safety.

"They constantly remind me of my faith and the reason I play the game,'' he said.

On his right wrist, there is also a worn piece of string.

"Been wearing this one for two years,'' he said. "It's kind of falling apart.''

This one is a constant reminder of the competitive sacrifices and challenges that Henry confronted while participating in the Ultimate Training Camp, an Athletes in Action sponsored event.

This one has less to do with being a believer, and more to do with being a competitor, Henry was saying during Sunday's Media Day on the artificial turf at Camp Randall Stadium.

There's nothing fake about Henry, who wears his heart on his sleeve ... and faith on his wrists.

During his 30-minute presentation to the assembled press corps, UW head coach Bret Bielema said, "Aaron is a great kid; I love him to death. I wish I had 100 of them (like him).''

In the next breath, though, Bielema mentioned that Henry struggles a little bit with criticism. "He's very resistant to being told that he did something wrong,'' he said.

During a recent team meeting, Bielema addressed the players on four training camp objectives. On a daily basis, he wants them to "Earn it ... Accept it ... Believe it ... and Get it.''

On a different theme, Henry also had a chance to speak to his teammates.

"But during his talk the other night he made a reference to one of the things I talked about -- accepting it,'' Bielema said.

"One of the things Aaron said to the team was, 'I'm someone who doesn't take criticism well. But I know that my coaches aren't trying to tell me something wrong.'

"To me, if he can get over that hump and really accept 100 percent coaching, we could be in for something special.''

During Sunday's media assembly, Henry agreed to interpret the four camp objectives.

"To me, it meant exactly what Coach B said,'' Henry pointed out.

Earn it.

"A lot of times some people can feel like they're entitled to certain things in life,'' he said. "But nothing is given to you, no matter what it is. You have to go out there and earn it.''

Accept it.

"Once you've earned it,'' Henry said, "it's truly up to you whether you want to accept it. Some people can be doing really well on the football field or really well in the classroom ...

"But they still haven't come to that realization. It's like, 'I can't believe this is happening.'

"I think back to when I had a little bit of success last year, I was kind of shocked. I was like, 'Wow, coming the route I did with all my knee injuries, then having the season I had ...

"I truly couldn't accept it yet. I was stuck in the moment. I couldn't believe it was happening.''

Believe it.

"Eventually towards the latter part of the season, I started to believe it,'' he said.

"Even going into this year, I'm starting to believe it. I'm starting to believe in my abilities. I'm starting to believe in the coaching. I'm starting to believe in the players that I'm playing next to.

"Now it's up to us to go out and get it -- go out and take what is ours.''

Get it.

Henry got it.

"What Coach B was truly getting at,'' he said, "if you really want something, nobody is going to hand it to you. Nothing worth value is going to be handed to you so you have to go out and get it.''

A couple of years ago, Henry had trouble accepting the move from corner to safety. Sunday, he revisited that difficult transition to bring additional depth to the conversation.

"I was not at all happy about going to safety; I didn't accept that,'' Henry said. "I didn't understand what Coach B was trying to do. I didn't look at the big picture.

"Coming off a knee injury, I felt like I could still play that position. I had been doing it my whole life; I had been a cornerback. I've been on the island every single day of my life. That's how I liked it.''

Henry recounted how he resisted making the move to safety when he was in Pop Warner football after the coaches thought he was too big for corner. The same thing happened in high school.

"I was really in my comfort zone,'' Henry said of his early years at UW. "But Coach B felt like we needed a change. We had a whole bunch of corners and we had three or four safeties.

"He made the call. I didn't like it. I was kind of going against it a little bit. But I eventually accepted it and I truly love the position today, I truly love playing safety.''

A year ago, Henry noted, a guest speaker said something to the team during training camp that still has application; maybe even more so considering the expectations for the 2011 Badgers.

"The speaker said, 'Success is a moving target,''' Henry recalled. "A lot of times when people become successful they think they have arrived.

"A lot of times when you've experienced success, you think it's supposed to come naturally. What people fail to realize is that you can be successful for a moment in time and then lose it.

"We were successful last year but nothing is guaranteed this year. We have to go out there and battle our butts off every single week and compete to the highest level that we're capable of.

"Hopefully by the end of the day we have gone 1-0 and we've been successful. Success is a moving target. That was something that resonated in my soul and will probably stick with me forever.''

Update from the 2011 USA Swimming National Championships

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Four Badger swimmers competed in the men's 800-meter freestyle relay and one in the men's 200 IM on Friday as competition continued at the 2011 ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships in Palo Alto, Calif.

The team of Michael Weiss, Wes Lagerhausen, Garrett Mulchrone, and Marcus Guttman raced in the 800 free relay and clocked in with a time of 7:32.85 to claim an 11th-place finish. Weiss also competed individually in the 200 IM and touched in with a time of 2:04.78 in the B finals finishing 19th.

Saturday is the final day of competition and concludes with the100 and 800 free, 200 breast, and 400 medley relay on the women's side, while the men will conclude with the 200 back, 200 breast, 1500 free and 400 medley relay.

