Big Ten: Pat Muldoon

Wisconsin Badgers season preview

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21

» More team previews: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Previewing the 2014 season for the Wisconsin Badgers:

2013 overall record: 9-4 (6-2 Big Ten)

Key losses: RB James White, WR Jared Abbrederis, TE Jacob Pedersen, OG Ryan Groy, DE Pat Muldoon, DT Beau Allen, LB Chris Borland, S Dezmen Southward

Key returnees: RB Melvin Gordon, OT Rob Havenstein, OG Kyle Costigan, OT Tyler Marz, CB Sojourn Shelton, S Michael Caputo

Instant impact newcomer: Safety Lubern Figaro. If you're from outside the Badger State, you're probably asking, "Who?" After all, Figaro was just a three-star recruit and enrolled over the summer -- but he's already projected to start in the opener. Part of the reason is reportedly an injury to safety Leo Musso, but Figaro has already done plenty to separate himself. In the first scrimmage this preseason, he returned a pick for a touchdown. DB Sojourn Shelton made an impact last season when he was a true freshman; now it looks as if it's Figaro's turn.

[+] EnlargeSojourn Shelton
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsSojourn Shelton and the Badgers' defense will have their hands full against teams in the West Division.
Projected starters

Offense: QB: Joel Stave, RS Jr., 6-5, 220; RB: Melvin Gordon, RS Jr., 6-1, 213; FB: Derek Watt, RS Jr., 6-2, 236; WR: Alex Erickson, RS So., 6-0, 196; WR: Reggie Love, RS So., 6-3, 214; TE: Sam Arneson, Sr., 6-4, 244; OT: Tyler Marz, RS Jr., 6-5, 321; OG: Dallas Lewallen, RS Sr., 6-6, 321: C: Dan Voltz, RS So., 6-3, 311; OG: Kyle Costigan, RS Sr., 6-5, 319; OT: Rob Havenstein, RS Sr., 6-8, 333

Defense: DE: Chikwe Obasih, RS Fr., 6-2, 268; DT: Warren Herring, RS Sr., 6-3, 294; DE: Konrad Zagzebski, RS Sr., 6-3, 277; OLB: Joe Schobert, Jr., 6-2, 240; ILB: Marcus Trotter, RS Sr., 6-0, 226; ILB: Derek Landisch, Sr., 6-0, 231; OLB: Vince Biegel, RS So., 6-4, 244; CB: Darius Hillary, RS Jr., 5-11, 188; CB: Sojourn Shelton, So., 5-9, 178; S: Michael Caputo, RS Jr., 6-1, 212; S: Lubern Figaro, Fr., 6-0, 179

Specialists: P: Drew Meyer, RS Jr., 6-3, 187; PK: Rafael Gaglianone, Fr., 5-11, 231

Biggest question mark: Can this front seven recover from so many key departures? Of the seven players who started in the Badgers' bowl game last season, only one returns. That leaves quite a few holes, especially when considering the departures of Big Ten defensive player of the year Chris Borland and two All-Big Ten honorable mentions (Beau Allen, Pat Muldoon). Wisconsin's front seven dominated in 2013, as they helped the Badgers rank No. 5 nationally in rush defense (102.5 yards per game) and No. 6 in scoring defense (16.3 points per game). Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is solid, but he's not a magician. Those defensive numbers will almost certainly drop from last season -- but just how much?

Most important game: Nov. 15 versus Nebraska. It's basically a three-team race in the West Division, so this is a must-win if Wisconsin wants a spot in the Big Ten championship game. There's no Ohio State or Michigan State on the schedule this season, so the Huskers and Iowa Hawkeyes are the teams to beat. Iowa is just as important, but that contest comes a week later, and that won't mean a thing if Wisconsin first can't get past this contest.

Upset special: Nov. 29 versus Minnesota. A lot could be on the line when the Badgers square off against Minnesota in the final game of the regular season. And, depending how Wisconsin's defense progresses, this could be an interesting one. Wisconsin's run defense is a wild card right now, and the Gophers could boast the second-toughest rushing attack on Wisconsin's schedule (outside of Nebraska). No team held Wisconsin to fewer points (20) last season than Minnesota, so there is some potential here. Plus, one has to think the Gophers will be able to manage better than a seven-point offensive effort this time around.

