MADISON, Wis. - Usually Tuesday evenings are a chance for members of the media to talk with offensive players about the upcoming game. But with the recent flu outbreak, the UW coaching staff and officials decided against it.
While the players were kept from reporters, it did not change the approach of game preparation very much as the team continues to prepare for its game against Fresno State.
"We shortened down the periods a little bit," Bielema said. "Just for guys coming back from it, their stamina, but also the guys that could get it or could come down with it or are beginning to have symptoms today.
"We didn't want to tax them and wear them down and have them in a situation where they weren't able to go out and perform tomorrow."
According to Dennis Helwig, UW's head of sports medicine, at least 10 players have been inflicted with the illness that is currently popping up around the UW campus.
At this time, no test results have returned so it remains to be seen if the current strain affecting the football team is the H1N1 variety, more commonly known as swine flu.
According to Bielema, players such as Gabe Carimi and Brendan Kelly have contracted the illness. A source close to the players said Garrett Graham is also one with the virus.
"The guys on Sunday, when they first came to me, were kind of our dorm guys that are younger players and aren't really in the mix of things all that much," Bielema said. "Then some older players started coming down with symptoms yesterday.
"Now it is kind of a hodgepodge of everything."
Because the flu has been circulating since last spring throughout the United States, Bielema had a plan in place for when it finally hit the UW campus and particularly the UW football team. So, now, with a flu bug floating through the team, action was taken immediately.
"With the guidelines," Helwig said. "Basically it's to isolate the athletes and to make sure that they're taking lots of fluids, that they're not in contact with anybody else to avoid the spread and we ask them to be without a fever before they come back in."
With practice ongoing throughout the week, players that are ill have been sent back to their place of residence until they feel fully healthy.
"Those that are sickest are out of here," Helwig said. "Those with symptoms that we don't feel are the flu-like symptoms, if they don't have a fever, they're continuing to practice."
It is not necessarily uncommon for a flu outbreak to occur on a sports team, especially one with as much personal contact with each other as football. But at this point, with no vaccine available, prevention is tough to manage.
"We all had this timeline that we're not going to get the vaccine until October," Helwig said. "So, there really isn't anything we can do to effectively prevent this until we get the vaccine. So everybody is under this all across the country. Where we've got this void in here is where we're just going to have to let things run their course and deal with it as it comes."
According to Helwig, the UW swim team had a bout with a flu outbreak earlier. However, it happened out of season and the coach simply cancelled practice until everyone was feeling better.
With football, though, in the midst of the season, that simply is not an option.
"What we kind of just told our guys and what I really stressed to them is we have to approach our daily preparations the same way we approach Saturday," Bielema said. "If your number is called and put in there, then you've got to perform.
"You're the guy that's got to be on point."
As of this point, no changes have been made in regards to Saturday's scheduled game against the Bulldogs. And, any changes will be highly unlikely as the week pans out.
"We just got to proceed full go and play the game on Saturday," Bielema said when asked if he thought the worst was over. "I know Fresno State isn't going to be concerned with any type of illnesses that we have or might potentially be an issue for us."
Since school started last week, cases of flu have been reported throughout the entire campus community. Many of those have been documented as the H1N1 virus. As of this point, no timetable has been released in regards to test results. Helwig maintained that test results don't really matter and that most cases of the flu are treated in the same way regardless.
Even if they are impacting a team trying to prepare for a football game set to be played within coming days.
"I know there's things that are going to happen down the line," Bielema said. "But this is something that is campus wide. It's something that everybody is dealing with and we're nothing immune to that."
-As expected, junior center John Moffitt returned to practice Tuesday evening. Moffitt had been held out the entirety of fall camp as he recovered from a strained pectoral muscle that occurred while weightlifting before camp.
"Moffitt did return and he felt really good," Bielema said. "He went through individual work before practice as well as some stuff leading into the team periods. I went over and asked him right before practice how he was feeling and he had some good comments and feedback.
"When he heard my voice (Bielema had a very hoarse voice), he slowly backed away from me. I think the thing he's excited to do is get out there."
-Brendan Kelly who was battling a nagging groin injury was also back in practice Tuesday.
"He was out there again today," Bielema said. "He was one that was a little affected by the flu bug though going back two days. So his plan wasn't to be out there full go today so I think where he's at is kind of where we thought a week ago where he'd be."
-Louis Nzegwu, who suffered a shoulder injury last week, continues to make process in his recovery.
"Louis did more today," Bielema said. "He wasn't in the full gear that we were in today. He's a lot better today than he was a week ago at this time."
More comments from Bielema on the flu:
-Bielema in regards to when he really became concerned about the current flu-bug:
"When the number doubled. When the number doubled, then you got to start looking at the players that are going to effect the reps that you're going to delegate on Tuesday and Wednesday."
-Bielema on how he is feeling with his voice being gone:
"I feel pretty good. I don't know. My voice started to go earlier today. I'm hoping it's because I've been yelling and screaming, but I haven't been screaming a lot."
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