By TOM LEA
MADISON – Bret Bielema and his coaching staff have a number of positional battles that will undoubtedly linger into the latter stages of fall camp, namely at right guard, outside linebacker opposite Mike Taylor and quarterback, before starters become apparent.
One that hasn’t been mentioned much, however, is the battle currently ongoing within the special teams phase of the game.
Kyle French went through spring camp and the spring game as the team’s top kicker, but that was before Jack Russell, a local standout at Waunakee, joined the program throughout the summer.
Is there a competition brewing there?
“Kyle has been kicking the ball extremely well,” Bielema said. “Jack Russell is obviously a great kicker coming in, (but) I think he’s into that ‘Holy cow...' The last time he was kicking was in a state play off game.
Now there are a little bit bigger guys out there and all that’s going on.”
French has been taking reps as the No. 1 placekicker throughout the first week of fall camp. Unless something drastic happens between now and the season opener Sept. 1 it seems as though he’ll hold that position down.
Russell, though he may not be in line to start as the team’s place kicker, has opened Bielema’s eyes in regards to his powerful leg.
“You can see he has a good live leg,” Bielema said. “He’s been impressive in the kickoff part of it. Kyle has been dead on with the PAT’s and field goals.”
Freshman punter Drew Meyer, though shaky in UW’s spring game last April, seems to be the top punter at this juncture in camp.
“Drew has been hitting the ball and turning it over,” Bielema explained. “That’s a good phrase. He’s hitting it high up. He’s getting good length, good hang time and height. The great part was we did all of our kicking yesterday during a driving rainstorm.
“You never know when that’s going to come up.”
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