Key stat: Sure, everyone knows the departure of Jared Abbrederis will hurt Wisconsin. But the Badgers actually lost their top four targets, and only one (Jordan Fredrick) recorded catches in the double-digits. And he had just 10. Overall, Wisconsin lost 81 percent of its receiving production, as this year's returners had just 42 combined receptions last season compared with the 217 total catches.

What they're wearing: Wisconsin has come a long way since 2010, because it basically went from rotating between two uniform combinations to doing photo shoots with more than 20 combinations.

One possible new look includes an all-red, jersey-pant combo (not to be confused with Nebraska's all-red getup):

Team's top Twitter follows: Head coach Gary Andersen (@UWCoachAndersen) joined Twitter just a few weeks ago, but he pumps out unique tweets and is a great follow. The official Wisconsin football account (@BadgerFootball) tweets like crazy and is always on the ball. As far as players, running back Melvin Gordon (@Melvingordon25) is a no-brainer, while cornerback Sojourn Shelton (@SDS1_) definitely deserves a few more follows. There are quite a few good follows for your coverage needs -- besides us, of course -- including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) and SB Nation blog Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q).

They said it: "No question there's a temptation to run him every time." – Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen on running back Melvin Gordon

Stats & Info projection: 9.29 wins

Wise guys over/under: 9.5 wins

Big Ten blog projection: Ten wins. Wisconsin has a lot of question marks, but it also has a lot of talent. The rushing offense should be one of the nation's best and, while this defense will undoubtedly take a step back from last season, it shouldn't free-fall with Dave Aranda at the helm. Wisconsin's schedule is pretty favorable, as it doesn't play any of the big names from the East, and it's possible it could be favored in every game from Week 2 on. Wisconsin's getting the benefit of the doubt here, but if it can manage a win against LSU in the opener, that bandwagon is going to get big in a hurry.

Q&A: Wisconsin NT Beau Allen

November, 1, 2013
Jet-sweeping running back Melvin Gordon and the Wisconsin offense have garnered most of the attention so far this season, but some good things are happening on the defensive side as well. New head coach Gary Andersen and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda employ a multifaceted, 3-4 scheme that has helped Wisconsin rank sixth nationally in both points allowed (15.9 ppg) and yards allowed (285 ypg). Among the players adjusting to new roles and responsibilities is senior nose tackle Beau Allen, who will try to slow down Iowa's power run game Saturday as Wisconsin and Iowa renew their rivalry for the first time since 2010. caught up with Allen this week to discuss the season, the matchup and, of course, Halloween.

What does Beau Allen do on a bye week?

Beau Allen: Absolutely nothing. I went home (to Minnetonka, Minn.) actually for the weekend because it was my mom's birthday. My dad's birthday is actually on Halloween. I watched a lot of football and ate a lot of football. It was glorious.

Do you have a Halloween costume picked out?

[+] EnlargeMiley Cyrus
AP Photo/Evan Agostini/InvisionCan't imagine a 300-pound male version of Miley Cyrus? Well, if Beau Allen had his way, that's what he'd be for Halloween.
Allen: This year? No. I was thinking about doing some crazy things, maybe being a bearded lady, or I was going to be Miley Cyrus, but I'm actually not going to go trick-or-treating this year, which is kind of too bad. But if I was, I'd probably be one of those two.

Is it just too close to a game?

Allen: Yeah, just too close to a game. I've got a lot of schoolwork to do, and I'm actually going to see a movie, "Ender's Game" comes out, and I'm pretty fired up about that, because that was my favorite book.

So if you guys get a win on Saturday against Iowa, will you do a late Halloween celebration?

Allen: Yeah, probably. To be honest, I'll probably head over to the store and buy all the discounted candy. I'm trying to be frugal.

You haven't faced Iowa since your freshman year. What are you looking forward to going against the Hawkeyes again?

Allen: Obviously, it's a trophy game, and we've held the trophy the past couple years, so that's a big thing. But me personally, I'm excited because it's Big Ten football. They're a smashmouth team, they run the ball a lot, they've got powerful running backs and a good offensive line, so it's definitely a good challenge for our D-line. It's something we've been excited about.

Does Iowa remind you of your team a bit, going against your offense in practice?

Allen: Yeah, definitely. The way they run the zone is a little different, but just the philosophy of wanting to pound the ball, and then hitting the tight ends on boot and play-action and stuff like that, is definitely very similar.