All-Stars win thriller at buzzer

Mike Bruesewitz's team, the East Coast All-Stars, have begun play in the Four Nations Cup in Estonia. East Coach All-Stars coach Guy Rancourt emailed this update after Friday's opening game.

- - - - - - - -

Although Pe'Shon Howard's thunderous dunk over Sweden National team center Johan Akesson put the crowd into a frenzy Friday evening, it was just a brief part of the 15-point deficit the East Coast All Stars overcame in the final 3:00 of Friday's 78-77 victory. Kansas State's Rodney McGruder was the team's hero as time ran down with a rebound and put back at the buzzer to seal the All Star win.
 
East Coast responded well to the physical nature of international play ending the first quarter with a 21-19 lead, but struggled to find the mark in the second quarter mustering just 11 points to trail Sweden 38-32 at halftime. Sweden continued its hot shooting in the third period stretching the lead to 63-51, and things began looking bleak as the lead ballooned to 15 points with 3:00 remaining in the contest...then the All Stars went to work.
 
A suffucating full court press was applied causing back to back turnovers for a Baye Moussa Keita dunk and a power layup by Notre Dame's Jack Cooley cutting the lead to 11. The team continued its intensity into the front court forcing two additional turnovers resulting in clutch 3-point field goals by Iowa's Matt Gatens and Purdue's Anthony Johnson, bringing the Sweden lead to 5 with just over a minute to play.
 
Following a Sweden transition basket pushing the lead back to 7, East Coast came up with a steal at half court by Maryland's Pe'Shon Howard, and a dunk over the opponent's big man that brought the crowd of 3,720 jumping out of their seats.
 
The balanced attack continued as the All Stars forced three more turnovers, allowing Syracuse's Brandon Triche (leading scorer with 17 points) to rattle off 7 points in 19 seconds. Triche was fouled on a drive to make two free throws, knocked down a gutsy 3-point shot to tie the game at 74-74, then converted on a mid-lane pullup to give them the lead with 15 seconds remaining.
 
Sweden responded with Anton Gaddefor's 3-pointer with 6 seconds to play, once again giving Sweden a 77-76 advantage. After a timeout by head coach Guy Rancourt of Lycoming College, McGruder stepped on the floor to provide the end-game heroics. Triche's foul-line jumper was off the mark, but UW's Mike Bruesewitz kept the ball alive, tipping it to McGruder who laid it back in as the horn sounded.
 
Three players, Bruesewitz, Baye Moussa Keita, and Elliott Eliason led the team in rebounding with 7. Triche finished with a team high 5 assists, Bruesewitz with 4 steals, and Mousa Keita with 2 blocks.
 
The victory makes the East Coast All Stars 1-0 in tournament play and 2-0 overall. Next up tomorrow night will be one of the team's biggest tests as they face NBA star Zaza Pachulia and the Georgia National Team. Gametime for tomorrow's contest is slated for 10:30 a.m. CT.
 
Anthony Johnson - 8 pts, 2 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl
Matt Gatens - 10 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl
Baye Moussa Keita - 6 pts, 7 reb, 1 stl, 2 blk (fouled out)
Brandon Triche - 17 pts, 5 reb, 5 ast, 1 stl
Pe'Shon Howard - 6 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl
Rodney McGruder - 10 pts, 4 reb, 3 stl
Bryce Cartwright - 4 pts, 1 reb, 3 ast, 1stl
Mike Bruesewitz - 9 pts, 1 ast, 7 reb, 4 stl
Jack Cooley - 4 pts, 4 reb, 1 stl
Elliott Eliason - 4 pts, 7 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl

Lucas at Large: Badgers' summer 'transformance' is no accident

FB_110806_Herbert_Ben.jpgOne of the biggest box office hits of the summer has been "Transformers: Dark of the Moon'' -- the third movie in the "Transformers'' series directed by Michael Bay and produced by Steven Spielberg.

Not unlike Bay and Spielberg, UW strength and conditioning coordinator Ben Herbert has been directing and producing some blockbuster results with his "Transformers'' program at Camp Randall.

How would Herbert best describe the physical transformation of so many football players?

"I call it transformance,'' he said. "Transform your performance.''

You almost have to see it to believe it. Words really don't do it justice.

That, in fact, has been the concept behind Herbert's "Before'' and "After'' digital upper body shots -- which serve as a dramatic visual measure on how each player has transformed himself.

Here's how you looked in January ...

Here's how you look today after the summer program ...

"It's a powerful tool,'' Herbert said.

To reiterate, he can bring the player into his office and show him his starting point or the "Before'' shot on his computer and then follow that up with the "transformance'' or "After'' shot.

What's the general reaction?

"A huge smile,'' Herbert said.

Does it build their confidence?

"There's no doubt,'' he said.

Do they leave the office thinking they can take on the world?

"That's it,'' said Herbert, grinning from ear to ear.

Following Friday's practice, Herbert provided some examples; starting with middle linebacker Chris Borland, who has undergone a couple of surgeries on his shoulders since being injured last season.

"We got the green light to start training his upper body towards the end of February,'' Herbert said. "We started from scratch and had to redevelop his entire upper body.

