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ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Zach Heilprin

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Badgers football: Fake punt to perfection

Oct 25, 2014 -- 9:11pm
Photo/screenshot Big Ten Network
Wisconsin punter Drew Meyer celebrates his completion on a fake punt that resulted in a first down.
MADISON - A bye week in college football can sometimes leave a lot of time for coaches and players to try out some new plays or ideas. The University of Wisconsin used their week off to install a fake punt, and it led to points in their 52-7 win over Maryland on Saturday.
Faced with a fourth-and-9 at the Terrapins 36-yard line, the Badgers came out in a punt formation, but instead of trying a pooch kick to back Maryland up, punter Drew Meyer grabbed the snap and started running forward.
“You catch it and try and sell that run pretty hard,” Meyer said afterward. “Try to sell it like an iso (run). When I was looking back up I was trying to make sure that those linebackers were coming up, (I was) worried that I was going to be throwing into a crowd of people.”
After six steps, Meyer jumped and lofted a perfect toss to tight end Troy Fumagalli, who had been selling the run play by blocking before finally releasing behind the defenders. He caught the ball and rumbled 17 yards for a first down.
Meanwhile, Meyer got drilled by linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil as he released the ball.
“I couldn’t see Troy’s catch. So as soon as I hit the ground I’m looking up wondering (if he caught it),” said Meyer of his first career completion. “There was a slight breeze coming through, too, I was worried it might have kept going but Troy made a great play on it.”
The play was designed by tight ends coach Jeff Genyk and safeties coach Bill Busch, who serve as UW’s special team's coaches.
“The last two weeks we spent a lot of time, just every day in practice we were doing it,” Meyer said. “Really try to get the scout team in the look that we thought would work best. It just worked out great. Troy did a great job of getting through all the traffic and clearing through, and the rest of the guys really sold it well, too.”
The fake worked despite Maryland being in their punt safe formation, which essentially means they have their regular defense on the field to watch for a possible fake.
“Not often do you get fakes run in safe scenarios, but we felt like it was the best opportunity,” UW coach Gary Andersen said. “We dialed it up at the first opportunity it was there, and it just happened to be early in the game, and they executed it very, very well.”
Meyer’s jump pass brought back memories of former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who patented the move. But Meyer and company had a different player and sport in mind.
“All week we were thinking of (basketball’s) Steve Nash,” the junior said, “just shoot a nice little floater.”

Badgers football: UW gets a pair of commitments

Oct 25, 2014 -- 8:01pm
Photo/Tampa Bay Tribune
MADISON - While the University of Wisconsin had a big day on the field in their 52-7 win over Maryland, it wasn’t too bad of a day off the field either as the Badgers picked up a pair of commitments in the class of 2015.
Brown Deer athlete Zack Baun accepted a grayshirt offer from the Badgers and announced his commitment via Twitter Saturday afternoon. Baun had an offer from South Dakota State and also interest from Minnesota and Indiana. He’ll arrive in Madison next fall and join the team in January of 2016.
The three-star prospect has put up some monster numbers for Brown Deer while playing quarterback. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound, Baun has more than 3,500 total yards of offense and 56 touchdowns to this point in his senior season.
Meanwhile, UW also got a commitment from Florida (Armwood) linebacker Jordan Griffin.


The 5-foot-10, 208-pound Griffin chose the Badgers over Central Florida, but also had offers from Boston College, Duke, Utah and others.
A three-star prospect according to ESPN, Griffin is ranked as the 35th best inside linebacker in the country.
The two commitments bring UW’s total in the class of 2015 to 21.
Click here for a full list:

