Notes: Bringing a Pop

With Travis Beckum on the sidelines for another week, sophomore Lance Kendricks seizes the opportunity to make an impact on the field for the Badgers.

MADISON -- "Travis Who?"

That's the question the University of Wisconsin football team's tight ends have been jokingly asking star tight end Travis Beckum, who has sat out the first two games due to injury.

While Garrett Graham was a staple of Wisconsin's offense last year and continues to be through the first two games, backup Lance Kendricks has been able to step in and allow the Badgers to not miss a beat in Beckum's absence.

In Wisconsin's 51-14 victory against Marshall Saturday, Graham led the receiving corps with four catches, 73 yards and a touchdown, and Kendricks was able to stretch the field with three catches for a team-best 94 yards.

"We're a group that likes to pick each other up," Kendricks said. "I think this is the type of group you can look to. We're the kind of group you can turn to when things aren't going right."

And that's who Evridge certainly looked to when things weren't going right at the beginning of the game. Down 14-0, the Badgers' offense was struggling to answer back to the Thundering Herd.

But after Evridge found Kendricks for a 36-yard pass on Wisconsin's first scoring drive, things started to open up.

"The great thing about (Beckum) being down is that you see those other guys stepping up," Evridge said. "I've always known that those guys would do a great job, but they continue to just prove themselves."

The parallels between Beckum and Kendricks' career have been striking to a degree. Both came to Wisconsin from the Milwaukee area (Beckum from Oak Creek, Kendricks from Rufus King), both were recruited at a position other than tight end, both went through the challenging process to learn the position and both have provided instant dividends to the Wisconsin offense.

"Beckum tells me to go out and make plays," Kendricks said. "That's all he says to me because he knows I can do it. (Playing without Travis) shows our versatility. If the run is not working, you can pass it. The passing really got our momentum going."

Clay Becomes a Rock

After celebrating a bit too much after reaching the end zone last week, it wouldn't have been a surprise if backup running back John Clay was in head coach Bret Bielema's doghouse.

After fumbling his only carry of the first half, it wouldn't have been a bigger surprise if Clay lost an opportunity to receive some more carries.

However, neither of those seemed to be the case.

As the Badgers gained a comfortable lead in the second half, Clay became the steady running back, giving P.J. Hill and Zach Brown the chance to rest for the remainder of the game.

And Clay didn't take his second chances lightly.

With 11 carries, Clay rushed for 56 yards – a 4.9 average. Clay was just bowling over Herd defenders, too – on his second touchdown, he burst through the goal line as he was being dragged down. "I thought about (the fumble) but I tried not to think about it too much," Clay said. "They teach us to play the next play. When I got out there for my second opportunity, I was going to make it count."

"He's a good football player," Bielema added. "You can see on some of his runs, once he gets his shoulders and his knees going, he's pretty effective.

"He's got a big, bright future here."

And he was a bit more conservative with his end zone celebrations this time – simply tossing the ball to the official and jumping into the arms of his linemen.

"I already knew that I was going to give the ball to the ref," Clay said. "That was a one-time thing for me to celebrate in the end zone. I just gave the ball to the ref and gave my teammates hugs to thank them."

With the way Clay is going, three touchdowns in two games, he'll be giving his teammates plenty more hugs over his career at Wisconsin.

"I can get use to this," Clay said. "Whatever the o-line wants to do, I'll follow behind them."

Kicking Game's a Sure Thing

After not really being tested in the season opener, Wisconsin got a good look at its kicking game against Marshall. And Bielema likes what he sees.

Punter Brad Nortman helped the Badgers' slow start with some big boots – punting three bals for 143 yards, with a long of 57 and an average of 47.7.

Also, place kicker Philip Welch helped Wisconsin get back into the game after being down 14-0 by hitting a 45-yard field goal in the second quarter, and that was facing the wind in the north end zone.

"I think our kicking game could be a strength," Bielema said. "I really am excited about those two young legs."

And Welch is confident in himself, too. Bielema had set a limit of 41 yards for a field goal at that point, but assistant coach Charles Patridge – who works with the specialists – and Welch convinced him otherwise.

"I thought Taylor Mehlhaff was confident, Philip thinks he can kick a 75-yard field goal probably, if you asked him," Bielema said.

Conquering the Road

With the Badgers first road game next week, Bielema made no secret to the fact that the Badgers struggled on the road last season. After squeaking out a win in Las Vegas, the Badgers lost three of their four conference games in 2007 (their only win by seven over the one-win Gophers) and losing in Tampa in the Outback Bowl.

Bielema always puts emphasis on his team's first road challenge of the season to gauge where his team is at. Travelling to a vastly different climate for a top-25 team's home opener, the Badgers will certainly get the measuring stick they are looking for.

"I am excited because I just saw a football team that was down 14-0 and had every reason to maybe fold," Bielema said. "We have a great team on our schedule in Fresno State. It's going to be two top 25 football teams and for us to go out to Fresno State, it's our first chance as a unit to figure out what we can do on the road.

"(Winning on the road) is something we emphasized in conditioning, talked about in fall camp and we're excited to see what we can do on the road … That game is going to be determined by what we do."

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