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ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Zach Heilprin

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Badgers football: Stave shutdown indefintely

Sep 02, 2014 -- 11:37am
Photo/ESPN Wisconsin
 
MADISON - Joel Stave has been shutdown indefinitely by the University of Wisconsin after issues with his throwing shoulder have surfaced once again.
 
That was the announcement from UW coach Gary Andersen on Tuesday morning.
 
“Joel has been dealing with some issues with his throwing shoulder for the last couple of weeks and we have come to a decision, after talking with Joel, that the best thing for him right now is to shut it down and give him some rest,” Andersen said. “It was a tough decision, because Joel is a great competitor and has a tremendous desire to help this team. We will continue to monitor his progress, but we’re not putting a timetable on his return at this time.”
 
The junior quarterback struggled to recover from the AC joint injury to his throwing shoulder that knocked him out of the Capital One Bowl loss to South Carolina in January. He did not throw for the next two months in an effort to let it heal. In the early portions of spring practice, Stave was limited to individual drills, before being cleared to join 11-on-11 work midway through the 15 sessions. However, pain in the shoulder led Andersen to shut him down for the last week of spring ball.
 
Stave allowed the shoulder some time to heal again, and told Andersen he was pain free during his workouts in early June. By the time camp opened up in the beginning of August, the junior was not limited and fully cleared to battle Tanner McEvoy for the starting job.
 
It appeared Stave was ahead in the competition, and most that watched the first 2 1/2 weeks of practice believed he’d be named the starter for UW’s season opener against LSU. But that didn’t happen. Instead it was McEvoy, raising a lot of eyebrows and wondering if Stave was hurt.
 
In Saturday night’s 28-24 loss to LSU, McEvoy struggled. He was of 8 of 24 for 50 yards and a pair of interceptions.
 
With Stave shelved indefinitely, Andersen said that sophomore Bart Houston will serve as the backup to McEvoy, with true freshman D.J. Gillins as the No. 3.  
 
Meanwhile, redshirt freshman T.J. Watt will also miss time. The tight end suffered a knee injury in fall camp that resulted in him eventually needing surgery.
 
“He will miss an extended amount of time but we hope to have him back on the practice field at some point during the conference season,” Andersen said.
 
Watt missed much of last year’s fall camp due to a knee injury, and was once again hobbled in the spring.
 
Wisconsin hosts Western Illinois this Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
 

Badgers football: Herring, Zagzebski could return soon, McEvoy still the starter

Sep 01, 2014 -- 4:11pm
Photo/Getty Images
 
MADISON - Gary Andersen had potentially very good news in the injury department for the University of Wisconsin on Monday.
 
The head coach told reporters that defensive linemen Konrad Zagzebski and Warren Herring should be able – at some point – to play again this year.
 
The news on Herring is especially encouraging for the Badgers. The senior went down on the final play of the third quarter after getting bent back and having his right leg get stuck underneath another player. The nose guard wasn’t able to put any weight on the leg as he was helped off the field and was on crutches with a large wrap after the game.
 
Andersen called him day-to-day, and that he should be back shortly.
 
“I was worried for Warren in that situation,” Andersen said. “He's a tough kid. I was glad to hear the report when it came back what we thought it was.”
 
It’s possible that Zagzebski will be back even sooner. The defensive end injured his neck or head in the first quarter of the game, and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. The senior was released from the hospital that night and flew home with the team.
 
“He'll be out there moving around and should be ready to go,” Andersen said. “If not this week (against Western Illinois), for sure after the bye week.”
 
The injuries put a dent into an already shallow depth chart. Without Herring or Zagzebski, redshirt sophomore Arthur Goldberg played about 50 snaps according to Andersen. The plan was for 25. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, UW was spent, and it showed as LSU ran 16 times for 81 yards (5.1 per carry) before taking a knee twice to end the game.
 
“And that's difficult,” Andersen said playing without Herring and Zagzebski. “Again, it's football. But were we different without those two young men in there? Absolutely. There's no question we'll have to continually fight to overcome that until hopefully we get them back.”
 
