Sweating to the Oldies

With the mercury and the humidity continuing to rise, Wisconsin football continues to battle the elements to get ready for the season opener. With UW heading to the desert, the veterans know that the weather comes as a welcome blessing.

MADISON - Walking around in a midriff isn't exactly Peter Konz' style. But with the heat index around Camp Randall Stadium hitting triple digits, style goes out the window.

With the heat coinciding with the start of Monday's fall camp, players like Konz are forced to take extra precautions. Whether it's constantly grabbing water or energy drinks, taking off the helmet to douse their heads in water, nothing is too fancy for the big Wisconsin offensive linemen.

"We're just trying to cool off, even if it means wearing these little cut offs," Konz said with a laugh. "Once it gets past 80, you really can't feel it, which isn't always a good thing."

Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema commented on Monday that it was one of his hottest practices he's gone through, and welcomed it. The Badgers open the 2010 season on the road at UNLV, where the night temperature in late August routinely is about 90 degrees.

"We should view (the heat) as a blessing because it's going to be like that in UNLV," senior quarterback Scott Tolzien said. "What better way to prepare for it then have to go through it now and be mentally and physically sharp with it being hot out?"

The real blessing for Wisconsin is that most of the contributors on this year's squad have already successfully survived the Vegas heat, winning 20-13 in 2007. Returning 10 starters on offense, the familiarity and the chemistry is there, which also limits the amount of careless mistakes.

"You have to re-teach some of the basics, but I think there's a chance guys aren't going to make the same mistake," Tolzien said. "That's what we have to really stride for that. When guys are young, guys are going to make the same mistake a few times before they learn, and we can't afford to have that with all the veterans."

In addition to Tolzien, the strength of the offense lies up front, as Wisconsin returns all five starters, including Konz, and two other contributors that have starts under their belt. With John Clay, the 09 Big Ten's offensive player of the year, returning to the fold, his comfort level with the guys up front is just as strong.

"It plays a big role for us, just knowing that players have that game-time experience," Clay said. "It's very good to have a relationship with those guys. I can read off of them with what they do. They tell me they are going to do something and they do their job. All I have to do is follow their keys."

Clay got the first real sense of that on Wednesday, being able to put on the pads with his teammates for the first time.

"The first couple of days, you really can't hit each other," Clay said. "Now that you got shoulder pads on, you can do a little thudding around and get the energy going."

With the heat not expected to break until next week, the Badgers will have plenty of time to prepare for the desert.

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