Notes: The Half-Full Glass

After No.11 Wisconsin took care of business against San Jose State on Saturday, the bag of mixed emotions was noticeable in the UW locker room. When he popped in the film on Sunday, UW Coach Bret Bielema was hopeful that the problems that popped up will be short lived.

MADISON - There's no question that Head Coach Bret Bielema is a glass half full kind of guy.

"Watching the film on Sunday, there were definitely a lot of things we can be excited about," Bielema said.

For one, the Badgers earned a 27-14 win over San Jose State, maintained their ranking of 11th in the country and saw the emergence of role players like wide receiver Jared Abbrederis and the continued dominance of players like J.J. Watt.

Of course, Bielema continued in the same breath in reference to the other half of the glass.

"On the same account, (it's) a great teaching film similar to UNLV, but probably even more so because there were some things that popped up (again)."

The two main problems Wisconsin continues to battle through its first two games is ball security and red-zone offense, problems that went hand in hand against the Spartans. On seven trips to the end zone, Wisconsin converted only four of those trips into points, two into touchdowns. The other three attempts were marred with fumbles and miscommunication.

On the second drive of the game, true freshman James White made the mistake of trying to reach the ball over the goal line, only to have it knocked out of his hands and out of the end zone for a touchback. The other fumbles occurred between a fumbled snap exchange between center Peter Konz and quarterback Scott Tolzien that handcuffed a drive and miscommunication when Tolzien ran into fullback Ryan Groy.

"That's little things that we can clean up," Bielema said.

While the main issue Bielema has with Wisconsin heading into this weekend's contest against Arizona State (2-0) is the red-zone inconsistencies, the issues have been across the spectrum. From a fumbled snap, a miscommunication, a missed assignment or a turnover, not one issue is dominating the lack of flow, which is somewhat of a relief.

"I thought during fall camp, we were really crisp and really clean," Bielema said. "The good news is, we have been, it's just the finishing touch … The good news is we've marched the ball without any problems. I can't argue with the first two series of each game.

"The good news is that the things that have gone wrong, we can correct. There's nobody better on our schedule to correct those things and get better against than a great opponent in Arizona State."

Don't Hold Your Breath on Appleton

Former wide receiver Kraig Appleton made some headlines during the week when he posted on his facebook page that he could potentially make a return to the University of Wisconsin.

On Monday, Bielema addressed the situation, and called the situation of Appleton returning a long shot at best.

"Kraig tried to contact me right when camp was getting going," Bielema said. "I had some other people reach out to him just because I wanted to make sure that he understood that I wasn't sitting there waiting for his phone call. I felt during the recruiting process that I liked Kraig and what he brought to the table. He's had some issues here I wasn't pleased with and I let him know about it.

"I don't think there is a reality of him coming back to Wisconsin."

A highly regarded recruit coming out of East St. Louis (Ill) High school, Appleton was dismissed from the program, along with fellow freshmen Shelby Harris and Nick Hill, after the 2009 season due to off the field issues. Harris is now playing at Illinois State while Hill has returned to the team, but is missing the season due to a knee injury.

In 2009, Appleton finished the season with three receptions for 26 yards. While the four-star recruit probably won't return, Bielema said he would help Appleton get back on the right track if he could.

"I do believe in giving people an opportunity to regain what they've done in the past," Bielema said. "I've told him that I would work with him. The only way Kraig can get eligible because of his academic status would be to go to a junior college and get an AA (Associates) degree.

"If I can help him do that, I'll do that. I've just got to make sure that he's ready to do things the right way for that to happen."

Full Stable of Backs

After splitting the carries 17-16-11 in the opener, the victory over San Jose State was defined by John Clay (23 carries for 137 yards and two scores) getting the majority of work over Montee Ball (nine carries for 31) and White (six carries for 25).

"We know who is going to start the game and have a little bit of a feel for what plays each one of those guys kind of plays better than the other," Bielema said. "You could see John's emotions on the sidelines in the second half when we wanted to close out the fourth quarter. He made some unbelievable runs."

Even so, Bielema maintains the Badgers are going to go into each game and each series with who is the hottest carrying the football.

Even with the fumble, Bielema is still high on White, which was why the head coach made sure to go over and talk to his star freshman right after the fumble.

"James, just from the recruiting process to what he's done in fall camp to what he's done on the film, I think he has a very bright future," Bielema said. "I looked over (on Saturday) and I saw nothing but the top of his head down. All I said to him was I didn't think he fumbled on purpose, everyday is a lesson for you and that I wanted to see his eyes up the rest of the game.

"He's got so much positive energy in his life that it's going to be a good thing for him in the future."

Week Two MVPs

Knowing that linebacker Chris Borland and wide receiver Nick Toon weren't going to play, Bielema named off eight current starters (players like Lance Kendricks, John Moffitt, Josh Oglesby, Culmer St. Jean, Niles Brinkley and Aaron Henry) in a team meeting that has earned their first opportunity in a college football game because a player was injured in front of them.

Needing players to step up, it wasn't hard for Bielema to give the offensive most valuable player award to redshirt freshman Abbrederis, as he finished with a team-high five catches and 58 yards.

"During the course of the game, Jared Abbrederis got his role expanded that much more," Bielema said. "He just played really, really well and solidified a spot in the offense."

Defensive MVP honors went to Watt after the junior registered six tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one quarterback hurry and one pass breakup. Special teams honors went to Philip Welch after the junior made two field goals and averaged 68.8 yards on his kickoffs and to Kevin Claxton for his work on special teams. Offensive scout MVP was Jake Current after recovering from a knee injury and providing good reps.

From the Infirmary

Despite being removed from the field on a stretcher, placed in an ambulance and taken to a Madison-area hospital, senior wide receiver/returner David Gilreath is feeling more embarrassment than anything.

"He's a very modest and he said he couldn't believe he got carried off the field," Bielema said. "I just said … let's be thankful for where we are at right now."

Gilreath was knocked out on a punt return, but was released later Saturday afternoon after it was deemed clear from anything other than a concussion. Gilreath, who is not currently listed on the depth chart for this week, has to demonstrate to the medical staff that he is not bothered by any post-concussion symptoms (headaches, dizziness) before he is cleared.

"We sent him home yesterday afternoon and today we don't practice," Bielema said. "So we'll come back in tomorrow (Tuesday) and see where he's at. There's a progression that he has to get through to get where he needs to be. Whether he gets there or not by Saturday we won't really know."

If Gilreath is held out, redshirt freshman Jared Abbrederis should handle punt returns and freshman James White should handle kickoff returns.

Wide receiver Nick Toon (turf toe) is scheduled to run with the trainers Monday and could practice Tuesday at the earliest.

Right tackle Josh Oglesby will not need surgery on his left knee but it is unclear whether he will be able to play Saturday. If Oglesby is out, Ricky Wagner, a redshirt sophomore from West Allis, should get his first career start.

"Actually Ricky stepped in there after Josh went down and played pretty well down the stretch," Bielema said.

Linebacker Mike Taylor (knee), who had no problems in his season debut last week, is expected to start again Saturday against the Sun Devils. Taylor had missed seven games since tearing his ACL against Iowa. Linebacker Chris Borland (shoulder) and defensive end David Gilbert (concussion) hope to return to practice on Tuesday, and their status for Saturday will be determined during the week of practice.


Badger Nation Top Stories