Did they recruit you at all?

Allen: Yeah, I was recruited by [former Iowa defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski], who's at Nebraska now. They've had some talented D-linemen in the past. They were probably in my last four or five schools.

What put Wisconsin over the top?

Allen: I've had a lot of family connections here over the years, and I really liked the business school and the academics that I'm in right now. And just the atmosphere on game day. I felt really at home with the players.

[+] EnlargeBeau Allen
AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinBeau Allen and the Wisconsin defense has been celebrating a lot this season, as they are in the top 20 of scoring and overall defense.
You've had two months to play in this defense. What have you learned about the scheme, and how comfortable are you in what they're asking you to do?

Allen: I feel great with that. I love it our scheme. One thing I really like that is a little different from what we've done in the past is we have a lot of different personnel groupings. Coach Aranda does a great job of getting our personnel to match up with what the opposing offense likes to do. On game day, we'll have anywhere from five to eight different personnel groups. That puts the best players on our defense in the best positions to win. So I like that a lot.

Are there certain guys you're playing alongside now who you never did before?

Allen: So in one of our peso groups, where I'm an end, I'm playing next to a stand-up linebacker, like Joe Schobert or Vince Biegel, where I haven't played with them before. But then I'm still playing with a lot of guys I've played with in the past, like Brendan Kelly, Ethan Hemer, Tyler Dippel, Pat Muldoon, so it's a good combination of some new faces and some familiar ones.

Does what they're asking you to do change depending on the personnel grouping?

Allen: For most of the time when I'm lined up in base at nose guard, I've got my job role cut out for me, which is occupy blockers and try to keep our linebackers free. But then when we get into passing downs and stuff like that, sometimes they'll put me out into a pass rush role, which is kind of nice and refreshing for me.

Do you have any pass-rush moves you've been saving for this game?

Allen: Well, I don't want to tell you because the word might get out. But I've been saving up a spin move. I used it against Northwestern. Some people are surprised when big men hit spin moves, so been saving that bad boy.

Have you named it?

Allen: No, I haven't. Maybe I should. Got anything good? I'll work on that. Maybe the hair tornado or something like that.

You mentioned the Iowa running backs and Mark Weisman is a big guy. What will be the key to slowing him down?

Allen: I love playing bigger running backs like that. It's just getting back to tackling fundamentals. You can't really arm-tackle guys like that, especially me, if I'm on a blocker, I can't just try to reach out or he'll probably rip my arm off. You can't just expect to bring him down just by hitting him. You've got to wrap him up and get your defenders to rally and pursue the ball.

What are the keys to finishing the season strong, and what are the goals for your team? You need some help to get to the Big Ten championship.

Allen: Some of us are a little upset because we feel like we're not getting the recognition we deserve, but we can't think of it that way. We've got to practice every day the right way and play every game the right way and not try to look ahead to the end of the year. Just focus on the small daily things, and if we do that, we'll get to where we want to be at the end of the year.

Were you surprised when Wisconsin wasn't in the initial BCS standings? Has it been hard to get recognition?

Allen: Yeah, but if we just take care of our business and practice and play the way we know that we can, that will all sort itself out.

Big Ten mailblog

April, 9, 2013
Your questions, my answers ...

Mike from Denver writes: Because it's never too early to compare....You were in East Lansing and two days later in Ann Arbor. I understand it's just Spring and only a day on site so I'm not looking for a prediction. But how would you compare where each team is and how high their ceilings are? If you want to go ahead and predict a score, don't let me stop you ...

Adam Rittenberg: No score predictions just yet, Mike, although there's plenty of time for foolish/fearless predictions before the season kicks off. Both teams have a good chance to be better than they were in 2012. Michigan State's physical play on defense really stood out to me in practice. The Spartans boast tremendous speed and depth in the secondary, and they lay the wood on ball-carriers every chance they get. Michigan's speed also caught my eye -- it's an area the Wolverines have upgraded on both sides of the ball. I still get the sense Michigan is a year away, numbers-wise, from being back among the nation's elite. The Wolverines will have more elite players in position to contribute in 2014. Both teams have similar question marks -- running back, pass rush, wide receiver. I have little doubt Michigan State's defense will once again be among the nation's elite, but the Spartans need to threaten opponents more on offense. Michigan needs some star power to emerge on defense and a running back to complement quarterback Devin Gardner's passing skills.