Badgers basketball: Dekker reportedly injured at practice

Oct 24, 2014 -- 3:40pm
Photo/Getty Images
MADISON - Many have said the only thing that can derail the University of Wisconsin this year is injuries. On Friday, the Badgers reportedly suffered their first of the year and it came to one of their most important players.
Multiple reports following UW’s practice said that junior forward Sam Dekker injured his left ankle during the session and didn’t return. According to Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal, a spokesperson for the team called it a lower leg injury and that Dekker would be listed as day-to-day.
Later, ESPN's Jeff Goodman tweeted that Dekker's injury was a sprained ankle.
Dekker was UW’s third-leading scorer last season at 12.4 points per game and second in rebounds at 6.1, while being named a second-team All-Big Ten pick.
The 6-foot-9 Dekker was also one of two Badgers, along with Frank Kaminsky, to appear on the preseason All-Big Ten team when it was revealed at last week’s media day in Chicago, the same day UW was chosen unanimously by the writers to win the Big Ten.
Wisconsin plays their Red/White Scrimmage on Sunday at the Kohl Center starting at 1 p.m. The fourth-ranked Badgers open the season on Nov. 14 with a visit from Northern Kentucky.

Badgers football: Herring and Watt will play

Oct 23, 2014 -- 6:49pm
Photo via
Wisconsin fullback Derek Watt will return after missing the last five games.
MADISON - The injury news for the University of Wisconsin was very good on Thursday.
UW coach Gary Andersen told reporters that not only will they get nose guard Warren Herring back, but they will also have fullback Derek Watt when they take on Maryland (5-2, 2-1) this Saturday.
Neither has played since the season opener against LSU. Despite that, Andersen said fans should expect to see plenty of both on the field for the Badgers (4-2, 1-1).
“For both of those kids,” the second-year coach said, “there is no limitations on the amount of snaps that they can take.
“They’re not in perfect football shape, but they should be good enough to get a pretty good amount of reps, I’d say.”
Herring’s return is not a surprise. The senior suffered a knee injury against the Tigers on the final play of the third quarter. He had surgery to repair the medial collateral ligament in his right knee the following week. The initial recovery time was four to six weeks but it ended up being a little less than eight.
The return of Watt is a little more surprising. He suffered a broken foot in the opener and underwent surgery the following week. UW officials originally said he wouldn’t be back until some point in November but somewhere along the line, that changed.
“This is the timeframe I expected for about the last couple weeks at least, I would say,” Andersen said. “As I said at the beginning of the week, I was very optimistic that he would play and he will.”
Watt was replaced by redshirt freshman Austin Ramesh, who struggled in his first start against Western Illinois, but has since been a big part of UW’s rushing success that has them ranked No. 2 in the nation at 343 yards per game. Still, Watt is one of the best fullbacks in the country and should be a boost for the offense.
“Experience,” Andersen said of what Watt brings to the table. “He’s been in this moment. He’s proven to be a very good fullback. He’s a weapon. The blocking is a weapon and obviously catching the ball, and he’s shown that.”
Andersen said the return of Watt is good not only for the football team but for the player himself. It’s unclear if he’ll only play fullback against Maryland or whether he’ll have some H-Back reps as well.
Wisconsin will also have inside linebacker Marcus Trotter back after he missed the Illinois game and much of the Northwestern game with a groin injury. And safety Lubern Figaro should also return from an ankle injury that kept him out of the Illinois game.
McEvoy a quarterback only
Quarterback Joel Stave will likely get the start on Saturday for Wisconsin but Tanner McEvoy will play. And he’ll play more than he did against Illinois.
On Tuesday, offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said the junior will see more than the one series he played in the last game, though he didn’t have a specific target in mind. On Thursday, Andersen also didn’t have a take on how much or when McEvoy might get in.
“I would think a lot of that has to do with the flow of the game but I would expect him to play definitely more than one series,” Andersen said.
Much of the talk outside the program has been the possibility of moving McEvoy to wide receiver, even if only for specific plays or packages. That won’t be happening against the Terrapins.
“Not this week,” Andersen said. “He’ll be a quarterback and a quarterback only.”

