By TOM LEA
MADISON – Bret Bielema usually doesn’t give out team player of the week distinction following a loss, however, he clearly felt differently about the way certain players handled the game, albeit a losing effort, at Nebraska over the weekend.
Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis (seven catches, 142 yards, one touchdown) and quarterback Joel Stave (12-of-23 passing, 214 yards, one touchdown) were named UW’s offensive players of the week for their performances against Nebraska.
“Obviously Abby had a nice couple plays in the beginning,” Bielema said. “Obviously the guy throwing it to him was Joel. For the most part I thought Joel, to be on the road and that environment with all the communication factors that went into it, played a really, really good football game.
“He got whacked a few times and got back up after that. I think that was some upside for a freshman quarterback to be in the scenario.”
Defensively, both defensive tackle Ethan Hemer and cornerback Devin Smith earned the distinction.
“Two weeks in a row,” Bielema said. “Ethan Hemer just had a really, really good football game. He’s doing what we ask him to do and he does a great job all week as well. Devin Smith, he’s a guy that played really, really well in the back end.”
Freshman punter Drew Meyer earned player of the week on special teams. He punted the ball seven times and averaged 46.7 yards per punt.
“He’s a guy that actually leads the league,” Bielema said. “He’s been exceptional. I just really can’t say enough about what he’s done to prepare himself. He really took it as a challenge all summer and all fall camp.
“He’s doing a really good job.”
Freshman quarterback Chase Knox earned offensive scout team player of the week for his role simulating Taylor Martinez. Freshman defensive back Joe Schobert earned the distinction on the defensive side of the ball.
It seems as though the recent string of injuries, particularly on the defensive line, are about to clear up for the Badgers as they prepare for Illinois.
Defensive end Pat Muldoon has the potential to play come Saturday. He’s having pins from his surgically repaired broken wrist removed Tuesday as long as there are no setbacks Monday.
Senior defensive end Brendan Kelly also seems to be making progress with the hamstring issue that has plagued him throughout the past few weeks.
“I haven’t seen him yet,” Bielema said. “But I know the trainers felt really good about where he was Sunday running around. Projections from a couple things he got done last week say he should be back for the Illinois game. He’s got all this week to heal. We’ll see exactly where he’s at.”
Senior strong safety Shelton Johnson, who suffered a broken arm during UW’s week two loss at Oregon State, may make his way back onto the field Saturday afternoon.
“He was out on the practice field yesterday,” Bielema said. “They’re going to take an X-Ray on it Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. If he’s good to go and feels good during the course of the week he could be back out there on Saturday.
“Which would be a nice addition back there for us.”
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