Football notebook: Badgers look to adjust to numerous injuries on offense

first_imgThe Wisconsin receiving core was lucky enough to be the one unit on offense that was able to maintain a healthy standing for majority of the 2015 season.But after eight games, that luck has run out, as junior wideout Rob Wheelwright left Saturday’s game against Illinois with a leg injury and is expected to miss an extended period of time.Wheelwright, who currently leads the team in touchdown catches (4) and is second in both receptions (28) and yards (369), had finally established himself as a consistent threat in the passing game, making the injury a crushing blow for both the team and Wheelwright himself.But wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore has faith the receiver will make a strong return to action when he is able to.“I think he was slowly coming into his own and developing some confidence,” Gilmore said. “But unfortunately, it’s part of this crazy sport of ours, as far as injuries. But he’ll be fine. He’ll bounce back.”The team must move on, however, and the entire core is embracing the attitude of “next man up.”While guys like redshirt senior Tanner McEvoy, redshirt sophomore Jazz Peavy and redshirt junior Reggie Love have all shown flashes of potential throughout the year, Wheelwright’s absence now requires each of them to take on an even larger role as the season winds down.“I think they all sense an opportunity for them to grow, an opportunity for them to continue to establish themselves,” Gilmore said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how they respond.”But even with the current changes within the position, some things still stay the same.Specifically, redshirt senior Alex Erickson continues to be productive, combining for a total of 26 catches over the past three games. Even as defenses put all of their focus on UW’s top wideout, he still finds a way to get open.And that all comes as a result of preparation, according to Gilmore.“Alex prepares as good as anybody, he takes care of his body, he understands and sees the big picture,” Gilmore said. “And if they take him away, other guys got to step up and make the play.”Stave’s concussion not a concernAs far as who will be throwing the ball come Saturday, quarterback Joel Stave said he is still going through the concussion protocol and won’t know his status until later in the week.Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph expressed positivity in regards to the quarterback’s health.“You can never say anything for sure, but I’m pretty optimistic,” Rudolph said. “I think he’ll be fine.”Even with Stave in line to play Saturday, Rudolph still displayed strong confidence in the capabilities of backup quarterback Bart Houston, who threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns against Illinois.Houston’s performance not only instilled a confidence in his coaches, but also his teammates going forward.“I thought he brought a toughness and a competitiveness that you love,” Rudolph said. “He battled and I think he took some big steps in proving to this team that he is more than capable of being in that situation.”Football Notebook: Center Dan Voltz done for season with right knee injuryThe mantra of the Wisconsin football team’s offensive line has been “next man up” for the entire 2015 season. The Read…Clement continues to progress, Deal needs a weekJunior tailback Corey Clement is continuing to put in work on the practice field, and according to running backs coach John Settle, the back is closer than most think.On a cold, rainy day like Tuesday, Clement didn’t put in a full effort into practice, but Settle is happy with what he has seen out of the running back so far this week.“At times, he has looked like the old Corey,” Settle said. “I was pleased with what I saw.”Along with showing signs of being his old-self physically, Clement is also showing positive signs mentally.His spirits are high and he continues to work harder than ever to get back on the playing field, Settle said.“He feels like he’s close and feels he can contribute to the wins,” Settle said. “I think he’s doing everything he can in his power to get back.”The news is not as optimistic regarding backup tailback Taiwan Deal, who continues to nurse a high ankle sprain he suffered from against Nebraska two weeks ago.While the redshirt freshman was able to get on the practice field and do some work Tuesday, Settle said he believes Deal is not likely to return this week.“They did let [Deal] come out and do some things today for the first time with the team and he looked good,” Settle said. “But I think he is going to be [out] another week.”last_img

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