Notes: Minimizing Distractions

With 48 hours until kickoff in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game, Coach Bret Bielema and his staff are fine tuning details, and making sure outside problems are kept to a minimum.

MADISON - Now entering the fifth month of its 2011 season, Coach Bret Bielema isn't so much about illustrating coaching points as he is about minimizing distractions for his 15th-ranked Wisconsin football team.

This week as the Badgers prepare to play No.11 Michigan State in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game Indianapolis, there seems to be more than a few of them.

In addition to having to fly down Friday morning for media obligations, Wisconsin (10-2, 6-2 Big Ten) will have a full practice tomorrow without pads, atypical of something it does the day before a game this season.

"For us, especially on offense, it's full go," Bielema said. "It's full movement and everything." The walkthrough will give senior quarterback Russell Wilson a chance to adjust to some of the odd sightlines that Lucas Oil Field presents, a fact brought to the coaching staff's attention by former Wisconsin and Indianapolis quarterback Jim Sorgi. "He said going the first time one way, they apparently have some low suites that we need to be aware of because they are in the vision (of the quarterback)," said Bielema, who also mentioned hydration being a key issue despite playing indoors. "It's a little bit unusual, so it's good that we are going over that tomorrow."

Bielema is also dealing with the yearly occurrence of his staff being rumored for other coaching vacancies. After Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas removed Ron Zook as head coach on Sunday, rumors swirled that Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst would be one of the people Thomas would want to talk to.

"I've had to do it for the last six years and it's a positive thing for Paul," Bielema said. "It's understandable (that) there is going to be a close radar. On Monday, (coaches) kind of grind (to game plan). I told (Paul) that I had three people in the hallway ask me when (he) left to go interview for Illinois.

"The one thing I know about Paul, he is all about this Saturday. Next week professionally, if he has got to do some things, we have already discussed."

Chryst, who reportedly turned down an offer to become offensive coordinator at Texas after last season, has been Wisconsin's sole offensive coordinator in 2006. Chryst is a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant coach in the nation. The winner will be announced Dec. 6 in a ceremony in Arkansas in which Chryst will attend.

"Just like I did Dave (Doeren) last year, if somebody has an opportunity, I'll back them in 110 percent just to get them the opportunity," Bielema said.

Plenty of Accolades

In addition to Montee Ball being named the conference's offensive player and running back of the year and Wilson being named the quarterback of the year, a total of 17 Badgers were named All-Big Ten, including a school record nine on the first team of the coaches and the media.

"I expected it," Bielema said. "I thought we had a lot of really good players. … To put it in perspective, (almost) half of the team is Wisconsin guys. It's nice to get certain guys recognition."

One of those guys is senior right tackle Josh Oglesby, who despite having six knee surgeries in his career started 11 games for Wisconsin this year and was selected to the first team of the media and the coaches.

"Josh, as we all know, is very gifted," Bielema said. "He's had so many unfortunate breaks from an injury standpoint. I thought he'd come back and play really, really tough and that's exactly what has happened. Only he knows how much pain he's in. he's battled through it. I'll tell you that the NFL people, there aren't a lot of guys that big, that athletic, that powerful walking around. I think he'll get rewarded for his play."

Extra Points: After missing the last two games after suffering a dislocated ankle at Minnesota, center Peter Konz is set to travel with the team to Indianapolis. Konz has done limited work in practice all week but his playing status likely will be determined after the team practices Friday. … After doing an 11-step approach early last week, resulting in him booting two kickoffs out of bounds, Bielema said senior kicker Philip Welch will go with a five-step approach this week. … Bielema was impressed with sophomore defensive end William Gholston, who was suspended for the team's previous meeting because of punching a player, way back to when the current Spartan was a sophomore in high school and visited UW's campus. … Bielema said Ryan Groy played one of his best games of his young career against Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Devon Still last week.

Join the Badger conversation on Facebook! Go to our Facebook page and "like" us!

For more Badger sports news, notes and discussion, especially on game day, follow Badger Nation on Twitter @TheBadgerNation


Badger Nation Top Stories