"While we were able to continue to train his lower body aggressively, you can see the emphasis that we placed on his shoulders and just his upper body overall.''

There was a significant difference in the physical structure of the "Before'' and "After'' Borland, who's added 15 pounds in four months and now carries 245 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame.

Borland's training partner was linebacker Ethan Armstrong who also missed the spring while rehabbing from an injury. Herbert noted Armstrong's transformation has been a "powerful one.''

Pointing to the "Before'' shot, Herbert conceded, "That's a pretty bad body right there.'' That was in March. The "After'' shot of Armstrong - now carrying 240 pounds - was eye-opening.

"When you work, you want to see the result,'' Herbert said.

Senior wide receiver Nick Toon weighed 209 pounds the second week of March following his foot surgery. Herbert wasn't able to train Toon for three weeks. Coming into training camp, Toon is 221.

Junior defensive end David Gilbert has buffed up another 20 pounds to 255. The remarkable thing about Gilbert's overall "transformance'' has been the fact that he weighed 202 as a freshman.

Herbert's "Transform your performance'' program also includes weight loss. Tailback Montee Ball is now at 210 pounds after getting up to 237 last season.

"My man is rock solid,'' Herbert said of Ball, who showed more burst on the field Friday. "The way he's running with the amount of spring and explosiveness is awesome.''

Sophomore defensive tackle Beau Allen played and lettered as a true freshman. In late January, Allen weighed 340. As of the opening of training camp, he's 312.

How did Allen drop his 28 pounds?

"It was a combination of things,'' Herbert said. "It was about eating right -- being smart about portion sizes and the timings of his meals -- and it was about just attacking the weight room.

"He was conscientious of what he was eating, and how he was taking care of himself.''

Pausing, Herbert then added, "And he trained his butt off.''

Herbert is a stickler about nutrition.

"Feed your body and it will flourish,'' he reminds the players on a daily basis.

When they shop for themselves at a grocery store, he wants them focusing on lean proteins, vegetables, whole grains and fruit. And he wants them drinking plenty of water and milk.

On his list of "Must Haves'' are eggs, Egg Beaters, chicken breasts, turkey, lean ground beef, peanut butter, cottage cheese, whole wheat pasta and bread, oatmeal, spinach and olive oil.

Herbert is constantly stressing meal frequency, too.

At breakfast, he wants them eating high quality protein, fast and slow digesting carbohydrates and healthy fats. He lectures on how a well-balanced breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Nothing is left to chance in Herbert's training regimen.

"We're constantly talking about the things we do nutritionally,'' he said, "and how it will change their body and we talk about the way they need to approach their training. All these factors play a role.''

Every day, every detail. That has been the rallying cry; encompassing an 88-day span from the start of the summer program to the Sept. 1 opener against UNLV at Camp Randall Stadium.

Herbert has "88'' t-shirts reflecting the commitment.

By now, though, it's ingrained.

"All of the things we do from a training standpoint,'' he says of the lifting, running, nutrition, "is to put them in a situation to come out and do what they're capable of doing on a football field.''

Two Badgers finish in top 10 at USA Swimming Nationals

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Two Badgers claimed top finishes in their respective races this past week at the 2011 ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships at Stanford University's Avery Aquatic Center in Palo Alto, Calif.

On Tuesday, junior Michael Weiss raced to a sixth-place finish in the men's 400-meter individual medley with a time of 4:21.50. Weiss qualified for the finals with a time of 4:21.35 in the preliminaries. He also finished 16th in the 400 free.

After clocking-in with a third-place time of 1:08.57 in the women's 100 breast prelims, senior Ashley Wanland qualified for the finals on Thursday evening. Clocking in at 1:08.33, she claimed a fourth-place finish in the finals.

Senior Beckie Thompson claimed a 20th-place finish in the 50 free C finals touching in at 25.79 seconds.

The team of Thompson, Ruby Martin, Danielle Beckwith and Amie Osten swam to a 20th-place finish in the women's 400 free relay with a time of 3:50.45. Individually, Martin raced in the 50 free, while her partners Beckwith competed in the 400 free and Osten swam in the 100 back.

On the men's side of the 400 free relay, the group of Wes Lagerhausen, Marcus Guttman, Garrett Mulchrone, and incoming freshman Andrew Teduits finished 31st overall. Individually, Teduits and Mulchrone both competed in the 100 back and 100 fly, while Lagerhausen swam in the 50 free, and Guttman competed in the 200 fly.

Other Badgers competing in the championships include current junior Paulina Gralow (women's 100 breast) and former Badger Jesse Stipek (men's 100 back).

FB_110805_Alvarez_Barry.jpgUW athletic director Barry Alvarez believes that schools will have to get "creative'' with their non-conference scheduling when the Big Ten expands to nine league games in 2017.

During the odd-numbered years, beginning in '17, the Badgers will be one of six teams (three from each division) that will play only four Big Ten games at home and five on the road.

That will reverse on even years for those same six teams: five games at home, four on the road.

Wisconsin will be in a scheduling rotation with Penn State and Purdue from the Leaders Division and Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern from the Legends Division.

