With junior defensive end Tyler Dippel handling most of the work, redshirt freshman Jesse Hayes and redshirt sophomore Konrad Zagzebski received meaningful game reps and an increased workload for the first time in Wisconsin's 37-26 victory over UTEP Saturday.
Although Hayes did not record a tackle in the game, he came in on third downs and he was able to do his job and keep containment. Zagzebski registered a quarterback hurry and a blocked UTEP's first extra point attempt, resulting in Devin Smith returning the block to the end zone for two points.
"I feel really comfortable being out on the field I've been there for three years now with coach Partridge," Zagzebski said. "Watching the older guys play and if I have any questions there always there to answer any of my questions.
"Just being around (Brendan) Kelly and (Pat) Muldoon I've learned that you have to always be preparing Monday thru Friday in order for you to be ready on Saturday."
Zagzebski couldn't give himself a grade for his performance until he looks at the film, but recognizes that the defensive line took another step forward. The Badgers' defensive line registered two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss while holding the Miners to 77 rushing yards.
"It's hard to know where I messed up in the game I don't remember any glaring mistakes that I made so I'll watch the film to see where I can improve and correct them for this coming week," Zagzebski said.
Gilbert suffered a toe sprain in third quarter, which UW coach Bret Bielema believes is not too severe. Gilbert was able to walk off of the field without any help. Zagzebski took over Gilbert's spot.
Dippel also was injured late in the fourth quarter with a lower body injury and isn't expected to miss much time.
Switch at Kicker
Struggling kicking the football for the second consecutive game, including kicking a kickoff out of bounds for the second straight week, Kyle French was pulled in the second quarter in favor of true freshman Jack Russell.
"I think the kickoff out of bounds from last weeks game kind of contributed to this week, especially now that my second kickoff went out of bounds didn't really help," French said. "Just have to work on some technique and go from there. I'm thinking the football really took off to the left so I'm going to have to watch the film and see what happened."
Bielema did say this week that he was going to try and get Russell involved in some aspects of the kicking game. Russell went four of four on extra points, but missed his only field goal attempt from 33 yards in the fourth quarter wide left.
"I was happy with (Jack) Russell. He popped in there and did a nice job of picking up where we put him in there for Kyle and he did a nice job on the kickoffs," Bielema said. "Jack is very confident he made the kicks today and did a nice job of getting some good hang time on his kicks."
The question now becomes who is the starting kicker for the Badgers when they travel to Nebraska.
"Jack kind of took the job will see where he's at," Bielema said. "Kyle has done some nice things but we can't have the lapses where we spot the ball at the 35-yard line."
Extra Points:Sophomore Kyle Costigan also made his first start as a Badger, starting the game at right guard … UW's defense allowed UTEP to convert 5-of-18 third-down attempts. Wisconsin has allowed its opponents to convert on just 29.2 percent of their third-down attempts for the season (19-of-65) … The Badgers recorded their first takeaway of the season on a fumble recovery by Jake Stengel in the fourth quarter … The Badgers won their 19th-consecutive home game, dating back to a 20-10 loss to Iowa on Oct. 17, 2009 … UW won its 26th-consecutive non-conference home game, dating back to a 23-5 loss to UNLV on Sept. 13, 2003.