Oct. 4, 2013
BY MIKE LUCAS
MADISON, Wis. -- If you were to walk past the lockers of Wisconsin’s Ethan Hemer and Ryan Groy during Saturday’s open date in the schedule, you might see two signs, “Gone Fishing” and “Gone Hunting.”
Hemer and Groy are fifth-year seniors and among the elder statesmen on the team. Both have appeared in 46 games, with Hemer starting 37 on the D-line and Groy starting 25 on the O-line.
Both believed the timing was right for the bye.
“It’s much needed,” said Groy, “People are starting to feel the wear of the season and it’s a good time to start getting our legs back and getting some film (study) in. I think it will be helpful.”
On whether the Badgers were ready for a break, Hemer added, “The guys are mentally, emotionally, physically (ready); this is a time when it’s good to get recharged and refocused.”
Hemer was also looking forward to revisiting his roots. On Friday night, he was planning on returning home to Medford, Wis., which is about 190 miles from Madison and 60 miles from Eau Claire.
Hemer hasn’t been back for a high school football game since he last played in one. In 2008, he was an all-state defensive lineman for the Medford Raiders.
That year, Groy was one of three Middleton players named to the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-State team. Wautoma’s Jared Abbrederis was the first-team quarterback.
“High school football is something special,” said Hemer, a former walk-on with the Badgers. “I’ll be kind of like all the old men in the stands now that just reminisce about the good ol’ days. It’ll be fun.”
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Saturday, Nov. 30
While home, he was thinking about checking out some old fishing holes. He has been known to fish for walleye on the area lakes. He’s a catch-and-cook guy. “When they’re big enough,” he stressed.
On Saturday, he will be doing what most of his teammates will be doing. “Most likely, I’ll spend a lot of time on the couch (watching college football),” he predicted with some certainty.
The marquee attraction will be Ohio State at Northwestern. Hemer will try to watch the game as a fan moreso than a player focused exclusively on the Wildcats, the next opponent on the UW’s plate.
“It’s not going to be a huge emphasis on my part (to critique) because I know come Sunday and Monday, I’m going to be really watching that game (technically) and breaking it down,” he said.
“But I think it’s good that you can see the tempo of the team (on the ABC telecast) and what their offense is like from that standpoint. It’s a brief introduction to what that team is.”
Groy’s intent is to also be more casual in his viewing of the Saturday night game.
“But I don’t think I’ll be able to take my eyes off Northwestern’s D-line the whole time,” said Groy, the UW’s starting left guard on offense. “It’s just kind of the way I am.
“When I’m watching football on Sundays, I’m watching the line. It’s just what I do.”
Groy has his own escape planned for this weekend: bow hunting.
“I’m going to get out in the woods and clear my mind and hopefully see some deer,” he said. “I’ve been shooting bow ever since I was a kid. I like bow better (than gun) but I do both.
“I just think it’s harder, it’s more of a challenge (with bow). You can see deer 50 yards away when you’re bow hunting but you still can’t get to them.
“When you have a gun, you can shoot from 200 yards away. It’s more about you and nature (with bow). It’s not about wearing blaze orange and having a big gun. It’s more old school.
“It absolutely clears my mind,” he went on about hunting. “I try not to think about football.”
But that’s almost impossible to do for Groy or Hemer; especially after the Ohio State loss.
“It doesn’t do any good to linger on it; this team is too good to let a loss define who we are,” Hemer said. “There are things we can take from it. But I don’t know there’s anyone still focused on it.”
Groy knows that the Wisconsin offensive line can play better.
“Myself included,” he said with emphasis. “We have to play with better technique and we have to clean up pre-snap sloppy mistakes.
“Every position (group) made their own mistakes. You can look at those individually and you can look at yourself and correct those things that can make you a better team.”
The last time Northwestern and Wisconsin played -- Nov. 27, 2010 -- the Badgers claimed a share of the Big Ten championship, their first since 1999, with a 70-23 win over the Wildcats in Madison.
Hemer started on a UW defensive line that also included Louis Nzegwu, Patrick Butrym and J.J. Watt. The starting linebackers were Blake Sorensen and Mike Taylor.
Because of Northwestern’s spread attack, the Badgers utilized their nickel package featuring Devin Smith, Niles Brinkley, Jay Valai, Aaron Henry and Antonio Fenelus.
On the offensive line, Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt, Peter Konz, Kevin Zeitler and Rick Wagner created running creases for Montee Ball, who rushed for 178 yards (8.9 average) and four touchdowns.
James White had the same number of carries (20) as Ball and produced 134 yards. Quarterback Scott Tolzien was an efficient 15-for-19 for 230 yards. He threw for four scores, two to Nick Toon.
During the Big Ten Media Days this summer in Chicago, Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter made it clear that the Wildcats hadn’t forgotten that 2010 beatdown at Camp Randall Stadium.
“We really want to redeem ourselves for that poor performance,” he said.
Both teams will be hunting for the tie-breaker next Saturday.
Over the last 22 games, the Northwestern-Wisconsin series is deadlocked, 11-11.