Notes: Clay Gets Good Marks

John Clay is healthy, Nick Toon is motivated and No.4 Wisconsin gets a traditional pep talk as it prepares for Saturday's Rose Bowl against No.3 TCU.

CARSON, Calif. – As if the match-up between Wisconsin's dynamic rushing attack and the lockdown defense of TCU wasn't compelling enough, it went to a new level Monday as star running back John Clay practiced at the Home Depot Center without a brace.

"John looked great," sophomore running back Montee Ball said. "John had a great practice today actually. I'd glad to see him coming back."

The junior has been a non-factor since suffering a knee injury at Purdue last month, missing games against Indiana and Michigan before managing just seven yards on four carries in a 70-23 season-finale rout of Northwestern.

Clay, a second-team All-Big-Ten selection by conference coaches and third-team AP All- American, had rushed for at least 80 yards in every game this season before spraining his right ACL.

Since the injury, Ball and freshman James White have combined for 977 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. The Badgers are in position to have three 1,000-yard rushers on the same team for only the second time in NCAA history, joining the 2009 Nevada Wolf Pack.

"That will be one of our goals this game, as well as winning," White said.

Toon Ready for Challenge

Al Toon rewrote the record books in his time as a wide receiver at Wisconsin, but his son, redshirt junior Nick, will soon one up dad by playing in the Rose Bowl.

Not that it's been discussed much in the Toon home, mind you.

"I haven't gone in depth with him, but obviously it's a great opportunity," Nick said. "Very blessed to come out and play here."

The Badgers' second-leading receiver this season, Toon has also been limited by injuries this season, missing three games with turf toe and another with a thigh bruise, but said he is healthy and ready to play.

"I feel great. I wish I could have stayed healthy all season, but that's the way things happened this year," he said.

His progress comes at just the right time, facing a TCU pass defense that has surrendered 10 touchdowns this season and 5.0 yards per attempt.

"They have obviously a very talented defense," Toon said. "They have arguably the most talented secondary we've played this year, but that's what you expect when you play in a big time game."

Badgers Again Turn to Lasorda

There's nothing wrong with a little routine – or superstition, if you prefer. So with Wisconsin back in the Rose Bowl, the Badgers again called on former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda to address the team.

Lasorda spoke after practice Monday, talking about the need to execute. However, the mere presence of the 1997 baseball Hall of Fame inductee could be enough to tip the game in Wisconsin's favor.

Each of the Badgers' three Rose Bowl wins – 1994, 1999 and 2000 – was preceded by a visit from Lasorda.

Quick Hits

-Head coach Bret Bielema did not meet with the media after practice.

-Wisconsin scrapped plans to scrimmage Monday because of time constraints.

-A select group of Badgers offensive players, including Clay and quarterback Scott Tolzien, and coaches will participate in a press conference Tuesday morning in downtown Los Angeles, along with the TCU defense.

-TCU and Wisconsin went to Disneyland on Sunday, with White singling out the Indiana Jones Adventure as his favorite ride.

Dan Greenspan covers USC for SCPlaybook.com. Follow him on Twitter @dangreenspan.


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