ESPN Wisconsin

ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Zach Heilprin

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Badgers football: Landisch ready, position changes & a scholarship for a walk-on

Aug 27, 2014 -- 10:13pm
Photo/ESPN Wisconsin
MADISON - The University of Wisconsin will head into their season opener against LSU on Saturday night as healthy as they could of hoped. And that includes at the inside linebacker spot, as senior Derek Landisch is full-speed following a hamstring injury that knocked him out of action midway through the second week of fall camp.
“It’s definitely a good thing,” Landisch said following practice on Wednesday. “I’ve worked my tail off in the rehab room to get back out here, and I’m definitely excited to play versus LSU.”
It’s a matchup of Top 15 teams in the country and his teammates are excited he’ll be out there, too.
“He’s a born leader,” senior Marcus Trotter said. “He’s a very quiet kid but once he gets in his shoulder pads and helmet he’s a different guy. Real serious. He leads by example.”
Landisch said he started doing a little bit of on-field work last Saturday. UW took Sunday off and each day since the Nashotah native has been building up his workload to the point that he’s back to full participation.
“I’m thankful for that,” defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said. “(When) he is at his best, which I would say he’s right there, he’s one of our most productive players. He’s really played well. The defense has a different feel when he’s in there.”
There was an initial scare that the injury would keep Landisch – UW’s most experienced player on defense – off the field for the opener in Houston but the Hartland Arrowhead alum tried to not to even consider the possibility.
“That kind of creeps in your mind but I’ve always tried to stay positive and I knew that pouting or even being down on myself wouldn’t help my recovery,” he said. “I just took it a day at a time and really didn’t think about the past or the future, and just tried to get back out there with my teammates.”
Musical chairs
When Landisch got injured, it resulted in a variety of moves in the linebacker corps. Sophomore Leon Jacobs moved from the ‘F’ or field outside linebacker spot to inside linebacker, while sophomore Jack Cichy moved to the ‘F’ backer from the ‘B’ or boundary outside linebacker spot. With Landisch back, and a now healthy Vince Biegel (concussion), everyone reverted to their pre-injury positions and their spots on the depth chart.
The move also meant that the fourth inside linebacker – behind Landisch, Marcus Trotter and Michael Trotter – will be true freshman D’Cota Dixon.
“D’Cota is in sub-packages, whether it’s our three-man or four-man front,” Aranda said of the 5-foot-10, 206-pound Dixon. “I’m comfortable with D’Cota being a fourth guy who’s going to get some reps. I think the plan would be they’ve got to be able to knock us down from our (first) three to get to D’Cota, but he’s shown the ability to come in and make plays. We’re confident with that group.”
Dixon was a corner in high school, but is physical enough that the coaches and his Big Brother, Landisch, feel he’ll be ready if called upon against LSU in passing situations.
“I think he’s ready,” Landisch said. “I’ve been telling him all week, ‘You’re just a couple plays away from getting in the game, so make sure you know what you’re doing, because you never know when you’re going to get that opportunity.’ You always want to be prepared, so he’s been watching a lot of film, always asking questions on the sideline, which is a good thing.”
Senior goes on scholarship
A lot of attention, and rightly so, was given to the video showing walk-on long snapper Connor Udelhoven being surprised during a team meeting and getting put on scholarship. Another walk-on joined him on scholarship this week.
Senior Ben Ruechel was told he wouldn’t have to pay for his final year and it left the inside linebacker speechless, according to his teammates.
“He came up to me, and I could tell something was either wrong or something (else),” Landisch said. “He could barely speak.”
Ruechel has never stepped on the field for Wisconsin, but it’s players like the Oconto native that get the rest of the team ready for their opponent that particular week.
“I couldn’t describe it, how happy I was for Ben,” Landisch said. “It kind of felt like I got put on scholarship when Ben got put on scholarship.
“To watch him develop from the four years that I’ve been here. Ben never complains. Never wonders why he’s not on scholarship. None of that. He’s so selfless. He’ll do scout, if you ask him to do scout. He’ll be with the first-team, if you ask him to be with the first-team. He’s a very smart player.
“When Ben got that scholarship, everyone was so happy. All the inside linebackers hugged him and congratulated him. That’s a big moment for Ben.”

