Coming out to practice on one of the first days of UNLV preparation, Groy was told he was going to be at fullback for what the redshirt freshman from Middleton thought would be just for a scout team look. What followed gave Groy his first opportunity to step foot on the field.
"He shows me how to pick up the linebacker and I'm like, "I'm running this for real?'" Groy asked. "He (Bostad) said I was a fullback, so I was like, ‘OK, cool.' I was excited."
Groy got a good feel for the position and had a good time, as well, seeing as it was the first time he hadn't played tackle since he was a tight end freshman year of high school and he got reps on the first series in Wisconsin's 41-21 win over UNLV.
"When they first introduced that to us in practice, we were shocked," sophomore running back Montee Ball said. "It's nice. All we know is we just follow him. We do not run away from him."
With Wisconsin having a void at fullback since Chris Pressley graduated in 2008, the Badgers have been looking for talented blockers to fill that spot. A year ago, tight end Mickey Turner lined up in the backfield. Now, Head Coach Bret Bielema thought Groy would give UW the advantage.
"At Wisconsin, we don't have a lot of great talent and we just can't have good players like me sit by me on the sideline. He's just real natural. One day he came up to me and said, ‘Coach, I can do this, but if you let me take my knee braced off I'll be really good.' I let him take his braces off and he thinks he's a fullback now."
Equating the job like pulling on a run play, Groy (6-5, 307) said the only big difference was lining up behind the quarterback instead of across from a lineman. Groy even got a chance to play left guard after switching his number from 47 back to 79. He has no clue that if this is a permanent move or not, but it does give UW another option in the backfield.
"We tried to set an NCAA record for poundage in the backfield with Ryan Groy," Bielema joked.
A Schofield Surprise
Although it was their first game without defensive end O'Brien Schofield, the All-Big Ten selection wasn't too far removed. Playing just down the road with the Arizona Cardinals, Schofield came to the game Saturday and had to time to stop in to deliver a pre-game speech.
"OB is just speaking from his soul, speaking from his mind," senior safety Jay Valai said. "He made us realize what we had to do."
As only Schofield could do, he delivered an emotional speech to the team before the game, telling them to play every play like it's your last play. That message means more to Schofield, who continued to rehab a torn ACL that he suffered during practice for the Senior Bowl.
"It was great with what he had to say," Ball said. "It touched us and we made sure that we listened hard and we played hard."
Not Too Hot
Bielema said that there was a little wind at kickoff that made him wearing his lucky windbreaker more bearable. The mercury said otherwise.
With the temperature at 97 degrees at kickoff, the game proved to be the second-hottest kickoff temperature in school history (behind 98 degrees at UNLV in 07 and 97 at UNLV in 02). Still, there was Bielema with a windbreaker, something he's traditionally worn ever since he took one off in a road loss to Tulsa during his first year coaching Iowa's linebackers, although he left it in the closest at points last season.
"Bobby (Hauck) asked me, ‘What are you doing?'" Bielema said. "It took me awhile to adjust to it, but we'll stay with it for awhile."
While Bielema wore for superstitious purposes, the windbreaker also made a statement to a couple of his players.
"That was a statement to rest of the country, to the people on the sidelines … (that) the heat was not going to be a factor," junior Aaron Henry said. "You still have to play the game of football between the lines."
Going Against the Grain
Although his team was 20-point victors, Scott Tolzien was hardly in a celebratory mood, especially when it came to talking about his only interception.
Although junior Nick Toon was involved in on two-on-one, Tolzien ignored his basic rules and tried to throw a pass into his leading receiver. The result was cornerback Will Chandler jumping the route and going untouched for a 19-yard touchdown.
"I went against the grain and that's the result," Tolzien said. "I thought I could stick it in there. Plain and simple, it's something I've got to learn from."
Tolzien did respond with turnover-free football after that, including going a perfect 7-of-7 in the second quarter.
"You really truly have to put (the pick) behind you and when the game is over, then you can go back and figure out what went wrong and make adjustments," Tolzien said.
Injuries: After his fumble, junior Nick Toon aggravated a turf toe injury … Chris Borland left the game when he aggravated his shoulder on a third-quarter tackle. He's not expected to miss any practice time … Bill Nagy and John Moffitt suffered minimal cramping and received IV treatment after the game.
Notes: Wisconsin is now 25-3 in its last 28 night games, including the last four … The Badgers have won 25 consecutive regular season non-conference games dating back to 2003 … In Tolzien's 14 career starts, UW has scored at least 30 points in 10 games … UW outgained UNLV by 258 yards.