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The month of November can be rough on kickers in the Big Ten, what with the cold temperatures, hard footballs and windy conditions. For UW kicker Jack Russell and punter Drew Meyer, the 70-degree weather in Orlando is very welcomed.
Mike Lucas caught up with both kickers after a couple days in Florida to get their thoughts on the Capital One Bowl and how the improved conditions will affect their games.
"It's like Christmas all over again," said placekicker Jack Russell on the day after Christmas.
"The ball is definitely jumping off the foot a little more, we're excited," said punter Drew Meyer.
Russell has made eight of his last nine field goal attempts over the last four games.
"Jack is playing now with much more confidence," Meyer said of Russell. "He's kicking the ball great; it's really jumping off his foot. I'm excited to see what he's going to do in the bowl game."
Meyer, on the other hand, is looking to build off a solid performance in the Badgers' last bowl game, the 2013 Rose Bowl.
In last season's Rose Bowl, Meyer averaged 44.6 yards on seven punts. He had three downed inside the 20. It was his first appearance on the postseason stage and he acquitted himself well.
Read the entire story: Specialists warm up to kicking in Capital One Bowl
Take a spin around the web for the latest from Orlando as the Badgers prepare to take on South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1:
- Wisconsin State Journal: Running back James White hoping to go out on top
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ethan Armstrong returns to UW practice field
- Orlando Sentinel: Wisconsin eager to avenge Penn State loss by bouncing back in Cap One Bowl
Each year when the bowl matchups are announced, media outlets scramble to make a list of the best, most watchable and most intriguing games.This year is no different and the Capital One Bowl between the Badgers and South Carolina ranks high among the 35 bowl games this year. Here's a rundown of what people around the country are saying about this Big Ten-SEC matchup:
- Athlon - No. 5
- SI.com - No. 6
- ESPN.com - No. 6
- CBSSports.com - No. 6
- SBNation - No. 7
- USA Today - No. 9
Following Thursday's practice, the Badgers' first in Florida, head coach Gary Andersen met with the media:
What are the keys to the Badgers coming out on top vs. South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl? Who will make the difference on offense and defense? What's the Badgers' mindset, especially the seniors, heading into another showcase game on Jan. 1?
All those questions and more are answered in this week's edition of 'Varsity' Magazine.
Find out who said, "I like the matchup. We're a physical team; heavy in the run game and play-action. They're physical up front with great talent and speed."
1. I am not the jinx.
I started calling Wisconsin volleyball on the radio in 2008. I didn't know anything about the program other than they won a lot and got to the tournament all the time.
That changed once I entered the picture. "You're a jinx," I would hear from co-workers after the first year. The talk increased in year two. By year three and beyond friends would ask "What has changed other than you started calling matches?"
For a while there, I think I even started to believe some of the talk. That was until this year when the team made the postseason for the first time since 2007. What a relief off my shoulders right? Now I know what Red Sox fans must have felt like after their World Series drought, to know that the "jinx" doesn't exist.
2. Confidence, combined with "dreaming big," can get you a long way.
Now that I have the silly stuff out of the way, let's get serious. This team's confidence is through the roof right now. That's not to say that the team wasn't confident throughout the season, but this confidence is paired with a mindset to "dream big." It has turned out to be a successful combination.
The players have never doubted what the result of every tournament game would be during this run. I talked to junior Courtney Thomas before the team's regional final match against Purdue and asked her what it's like being so close to making the NCAA National Semifinals, one of her dreams as a collegiate volleyball player. "It's so exciting! I mean we're going to Seattle, no doubt about it," she told me. She was right.
The coaching staff has encouraged the players to "dream big" and not just have a goal of winning one or two matches, but to strive for the entire thing and win six straight. I think it's been just as big of a key to their post-season success as their aggressive serving and tough defensive play.
Sure you need to put in the physical work, study the game and have a crazy elite skill set to get this far in the tournament, but trusting your abilities and believing good things will happen can take you to places you've only dreamed of before. Just ask the 2013 Badgers volleyball team.