"What you have to do is figure out how to get all three of your non-conference games at home during those odd-numbered years,'' Alvarez said. "You may have to buy somebody to come in.

"You'll still want to play at least one BCS school among those three. And then you may have to get whatever you can get. To be honest, I don't know if scheduling is going to get better or worse.

"But everyone is in the same situation.''

Alvarez does know that the nine-game league schedule has spawned plenty of discussion among the Big Ten's athletic directors and commissioner Jim Delany.

"There were arguments both ways,'' Alvarez said. "Everyone could live with eight or nine. But the commissioner, I thought, gave some really strong arguments for nine. And I agreed with him.

"For one thing, in our situation, it allows us to play Iowa and Nebraska six times in 10 years instead of four times in 10 years under the current format. I think that's what our fans would want.

"The TV inventory will also be upgraded; there will be more quality matchups between conference teams. That's also good for the fans, the league and our TV partners.

"In addition to all of that, by playing nine league games, instead of eight, we will be identifying a truer Big Ten champion. I just think it will be healthier for our league. I'm very pleased with it.''

Alvarez was an original proponent of the nine-game league schedule. But the more he thought about it, the more he thought about the SEC and the BCS, the more he pondered the ramifications.

"I looked at the SEC which has stayed with eight games,'' he said.

And maybe he couldn't help but look at the bottomline: an SEC team has won each of the last five BCS championships (Auburn, Alabama, Florida, LSU and Florida).

That has been the counter-argument to expanding to nine games -- the success of the SEC model -- a sentiment expressed by the Big Ten head coaches, including Wisconsin's Bret Bielema.

But an eight game league schedule has become the exception not the rule among BCS conferences. The Pac-10 has expanded to a Pac-12 and will play nine league games.

The Big 12 will also play nine league games among its 10 schools but will drop the title game.

All of that aside, how much tougher will it be to get Big Ten teams in BCS bowls? That was one of the things on Alvarez' radar when he considered the pros and cons of the expanded league schedule.

Will it cost the Big Ten a lucrative BCS bowl slot?

"I thought maybe it would have a bearing on that,'' he said.

In each of the last six seasons, the Big Ten has had at least two teams in BCS bowls. Since 1999, in fact, there have been only three times when that hasn't happened; the last time was 2005.

In the end, the advent of a Big Ten championship game may have a greater impact on BCS numbers. In general, one fewer league team may be bowling every season; the death knell of 6-6 teams.

The more Alvarez thought about the nine-game schedule, the more he liked it.

"Our fans deserve nine conference games,'' he said. "In the long run, it's good for the league.''

Badgers debut at No. 10 in coaches poll

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There's no doubt the college football season is coming now.

On the day the Wisconsin football team reports to begin fall camp in preparation for its Sept. 1 opener against UNLV, the Badgers were presented with a top-10 preseason ranking.

The defending Big Ten champions will enter the 2011 season ranked No. 10, according to the preseason edition of the USA Today Coaches Poll released Thursday. UW is the highest-ranked Big Ten team and one of five league schools to earn a spot in the top 25.

With their highest preseason ranking since 2007, the Badgers will start the season ranked among the top 10 for the fourth time in school history. UW also ranked 10th in the 1999 preseason poll, was fifth in 2000 and seventh in the 2007 edition.

The Badgers began their run to the Rose Bowl last season with a preseason ranking of No. 12.

Oklahoma holds down the No. 1 spot, with Alabama, Oregon, LSU and Florida State rounding out the top five. Stanford checks in at No. 6, followed by Boise State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and the Badgers.

The other Big Ten teams to earn a top-25 nod are league newcomer Nebraska (No. 11), Ohio State (No. 16), Michigan State (No. 17) and Penn State (No. 25). In addition, Iowa, Northwestern and Michigan also received votes.

Northern Illinois and Oregon State, two of the Badgers' non-conference foes, also received votes.

USA Today Coaches Poll - 2011 Preseason
1. Oklahoma (42)
2. Alabama (13
3. Oregon (2)
4. LSU (2)
5. Florida State
6. Stanford
7. Boise State
8. Oklahoma State
9. Texas A&M
10. Wisconsin
11. Nebraska
12. South Carolina
13. Virginia Tech.
14. Arkansas
15. TCU
16. Ohio State
17. Michigan State
18. Notre Dame
19. Auburn
20. Mississippi State
21. Missouri
22. Georgia
23. Florida
24. Texas
25. Penn State

Mike's take on first game, other randomness

Here is a Facebook message I got from Mike talking about the opening exhibition win and what's up next.

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"We had a scrimmage against a local club team last night. The town was called Rapla (I remember the name because it sounds like the fishing tackle).

_MG_0215_copy.jpgUpon arrival to the equivalent of a lifetime, the song "Buzzin" by Mann was on. One thing about Estonia is they love American music. This isn't a bad thing, but it seems a bit odd since our tour guide told us Estonia is known as 'the singing country.'

Anyway... last night played a club team and won easily. We have one practice today and then we go against the big boys tomorrow. Should be great competition.

Talking with a couple of the guys last night, last year's East Coast team played two national teams that had NBA guys. Not sure who all is going to be on the roster this year, but I'm really excited to play.