Badgers basketball: 'Make Bo Pay' raises more than $53,000

Oct 22, 2014 -- 11:04pm
Photo via @uwbadgers
MADISON - More than 2,200 University of Wisconsin students showed up to ‘Make Bo Pay’ on Wednesday at the Kohl Center, and he did so to the tune of $53,355.
It happened as part of the third annual Bo and Kelly Ryan’s Shooting Down Cancer event. When matching donations from a group of supporters was factored in, the event had raised $276,775 for the American Cancer Society, which brought the overall total to $384,184 in three years.
“It’s exciting to think about what this event has turned into in three years and I’m truly proud of our student body, the volunteers and everybody who helps make this successful,” Bo Ryan said in a release put out by the school. “With the money the students raised and the matching donations it shows how special this campus and community are.”
The Ryan’s contributed $1 for every person that entered the Kohl Center, $10 for every student that hit a free throw and $1,000 for anybody that was able to hit a shot from half-court.
Officials say the students hit 46 half-court shots, including Zach Bohannon, who just finished his playing career with the Badgers in April.
“I love how this event brings the campus and our basketball team together for a great cause,” Ryan said in the release. “The team loves interacting with their fellow students and it’s fun to be able to bring students onto the Kohl Center floor and get to know them.
“I still strongly believe that the cure to cancer will be discovered right here at UW-Madison and hopefully raising over a quarter million dollars today will help.”

Badgers football: Herring expected to play

Oct 22, 2014 -- 8:42pm
MADISON - The University of Wisconsin will have one of its most important pieces – nose guard Warren Herring -- back in the lineup this week.
While Herring said he was taking it day-by-day, and his position coach, Chad Kauha’aha’a, called him questionable for the Badgers (4-2, 1-1) game with Maryland (5-2, 2-1), it was defensive coordinator Dave Aranda who took any of the suspense away.
“We’re all expecting him to play,” Aranda told reporters after practice on Wednesday.
Herring hasn’t played since the opener against LSU when he suffered a knee injury on the final play of the third quarter. He had surgery to repair the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and targeted a return date of Oct. 4 against Northwestern. That date came and went without the senior back on the field, but he returned to practice late last week and was not limited at all this week.
“Every first team rep,” Herring said of his workload. “Obviously with the rotation and things like that, but all the reps I usually get, I’ve been taking.”
One of the leaders on the Badgers defense, Herring tried to maintain a positive attitude even when his original goal date didn’t end up happening. He now feels like he’s ready.
“Talking to the training staff and talking to the coaches they all told me just to make sure I was ready,” he said. “So that’s what I said, just a day at a time. That’s basically what it was. It wasn’t a set goal because I learned from that the first time but just taking it a day at a time.”
Before Herring got hurt in the opener, LSU had little success running the ball. They had just 45 yards on the ground through the first three quarters. But without Herring or defensive end Konrad Zagzebski, who got hurt earlier in the game, the Tigers gashed UW for 81 yards in the fourth quarter.
“He brings a big body. He can move when we’re slanting, so our base attack doesn’t change,” Aranda said. “I think we’re just that much better when someone wants to run in between the tackles. It’s a huge improvement for us. I think Warren brings some intensity and leadership as well.”
Herring’s return also allows Aranda to be more versatile in the defenses he calls. At 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, Herring is athletic enough to be able to do all the movement that UW has done with its defensive line this season, and he’s strong enough to play the straight up style they implemented for much of last year.
“Incredibly different teams in terms of style of play,” Aranda said. “Last year, all we did is play two defenses. This year, it’s lets try not to play those two defenses. So completely different. He’ll kind of allow us to play both styles.”
How much he’ll play against the Terrapins remains to be seen. On Monday, UW coach Gary Andersen said if Herring was cleared to play, he’d end up playing quite a few snaps. Aranda feels he’ll be able to use Herring in a variety of situations.
“I think there’s things in mix downs, first and second down where he can get some work and be able to play the run,” Aranda said. “And then I think some of the reps he is needed come in some of the sub downs, third downs.”
Herring will have to wear a brace on the knee to keep it stabilized and he said he’s comfortable with it.
“He looked really good [Wednesday],” Aranda said. “What we said [to him] was put it on tape going into today and he did. So I’m looking forward to [him returning].”
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