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October 4, 2011MADISON - Bye weeks are often the best time - - and perhaps the only time - - during the regular season that the scout players, the young players, on a roster get a chance to showcase their talents to the UW coaching staff.
Freshmen and sophomores, the time is now.
"That's all today was," Bielema said in reference to developmental work. "Anybody that's a two that needs work (is out there). Tomorrow is a lot of good on good, but there will be three to four periods of developmental work.
Bielema said his squad spent about 12 or 13 periods (about 80 minutes) working strictly on developmental drills. Like he's done in the past, Bielema referenced several of the key players who the fans see on game day made most of their improvement during developmental work in the season.
"This is when Jacob Pedersen got good three years ago," Bielema said. "This is when Ryan Groy got great two years ago. I stressed that we may not be preparing you this week to win a game next week, but we might be preparing to win the third game next year.
"We want to make them think that way."
Not surprisingly, Bielema and his coaching staff handing the offensive game MVP's to Russell Wilson and Montee Ball for their stellar play against Nebraska.
Wilson finished that game 14-of-20 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown and 32 yards. Ball, who continues to score touchdowns at a red hot clip, rushed for 151 yards and four scores.
Defensively, junior linebacker Mike Taylor earned the distinction.
"He probably played his best game ever," Bielema said. "It's just fun to watch him excel and compete against good competition."
Freshman Derek Landisch, who plays on most special teams units and also saw action in nickel packages at time against Nebraska, earned special teams player of the week.
Lance Baretz and Drew McAdams were named scout team offensive players of the week. Those players each spent time emulating Taylor Martinez during game prep.
"Drew actually had an appendectomy," Bielema said. "We worked him so hard he blew up his appendix. He's actually not with us this week."
Joe McNamara and Bryce Gilbert, two defensive tackles doing their best to simulate the play and style of Jared Crick, nabbed defensive scout team players of the week.
When Shelton Johnson comes back next week from the calf bruise that kept him out of Saturday's game against Nebraska, he'll likely have an interesting positional battle in front of him.
Dezmen Southward, who replaced Johnson last week, played particularly well for the Badger defense.
"Southward actually played a pretty good game," Bielema said. "He had two or three mental busts, but I was very excited about the way he played."
-Kevin Zeitler suffered a sprained ankle. According to Bielema it doesn't seem to be anything too bad.
"He's had a lot of those," Bielema said. "He grabbed me afterwards in the locker room and said, 'Coach, I don't think this is near as bad as my other ones.' I don't know if we'll practice him this week, but there's no doubt that he's going to be back with us next week."
-Jake Byrne suffered cramping in each of his hamstrings at the same time late in Saturday's win.
"I've never really seen that before," Bielema said. "He was in a lot of pain, but it was really just a small issue."
-Kicker Philip Welch, making his season debut against Nebraska, came out of Saturday's game feeling healthy.
"He really hit the ball well," Bielema said. "That block was a great effort by their guy and he blew up Beau Allen and got a little crease. But Phil is hitting the ball well and the timing is really fast. I'm going to continue to let him do PAT's and field goals."
-Finally, Brian Wozniak, who was hurt early on during a kickoff, was kicked according to Bielema.
As simple as being tired:
There's no question Alec Lerner, UW's walk-on kickoff specialist, struggled to keep the ball in play against South Dakota. He was better against Nebraska, but he still wasn't getting quite the same distance on his kicks that the coaching staff would like to see.
When asked about his performance, Bielema made mention of the number of times he's had to kick off because of the way the offense is scoring the ball.
"I've never really had this problem come up," Bielema said. "To kick six or seven full speed kickoffs is a big deal. Now, with Philip Welch back maybe we can go every other one."
Since Welch has been injured for most of the season, Lerner has really served as the team's only kickoff specialist to this point. He's the only one getting consistent reps in practice and apparently it's starting to wear on him.
"As many points as we're scoring it's creating a lot of reps," Bielema said. "We've got a system now that we've got guys rotating on kickoff coverage. That's six or seven full speed sprints of 100 yards.
"It's kind of come up."
-Bielema mentioned that Derek Watt has a work ethic very similar to that of his brother, J.J. Watt, and that there is a chance he could move to the defensive line.
-Wisconsin moved up to No. 4 in the Associated Press poll and No. 5 in the Coaches Poll following its 48-17 win over then No. 8 Nebraska. UW did receive one first place vote in the Coaches Poll.
-Bielema said he has been out on the recruiting trail already this week and that he head back out this weekend. He's been offered to do something with ESPN over the weekend so he'll likely focus his time and effort on the East Coast.
-As far as his assistants are concerned, Bielema made it a point to tell them to spend a couple of days on the road instead of a quick, 24-hour trip. They can have up to nine visits this week. Half of the UW assistants were on the road Tuesday.
Bielema on the reason he didn't mention David Gilbert's foot injury:
"I don't ever want to mislead you. I think I've learned throughout my coaching career that I want to be up front and honest. But a situation like David when he popped his foot on Tuesday, to me, if our opponent knew about that they might scheme things specifically. That's why I won't really come forward with injuries if I can prevent it before Saturday."