Badgers football: The "other" side: LSU - Tuesday

Aug 26, 2014 -- 11:17pm
MADISON - Only four days remain before No. 14 Wisconsin and No. 13 LSU kick the season off in Houston on Saturday.
Our daily look at what the “other” side is writing and saying:
Ross Dellenger at The Advocate talked with LSU’s offensive line about the advantage they have in experience over UW’s defensive line.
Over at, Jim Kleinpeter held a chat with readers, including telling them that this Badgers team isn’t the slow, plodding group that some may expect.
Kleinpeter also has a story where he writes about the Wisconsin connection that LSU coach Les Miles and starting center, Ethan Pocic, share.
David Ching of lays out the game plan LSU should use to open the season with a win over Wisconsin.

Badgers football: Ramesh No. 3 TB & Twitter shutdown

Aug 26, 2014 -- 10:12pm
Photo/ESPN Wisconsin
MADISON - The third tailback for the University of Wisconsin has been used in heavy doses over the past few seasons. And while much of the work has come in blowouts, it remains an important part of a run-heavy offense. On Saturday night against No. 13 LSU, the Badgers will use a guy in that spot that is more fullback than tailback.
UW running backs coach Thomas Brown said redshirt freshman Austin Ramesh will serve as the third man behind junior Melvin Gordon and sophomore Corey Clement.
“Ramesh has done a great job of playing both tailback and fullback,” Brown said following practice on Tuesday. “He’s obviously kind of more suited for the fullback position. It’s why he was recruited to come here.”
The No. 14 Badgers have given the No. 3 tailback a large number of carries over the past four seasons. Last year, Clement ran for 547 yards, while in 2012 Gordon put up 621 yards. And in 2010, when UW won the first of their three-straight Big Ten titles, they had three running backs with at least 996 yards.
It was originally thought that freshman Taiwan Deal would be that guy this year, but he’s still adjusting to the college game and there aren’t a ton of reps to go around once UW gets into their game-planning phase.
“Taiwan has done a pretty good job,” Brown said. “It’s kind of a day-to-day type deal. It’s going to be a long process for him. He’s a young guy in a lot of ways. (It’s) kind of more mentally than physically, but I think he’ll be fine in the long run.”
What Ramesh gives Brown is a little more peace of mind when it comes to the passing game and keeping the quarterback of his back.
“Taiwan’s still going to be ready to roll. He has a pretty good grasp on the offense, but obviously Austin’s been in the system,” Brown said. (He) knows it better from a pass protection standpoint (with) what I ask him to do, so I feel more comfortable there.”
Twitter shutdown
Tanner McEvoy’s Twitter account, or more accurately fake Twitter account, caused UW coach Gary Andersen some angst over the weekend. While an original report about the junior being named the starting quarterback came from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the person running McEvoy’s fake Twitter account tweeted out his thanks.
The account is a fake but a local TV station didn’t realize that. They ended up running a story about McEvoy being named the starter, using the tweet as confirmation. When asked about the “report” during Monday’s press conference, Andersen didn’t seem impressed with the fake.
“People want to believe whatever they want to believe,” Andersen said. “Just another social media debacle, in my opinion.”
McEvoy was just as incredulous when asked about the account following practice on Tuesday, mentioning that the pictures associated with the account were taken from his real Instagram profile.
“I don’t know who it is,” McEvoy said. “They’re not saying anything too negative, but it’s supposed to be taken down soon, from what I’ve been told. Hopefully that happens soon.”

Badgers football: McEvoy: 'It’s why I came here.'