The arena has about 5 or 6 thousand seats and apparently gets filled up for events like these. Should be fun!"


Bruiser leads all-star squad to first win in Estonia

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East Coast All-Stars' head coach Guy Rancourt (Lycoming College) emailed me this morning the recap from the team's first game. Looks like our guy Mike Bruesewitz is fitting in quite nicely.

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110201MBB-3217-31_crop.jpgRapla, Estonia --  In what will be the team's only exhibition game for 2011, the East Coast All Stars defeated Viimsi Spordikeskuss 104-61 Wednesday evening in front of a crowd of 1,100. The All Stars were led by Syracuse sophomore Baye Moussa Keita with 11 points, 17 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. Iowa's Matt Gatens and Wisconsin's Mike Bruesewitz led all scorers, each with 15 points.
 
Viimsi struggled with East Coast's pressure defense from the start, quickly falling behind 34-15 by the end of the first quarter. Brandon Triche of Syracuse University handed out 7 first half assists to help push the lead to 66-28 at the half. Kansas State sophomore Rodney McGruder extended that lead with back to back three point field goals in the third period, stretching the team's margin to 88-41. Viimsi made a late push behind Andre Parn's 11 points, but it was not enough to help his team overcome the 104-61 final. Seven players tallied double figures for the All Stars and each of the ten man roster scored at least one basket.
 
East Coast will hold a brief practice in Tallinn's Saku Arena Thursday night in final preparation for their matchup Friday(11:30AM EST) with the Sweden National Team.
 
INDIVIDUAL STATS
Anthony Johnson - 8 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast
Matt Gatens - 15 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast, 4 stl
Baye Moussa Keita - 11 pts, 17 reb, 4 blk, 1 stl
Brandon Triche - 13 pts, 7 ast, 3 stl, 1 reb
Pe'Shon Howard - 11 pts, 3 stl, 1 reb, 1 stl
Rodney McGruder - 13 pts, 2 reb, 2 stl, 1 ast
Bryce Cartwright - 10 pts, 4 ast, 3 stl, 1 reb
Mike Bruesewitz - 15 pts, 7 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk
Jack Cooley - 3 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast, 5 fouls (fouled out)
Elliott Eliason - 5 pts, 5 reb, 2 stl, 1 ast, 1 blk

Bruesewitz checks in from Estonia

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I heard from Mike Bruesewitz over in Estonia. Sounds like his team (the East Coast All-Stars) made it safely to Tallinn and did a little sight-seeing before practice.

Here is what Bruiser had to say:

"The first day was good and the food isn't too bad. However, the day's worth of airplane food didn't end well. Estonia is a pretty cool place. Tallinn is right on the coast line with all kinds of neat shops and restaurants in Old Town. The Old Town area is really cool with cobble stone streets and old buildings. It reminds me of a medieval state street on steroids. We have our first exhibition game (Wednesday) afternoon, but first we have a sight seeing tour."
The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpg

To say the least, this has been a wild college football off season. There has been trouble at a variety of schools, including Ohio State. It seemed every week we would hear something unsettling about a well-known program.  

Coaches and administrators at the trouble-free schools breathe a sigh of relief, while at the same time they want to make sure everyone is following the rules.

It reminds me of the incident several years ago when coach George O'Leary had to step down from a dream gig at Notre Dame because of false information on his resume. Just about every other coach in America felt the need to double check his own resume.

Naturally, all the trouble in college football has many critics claiming the game is little more than a cesspool, where nobody cares about anything other than making money. Sure, money matters in college athletics. I think most folks accept that as a fact of life. The mistake occurs when everyone is labeled by the actions of a few.

Badgers fans should feel pretty good about their team. The biggest news story out of Madison this summer is the addition of transfer quarterback Russell Wilson. While the hype surrounding Wilson's arrival has bordered on the extreme, his resume suggests he should be an excellent fit at Wisconsin.

I do not simply mean his on-field stats. Wilson has earned his undergraduate degree, and by all accounts he is a very good teammate.

There is no guarantee that Wilson will be a star with his new team, but his addition is a good, positive story. One national writer said it was refreshing to report something that did not involve the NCAA Committee on Infractions. It is hard to argue with those sentiments.

As another training camp opens, the only thing that concerns me is the hype. Even some national pundits, such as ESPN's Rod Gilmore, have mentioned Wisconsin as a team to watch in the BCS title hunt. Maybe he is right, but I always feel a little better when the Badgers are under the radar.

History supports the argument. In Wisconsin's four Big Ten championship runs of 1993, '98, '99 and 2010, it never was the preseason favorite.  

Fans in these parts can't wait for the historic Big Ten opener against Nebraska, but before the Cornhuskers come to town, the Badgers have at least a couple of tricky non-conference games -- specifically a home tilt with Oregon State, and a Soldier Field date with Northern Illinois, under the direction of former UW defensive coordinator Dave Doeren.

Those back-to-back road night games at Michigan State and Ohio State figure to be extremely difficult. The Spartans, with veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins, should to be a strong contender in the Legends Division.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes might be in a difficult period, but if they get through the first five games unscathed, they too could be more than a handful.

