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ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Zach Heilprin

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Badgers football: Zagzebski expects to play

Nov 20, 2014 -- 9:14pm
Photo/Getty Images
 
MADISON - The University of Wisconsin will be tested in the trenches on Saturday against Iowa, so it’s a good thing they’ll have one of their better defensive linemen available.
 
UW coach Gary Andersen said Thursday that defensive end Konrad Zagzebski looked to be moving pretty good despite an ankle injury suffered against Purdue on Nov. 8 and that he expects him to go this week.
 
“I expect that to happen and we really need that to happen, especially this week against this offensive line,” Andersen said. “We can’t just hang in there with the same three or four guys the whole game.”
 
Zagzebski started against Nebraska but tweaked the ankle on the first play of the game and was removed for good after about 10 snaps.
 
“I couldn’t sustain and hold blocks as well as I would like to for the back end,” Zagzebski said. “I stayed warm and once the offense started to roll and the defense started to play they just kind of said, ‘Stay warm. If we need you, if someone goes down be ready.’”
 
On Wednesday, the senior said he felt a lot better this week than last and he believes he’ll be close to 100 percent come game time.
 
That should be the case for Corey Clement, too. The running back suffered a shoulder injury on his first half touchdown run against Nebraska. He eventually returned and finished the day with five carries for 22 yards. The sophomore was in a no-contact jersey to start the week but Andersen has no concerns with his availability on Saturday.
 
“He should be full steam,” the second-year coach said. “He looked good (on Thursday). He really looked good all week. We were a little precautionary early on but he’s fine.”

Badgers football: Commit No. 24 in the fold

Nov 18, 2014 -- 7:08pm
 
MADISON - The University of Wisconsin pulled in commitment No. 24 on Tuesday.
 
Virginia Beach (Ocean Lakes) cornerback T.J. Griffin, who made his official visit this past weekend, gave his verbal commitment to the Badgers.
 
A 3-star player according to ESPN, Griffin chose the Badgers over offers from Oregon, Duke and Virginia among others.
 
The 5-foot-9, 167-pound, Griffin is rated as the No. 23 player in the state of Virginia.
 

Badgers football: Gordon compared to Sanders

Nov 17, 2014 -- 11:56pm
Photo/via ESPN.com
 
MADISON - What Barry Sanders did in 1988 is remarkable. 2,628 rushing yards in just 11 games, an average of 238.9 yards per game, is a season for the ages. When talk of Melvin Gordon possibly challenging that total this year is brought up, many say it would be an amazing feat but pale in comparison to Sanders because it would take the University of Wisconsin running back at least 13 games to do it. And they’re right in a sense. But when you put the two seasons next to each other – Sanders in 1988 and Gordon in 2014 – a number jumps out and it’s not the yards. It’s the carries.
 
Oklahoma State gave Sanders, on average, 31.3 carries per game in the regular season. Gordon, meanwhile, is sitting at 223 through 10 games, for an average of 22.3 touches per game. If the Wisconsin tailback was fed the ball the same amount as Sanders was that year, he’d already have 2,679 yards instead of the 1,909 he’s sitting on right now.
 
Now you can’t short Sanders for his durability, and who knows if Gordon would be able to handle that load or keep his per carry average this year of 8.56 yards. Still, when someone says Sanders did it in 11 games, someone else should note he got the ball nine more times per game than Gordon.
 
Zagzebski’s status a little unclear
 
It seemed too good to be true and maybe it was.
 
Senior Konrad Zagzebski surprised everyone last week when he returned to practice just days after suffering what appeared to be a significant ankle injury. He got the start against Nebraska but made it only a couple of series before he was forced to the sideline due to the ankle.
 
“(Zagzebski) didn't feel 100% on his ankle,” UW coach Gary Andersen said. “I don't know how many snaps (he played) but Coach Chad and Konrad communicated with each other at some point and Konrad felt like he couldn’t push off the way he needed to. He did not have a setback, feels much better (on Monday) than he did the beginning of last week, so I expect him to be ready to play. 
 
“Looking back it's probably a great move by Konrad and by Coach Chad to take him out and give him the rest when he didn't feel 100% rather than tweaking it and taking a step backwards.”
 
Having Zagzebski back in the lineup is significant against a team like Iowa, who play a smash mouth style of offense that is similar to Wisconsin’s. That means UW will likely use a lot of three-man fronts and not having the senior defensive lineman could force some adjustments.
 
Minnesota start time announced
 
Wisconsin will finish the season against Minnesota on Nov. 29 and will do so with a kickoff time of 2:30 p.m.
 
The Big Ten made the announcement on Monday.
 
It’ll be the Badgers third-straight mid-afternoon kick time after spending most of the year playing at 11 a.m.
 
UW has won 10 straight games in the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe, including a 20-7 victory in the Twin Cities last year.

Badgers basketball: Duje is free

Nov 17, 2014 -- 9:49pm
Photo/zimbio.com
 
MADISON - Duje is free.
 
