By TOM LEA
MADISON – Kyle Costigan suffered an injury to his right knee during the first quarter of last Saturday’s game at Nebraska. When Wisconsin lines up to face Illinois Saturday afternoon it will likely be without its starting right guard, even though the sophomore returned to the game against the Huskers.
“Costigan tried to go Wednesday night,” Bielema said. “He didn’t have a good reaction today so I don’t know if he’ll be able to go in the game on Saturday.
“Zac Matthias would go if he’s not the guy.”
That will likely be the only injury costing the Badgers Saturday afternoon.
Junior defensive end Pat Muldoon (wrist) and senior Brendan Kelly (hamstring) have practiced all week and seem raring to go. Senior safety Shelton Johnson (broken arm) also seems to be making progress, though Bielema wasn’t sure if he would be slotted back in as a starter this week.
“He got reviewed Wednesday night with the doctors and got a clean bill of health,” Bielema said. “They cut his cast down tremendously from yesterday to today. I think he’ll be able to help us. He’s a senior, a captain and a leader.”
Johnson has been out of action since suffering his broken ulna (forearm) during UW’s 10-7 loss at Oregon State. Originally it seemed as though Johnson would miss anywhere between 6-to-8 weeks.
He’s clearly ahead of schedule since Saturday will mark the four-week mark.
“I know he had a big game last year against these guys (Illinois),” Bielema said. “I know it’s kind of been his target date to get back for.”
GETTING ALL THREE TAILBACKS INVOLVED:
Through five games Montee Ball has accounted for nearly 64 percent of Wisconsin rushing attempts. Meanwhile junior James White (16 percent) and freshman Melvin Gordon (six percent) have been rendered afterthoughts for the most part.
When the Badgers enter serious running mode it’s all Ball all the time.
If there had been any sort of disconnect between Bielema and his running backs coach Thomas Hammock it seems logical a talk would have potential of soothing it.
“Thomas and I had a good discussion,” Bielema said. “That last game we just didn’t have a lot of extended drives in the second half. That was a major part of it. Thomas has got a good plan now, also, in how to incorporate not just James, but Melvin into the rotation.
“I don’t want to talk about it. I want to see it out there on the field.”
Bielema said he envisioned a scenario prior to the start of the season where Ball would receive 25 touches (combined carries and receptions) throughout a course of a game. White, UW’s No. 2 option at tailback, would receive 15 touches while Gordon would receive 10 under the same plan.
If Saturday works out in a manner he likes, Hammock’s rotation and ratio of involvement would look something like that.
“I think that has been out there for a little bit,” Bielema said. “We haven’t come close to hitting that yet. But it’s something that is there.”
Head coach Bret Bielema was unaware that President Barack Obama was on campus Thursday afternoon.
“I had no idea what was going on. I had no idea. It kind of shows what kind of shell I live in.”
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