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ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Zach Heilprin

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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].”

Badgers football: McEvoy to see more time

Oct 21, 2014 -- 7:25pm
Wisconsin plans to get Tanner McEvoy on the field more against Maryland.
MADISON - Expect to see more of Tanner McEvoy this week against Maryland, but don’t expect for that action to come at any position other than quarterback.
Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said Tuesday that the University of Wisconsin junior will see more than the one series he did in the Badgers 38-28 win over Illinois on Oct. 11.
“We need to play him more,” Ludwig said. “He needs to play more.”
When pressed if the 6-foot-6 McEvoy could see time at wide receiver, the spot he moved to after losing out on the quarterback battle in 2013, the second-year coach said that he had not practiced at the position at any point over the past few weeks.
Against the Illini, McEvoy replaced starter Joel Stave in the second quarter on the fifth drive of the game. He proceeded to go 50 yards in 10 plays before the drive stalled at the Illinois 29-yard line and kicker Rafael Gaglianone missed a 47-yard field goal. It would be the last time the crowd would see McEvoy on the field.
“In the second half I was looking for that opportunity, but Joel was doing a lot of good things,” Ludwig said. “Then early in the fourth quarter, the tide of the game, I just didn’t feel it would be a good situation for the football team or for Tanner to put him in that position. Things were a little bit [muddled] at that juncture of the game. It just wasn’t the right time to put in a new QB.”
Stave was just 2 of 6 in the second half but did lead touchdown drives on two of the first three possessions of the third quarter. Though his stats don’t show it, Ludwig believes Stave is getting closer to being the quarterback that he was before the mental block that hit him just before the season started.
“He’s getting close each day.” Ludwig said. “Football’s very important to him. Being a good teammate is very important to him. He’s been working real hard. He’s shown improvement each day. There’s flashes of a very good player.”
With McEvoy starting the first five games and Stave their most recent contest, UW has largely struggled in the passing game this season. They rank 119th in the country in yards per game at 141.0 and they’ve thrown more interceptions (8) than touchdowns (7).
With an extra week to prepare for Maryland, UW believes they have a better plan in place to play both McEvoy and Stave.
“We’ve had a week to work on a system,” Ludwig said. “Have a little bit more of a package for each quarterback so to speak, although they all can run the entire offense. But there are some things we’ll focus on with Joel and other things with Tanner.”
No one knows what the new breakdown will look like, but Stave is feeling more comfortable heading into the Maryland game, having gone through the uncertainty before.
“They don’t necessarily specify you’re going to get this many reps (and) (he’s) going to get this many reps,” Stave said. “It’s just broken down in that we both have opportunities to play. I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried about how they plan to split it up. I’m just going to be ready.”

Badgers football: Gordon: 'I should get something, but it just doesn’t work out like that right now."

Oct 21, 2014 -- 1:51am
Photo/Getty Images
Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon's signature is a popular one these days and plenty of peope are making money off it.
MADISON - If you type the name Melvin Gordon into an eBay search, more than 620 matches pop up for the University of Wisconsin running back. Of those, 41 claim to have Gordon’s authentic signature on them. The asking price varies – with the low end at $12.95 for an 8x10 picture, and the high end being a full-size goal line pylon for $209.
How much money does Gordon make on those? Absolutely nothing due to NCAA rules on autographs and memorabilia.
“It’s crazy that they’re making money,” said Gordon, who went to a similar auction website just to see what was out there with his name on it. “It’s crazy. You think, like, man what if I got some money off that. I should get something, but it just doesn’t work out like that right now.”
It doesn’t and some of Gordon’s brethren are finding that out. Georgia’s Todd Gurley, who Gordon will likely battle to be the first running back off the board in the 2015 NFL Draft, has missed the last two games as the NCAA investigates whether the junior took $400 from a memorabilia dealer in exchange for signing 80 items. Up on eBay, there are 178 items with his autograph.
Down at Florida State, compliance officials have started an investigation into whether Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston received money for his signature. That came after ESPN reported that an authentication company was able to confirm that hundreds of items signed by Winston had been done so in sequential order, which raised some eyebrows.
However, to this point no one has stepped forward to say that they paid Winston to sign items, and his coach, Jimbo Fisher, stressed how accommodating his quarterback has been to fans and cited that as the reason for there being so many items.
Gordon can relate to Winston in that respect. The UW running back has become the face of the program and is among the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy right now. He leads the country in rushing at 174.3 yards per game and is on pace to break Ron Dayne’s school record for yards (2,109) in a season. The line to get Gordon’s autograph at UW’s annual Family Fun Day in August stretched longer than anyone else’s. But that’s only one of the places Gordon is approached to sign something.
“You’re just walking and you have people come up and ask you to sign things,” Gordon said. “You never want to jump to conclusions, especially with the Jameis Winston thing. They say he had so many. Well he won the Heisman. So if it’s crazy for us, you can only imagine how crazy it is for him with signing things.”
The idea of others making money off an athlete without that athlete getting a dime has been front and center in recent years, most famously with the Ed O’Bannon case. The former UCLA basketball player sued the NCAA, arguing that the organization violated anti-trust laws by not allowing athletes to be compensated for the use of their likeness, names or images. The judge ruled in favor of O’Bannon in August saying players should be able to benefit, on a limited scale, from their school’s commercial efforts that use them.
Though the ruling is currently being appealed, it is just one aspect of a seismic shift when it comes to the NCAA and the way they do business.
Whether that will ever impact the player’s ability to make money off things they sign is unclear. NCAA president Mark Emmert told business leaders in Chicago on Monday that there has been no discussion of allowing it. But Gordon would certainly be on board if it did.
“I wouldn’t mind it all. It would be nice,” Gordon said. “I wouldn’t mind getting money for what we do.”

