"It's time to go," said Andersen after Friday morning's practice. "I'm glad with where we are at. We've done enough of this. It's time to move on."
Not only is Andersen excited to start his career as Wisconsin's head coach, he's excited to see his defense at full strength.
Wisconsin has been very cautious by resting some of its veteran players during the ball, especially ones who have had serious injuries in the past like Ethan Armstrong, Chris Borland, Tyler Dippel and Brendan Kelly.
That's allowed Wisconsin to develop some quality depth throughout the front seven, and one of the main reasons why the Badgers will have multiple people listed as starters when their depth chart is released next week.
"We're not going to have a straight starting 11, especially in the front seven," said Andersen. "There's a lot of young men who are going to be rotating and playing a lot. They deserve that opportunity and that's a great thing for us. Now we can expect them, and they can expect themselves, to play at a high level for four quarters."
That would be huge for Kelly, who has had a tremendous camp and has stay healthy despite missing good chunks of past seasons because of hand, foot and other issues. According to Andersen, Kelly has impressed with the way he can rush the line of scrimmage and drop back into pass coverage, the latter of which Andersen wasn't expecting him to do as well as the sixth-year senior has over the last few weeks.
"His work ethic really shows to the young kids, which is great," said Andersen. "It's goes from a real old crop to a real young crop in the outside linebacker room and it's been real great for them to see his work ethic and how much he loves football."
Building OL Depth
Expecting center Dan Voltz (hamstring) back 100 percent on Tuesday and right guard Kyle Costigan (knee) appearing ready for game week, Wisconsin will entered the season with eight healthy offensive linemen that Andersen feels good about, especially since the coaching staff was able to rotate players into different positions during Voltz's absence.
"That was great to see," Andersen said. "It's still critical, critical, critical that we stay healthy there. There are some good combinations and a couple young men that showed a lot of toughness with a lot of reps throughout camp."
One of those players is redshirt sophomore Tyler Marz, who tore his ACL his senior year of high school but played several more games before opting for surgery. Marz was one of the big benefactors in the o-line shakeup by getting a chance to work as the starting left tackle over the past nine days of practice.
"He got better," said Andersen. "I was proud of him."
Andersen says between four and six true freshmen will probably play this year, a group that likely includes tailback Corey Clement and cornerback Sojourn Shelton. The list might include cornerback Jakarrie Washington, who started making solid plays the last two weeks of camp and had a stellar scrimmage last Monday.
"How Jakarrie handles these next two practices is really going to tell the tale," said Andersen. "I want him to go and want him to be ready to play, but he's got to show that he's ready to get it done on game day."
After seemingly securing his spot after his play in the scrimmage, Leon Jacobs reportedly took a step backwards during Friday's practice, a misstep that has Andersen scratching his head.
"As much as I praised Leon, there was some moments in practice that I looked at Leon and that wasn't a freshman practicing to go play a Big Ten schedule," said Andersen. "The couple reps he had today, if he plays like that, he'll be in the 12th row in most stadiums we play in. We need to figure that out. He'll get better. He'll challenge himself and we'll challenge him as coaches to get better."
Incoming freshman Matt Miller (head/concussions) remains out indefinitely.
Extra Points: Wisconsin will practice Saturday like it's a normal Thursday during game week, have the entire Sunday off and start Monday like a normal game week during the school year … Andersen said he has used a lot of young players on his four special teams units, but will incorporate some veterans/starters, especially on the punt team … Like the quarterback battle, Andersen said the starting kicking job remains a two-man race … Andersen says every senior will be a captain at least once on game day this year, regardless of years in the program and position on the team.