While it is easy for the rest of us to wonder whether Ohio State's saga creates a window of opportunity for Wisconsin and everyone else in the Big Ten, Coach Bret Bielema is smart enough to know that thinking about any program other than his own is a waste of time.

Don't get me wrong -- it is hard to blame you for being excited about Wisconsin football. The Badgers have been winning, and by all indications, they have been winning the right way. They have done well in the classroom. They have done wonderful work in the community.

As another season approaches, the hope from this observer is that the Badgers stick to the principals that worked so well a year ago. They won big in 2010. The way they won in 2010 was proof that there are good things going on in college football, and they gave fans plenty of reasons to be very proud.

There always seem to be a handful of plays that make or break a season. Last fall most of those plays went the Badgers' way, but as long as the Badgers stick to their principals, they have a very good chance of having another successful season.

Badger freshmen lead club team to national title

In their final weekend before reporting to training camp for the University of Wisconsin women's soccer team's 2011 season, three incoming freshmen led their squad to a national title at the US Youth National Championships.

Cara Walls, Olivia Tehan and Carly Vogel capped off their summers by lifting FC Milwaukee to the U18 title, the first national championship for a team from Wisconsin, boys or girls.

After dropping the first game of the preliminary round to Colorado Rush Nike, Walls' goal in the 76th minute lifted her team to a 1-0 victory over Team Boca (Fla.).

Entering the final game of preliminary play, FC Milwaukee was tied with FC Stars of Massachusetts at 1-1-0 and each had a goal differential of zero. A win was needed to reach the finals and again Wells came through in the clutch. Her goal in the 13th minute would be all her squad would need as it cruised to a 3-0 win and a rematch against Colorado Rush Nike.

Walls was once again the star in the title game. After 90 minutes of play resulted in a 1-1 tie, the Wauwatosa, Wis., native scored in both the 95th and 96th minutes to lead FC Milwaukee to a 4-2 win. Her four goals in the tournament led all scorers.

Wisconsin sophomore Catie Sessions also reached the national championships with her team, Woodbury Inferno. Competing in the U19 division, Sessions and the Inferno went 1-2 in preliminary play and failed to reach the finals.

Duje Dukan Travel Blog - No. 4 (Final)

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UW sophomore Duje Dukan is overseas playing with the Croatian National Team in the U-20 European Championships in Bilbao, Spain. He is checking in periodically with UWBadgers.com with stories from the road.

To read Dukan's earlier entries click her: No. 1 | No. 2 | No. 3

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Hey Badger Fans,

Well, the European Championships tournament ended and unfortunately we did not do as well as we wanted (or should have done), but it was a great learning experience for me getting to compete at a very high level in European basketball. It also gave me a great opportunity to get actual game experience that I didn't have much of this past year.

{3C3360C1-B327-4098-812E-FB26DC8FC2BC}flexible.jpgSpain ended up winning the tournament and the MVP was Nikola Mirotic who the Chicago Bulls took with the 23rd pick in this year's NBA Draft. This shows the wide variety of talent at this tournament.

Not only did I play against players who are playing professionally in Europe, but some are in fact at colleges in the U.S. which was good to see what my competition will look like for the next few years. Some of the colleges who were represented at the European Championships besides Wisconsin were UConn, Alabama, Florida, San Diego, Boston College, Davidson and many others.

Personally, I played a variety of positions during the last few weeks, from the 2 to the 4. I really spent a lot of time working on my versatility, so I'll be able to help the team in any way I can when I get back to Madison.

Now that the European Championships are over, I'm lifting and practicing on my own time to get ready for a very fun and exciting year of Badger basketball in 2011-2012.

Thanks everyone for reading these entries and coming along on my trip trip. I hope all is well back in Madison and I'm looking forward to joining the team again soon,

On Wisconsin!

Duje Dukan

Lucas at Large: Chelios, Suter deserving of call to the Hall

MHKY_110802_Chelios_Chris.jpgChris Chelios loved to be challenged; on the ice, or off. So when a UW football player questioned his speed and suggested that he could whip him in a foot race, there was no backing down.

Chelios demanded the race and won easily over the stunned gridder.

Adding insult to injury (i.e. one bruised ego), Chelios was wearing street shoes.

"He's got that mischievous look in his eyes,'' said Lou Vairo, who coached Chelios on the 1984 Olympic team, "and there are times when you don't know what he's up to.

"But the son-of-a- gun can play.''

Since that was also true of Gary Suter, it's only fitting that the two old friends -- Chelios and Suter -- will be part of the same induction class for the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Monday's announcement triggered flashbacks; including one to a memorable Chelios rush against Minnesota during which Chelios skated past or around four different Gophers.

He also beat the goalie, but hit the pipe with his shot.

Afterward, UW coach Jeff Sauer called it "one of the most beautiful plays I've ever seen and he didn't even score. But he has the ability to make those kinds of rushes.

"And I don't know if I've ever had a player who has been more durable. He's a mentally tough kid. Even when he's hurting, he plays with the same pace and intensity.''