Bob from Crown Point, Ind., writes: Adam...What differences do you see in how the new Purdue coaching staff is handling practice as opposed to the last four years?

Adam Rittenberg: For starters, most practices are now open to the media and public, so we can see a lot more of what's going on with the Boilers. Darrell Hazell doesn't waste time, and his practices are crisp and efficient. The team isn't out there long, but they seem to get a lot done. Overall, the atmosphere around the program is much more relaxed. Danny Hope is more high-strung/intense than Hazell, who brings a calming presence to the Mollenkopf Athletic Center. The practice itself featured a lot of special teams and ball security drills, two hallmarks of Hazell, a Jim Tressel disciple.

Brett from Madison, Wis., writes: Hey Adam, what do you think about the Badgers losing David Gilbert? Obviously, losing a veteran player with his athleticism is going to hurt, but how big of a loss do you think it is? Also, after watching the Badgers practice and talking to the coaching staff, who do you see as the guy who's going to replace him?

Adam Rittenberg: The impact of Gilbert's loss will be determined by the pass-rushers who remain, players like Brendan Kelly, Pat Muldoon and Tyler Dippel. Kelly is the one to watch as he racked up eight sacks and 11 tackles for loss the past two seasons after battling several injuries early in his career. He could be a very good fit for Gary Andersen's defense. Dippel had five sacks last season, while Muldoon added 2.5. The bummer is that Gilbert likely would have thrived in the new scheme, which features players of his size in an outside linebacker/rush end role. Wisconsin lacks proven depth in the secondary, which could be a problem area if the pass rush isn't strong. The Badgers haven't had a difference-maker up front since J.J. Watt, so the defensive end spot will be very interesting to watch from now until Aug. 31.

Russ from Roanoke, Va., writes: How does Maryland's history and bowl records /wins compare with the other Big 10 schools? I know they were once coached by Bear Bryant, but where are they in terms of bowl game wins & national championships pecking order?

Adam Rittenberg: Maryland football will enter its 121st season this fall. The Terrapins boast nine ACC championships (seven outright, two shared, last title in 2001) and an 11-11-2 record in bowl games (last appearance: 2010 Military Bowl). Bryant coached the Terrapins for just one season, in 1945, going 6-2-1 before taking the Kentucky job. He clashed with Harry Byrd, the school's president and former football coach (Maryland's stadium is named after Byrd).

Mike from Allentown, Pa., writes: Hey Adam,I know a lot of us PSU fans are asking about what penalties (if any) Auburn or Rutgers might have dropped on them. How about the reverse? What if Penn State never issued an internal investigation? Would the NCAA have even done something? Miami seems to be questioning, with good reason, everything the NCAA has brought against them. Is that just the difference between a school president that has years of experience, as opposed to someone just thrown into the fire? It's tough to feel as had we not launched our internal investigation, we would be sanction free (at least for now).

Adam Rittenberg: Mike, there's no doubt the NCAA would have conducted its own investigation into Penn State if the school didn't do its own probe. It's fair to wonder if the NCAA investigation would have run into the same problems as the Miami probe, but I have a hard time thinking no action would have been taken, judging by NCAA president Mark Emmert's response to the Freeh Report. I really think the only way Penn State would be sanction-free is if the NCAA investigation was sidetracked. A better question is whether Penn State would have received reduced sanctions if it went through the normal NCAA infractions process. Former NCAA investigator Ameen Najjar criticized Penn State president Rodney Erickson for not pushing back more against the NCAA sanctions, writing in an email that the NCAA had no right to impose sanctions. Maybe he's right, but the impact of the Penn State scandal prompted the NCAA to act in some way. The impact also prompted the university to conduct its own investigation. After the P.R. hit Penn State took, the university was under a lot of pressure to do some type of internal probe.

FFXLion from Washington D.C. writes: I don't have a football question for you, but just a comment. I saw that you finished very well in our blog hoops pool. In fact, you finished tied with my 8th grade son for 14th place. Given his prowess at picking winners, I have to congratulate you on quite an accomplishment. PS: I didn't do as well.

