Monday, September 24, 2012
Montee Ball's status up in the air
By Brian Bennett
Will Wisconsin star running back Montee Ball play against Nebraska? That all depends on how he responds to a second concussion in two months.
Ball left Saturday's game against UTEP with concussion symptoms shortly after scoring a first-half touchdown. On Monday afternoon, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said he didn't have much new information on Ball, though he hoped the senior could return to practice on Tuesday. First, though, Ball will have to pass concussion tests to be cleared.
Ball also suffered a concussion when he was attacked shortly before August practice began, and multiple concussions -- especially when they occur close together -- are concerning. But Bielema said that while Ball definitely showed concussion symptoms against UTEP, "it wasn't like he was knocked out cold" and that "every kid handles it a little differently."
Bielema said Ball was "very upbeat" on Sunday. Even if he can't go against Nebraska, the Badgers have options. James White and Melvin Gordon combined to run for 177 yards in Ball's absence Saturday, with the freshman Gordon averaging 14 yards per carry in his first career 100-yard game.
"Melvin is a guy who has shown he can play at this level," Bielema said. "He's very smooth in the way he runs."
But Bielema said Wisconsin has to be smart in how it uses Gordon, because there are still parts of the game he hasn't grasped yet. Overall, Bielema liked how his offense performed in the 37-26 win over UTEP, saying there were times when the blocking and execution resembled a vintage Badgers effort.
Nebraska is the only Big Ten team that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season, though the Huskers have played mostly spread offenses so far.