After being forced to sit out four competitions by the NCAA due to them granting him only a partial medical redshirt two seasons ago, Duje Dukan will make his season debut on Wednesday against Green Bay.
 
“Can’t wait,” the University of Wisconsin senior said on Monday. “I can’t even put into words how excited I am to put the jersey back on and get ready to get out with the guys on Wednesday.”
 
Dukan missed the closed scrimmage against DePaul, an exhibition game against UW-Parkside and UW’s first two wins of the year over Northern Kentucky and Chattanooga. That was because the NCAA determined that the mononucleosis he battled prior to the 2012-2013 season did not incapacitate him for the entire year, and that the 11 minutes he played in an exhibition game before deciding to redshirt disqualified him for a full medical redshirt.
 
UW coach Bo Ryan, his current teammates and a former teammate, Zach Bohannon, went to bat for him, even starting a #FreeDuje hashtag on social media sites.
 
But that is in the past and his teammates are happy he’s back.
 
“Yeah, it’s huge for us,” senior Josh Gasser said. “Duje is an incredible player. Just gives us another scoring option that we already have.
 
“He’s been waiting for his time so long in his career. Freshman, sophomore, his redshirt year, (junior year), so he was really excited about his senior year, and now I think he’s even more excited to get back at it after being forced to miss those two games.”
 
Dukan was back with the rotation players during practice on Monday after spending the past few weeks on the scout team following the NCAA’s ruling. At 6-foot-10, 218 pounds, Dukan adds to the Badgers already big lineup, and his ability to hit from 3-point range will put stress on defenses that had more than enough weapons to deal with before.
 
“If you guys have been here the past how many months, you guys can see what he can do,” junior Sam Dekker said. “Spread the floor, bring it inside with his size, and his skill that he has all over the floor, so we’re excited to get him back. Another weapon we have and something else other teams have to worry about.”
 
A year ago, Dukan played in all 38 games, averaging 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. But he finished the season on a strong note, scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds in the national semifinal against Kentucky.
 
“It’s good to add another dimension to the game,” senior Frank Kaminsky said. “Duje is a unique player and skill set for his size so he’s really going to help us on offense and the defensive end.”
 
Dukan has spent the first two games sitting on the bench in a suit, and when a reporter mentioned that it was a good look for him, he was appreciative but happy he wouldn’t be wearing it again.
 
“Thank you but I like the jersey outfit better.” 
 
Happ to redshirt
 
Freshman Ethan Happ plans to redshirt.
 
It was first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
 
The 6-foot-9, 230-pound, Happ was still unsure whether he would sit this season or not as late as last Wednesday. He was weighing whether it would be worth it to play a few minutes this season and potentially help a team that has Final Four aspirations, or redshirt and then play a lot more as a senior.
 
UW’s depth in the front court certainly played a role in his decision as seniors Frank Kaminsky and Duje Dukan, junior Sam Dekker and sophomores Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown will dominate a majority of the minutes this year.
 
There is no deadline to redshirt, so if injuries hit, Happ is available for the Badgers.
 
Happ joins sophomore guard Jordan Hill and freshman guard T.J. Schlundt as players redshirting this year.

Badgers football: Gordon & Schobert earn B1G honors

Nov 17, 2014 -- 9:45am
 
MADISON - Melvin Gordon’s big day against Nebraska earned him the Big Ten’s offensive layer of the week honor on Monday.
 
The University of Wisconsin tailback ran for a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) record 408 yards on Saturday, taking over the top spot held by TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson, who put up 406 yards in a 1999 game against UTEP.
 
Gordon and the Badgers racked up 627 yards of total offense, including 581 on the ground – the most ever allowed by a Huskers defense.
 
It’s the third time Gordon has won the award, and second time this season.
 
For the year, Gordon has 1,909 yards and 25 total touchdowns.
 
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, junior linebacker Joe Schobert picked up the defensive player of the week honors in the conference.
 
Schobert had 11 tackles, 2.5 for loss and 0.5 sacks along with a fumble recovery against the Huskers. He was also part of a defense that held Nebraska 310 yards below their season average of total offense.
 
He becomes the second UW defensive player to win the award this year, joining fellow linebacker Vince Biegel.

Badgers football: Big win sends UW up the polls

Nov 16, 2014 -- 4:09pm
 
The University of Wisconsin’s overwhelming win over Nebraska sent them shooting up the national polls on Sunday.
 
Following their 59-24 victory, the Badgers jumped up eight spots in the Associated Press poll to No. 14 and up seven slots in the Amway Coaches Poll to No. 15. The former matches their highest ranking of the season.
 
Wisconsin is one of four Big Ten teams in both polls. Ohio State comes in at No. 7 in each after their win over Minnesota. Michigan State sits at No. 9 in the coaches’ poll and No. 10 by the writers. And Nebraska took a big tumble down each poll, dropping to No. 21 in the AP poll and to No. 19 by the coaches.
 
UW travels to Iowa this Saturday.
 
You can find both polls here:
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