Adam Rittenberg: I'm usually in your boat, FFX, when it comes to my bracket. Louisville winning it all definitely helped me, and I had a good first two days. But that Georgetown pick -- man, oh man. Maybe your son can pick the games for me in the fall. I'm looking forward to another dinner at St. Elmo's on Bennett's dime.
Wisconsin will be without one of its best pass-rushers this season, as the school announced Friday that senior defensive end David Gilbert was giving up football because of recurring foot injuries.

Gilbert missed most of the 2011 season because of problems with his right foot and was sitting out spring practice this year as he recovered from surgery to repair ligaments in the same foot.

[+] EnlargeDavid Gilbert
AP Photo/David StlukaWhen healthy, David Gilbert was one of the Badgers' most dangerous pass-rushers.
“This was a difficult decision for me. but I have had multiple injuries and surgeries on my foot and feel that no longer playing at UW is the best decision for me,” Gilbert said in a statement released by the school. “I have been dealing with pain in my foot since the injury first occurred, and I just need to give it time to fully heal.

Gilbert led all Badgers defensive linemen with 42 tackles last year and finished second on the team with 9.5 tackles for loss. He was fourth on the team in sacks with four and also caused three fumbles, including one in the Big Ten championship game.

The plan was to have the 6-foot-4, 247-pound Gilbert line up at outside linebacker when Wisconsin went to its 3-4 scheme this fall. He was viewed as maybe the best pure pass-rusher on the team when healthy.

“David’s decision was part of an on-going discussion we have had for a number of weeks,” head coach Gary Andersen said in a statement. “I would have loved the opportunity to coach David, but we always want to do what’s in the best interests of the young man. He needs a year to recover from his injuries and focus on graduating. It is always tough when a young man’s college career comes to an end due to an injury but David knows we are here to support him in any way necessary.”

Gilbert is probably best remembered by casual fans for making critical comments about Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez before last year's regular-season meeting in Lincoln. Those comments earned him a spot on the bench at the start of the game. But he also had a sack and a forced fumble in that loss to the Huskers and played well in the rematch for the Big Ten title.

Wisconsin's defensive line still has depth and experience, as it returns starting tackles Beau Allen and Ethan Hemer, as well as Pat Muldoon, Tyler Dippel, Warren Herring and Bryce Gilbert. Redshirt freshman Vince Biegel has been playing outside linebacker with the first string this spring.
It's time to recognize the best and the brightest around the Big Ten in Week 6.

  • Penn State QB Matt McGloin: McGloin misfired on some of his throws early in the game against Northwestern, but he was on point when it mattered. He led a comeback from a 28-17 fourth-quarter deficit and ran for the go-ahead score in a 39-28 Nittany Lions victory. McGloin finished 35-of-51 for 282 yards and two touchdowns, plus that running score. Props also to Allen Robinson, who caught both of McGloin's touchdown throws, and running back Zach Zwinak, who had 121 yards rushing and 52 receiving yards.
  • Michigan State WR Aaron Burbridge: The true freshman got his first career start against Indiana, and it came at just the right time for the Spartans. With star tight end Dion Sims injured, Michigan State needed someone to step forward in the passing game, and Burbridge finished with eight catches for 134 yards. The Spartans' 31-27 victory wouldn't have been possible without him.
  • Michigan QB Denard Robinson: Shoelace doesn't owe anybody any apologies for this one. Coming off maybe his worst game ever against Notre Dame two weeks ago, Robinson looked more like his old self in a 44-13 victory at Purdue. That old self included an emphasis on running, and he finished with 235 rushing yards on 24 carries. He also completed 8 of 16 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown -- and no interceptions! -- as the Wolverines dominated in a must-have win. Robinson became the Big Ten's all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback, surpassing Indiana's Antwaan Randle El.
  • Wisconsin's defensive line: The Badgers' front four got several key players back on the field and delivered its best collective performance of the season. Pat Muldoon returned to the lineup after missing three games with a broken thumb and recorded 2.5 tackles for loss, including a sack. Four different defensive linemen recorded sacks, and the group combined for six tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a quarterback hurry in holding Illinois to 14 points and 284 total yards in the 31-14 win.
  • Ohio State QB Braxton Miller: We're afraid Miller is running out of room on his helmet for all these stickers. But slap another one on there after he ran for 186 yards on just 16 carries -- that's 11.6 yards per carry -- and threw for 127 yards in the 63-38 romp over Nebraska. He simply looks unstoppable through six games. Give at least half a sticker to backfield mate Carlos Hyde, who ran for 140 yards and four scores so Miller didn't have to do it all.
Let's take a quick look at the two Big Ten contests on tap this afternoon:

