Maybe. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.
An injury plagued start to his Wisconsin career has prevented linebacker Mike Taylor from dominating the way his talent dictates he should. Saturday at Purdue, Taylor appeared to reach the potential he has been struggling to get back to after he was lost for the season last year with an ACL tear.
The stat line Saturday in No.7 Wisconsin's 34-13 victory over Purdue pops out. A sack, two tackles for a loss, an interception and a forced fumble. Taylor — down to only one knee brace now — moved suddenly and without abandon, signs that the rust may truly be shed from his recovering knee.
"Dave [Doeren] and I talked about it during the bye week and we thought Mike might really come alive," UW Coach Bret Bielema said. "Hopefully he will close the season on the same high note."
As Bielema points out, carrying over the production with just one weeks rest instead of two will be the key for Taylor.
Still, with the confidence that comes from such a strong performance, Taylor is confident he can repeat it.
"The bye week definitely helped I felt the best I have all year. Both knees feel great and I am just trying to play fast again," Taylor said.
"I felt better, felt fast, felt strong.
Tolzien Boilered Down
Lost in the shuffle of the successful run game and turnover forcing defense was a sub-par game from senior quarterback Scott Tolzien.
The Wisconsin signal caller finished the game with just 130 yards on 13 completions, looked off on several throws where he was bailed out on nice catches and threw a horrendous interception in the first half.
Perhaps one explanation for the malaise came from the unaccustomed pressure he faced all day. After taking just six sacks in the first eight games of the season, Tolzien was brought down three times Saturday.
"They do a nice job with their D-line and we recruited some of those kids," Bielema said. "They are very good football players who executed better than we did on those plays."
Clay Ready for Indiana
For the second straight week, John Clay felt like a proud teammate watching Montee Ball rack up the yards against an opposing defense. He only felt slightly bad this time that the sophomore was doing it because of his injury.
Just like his team, Clay was grinding along when he was hit on his right knee after burrowing two yards on fourth-and-one inside the UW 10. Clay hobbled off the field, was replaced by Ball and went to a stationary bike to try and loosen the knee.
When Clay couldn't get loose and with Ball running solid, the junior didn't want to risk the injury and force himself to go back out there and potentially hurt the team.
"Montee knows his role and when one of us go down, he's right there, stepping up and playing," Clay said. "It was an up and down day for me, but I am good to go and looking forward to next week."
Despite being proclaimed doubtful on Thursday, senior tight end Lance Kendricks suited up and played in a limited role Saturday.
He finished the game with one catch for nine yards and was used almost exclusively on passing downs.
"Lance really felt like he wanted to be out there in the passing game," Bielema said. "It is good for one game, but they might catch on that we only used him on pass plays."
He was seen after the game with a boot on his right foot and was hobbling in crutches. Each step appeared to cause him pain.
"Peter Konz re-aggravated the ankle injury that has been giving him some issues. You cannot say enough about Billy Nagy," Bielema said.
Jay Valai was removed from most of the first half after missing a tackle on the games opening series and tweaking a leg injury he first suffered during the bye week practice. He did return and play the whole second half, though.
After suffering a knee sprain against Iowa, James White was held out against Purdue and Bielema said he should be ready to play against the Hoosiers next week.
Extra Points: Wisconsin trailed at halftime and came back to win for the second-straight game. Iowa led the Badgers 13-10 in UW's 31-30 win at Iowa City … Wisconsin won consecutive Big Ten road games for the first time since beating Purdue and Iowa in 2006 … Wisconsin has won the last five meetings in the series … Purdue scored its first touchdown against the Badgers since 2005, after going without a trip to the end zone the last two games.