MADISON - When it comes to finals week, everybody suffers.
Although practicing for the first time since Wednesday, Wisconsin was handcuffed by losing seniors to graduation ceremonies and role players taking final exams.
"It's been kind of a rough couple of days," UW coach Bret Bielema said Sunday, who's team will have Monday off before practicing Tuesday and Wednesday before boarding a plane to Orlando. "It's difficult because guys are taking finals. We had 20 guys that had a 7:45 a.m. final this morning, and they were probably cramming up all night to take that test this afternoon."
Rough doesn't begin to describe the road junior wide receiver Maurice Moore has been on. After being arrested in early November for allegedly operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, Bielema dismissed Moore off the team, but took a different road than he has in past years with players who have had off-the-field issues.
"After Mo's last incident, I brought him and his father in and ever since I have been in this business, when a situation like Mo pops it, I was in one prior to this at another institution where we just kick the kid out," Bielema said. "Didn't give him the counseling and all the other things he needed. I set up a set of parameters that Mo needed to accomplish before letting Mo back on the team."
Moore was able to accomplish those off-the-field guidelines and was rewarded by joining the team on the first practice back from the Hawaii game and will be able to travel with the team to Orlando as a member of the scout team. Moore, who will not compete with the team next season, will have a 10 p.m. curfew in Orlando.
"He's been under pretty strict supervision but the thing that I have learned in past experiences, we sent the same type of kid on the road without the fundamentals to make a recovery and to be a good person," Bielema said. "He's on track to be done with degree in the summer and be out with a degree from the University of the Wisconsin."
Bielema will find out on Wednesday if he'll lose any players because of academic eligibility issues, something he's bracing for with an unidentified list of players on the bubble.
"We have a small list of guys we are really checking and monitoring," Bielema said. "If a certain player fails a certain class, it's kind of inevitable. Our goal would be to no by the time we take off, unlike last year when we took one guy down there and had to send home from the bowl site."
One player the Badgers know they'll have for the bowl game is sophomore right tackle Josh Oglesby (knee surgery), who got his most extensive work Sunday since returning to the team after the Hawaii game
"He was a little slow coming out of it but is full-go right now," Bielema said. "Josh is feeling good and moving well."
Still looking for a Fullback
With a couple stellar moves that riled up his offensive teammates, sophomore walk-on Bradie Ewing showed what an asset he can be as a tailback. Fullback, on the other hand, is still going to be a mystery.
"Bradie's a two-sport guy and we've done a lot with Bradie at the fullback position," Bielema said. "Unfortunately, it hasn't gone as good as we wanted or he wanted, but we'll continue to make strides."
With senior Mickey Turner graduating, UW will try to fill the fullback void in the spring, as Bielema will look to some different players about making the conversion. Bielema has also offered Milwaukee Marquette linebacker Marcus Trotter, the brother of UW recruit Michael Trotter, a grayshirt scholarship.
"Jae McFadden is a little bit different than the rest of the seniors (because) I recruited him. He was a guy in my recruiting area – South Florida – and I texted him yesterday right before graduation brunch. He's accomplished so many things for us on the football field, but I was so happy. For him to get a degree and walk across the stage yesterday was big time."
Notes: Bill Nagy (ankle) and Brendan Kelly (leg) were shut down by the UW staff for eight weeks in hopes of getting both players to full strength … Bielema said sophomore kicker Philip Welch is kicking good in Madison, but he is still having freshman Chris Borland kick and might have him kick every PAT for the rest of the season … With only 24 days between the non-conference finale and the bowl game, this is the shortest prep time ever for a UW bowl game.