Their absence led to more playing time for not only Goldberg, but also junior Jake Keefer, and redshirt freshmen Alec James and Chikwe Obasih.
 
It also allowed for the debut of true freshman Conor Sheehy, who played in a couple series of the fourth quarter.
 
McEvoy to start against Western Illinois
 
If there was any doubt as to whether Tanner McEvoy would get the start in UW’s second game of the season, it was put to rest on Monday when Andersen was asked point blank if the junior was still his starter.
 
“Yeah, Tanner will start the game this week,” the coach said.
 
The start will be his second in Division I. The first did not go as planned. He finished 8 of 24 for 50 yards and two interceptions.
 
“Do we need better play? Absolutely,” Andersen said of the quarterback spot. “No one's going to sit here (and) debate that. We need better play out of the quarterback and better play in the throw game period.”
 
Other injuries
 
Punter Drew Meyer was a busy guy on Saturday night, punting eight times. It appeared that the junior was dealing with some sort of injury after a 26-yard punt in the third quarter that gave LSU the ball at their own 41-yard line. That came after a 25-yard punt gave the Tigers the ball at their own 40-yard line.
 
“He wasn't (injured),” Andersen said. “The word I got is that he just had some cramping issues in his calf or foot.  And it's concerning to cramp up in that situation.
But he's fine. And we expect him to obviously punt the ball better than (that and) he expects himself to punt the ball better.”
 
Meyer averaged 37.5 yard per punt with a long of 57.
 
Starting right tackle Rob Havenstein was wearing a boot on his right foot when he spoke with reporters on Monday. He said it was just a sprained foot, and that he’d be ready to practice on Tuesday.
 
Andersen also said wide receiver Rob Wheelwright, who has been out of practice since the second week of fall camp with an undisclosed injury, should be able to practice full speed this week.

Badgers football: True freshmen in play

Aug 31, 2014 -- 1:50pm
Photo/Getty Images
Safety Lubern Figaro (31) was one of six true freshmen to play for Wisconsin.
 
HOUSTON - The University of Wisconsin ended up play six true freshmen in Saturday night’s 28-24 loss to LSU.
 
Two started – safety Lubern Figaro and wide receiver George Rushing.
 
Figaro made one tackle and was at least partially responsible for the 80-yard touchdown throw from Anthony Jennings to Travin Dural in the first quarter. Though sophomore Sojourn Shelton was in coverage, it appeared that Figaro was supposed to help over the top and got sucked too far into the play and couldn’t recover.
 
“I wouldn’t even throw it on Lubern (Figaro),” Shelton said. “He’s a freshman and did tremendous today. And that’s what comes with being a freshman and playing in a big game, especially like this.
“I look at my freshman year, and I got to open up with a vanilla team (Massachusetts). He opened up with LSU.
 
“I take full responsibility for that touchdown. You put it behind you, continue to keep playing and just play hard.”
 
In the fourth quarter, Figaro was replaced by senior Peniel Jean.
 
Rushing was the target of two of McEvoy’s passes but was unable to come down with either one.
 
The other two true freshmen receivers, Natrell Jamerson and Krenwick Sanders, did not play.
 
One of the true bright spots of the game for Wisconsin was in the kicking game. UW coach Gary Andersen called on Rafael Gaglianone on the Badgers second drive of the game and he delivered, hitting from 51 yards out – tied for the eighth longest kick in school history.
 
“It definitely felt good,” the Brazilian native said. “I was anxious to perform and do the right things.”
 
Injuries to nose guard Warren Herring and defensive end Konrad Zagzebski led to Conor Sheehy seeing some time in the fourth quarter. He recorded one assisted tackle.
 
Inside linebacker D’Cota Dixon and safety Austin Hudson played on the kickoff unit.
 
“I know they learned a lot, and I hope they can come back and recover quickly and get themselves in a spot to be ready to go,” Andersen said of the young players. “There are some good things. This will be a tremendous tape for us to look at and evaluate, and we will see how we can move forward.
 