Badgers football: Andersen remains optimistic on Herring, Watt

Oct 20, 2014 -- 5:26pm
MADISON - Gary Andersen maintained his optimistic attitude about the University of Wisconsin’s injury situation when he addressed the media on Monday.
The UW football coach said he’s hopeful that nose guard Warren Herring and fullback Derek Watt will be able to play against Maryland (5-2, 2-1) on Saturday.
“I have to see how the week goes,” Andersen said. “I’ll remain optimistic until I'm told that they're going to play, so I'm not optimistic anymore. I was correct. And if I'm told different, then I won't be correct. But I hope they play.”
Neither player has been on the field since the opener against LSU. Herring needed surgery to repair the media collateral ligament in his right knee and was given a four-to-six week recovery time. Last week, Herring was doing mostly rehab work off to the side at practice. Watt suffered a broken foot against the Tigers, had surgery the following week and was not expected back until some time in November.
Despite their long absences, Andersen said they wouldn’t necessarily have to practice a lot this week to be able to play against the Terrapins.
“As soon as they can get back and play, they'll be prepared to get into the game prep opportunities,” Andersen said. “It’s really going to be how they progress. If they're ready to play, I'll expect them to jog out there and be ready to play. How much they play, who really knows.
“I think it's so early to say. But if they're ready to go, they'll play quite a few reps on Saturday.”
Meanwhile, UW will have Marcus Trotter back in their lineup. The senior linebacker suffered a groin injury on the second drive of the Northwestern game, missed the rest of that contest and sat out against Illinois the following week. With the bye week allowing for some more time to heal, the Badgers fourth-leading tackler will return.
“Getting Marcus back is big for us,” Andersen said. “He's played very well now when we've had him. He's been healthy. He's been a force … So when Marcus has been given that opportunity, he's played well.
“And he deserves to be given an opportunity, in my mind, again this week and he will be the starter as long as he's healthy, and we would expect nothing more than to have him play at a high level again.”
In Trotter’s absence, Leon Jacobs played well against the Illini in his first career start. The sophomore had 12 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. That production will likely earn him some form of action despite the return of Trotter.
Derek Landisch, the other inside starter at linebacker, will also be good to go. The senior injured his elbow against the Illini but returned to the game with a brace on his arm.

Badgers basketball: UW opens at No. 4 in the coaches' poll

Oct 16, 2014 -- 8:20pm
CHICAGO - The University of Wisconsin returns almost their entire rotation from last year’s run to the Final Four, and that returning nucleus is the reason behind the Badgers appearance in the top 5 of the USA Today preseason Coaches Poll released on Tuesday.
Wisconsin came in at No. 4 and received three first-place votes. It’s the same spot they occupied in the final poll of the 2013-2014 season.
Kentucky, who beat the Badgers 74-73 in the Final Four, claimed the top spot and 24 first-place votes.
When asked what he thought about the Wildcats being the No. 1 team, Wisconsin senior Frank Kaminsky paused before answering.
“I hope we can play them. That’s all I can say about that,” Kaminsky said before going into more detail after a follow up question.
“I want that rematch from last year. They’re the last team to beat us. And it’s on such a big stage that obviously any competitor would want to play them again.”
Kaminsky, who the Big Ten writers tabbed as the preseason favorite for conference player of the year, had eight points and five rebounds in the game – a contest he couldn’t bring himself to watch over the summer.
“I haven’t watched the game and I don’t think I will,” the center said. “From what I remember, they got the best of us. We were so close to winning it. I would love to play them again.”
At No. 2 is Arizona, the team UW beat in overtime to get to the Final Four. Duke, who will come to the Kohl Center on Dec. 3 for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, follows them. Kansas rounds out the Top 5.
In total, there are eight teams in the Top 25 that Wisconsin is either scheduled to play or that they could play as a result of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in late November.  
The Big Ten put six teams in the poll, the most of any conference in the country.
The full poll can be found here:

Badgers basketball: Writers say UW will win B1G

Oct 15, 2014 -- 9:11pm
Photo/Getty Images
MADISON - Writers that cover the Big Ten really like Bo Ryan’s team this year.
The Big Ten Network polled a beat writer for each of the 14 teams and each one chose the University of Wisconsin to win the conference. Ohio State received the second most votes, with Michigan State coming in third.
The writers also expect a very big season from Frank Kaminsky. The UW center was listed on each of the ballots – the only unanimous first-team selection. Junior Sam Dekker received 11 first-team votes. The two Badgers were joined by Nebraska’s Terran Petteway, Michigan’s Caris LeVert and Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell.
Wisconsin returns four of the five starters, and seven of their top eight players, that led them to the Final Four last season.
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