Lucas at Large: Supporting cast big in Wilson's primetime debut

FB_110903_Wilson_Russell.jpegThe ESPN film crew did something Thursday night that the UNLV defense couldn't do.

They stopped Russell Wilson.

Since the start of training camp, ESPN has been tracking Wilson -- and his every movement on and off the field -- for a quarterback special ("Depth Chart'') that's scheduled to air in October.

As soon as Wilson stepped outside of the locker room after the UW's 51-17 win over UNLV, he was stopped and "miked'' by the ESPN producer in charge of the project.

They exchanged pleasantries and went about their business -- all of which fell under the heading of "business as usual" for Wilson, who has handled every media situation with a calm professionalism.

Such 24/7 attention would normally be a distraction to most players.

"Most definitely, especially during training camp,'' agreed UW wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. "After practice you just want to go home and take a nap or go watch some film.

"But he (Wilson) always has people following him around and asking for interviews. It's been really impressive how he has handled himself. But I'm not really surprised.

"That's just the kind of guy he is. He can handle it. He's one impressive guy.''

Throughout the season opener, the 22-year-old Wilson took care of business on the sidelines by communicating with each of his offensive teammates; especially the skill position players.

"He'll come over and talk to you about the route depth or something like that,'' Abbrederis said. "If he sees something in the defense, he might say, 'Get ready for this play, it might be coming.'''

Because of Wilson's running ability, the UW receivers are always on alert.

"If you're running a pass route,'' Abbrederis said, "it (a pass) might be coming or he might be taking off and running. If he is, you'd better get on your guy and block him.

"But blocking is one of the things we do a lot just because of the running backs we have. It's a tradition here. Coach stresses that every day. Put two hands on your target.

"You saw that with Nick, who was on his guy for probably five seconds when Russell scored.''

That would be Nick Toon, who tied up a defensive back on the goal line during Wilson's 46-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Tight end Jacob Pedersen also got a huge block.

"Blocking is a big part of the game of football especially here at Wisconsin,'' Toon said. "We pride ourselves on being able to run the ball.

"To have receivers blocking downfield opens up opportunities for big plays. As you saw, Russell can run. He's another offensive threat and playmaker making downfield blocking even more important.''

Wilson's touchdown run was the longest of his career. What did he see as the play unfolded?

"Everybody was covered and I just wanted to get a first down,'' said Wilson, who finished with 317 yards of total offense. "I got some great blocks downfield and I just kept running.

"I just go through my progressions. I'm always trying to throw the ball first. But if something is not there, I want to make something positive out of it (the play).''

UW offensive center Peter Konz never saw Wilson leave the pocket.

"I didn't even know he was running until he was already 10 yards down the field,'' he said. "You feel like you're pass blocking for six seconds and then you have the feeling that he's gone.''

By his own admission, Wilson was not perfect. He did overthrow a couple of open receivers.

"There's always room for improvement; I always believe that especially playing the quarterback position,'' Wilson said. "There are things you can always get better at.

"We'll watch film, and correct things here and there.

"We just have to keep getting better every single week.''

One impressive guy.