“It is a step in the right direction, I suppose, as getting them reps, but the outcome is not what we were looking for.”

Badgers football: Zagzebski, Herring injured in loss

Aug 31, 2014 -- 3:25am
Photo/Getty Images
 
HOUSTON - The University of Wisconsin lost their season opener for the first time since 1997 but may have suffered some even bigger losses in personnel.
 
Senior defensive end Konrad Zagzebski was taken off the field on a stretcher in the first quarter of UW’s 28-24 loss to LSU after jamming his helmet into the side of Kenny Hilliard. The running back then landed on Zagzebski, who was down for several minutes.
 
He gave a thumbs up to the crowd as he was being taken off the field. And UW’s Twitter account later tweeted he would be flying home with them.
 
UW’s defense took another hit later on, losing nose guard Warren Herring to apparent right knee injury. The senior was helped off the field after getting his leg rolled up on. Herring was later seen with crutches and a large wrap on his right leg.
 
The presence of both guys was missed.
 
“Even if they aren’t in the game, they’ll be watching what’s going on and they can let the younger guys know what’s happening and how to combat that,” linebacker Joe Schobert said. We just missed their leadership on the interior d-line. Those young guys stepped up and played great, but once you have that momentum, their defense was rolling, their offense was rolling, it’s a hard thing to stop.”
 
Several other players suffered injuries, though exactly what the injury was and the severity is unknown.
 
Punter Drew Meyer was limping following a pair of punts in the fourth quarter. Fullback Derek Watt was wearing a boot on his right foot as he left the locker room last night. And backup left tackle Walker Williams did not dress due to a left leg injury.

Badgers football: Report: Jennings to start for LSU at QB

Aug 29, 2014 -- 5:32pm
Photo/USATSI
Sophomore Anthony Jennings will be LSU's starting quarterback against Wisconsin on Saturday night.
 
HOUSTON, Texas - LSU will have the more experienced quarterback under center when they matchup with the University of Wisconsin tomorrow night but not by much.
 
As first reported by NOLA.com, Tigers’ coach Les Miles will use sophomore Anthony Jennings as his starter in the Advocare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium.
 
Jennings has started one game as opposed to the expected starter for the Badgers, junior Tanner McEvoy, who started three games at safety in 2013 but has never played quarterback at the Division I level.
 
Last year, the 6-foot-2, 216-pound, Jennings came into the final regular season game against Arkansas following an injury to Zach Mettenberger. Trailing by three with just 3:04 left in the game, Jennings led an 8-play, 99-yard drive to win the game.
 
His lone career start came in a 21-14 win over Iowa in the Outback Bowl.
 
The decision to start Jennings wasn't unexpected. He and true freshman Brandon Harris will split time at the quarterback spot and are very similar players, both with the ability to extend plays with their legs.
 
Other LSU news:
 
A couple notable names did not travel with LSU to Houston for the game.
 
Sophomore Rashard Robinson, who started a pair of games last year, is reportedly suspended. He had been working with the second-team defense in camp but that was likely due to the coaches knowing he wasn’t going to be able to play. Robinson was expected to team with sophomore Tre’Davious White to form one of the better cornerback duos in the country.
 
Junior Jalen Collins will reportedly start opposite White on Saturday night.
 
Also, true freshman Malachi Dupre suffered an ankle injury in practice this week and won’t be able to go for the Tigers. Dupre, a New Orleans native, was one of the top wide receivers in the class of 2014.
 
LSU has just one wide receiver on their roster that caught more than one pass last year.

Badgers football: Team travels to Houston

Aug 29, 2014 -- 12:05am
Photo/ESPN Wisconsin
 
HOUSTON, Texas - The University of Wisconsin practiced one final time in Madison before heading south on Thursday. They arrived in Houston in the early afternoon, a little more than 48 hours before they’ll face LSU in the Texas Advocare Kickoff on Saturday night.
 
Players and coaches documented their travels via social media.
 
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