Illinois (2-3, 0-1 Big Ten) at Wisconsin (3-2, 0-1), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC regional/ESPN2 mirror: Both of these teams already have reached a critical juncture in their seasons after shaky starts. Things certainly are more dire for Illinois, which has been blown out in three of its past four games by a combined score of 132-45. The Illini rank last in the Big Ten in points allowed (27.8 ppg) after ranking 15th nationally in scoring defense (15.8 ppg) in 2011. Next to Illinois' defense, Wisconsin's offense has been the league's biggest surprise from a production standpoint, as the Badgers still rank last in the league in yards per game (309.2 ypg). Wisconsin showed some improvement last week at Nebraska and once again will turn to redshirt freshman Joel Stave at quarterback. The Badgers are getting healthy and will get defensive ends Brendan Kelly (hamstring) and Pat Muldoon (thumb) back for the game. Illinois defensive end Michael Buchanan will play, while linebacker Jonathan Brown (leg) is a game-time decision. The Illini haven't won in Madison since 2002.

Michigan (2-2) at Purdue (3-1), 4 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network: Although Nebraska-Ohio State and maybe even Northwestern-Penn State are getting more attention, the Michigan-Purdue game could be the most intriguing of the Big Ten's Week 6 slate. Michigan returns to the field for the first time since its turnover train derailment at Notre Dame. Purdue begins its defining stretch of the season -- Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State -- with a game some Boiler fans think is the team's biggest since the 2004 clash with Wisconsin at Ross-Ade Stadium. Speaking of Ross-Ade, the Boilers have been a juggernaut on their home field, averaging 51 points through the first three games. Michigan's defense appeared to turn a corner at Notre Dame but must contend with Purdue weapons like Antavian Edison, Gary Bush, O.J. Ross, Akeem Shavers and Akeem Hunt. On the other side, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson goes up against a talented Purdue defense led by Kawann Short, although the unit struggled to contain Marshall last week. Purdue has won 12 of its past 15 Big Ten openers.
Ohio State
  • The Buckeyes' hopes of getting running backs Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde going at the same time has taken another setback. Hyde and Hall were finally both healthy enough to both play against Michigan State, but Hall left in the first half with a knee injury. Urban Meyer said Monday that Hall has a PCL tear in his right knee and will be doubtful for the Nebraska game. A PCL tear is not as serious as an ACL or MCL tear, but it is an injury that could hold Hall out for more than one week. Meyer said Hyde, who came back last week from an MCL sprain, isn't 100 percent yet but is getting very close to it.
  • Meyer also announced that sophomore receiver Tyrone Williams had been dismissed from the team for violating team rules. Williams hadn't done anything this season but saw action as a true freshman, when he was known as T.Y. Williams. He had intrigued fans because of his height -- a listed 6-foot-6 -- but will not be a part of Ohio State's plans going forward.
  • Coach Tim Beckman said Monday linebacker Jonathan Brown didn't look like himself in the first half against Penn State and is receiving treatment. Brown will be evaluated throughout the week.
  • Illini safety Earnest Thomas will play this week at Wisconsin despite being ejected from Saturday's game against Penn State because of a helmet-to-helmet hit on Matt Lehman. Beckman said Thomas' hit wasn't intentional and that the decision to eject him was a "judgment call" by the official.
  • Illinois sophomore defensive tackle Jake Howe will miss the rest of the season with a broken arm.
  • The bye week appears to have worked well for the Wolverines' health. Head coach Brady Hoke said defensive end Brennen Beyer, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury, should return this week at Purdue. Wide receiver Devin Gardner, who took a hard fall near the end of the Notre Dame game, has been practicing and is ready to go this week. Hoke also pronounced fullback Stephen Hopkins, who's been out the past two games with a hamstring problem, has recovered and that starting guard Ricky Barnum has gotten over his shoulder injury.
  • The one guy who's not quite back is tight end Brandon Moore, who hasn't played since suffering a leg injury in the opener versus Alabama. But Hoke said Moore is making good progress.
  • True freshman defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo (shoulder) and linebacker Roderick Goodlow (torn ACL) both will miss the rest of the season, coach Pat Fitzgerald announced Monday. Odenigbo will seek a medical redshirt and have four years of eligibility left. Odenigbo was the second-highest rated recruit to sign with a Big Ten team in 2012, according to
  • Fitzgerald said he's very optimistic all players injured Saturday against Indiana will play this week at Penn State, including top safety Ibraheim Campbell (shoulder) and wide receiver Christian Jones (elbow).
  • The Badgers' new depth chart lists Kyle French as the field goal kicker, with Jack Russell on kickoffs. Russell missed an extra point and a 41-yard field goal against Nebraska as the Badgers lost 30-27. He's 0-for-2 on field goal tries this season.
  • Bret Bielema said defensive linemen Brendan Kelly (hamstring) and Pat Muldoon (hand) could return this week against Illinois. He's also hopeful that defensive back Shelton Johnson, who broke his arm against Oregon State, could be ready to rejoin the team this week.
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball has been cleared to play Saturday night at No. 22 Nebraska after sustaining a concussion last week against UTEP.

