Junior center Peter Konz still hasn't practiced and is the main personnel concern as No.9 Wisconsin (11-2) prepares for No.6 Oregon (11-2) in the 98th Rose Bowl on January 2, especially with the center flying out Wednesday to get a second opinion on his left ankle.
"Hopefully, we're going to get him involved in our preparation out (in Los Angeles), if not sooner," UW coach Bret Bielema said Monday.
Despite missing UW's last three games, Konz has been named to four postseason All-American teams, the latest being a first team selection by Pro Football Weekly. Bielema did acknowledge that if Konz can't play in the bowl game, it could have an impact on what the NFL draft advisory board says about the junior's draft ranking.
"What we're trying to do for Pete and all other guys in this situation is give them accurate information," Bielema said. "The part that gets difficult during these times is bad information (from agents)."
If Konz can't go, sophomore Travis Frederick will get his third consecutive start under center.
"Computer science and computer engineering is a pretty good double major," said Bielema. "I think it does carry over on the field. He really has a grasp of what is going on around him all the time to be able to make the calls at the line of scrimmage. He's pretty conscientious."
Wagner Getting Beat Up
Going into the season looking to follow in the lines of Outland Trophy winner Gabe Carimi, junior left tackle Ricky Wagner has more than filled the role. Switching from right tackle, where he was a consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten selection last season, to left tackle, Wagner has started all 13 games and drawn some early inquires from the NFL and agents.
"He was starting to get beat up by agents, so we put the game plan together to have an outstanding senior year," Bielema said. "I really think you'll see a big jump in his play from a year ago going into next fall because he's a meticulous detail guy."
Bielema has taken that approach with all his underclassmen that have started to get contacted by NFL agents since learning from the process John Moffitt went through. After Moffitt declined to fill out paperwork for the draft, Moffitt and his family got contacted by an agent and made the process more challenging.
"Any of my juniors, even if they've had limited amounts of success, I just try to be upfront and honest if (declaring for the draft) is even something you are thinking about because there are little birdies in my ear that (say) you have possibly been contacted," Bielema said. "We just sat down and he (Wagner) was pretty straightforward with me that he just wasn't to make sure he wasn't breaking any rules."
Adidas vs. Nike
After drawing 50-50 responses from UW's retro uniforms last season (white jerseys, red pants) for the Rose Bowl, Bielema acknowledged UW's uniforms this year would feature some minor changes, though nothing has been finalized.
"I was a marketing major, for those of you that don't know it, and I do realize that Oregon is a premier school for Nike and they do a lot of specific things," said Bielema. "It's a BCS Rose Bowl matchup between an Adidas school and a Nike school."
One thing that won't happen will be a drastic change to compete with Oregon, whose different uniform styles have gotten much publicity over the years. Bielema said that the uniforms would have a Rose Bowl type theme but as the road team would not include red pants.
"I still have to give the final approval and of course the AD has to approve of it," Bielema said, referring to Barry Alvarez. "We know he doesn't like change. I can guarantee you we won't be wearing red pants, I know that. Everything else is kind of up for grabs."
ACC Officials for Rose Bowl
Throughout the course of the season, Bielema has noticed that Oregon comes out with two to three new formations every week, utilizing a certain group of plays that they feature within that formation. In addition to the speed in which the Ducks like the play, it's a challenge not only for the opponents but the officials, which this season will be from the ACC.
"To me, (that) might be one of the biggest storylines of the whole game," Bielema said. "You aren't a Big Ten officiating crew. You aren't a Pac 12 officiating crew. It's an ACC crew and obviously they aren't well versed in officiating Oregon."
Bielema said it is standard protocol for him to send clips to Big Ten head of officials Bill Carollo for clarity and questions during the season. Bielema has done that leading up to the bowl game about sending clips to Carollo about Oregon that concerns him or how things would be interrupted.
Some of those clips, according to Bielema, were when the umpire stands over the football at the line of scrimmage until getting the signal that everyone is ready for play, resulting in him turning around and getting out of the trenches.
"The Oregon center will immediately snap the ball and there are so many plays where the umpire has his back to the ball and he is looking at the safeties," said Bielema. "He's not looking where he is supposed to be looking. That's his area. You have the possibly of false starts by us or them that will never be seen. Holdings that will never be seen. Penalties because they won't physically be in position to see the game."
So far, the feedback Bielema has received about the officiating crew has been favorable.
"He (Carollo) really was positive about the crew we were getting," said Bielema. "He knew the (head official) personally and says he's an excellent official."
Extra Points: UW got in five practices before finals week and will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and have an intense practice Friday before leaving for Los Angeles on Dec.26 … Bielema said the team will get a lot of neat opportunities while out in Los Angeles, including him taking a couple of his players to a Lakers-Knicks game on Dec.29 … Bielema said all bowl practices this year will be 18 periods or less, roughly 20 minutes less per practice than normal, and the goal is to have shorter, faster and crisper practices. Also for the first time in his six years, Bielema said the coaching will emphasize extra conditioning work on six of the 14 practices to simulate the speed of the game.