Notes from Bret Bielema's news conference
December, 2, 2011
By Brian Bennett | ESPN.com
INDIANAPOLIS -- Notes and nuggets from Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema's news conference on the eve of the inaugural Big Ten title game at Lucas Oil Stadium:
- Center Peter Konz was expected to try and practice in an effort to play against Michigan State. Konz has missed the past two games after injuring his ankle against Minnesota. But Bielema sounds as if he might stick with Travis Frederick -- who started at center last week against Penn State after taking over for Ryan Groy -- even if Konz is able to play. "We're kind of at the point where, do we want to play Pete, who hasn't been repping?" he said. "Or do we want Ryan and Travis, who have done an outstanding job the last two weeks? I think we'd favor that more than somebody who hasn't been in there."
- Bielema laughed when asked where his offense and the team would be if Russell Wilson hadn't transferred from NC State to play quarterback. The projected starter in the spring, Jon Budmayr, had to have surgery on a nerve in his throwing elbow in fall camp, leaving the Badgers with a redshirt freshman and a true freshman on the depth chart behind Wilson. "We were in a very bad situation at quarterback, and then Russell appeared," Bielema said. There have been rumors of another transfer quarterback entering the program next year, and Bielema said he's heard from about 10 players interested in transferring to the Badgers because of Wilson's success. "That's not really out of the norm," he said. "It's just been brought to light because of Russell. We usually have about four or five inquiries."
- Wisconsin has lost three of the past four to Michigan State, including the past two. The Badgers have made a lot of mistakes in the past two meetings. Bielema said the team wasn't necessarily motivated by revenge. "The frustration isn't with Michigan State," he said. "The frustration is in not being able to capitalize on the things we normally do. They've won three out of four, and all of them were in East Lansing. We're glad this one's here. ... We hope the momentum is about ready to swing."
- Bielema talked with Wisconsin product and former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jim Sorgi this week for tips about playing in Lucas Oil Stadium. He has also visited Indianapolis in the past for Big Ten basketball tournaments. Bielema said he likes the Pac-12's idea of having the top-ranked team host the league championship game, but he also is glad the game will be indoors. "I would much rather have the game be decided because of two teams on the field in a neutral site and a great environment for fans than put together a game plan that could be heavily affected by weather," he said. Bielema said his fiancee is also happy because "she didn't have to worry about her dress."
- Bielema is well aware of running back Montee Ball's chase for the single-season touchdown record. Ball has 34, five shy of Barry Sanders' mark with two games to play. Bielema said the team took pride in making sure Ball broke the Big Ten record a few weeks ago, but the Badgers will not try to engineer the record by setting Ball up for easy touchdowns. As for what he's talked about with Ball, Bielema said, "I keep trying to tell him how much better he'd be next year if he comes back."
- Wisconsin hasn't practiced defending a Hail Mary pass any more than usual, but Bielema said they have changed some things from a pass rush standpoint should a similar situation to Oct. 22's wild finish arise on Saturday.
- The Badgers were favored to win the Big Ten this season and were considered a national title contender. So would a loss on Saturday make this season a disappointment? Bielema said he understands how expectations continually increase but added, "I'd hate to have a 10-win season and not be considered successful," Bielema said.