By TOM LEA
MADISON – When Wisconsin trots onto the Memorial Stadium turf Saturday night, a familiar face with a suddenly too familiar problem will be with them.
Montee Ball, a question throughout most of the week as he recovered from a head injury sustained a week ago, has been cleared to play by UW medical personnel.
The Badgers top running threat will play Saturday night under the lights of Lincoln’s most hallowed venue.
“He actually has been cleared 100 percent full go,” Bielema said. “He looked good out there the last rep of practice so unless something changes overnight he’s cleared for the ball game.”
Ball was injured early in the second quarter of Wisconsin’s 37-26 win over UTEP last weekend. With concussion like symptoms, UW athletic training staff thought it would be best to sit him for the remainder of the game.
The standout tailback wasn’t cleared until Wednesday, though, instead relegated to strength and conditioning drills to see how his body would respond.
“He was in green (no-contact) Wednesday,” Bielema said. “He had been cleared, but we kept him in a green. He wanted to go without a green. He wanted to have contact today so he was out there.
“Obviously he’s a very good player. We’re (also) pretty happy with those other guys. To have three running backs (Ball, James White and Melvin Gordon) that you feel pretty strongly about is a nice thing to have.”
The defensive end position has taken quite the hit in recent weeks. This week is no different.
Senior Brendan Kelly will not travel with the team as he continues rehabbing a hamstring injury. Junior Pat Muldoon will not play with a broken left wrist.
“Pat is going to be cleared next week,” Bielema said. “He was pleading with me every day and was trying to convince the doctors. He’s got pins in his hands. For the past two weeks, every Sunday, he’s in my office begging me to talk with the doctors. Of course I can’t do anything there.
“It’s strictly a doctors decision. He’ll have them pulled next Tuesday and should be cleared to go next week.”
David Gilbert, a junior in the middle of several controversial comments, will sit out the first play for disciplinary reasons relating to his comments surrounding Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez. He has been practicing all week after suffering a toe injury against UTEP.
Junior Tyler Dippel and sophomore Konrad Zagzebski will start at the defensive end position.
-Freshman kicker Jack Russell, who earned his first collegiate playing time a week ago, will start the game as UW’s top kicking threat. Kyle French, UW’s starter the first three weeks, will back him up.
Bret Bielema on UW’s alternate jerseys entering Saturday’s game:
“I think the kids really enjoy it. They’ve been wearing the shoes and the helmets all week. We put them in the jerseys, not the pants because the pants are the same ones we’ve been wearing all year in theory. They just look a little different. What’s nice for us is it’s two premier Adidas schools, Nebraska and us.”
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