Hours after Bielema indefinitely suspended fifth-year seniors Shane Carter and Aubrey Pleasant, Bielema had his team working hard in full pads in the morning and promised that they would be in full pads when the squad resumes tonight.
"One of the things we tried to preach is mental and physical toughness," Bielema said. "A lot of this game is played from the eyebrows up, and they have to be able to focus in on what they need to do and focus on the smaller details when they are tired."
Bielema ended Saturday morning's practice with a 40-play refereed scrimmage, focusing on the offense gaining four yards or better on first down, the defense allowing three yards or less and third-down conversation.
"Isaac Anderson had a really good practice," Bielema said. "I believe he caught three straight passes in a row with the number one offense. Nick Toon had a very good practice. Zach Brown, Montee Ball and Erik Smith continue to impress. Montee had a couple nice runs and Erik scored on a touchdown."
Bielema also mentioned that the quarterback needs to manage the game and put the team in the right place on first down. He mentioned that certain guys stepped forward and others didn't, but declined to go into detail about which players made headway.
A two-time all-state selection and one of the top players coming out of Minnesota in 2005, Anderson played immediately as a freshman, grabbing five passes in his first seven games, becoming more involved in a stellar offense.
But just as Anderson was getting into a groove, his hamstring flared up and never regained its strength, causing Anderson to miss six of the final seven games of the season, an injury that became extremely temperamental hamstring, sore and refuse to loosen. The injury became so challenging for Anderson that he was forced to use a medical hardship waver, granting him an extra year of eligibility but forced him to miss 2007.
Since then, Anderson has used the extra treatment and condition, all the while starting to see the results on the field, like his six catch, 114-yard performance against home-state Minnesota last season.
"Isaac has been proactive in being healthy," Bielema said. "You can see him in the ice tub. He does anything he can to get his body right to get back out there. He really competed out there. The last six games last year, I thought he took a huge step in mental and physical toughness."
Frederick Making Strides
With center John Moffitt and guard Bill Nagy still working their way back on to the field, freshman Travis Frederick has been a breath of fresh air for a weary offensive line. Since graduating at semester from Walworth Big Foot and participating in spring practices, Frederick, who was recruiting to Wisconsin as a guard, has worked his way up the depth chart at both the center and the guard position, making him a versatile commodity.
"Today was the first day we didn't have a good quarterback-center exchange," Bielema said. "That's a positive to go through five days with a true freshman in there. He's making calls and has been pretty good."
A season ago, Wisconsin turned the ball over 30 times, a number that included 19 fumbles. With the emphasis this season on ball security with quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs, the point is being driven home early with every player on the roster.
"Montee (Ball) let one go on the first or second practice and it didn't strike him to be a big deal," Bielema said. "He proceeded to hear the repercussions from the coaches and the players. The other day he was walking through the office and he ran into Henry Mason, who used to coach to Missouri area. Henry told him that once you pick up protections, that's the most important thing.
"Montee goes, ‘No Coach, ball security is the most important thing. It was kind of funny that the point has been driven home with him."