Adjusting to the Climate

Although it's 50 degrees warmer and no snow on the ground in Tampa, the Badgers are being careful of how much sun they absorb in the early days of on-site bowl preparation.

TAMPA, Fla. - The University of Wisconsin football team might not be enjoying the warm Florida weather at the Outback Bowl as much as one might think.

As the Badgers arrived in sunny Florida this week, it's common presumption that they're feeling great to get out of the cold, snowy weather of Wisconsin.

That might not necessarily be true.

Walking out to practice Thursday afternoon at Tampa's Jefferson High School, offensive lineman Danny Kaye turned to John Moffit and said, "I'd take 10 feet of snow over this anyday."

But whether or not the team is taking pleasure in the sunny, 80-degree temperatures, coach Bret Bielema has no doubt his team has a lot of adjusting to do before Wisconsin's game against Tennessee on New Year's Day.

That's why Bielema wanted to arrive to Tampa as soon as possible, leaving on Christmas night. No matter how high he could crank the heat up in the McClain Center — UW's indoor practice facility — it's nothing like the real thing.

"Really, if it was 70 in our indoor practice facility it doesn't have the same effect when it's 70 here with the sun beating down on you," Bielema said. "I think our guys are excited to be in the sun—maybe not so right now, but in an hour when they get back to the hotel they will be."

Along with the heat, Bielema said the biggest adjustment is simply hydration.

"All of sudden where we came from there was snow on the ground and freezing, and you come down here you're not used to slamming that water," he said.

"So every time you see us leave, there's water bins and water and Powerade—same thing when they get to the hotel, there's all kinds of hydration for them set up," Bielema added. "By NCAA rules, we can give them a case of water so we all put a case of water in their room to drink on during the course of the week so we try to emphasize that more than anything."

Also, Bielema must put his team back into the swing of things after having over a month off since its last game.

While trying to prevent from his players from being rusty, yet still fresh for next week's game, Bielema is sticking to the schedule the Badgers have had for the past three bowl games, as well as the week before season-openers. That means two live scrimmages two weeks before the game and nothing during the final week of preparation, so Wisconsin won't be doing any heavy 11-on-11 drills.

That's not to say the Badgers' practices have been laid back, though

"This may be our most intense practice of the week," said Bielema of Thursday's practice. "We got full pads and were out here probably for the longest duration during our bowl prep this week. The good thing is we pretty much have everybody back being healthy and feel good for the week."

But despite the hard work put in for the Outback Bowl, Bielema still wants his staff to have a good time down in what is a vacation after all.

"Really, this is a reward for everybody," he said. "It's a reward for our coaches, our coaches' families … but when we're out here (practicing) for two hours, I need them to be focused and they do a pretty good job of it."

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