Sunday will mark 10 years since the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center that claimed nearly 3,000 lives. Many will have flashbacks, including UW men's cross country coach Mick Byrne, who headed up his own program at Iona College in New York for 19 seasons before joining the Badgers in 2008.
Mick Byrne remembered stopping at a neighborhood deli for his morning coffee and hard roll when he heard the news: a plane had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
Byrne immediately returned to his home in City Island, N.Y.; which sits on the western end of Long Island Sound, south of Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx and east of Eastchester Bay.
"From my front porch I can see the whole skyline of lower Manhattan, and I saw the smoke,'' Byrne said. "At that stage, I don't think it hit home exactly what was going on.''
So he didn't alter his plans. He drove his oldest son, Aidan, to school and headed for work at Iona College, which is about 40 minutes north of Manhattan in Westchester County.
"By the time I got there the second plane had hit the South Tower,'' Byrne said.
"Then we all knew what was going on.''
Byrne picked up his son and they returned home.
"It was very sobering,'' said Byrne, knowing that many of the workers in lower Manhattan lived in Westchester County. "There were a lot of people from that area in the towers.''
Byrne's wife, Mary Jo -- a physician's assistant in cardiology -- was called into help.
"My next memory was that night on City Island,'' he said, "and everybody getting together in restaurants and bars and kind of watching all the reports on television about what was going on.''
Two firefighters who lived on City Island lost their lives, Byrne added.
"As the days and weeks went on,'' he said, "you'd hear more and more from people who knew somebody that was killed. Everyone knew someone who knew someone ...''
Byrne recognized the name of a former runner who had been out for cross country at Iona for only six to eight weeks before leaving the team. He really didn't know him beyond that point.
But he was one of the 341 New York City firefighters who died.
"I remember my wife waking me up one night because she thought there was a fire in our house,'' Byrne recounted. "I jumped out of bed and ran into the kid's rooms.
"After checking all the rooms upstairs, I ran downstairs and even checked out the furnace. And there was nothing. I ran outside and couldn't see anything on the street.''
Finally it dawned on him.
"It was the smoke from the Twin Towers that had blown in our direction,'' he said. "My recollection was that it was a number of days afterward; it could have been a week or two weeks.
"I'll never forget that feeling.''
Two years ago, the Badgers competed at the Iona Meet of Champions in the Bronx and Byrne took the team to Ground Zero. He's a frequent visitor whenever he's back in New York City.
"If I'm downtown, I always stop there,'' he said. "It's important. We should never forget.''
Two days before the UNLV opener, UW running backs coach Thomas Hammock reminded tailback Montee Ball to take the shortest distance between two points after catching the football.
"You're going to get in this situation,'' Hammock advised Ball who had 16 catches last season, "and when you do, just run straight. Don't look to your left. Don't look to your right.''
Why was such a reminder necessary? "There were times last year,'' Hammock said, "where Montee would start looking for another defender instead of just running.''
Last Thursday night, Ball found himself in the situation that Hammock foreshadowed. Swinging out of the backfield, he caught a pass in the flat and ran 63 yards before being pulled down.
"For it to come to fruition during the game was something that we both laughed about on Sunday,'' Hammock said. "On that pass, he cut back inbounds and then got vertical on the defender.
"I told him, 'Even though you didn't score, it was still longer than any play you've had since you've been here. Keep working and the next time try to score on it.'''
Ball's 22-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was also noteworthy to Hammock because Ball was able to pull through a tackle attempt and high step into the end zone.
"That's something that he has done constantly over the course of the spring and fall camp,'' Hammock said, "and it was good to see it happen in a game situation.''
Such results are a product of daily preparation in practice, Hammock stressed.
"The one thing I've tried to express to them,'' he said of his tailbacks, "is that you're going to play like you practice. They practiced hard (last week) and we need to continue to do that every week.''
When UW coach Bret Bielema was asked Monday what went into the offense's efficiency against UNLV, highlighted by eight scores in the first eight possessions, he said, "Hopefully preparation.''
Bielema then credited his offensive coaching staff for putting it all together.
"They work well together,'' he said. "Everyone understands what their roles are. They practiced very clean during fall camp that led to some very good things you saw (in the opener).
"The good news is that I think we can be better.''
That has been Hammock's message to his runners. "Details,'' he said. "It's something we can always strive to clean up and try to get as close to perfect as possible.''
He did single out a James White run that bordered on perfection.
"He made a jump cut outside,'' he said, "and with the safety coming up he had a nice stiff arm and made the guy miss for a 22-yard run. We always talk about making that last guy miss.
"Obviously, there were some more guys out there to run him down but I just think that was something we can build up. What we do every day in practice, we should be able to do in a game.
"That's what I liked most about what I saw (from Ball and White). It's always good see the carryover of what we've been trying to work on. But there are a lot of things we can do better.''
Hammock was generally pleased with the way Ball and White caught the ball. The only exception was a low pass over the middle that Ball failed to look into his hands and dropped.
"Montee has to catch that,'' Hammock said. "That's something we stress. Look the ball all the way in before you run. If he catches that ball, he's got a chance to make something big happen.''
Gordon, Lewis get their chance The Badgers got off to such a big lead against the Rebels that they removed their starters early in the second half; resulting in valuable playing experience for tailbacks Jeff Lewis and Melvin Gordon.
"They did some good things,'' Hammock said. "But we still have some work to do.''
Heeding Hammock's emphasis on taking care of the details is the starting point.
"If you make a certain cut in practice, chances are you're going to make the same cut in a game,'' he said. "Everything I put on that practice tape is getting them ready for game situations.''
That should be the motivation to take care of all the little things in practice, he reiterated.
"But it was good that they had the opportunity to play,'' Hammock allowed.
Bielema indicated that Lewis and Gordon would get chances on special teams. "First off, Jeff and Melvin are probably two of our faster guys on the team,'' Bielema said.
That makes them both attractive for the kickoff coverage unit. "Also Jeff Lewis has enough size that he can run down the middle of the field and be faster than anybody else,'' Bielema said.
Gordon could get reps on punt coverage, too. "I'd like to incorporate Melvin,'' he said, "just because he's got some elusiveness maybe as a punt blocker.''
Gordon could also wind up returning kickoffs.
Does Bielema have any reservations about using White on that unit?
"No, not really,'' he said. "James has been doing that (returning kicks) ever since he was in high school and he wants to do it here. I asked him, 'Is this something you want to do?' And he said, 'Yes.'
"What I've done as a head coach is make sure in situations where in the second half we're up by a certain number of points ... all of a sudden, James is off the unit.''
That's also the Bielema rule of thumb for pulling Jared Abbrederis off punt returns, Jacob Pedersen off the frontline of kick returns and Bradie Ewing off all four phases of special teams.
"We need them to have the opportunity to win the rest of our games,'' Bielema said.
Boise 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."