Badgers coach Bret Bielema told local reporters Thursday that Ball is "cleared 100 percent full-go." As long as nothing changes in the next 48 hours, he'll play against the Huskers. The concussion is Ball's second in as many months after he was attacked by a group of men Aug. 1 in downtown Madison. Bielema said the second concussion wasn't as severe as the first, and Ball vowed to play earlier this week.

Wisconsin certainly will benefit from having a full complement of offensive weapons against Nebraska, which boasts the Big Ten's top offense. Although James White and Melvin Gordon also are good options, Ball lit up the Huskers in last year's win. Ball has 360 rush yards and three touchdowns on 93 carries this season.

Bielema also said defensive end David Gilbert won't start after Gilbert made critical comments Wednesday about Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez.

"He'll be skipping rocks on the sideline with me for the first play," Bielema said Thursday, referring to Gilbert's comment about how Martinez throws passes.

Tyler Dippel and Konrad Zagzebski will start at the defensive end spots for the Badgers, who will be without ends Brendan Kelly and Pat Muldoon because of injuries.
Hours after naming Danny O'Brien as its starting quarterback for the season opener, Wisconsin revealed its complete preseason depth chart.

Senior Curt Phillips and redshirt freshman Joel Stave are listed as co-backups behind O'Brien.

Oh, in case there was any doubt, Montee Ball is listed as the team's starting running back despite suffering a concussion last month.

Some notes and thoughts on the Badgers' two-deep.
  • Jordan Fredrick translated a strong camp into a starting wide receiver spot opposite standout Jared Abbrederis. Fredrick, who redshirted in 2011, is listed ahead of both Chase Hammond and Manasseh Garner. Kenzel Doe also nabbed a starting receiver spot ahead of veteran Jeff Duckworth. At 5-8 and 170 pounds, Doe is one of the smallest players in the Big Ten but makes up for his size with speed. It will be interesting to see how Wisconsin rotates its receivers around Abbrederis, clearly the team's No. 1 target.
  • Sophomore Kyle Costigan won the starting right guard spot ahead of Robert Burge. Wisconsin's other four starting linemen were fairly set. The right side of the line is young with Costigan and sophomore tackle Rob Havenstein.
  • Junior Pat Muldoon is listed as a starter at both defensive end spots, alongside David Gilbert and Brendan Kelly. Both Gilbert and Kelly have dealt with injury issues, so you can expect more of a rotation at end as Wisconsin tries to identify a difference-making pass rusher.
  • Wisconsin often uses two tight ends, and junior Brian Wozniak tops the depth chart alongside Jacob Pedersen. Wozniak got the nod ahead of Brock DeCicco, a transfer from Pittsburgh who has done some good things in preseason camp.
  • Despite missing spring practice and undergoing four surgeries in the past year and a half, Ethan Armstrong secured a starting outside linebacker spot alongside All-Big Ten 'backers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor. Armstrong started two game last season and is listed ahead of Conor O'Neill.
  • Special teams is a major area of interest for Wisconsin, and the Badgers have new starting specialists at both kicker (freshman Jack Russell) and punter (sophomore Drew Meyer). Sophomore Kyle French, the backup kicker, will handle kickoffs. Abbrederis, the team's top punt returner, also will handle kickoff returns with backup running back James White.
  • Jordan Kohout's career-ending injury thins the depth a bit at defensive tackle. Sophomores Warren Herring and Bryce Gilbert are listed as the backups behind Beau Allen and Ethan Hemer. Kohout likely would have been in a No. 2 role.