Chelios, unlike Suter, wasn't exactly raised in a hockey family.

He grew up on the southwest side of Chicago and played street hockey and just about anything else that offered a challenge until he was 15 and his family moved to San Diego.

Despite his early passion for competition, he was rather small for his age and he was cut from the first hockey team that he ever tried out for -- a Junior B team in Canada.

Chelios lost some interest in hockey so he spent most of his afternoons on the beach. At night, he would skate with his younger brother at the House of Ice.

It was the only available rink in the San Diego area and the home base for U.S. International, a school that had just begun to develop a collegiate hockey program.

Once a week, Chelios' parents would drive him to Los Angeles so that he could play for a midget team. But the competition was so bad that his interest began to wane in the sport.

As a result, he spent more time in the water (surfing) and more time on the beach (goofing off).

"It was a stroke of luck,'' he would later concede after bumping into a group of hockey players from U.S. International; one of whom would put him in touch with a Junior coach in Canada.

Chelios called and arranged his own tryout with the Moose Jaw Canucks. Even though he was so inexperienced, so raw, and so unfamiliar with playing defense, he made the team.

"I was decent, nothing great,'' said Chelios, who grew four inches in one year. "I got so much ice time that I was bound to learn something, though.''

The following season, he was voted the top defenseman in the league.

That was his first step on the road to Wisconsin and eventually superstardom in the NHL.

"Chris is one of the rare players who always have the capability to come back for more,'' said Denny Helwig, who was then the trainer for the Badger hockey team.

"Nothing bothers him. He's like a diesel; the more work he gets, the better. He's very similar to Bobby Suter in that the little things don't seem to bother him.''

Bobby Suter wore No. 2 for the Badgers, John Suter wore No.3, Gary Suter wore No. 4

"I watched John and Bob play all the time and I used to idolize them,'' Gary said of his older brothers. "I would sit in the stands and band would start playing and I would think about what it would be like to be out there playing for the Badgers.''

It would be a dream come true for Gary Suter, who left Madison before the start of his sophomore year in high school and enrolled at Culver (Ind.) Military Academy

Suter was exposed to better hockey and strict discipline. Rather than making a direct jump to the WCHA and the Badgers, he played a year of junior hockey in Dubuque, Iowa.

That's where he learned more about himself and his game. Would he turn out to be a combination of Bob's offense and John's defense?  Ideally, yes.

"But I'm not going to model myself after either one of them,'' Gary Suter said upon getting to Wisconsin. "I can only be myself. And I don't feel any pressure to be anything else.''

Neither Suter nor Chelios cheated Badger hockey fans from that standpoint; making their induction into the Hall of Fame all the more deserving and special.

BLOG: Bruesewitz heading to Estonia with all-star team

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Wisconsin junior Mike Bruesewitz has been selected to the East Coast All-Stars, a 10-man national team that will compete in the Four Nations Cup in Estonia from August 5-7.

Bruesewitz is one of five Big Ten players on the squad, joining Iowa's Matt Gatens and Bryce Cartwright, Purdue's Anthony Johnson and Minnesota's Elliott Eliason. Syracuse's Brandon Triche and Baye Mousa Keita, Pe'Shon Howard of Maryland, Rodney McGruder of Kansas State and Jack Cooley from Notre Dame complete the squad.

101106MBB-6077-31.jpg"I'm really excited for the trip," Bruesewitz said Monday from JFK International Airport. "I've never been out of the country, so it's going to be a whole new experience and I can't wait to be in that environment. Our team looks pretty good. It's going to be a lot of fun."

The team began with a short two-day training camp at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., before traveling overseas Monday for the international competition. Brueswitz and the East Coast All-Stars are scheduled to play an exhibition game vs. Viimsi Spordikeskuss before beginning the Four Nations Cup.

"We'll practice once in Estonia, then scrimmage the local club team," Bruesewitz added. "We'll have a day off, then play three games in three days. We'll be playing three national teams, so there is no age limit or anything; this is each country's top team.

"I think we're going to be able sightsee around Tallinn a little bit. Matt Gatens and I were doing a little research about Estonia and it looks like there are some neat things to see and cool historical sites."

During the tournament, the team will face Sweden on Aug. 5, Georgia on Aug. 6 and wrap up competition vs. host Estonia on Aug. 7.

Ryan Evans participated in a similar trip last August with a Global Sports Academy team that played five games in Belgium, Italy and England.

"I talked to Ryan a little bit about his trip last year and he said it'll be fun," Bruesewitz said. "He said, 'obviously you're trying to win, but you're also there to enjoy it, meet new people and share new things.'"