Aug 26, 2014 -- 8:46pm
Photo/ESPN Wisconsin
MADISON – The men at the center of the worst kept secret in college football were thrown in front of the media on Tuesday as the University of Wisconsin continued their preparations for No. 13 LSU this Saturday in Houston, Texas.
If you only talked to junior Tanner McEvoy, you might believe that he didn’t know he was starting in the opener. That’s exactly how UW coach Gary Andersen wanted it to be when he decided to withhold the identity of his No. 1 quarterback from the media. However, when you listen to the incumbent starter, Joel Stave, talk, it sounds like he’s resigned to his fate, at least for this game, as the backup to McEvoy.
While Stave, who has started 19 games for Wisconsin over the past two seasons, didn’t come out and acknowledge he wouldn’t be under center, he did talk like a guy that would be watching from the sidelines.
“I’ll have as big of impact as I’m given an opportunity to,” the junior said after practice. “I just want to make sure I’m ready, I’m prepared, and whatever opportunity that I get, I want to make the most of it.”
Meanwhile, his competition for the job was still playing coy.
“We’re not sure who’s playing this upcoming weekend,” McEvoy said with a straight face. “I hope I’m in. That’s a Coach Ludwig answer. Whatever he wants us to do, I’ve got to be ready if my number is called.” 
His number will be called, and the junior college transfer is expected to make his first start at quarterback since the 2012 El Toro Bowl. That’s when he led Arizona Western College to a 42-37 win over Nassau Community College. McEvoy threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns, while also throwing a pair of interceptions. His effort earned him the bowl’s MVP on offense.
So what did he remember from that game played in front of 2,984 people in Yuma, Arizona?
“I remember that there were two end zones, and I had to get a first down a couple times to score.”
Since that start, the 6-foot-6, 222-pound, McEvoy came to Wisconsin, lost a three-way quarterback battle, moved to wide receiver, broke his hand, moved to defense and started three games at safety.
“Sometimes people throw things at you, (and) you just have to change and make an adjustment,” McEvoy said of the twists and turns that started with him transferring from South Carolina in the spring of 2012. “That’s what I’ve been doing for the past few years.”
Now the New Jersey native is in the position he wanted to be when he chose the Badgers over Oregon, Florida and others – leading his team into a Top 25 matchup in primetime with the whole country watching.
“I knew what I signed up for. I’ve just got to go out there and play,” McEvoy said. “I’ve been playing football all my life. I don’t think it’ll be overwhelming or anything. It’s a big crowd but it’s fun. That’s what I signed up for. It’s a big school. It’s why I came here.”


Badgers football: The "other" side: LSU - Monday

Aug 26, 2014 -- 12:23am
MADISON - No. 14 Wisconsin opens the season this Saturday night in Houston against No. 13 LSU.
Here are some links from those covering LSU in advance of the Advocare Texas Kickoff:

Badgers football: Cizauskas sentenced

Aug 25, 2014 -- 5:41pm
MADISON - Dominic Cizauskas, once a member of the 2014 recruiting class at the University of Wisconsin, has been sentenced for assaulting a female student last December.
The 18-year-old Cizauskas was in Dane County court on Monday and was sentenced to 12 months in jail and three years probation after being convicted in June on a charge of third-degree sexual assault.
According to prosecutors, the incident took place on Dec. 14 at a campus residence hall. The victim told authorities she had been studying when she heard someone asking for directions to her room. Cizauskas then opened her door and walked in. The two had been exchanging text messages earlier in the night. The woman said that Cizauskas smelled of alcohol and he told her that he had “consumed 10 shots within one half-hour”.
The complaint stated the assault occurred over the next hour, with Cizauskas undressing the victim and forcing her to have intercourse. The woman, a UW student, told authorities it was not consensual.
Cizauskas and the woman had previously engaged in consensual sex, with the most recent event coming in June of 2013.
The Mukwonago High School graduate was supposed to sign his letter of national intent in early February but that didn’t happen due to the investigation.

UW officials can’t comment on Cizauskas because he’s still considered an unsigned recruit.
However, sophomore Leon Jacobs, who was Cizauskas’ recruiting host the weekend of the incident, was reportedly disciplined for allowing Cizauskas to drink on his visit and not getting him back to his room at Hotel Red.
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