Thoughts on the Badgers' depth chart?

Spring game preview: Wisconsin

April, 22, 2011
Wisconsin wraps up its spring practice session Saturday with the annual spring game at Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers will put the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense and the second-string offense against the second-string D.

Let's take a quick look at what's happening in Madtown.

The vitals: 1 p.m. CT Saturday (2 p.m. ET) at Camp Randall Stadium; tickets are $5 (first year Wisconsin is charging), parking in Lots 16, 17 and 18 is $10 and free in Lots 51 and 60.

More details: Wisconsin will hold a kids sports fair in the McClain Center from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. CT and other events. Click here for more information.

Three things to watch

1. Jon Budmayr: After backing up Scott Tolzien in 2010, Budmayr has the inside track to land the starting job this fall. He has had some good moments this spring but still must cement himself as the top option or face a potential challenge from Curt Phillips in preseason camp. Wisconsin asks its quarterbacks to be efficient and limit mistakes. Budmayr has a big arm and can do some things Tolzien couldn't, but he must limit turnovers. A strong performance in the spring game should give Budmayr some confidence heading into a big summer.

2. Defensive end: Besides Tolzien, Wisconsin's biggest loss comes at defensive end as All-American J.J. Watt departs. Watt contributed in so many ways and will be impossible to replace with just one player, but Wisconsin needs to identify its primary pass rushers. Louis Nzegwu and David Gilbert both boast experience at the end spot, and Brendan Kelly is healthy and performing well this spring. Wisconsin has shuffled the line at times this spring and used 320-pound Beau Allen on the outside. Pat Muldoon and others also are in the mix. Who will step up Saturday and put pressure on the quarterbacks?

3. Leadership: No Big Ten team lost more stars than Wisconsin, which said goodbye to four All-Americans in addition to team leaders like Tolzien, linebacker Culmer St. Jean and safety Jay Valai. Fans at the spring game should watch for who is taking charge on both sides of the ball. Is Budmayr taking command of the offense? Who has stepped up along the offensive line, which loses Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt and Bill Nagy? Free safety Aaron Henry and defensive tackle Patrick Butrym seem like natural leaders on defense, but who will help them? Saturday's game should provide some clues.

Opening spring ball: Wisconsin

March, 22, 2011
The Wisconsin Badgers hit the practice field Tuesday afternoon for the first of 15 spring workouts.

Here's a snapshot of the defending Big Ten co-champs as they enter spring ball:

The big story: Replacing star players. No Big Ten team loses more individual standouts than the Badgers, who say goodbye to four All-Americans as well as Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award winner Scott Tolzien. Wisconsin should to have enough coming back to survive losses at running back, offensive line and tight end, but the team really will miss superstar defensive end J.J. Watt and Tolzien, the archetypal Wisconsin quarterback who provided consistency in the pass game. Ohio State has dominated the Big Ten because of its ability to reload. Has Wisconsin reached a point in its program where it can do the same?

Position in the spotlight: Quarterback and defensive end both will be closely monitored. Jon Budmayr, who backed up Tolzien last season, will have every opportunity to distinguish himself as Wisconsin's top quarterback this spring. Curt Phillips is still recovering from knee surgery and will be limited to individual drills. Returning starter Louis Nzegwu and veteran reserve David Gilbert are the top two options at defensive end, but several young players will get a close look this spring, including sophomore Pat Muldoon.

Coaching changes: Defensive coordinator Dave Doeren left to become head coach at Northern Illinois, and secondary coach Chris Ash was promoted as his replacement. Defensive line coach Charlie Partridge will share the coordinator title, but Ash is running the show. Central Florida defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable joins the staff to coach linebackers, a group Doeren oversaw. Thomas Hammock is back in Madison to coach the team's running backs, replacing John Settle, who left for the Carolina Panthers. Wisconsin also added DeMontie Cross as safeties coach and special teams coordinator. He replaces nickelbacks coach Greg Jackson, who left for the NFL.

Keep an eye on: Beau Allen. Defensive tackle could be a position of strength for Wisconsin, and Allen adds depth after appearing in 12 games as a true freshman last season. At 6-foot-3 and 325 pounds, Allen could be a force in the interior line.

Spring game: April 23



Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12