Roster
#     NAME                    HGT   CLASS    POS.      SCHOOL
01    Anthony Johnson    6-3     R-Fr.        Guard      Purdue
05    Matt Gatens           6-5     Sr.           Guard      Iowa
12    Baye Mousa Keita  6-10    So.         Forward    Syracuse
20    Brandon Triche       6-4      Jr.          Guard       Syracuse
21    Pe'Shon Howard     6-3     So.         Guard       Maryland
22    Rodney McGruder   6-4     So.         Forward    Kansas State
24    Bryce Cartwright     6-1     Sr.          Guard       Iowa
31    Mike Bruesewitz     6-6     Jr.           Forward    Wisconsin
45    Jack Cooley           6-9      Jr.          Center      Notre Dame
55    Elliott Eliason         6-11    R-Fr.       Center      Minnesota

Itinerary
July 31st - Training Camp (Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA)
August 1st - Training Camp (Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA)
August 2nd - Arrive in Tallinn, Estonia / Team Practice
August 3rd - Exhibition vs Viimsi Spordikeskuss
August 4th - Team Practice
August 5th - East Coast vs Sweden (10:45AM EST)
August 6th - East Coast vs Georgia (10:45AM EST)
August 7th - East Coast vs Estonia (1:00PM EST)
August 8th - Team returns to US

Lucas at Large: No culture shock for new kids on Big Ten block

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CHICAGO
-- If you were solely judging the speaker on his content, not his delivery, you would have had a hard time distinguishing between Nebraska's Bo Pelini and the UW's Bret Bielema.

"We're going to do what we do and we're going to do it well,'' the head coach said.

Was that Bielema talking about playing Badger football (aka "American football")?

Or was it the newbie on the Big Ten block, Pelini?

Here's the giveaway clue and quote.

"We're not really going to adapt what we do to the conference,'' the head coach went on. "We're going to hopefully make the conference adapt to what we do.''

The head coach? Pelini, who's far less animated at the podium than on the sidelines.

Bielema could have expressed the same sentiments, though. That's the point.

"There are a ton of similarities, not only in the culture but also in the style of play,'' Nebraska's All-World defensive lineman Jared Crick was saying here last week at the Big Ten Media Days.

Crick was connecting the dots between the two league programs that answer to the Big Red. And he was also envisioning a memorable "fight'' when they clash in the Oct. 1 Big Ten opener.

"I just know that it's going to be crazy there,'' Crick said of Madison and Camp Randall Stadium. "It's going to come down to who wants it the most that night.

"I'm confident in my guys and I'm confident that they're going to come at us with their best game. It's going to be a fight, but it's going to be fun.

"They love to run the football. They're a smash-mouth style of offense and defense -- which is what they pride themselves on and what we pride ourselves on.''

Asked to elaborate on Husker football, Crick said, "We're definitely smash-mouth but also fast. Our style of defense is an athletic defense and our style of offense is turning into an athletic offense.

"But we're also going to hit you. It's an athletic, smash-mouth style, which maybe differs from the past when we were just smash-mouth. We have better athletes now and better weapons.

"We're going to utilize that, but keep the principal of a being a blue collar team.''

The Huskers, under Pelini, have been a dominant team on defense; a Pelini trademark.

"We feel like we can line up and play against anybody in the country,'' Pelini said in Chicago. And he wasn't just talking about the Blackshirt defense, either.

"We're going to do our thing. We're going to play our way. Obviously you have to make some adjustments according to who you're playing in a particular week.

"But we feel like our style -- the type of kids we recruit, the type of football team we put on the field - can fit into any conference.''

That could have been echoed by any number of coaches, including Bielema.

Regarding the adjustment factor to Big Ten offenses, Crick said, "We're not going to change a thing. We're going to do some things different. We've done things different every single year.''

His point? "We're a versatile defense and that's going to help us out,'' he said.

The Huskers will tweak their defensive scheme to accommodate for more rushing teams. In the Big 12, they routinely substituted defensive backs for linebackers against some of the spread offenses.

That often left Lavonte David as the only linebacker on the field. That was reflected in his production, too. David set a single-season school record with 152 tackles.

"A lot of the guys in our locker room, the defensive guys,'' said David, who also was in Chicago last week, "are looking forward to the physical style of play that the Big Ten has.''

Crick doesn't think it will be that big of a change.

"It's nothing we haven't prepared for before,'' he said. "It's not like we're seeing a whole new scheme, a whole new style of offense. We've gone against it before, we've prepared against it before.''

The 285-pound Crick has the versatility to play inside or on the edge of the defense.

"It's not new to me, I've been playing end since my freshman year, it's my second home,'' said Crick who admitted the Huskers might have caught Missouri off-guard with their "30'' front.

"Playing at end definitely shocked them (the Tigers). Hopefully it shocks a lot more people. You feel a lot more freedom at end because you can beat them outside or you can counter inside.

"At the end spot, you just go get'em. That's going to be the coolest thing if coach wants to put me at end this year. It will give me the freedom to do anything I want with my pass rush mentality.''

Pelini, a former Packers assistant, is no stranger to the Madison culture or Camp Randall.

Not only did he play safety at Ohio State in the late '80s, but he was a graduate assistant coach at Iowa in 1991. Bielema was then a junior and starting nose guard for Hayden Fry.

"Is the style of play a little bit different? In some ways, yes; in some ways, no,'' Pelini said of the perceived differences between the Big 12 and Big Ten. "Football is football.

"You're going to win by the basics, the fundamentals. If you're good at those things, you're going to win football games, no matter who you're playing, no matter what conference you're in."
ON WISCONSIN