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November 14, 2011

Konz may return this season

MADISON - It can be comfortably said now, just a number of hours after the fact.

Though it looked bad as he was getting carted off the TCF Bank Stadium turf, junior center Peter Konz has surprisingly dodged a bullet. There was no structural damage to his dislocated ankle, there was no significant ligament damage and most importantly, there was no surgery needed.

"He didn't travel back with us because he was in no condition to travel," Bielema said. "He was with our doctors as well as Minnesota's. They were trying to get that thing back in there and it wasn't cooperating.

"They had to calm him down before it finally went back in."

Konz will be sidelined anywhere from two to four weeks. Bielema asserted that he's hopeful the center he's called the best in the nation on multiple occasions will be back sooner rather than later.

"Everything is very, very positive," Bielema said. "He basically came out of it as good as you can possibly hope. His spirits are always upbeat. My guess is that Pete will be back faster than most people think."

Wisconsin plays at Illinois Saturday afternoon before hosting No. 21 Penn State on Nov. 26th in the regular season finale. Should UW win both games it will assure itself a spot in the inaugural Big Ten championship game inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis December 3rd.

Sophomore lineman Ryan Groy will take over at center for however long Konz takes to fully recover from his injury.

"I'm extremely excited for Ryan," Bielema said. "He's been a very unselfish player and he's done everything for the team. He really backs up both guards and the center position. He does a great job for us as a punt protector.

"I think he'll step in his role."

Konz is widely regarded as one of the top centers in all of college football so naturally his loss is going to sting for a number of reasons. But having a player with the athletic capabilities that Groy has will do nothing but help sooth the transition.

"The good thing is we've got depth at the offensive line," Bielema said. "I think Ryan will step in."

Groy will most likely stick with his role as punt protector during that phase of the game, according to Bielema.

"Patrick Butrym is his backup and he's done this in the past," Bielema said. "Ryan enjoys that role so much. Since he'll already be out there it will be an easy thing for him to do."

Moneyball:

Because the UW athletic department has centralized most of its efforts on helping Russell Wilson gain notoriety in the Heisman race with its Twitter campaign, it's easy to forget how great a season Montee Ball has been having.

With three touchdowns against Minnesota, Ball became UW's and the Big Ten's all-time leader in touchdown's in a single season. He's also over the 1,200-yard mark with two regular season games still to play.

"I'd probably have to vote for Montee," Wilson said during his portion of Monday's press conference. "He's the man. He's Moneyball. I guess that's what they call him."

Realistically, and as shameful as it sounds, Ball won't be considered too closely in the Heisman race simply because his team has two losses and isn't involved in the race for the national championship.

That doesn't mean he won't have any sort of success lobbying for the Doak Walker award, given annually to the nation's top running back. Ball is one of eight semi-finalists for that honor.

"He's not a guy that is going to grab the headlines for anything other than his play," Bielema said. "That's what he wants. (We've) put some feelers out to guys voting for the Doak Walker, the Heisman and several other awards. Everybody seems to be gaining a lot of momentum for Montee."

Garner suffers setback with groin:

Manasseh Garner, a sophomore wide receiver, did not make the trip to Minneapolis over the weekend because he suffered a setback with the groin injury that kept him out of the majority of fall camp.

"He works his tail off and he wants to be out there," Bielema said. "It's just unfortunate that he hasn't been able to physically do it."

Garner will likely be shut down for a number of weeks before he'll hopefully be able to rejoin the team during bowl preparation.

"When he's healthy he can really, really run," Bielema said. "He had a procedure that basically knocked him out of last week. They're going to run him today and see where he's at. He, and probably 15 guys, we'll target specifically during bowl prep. We'll have four or five developmental practices.

"That will be a very, very important time for us to move forward."

Because Garner played past the week six cutoff for medical redshirts, and because he would have played in more than half of those games anyway, there is no redshirt option for him.

When he steps on the field during spring camp in a number of months he'll do so as a true junior.

Other injury notes:

-Sophomore wide receiver Jared Abbrederis (shoulder strain) may not practice when the team takes the field Tuesday, but Bielema was optimistic about Abbrederis' chances of playing against Illinois on Saturday.

Freshman Kenzel Doe slid into the third wide receiver spot against Minnesota after Abbrederis left the game with his injury. Jeff Duckworth moved up as the No. 2 receiver.

"He practices angry," Bielema said of Doe. "He has a little edge about him. He wants to get out there and he wants to show his role. Isaiah Williams had come on really strong the last two weeks. It was unfortunate he got knocked out because he was doing some nice things as well.

"Duck has been a nice surprise, but I'd say Kenzel fits right in there where you want him."

Bielema remained unsure as to whether Doe would get involved with the punt return or kick return game as a primary return man moving forward.

-Junior defensive end David Gilbert, who suffered a broken foot during Nebraska prep, is still struggling to get back to 100 percent. Bielema mentioned last week prior to the Minnesota game that Gilbert could potentially redshirt. That decision will likely be made this week.

"He just doesn't have the ability and certain movements with that foot to be pain free," Bielema said. "I definitely don't want to put a kid out there that has the risk of trying to aggravate it again.

"The decision will have to be made by the end of this week."

Quick hits:

-Sophomore tight end Jacob Pedersen was named a semi-finalist for the Mackey Award, given annually to the nation's top tight end. He is just one of two sophomore's on the list. A UW player has never earned the Mackey Award.

-Russell Wilson and Montee Ball were named offensive game MVP's for their performance against Minnesota. Wilson was also named the Big Ten player of the week for the third time this season.

-Antonio Fenelus and Mike Taylor shared defensive game MVP's for their contribution in Saturday's win.

-Wisconsin moved up one spot to No. 18 in the B.C.S. rankings following its 42-13 win over rival Minnesota. The Badgers are ranked No. 13 and No. 15 in the coaches' and A.P. poll, respectively.

Quotable:

On the way things have turned around for UW the past two weeks:

"For me as a head coach, my perspective doesn't change. The only reason we're in this conversation is because we've been able to focus on the now the past two weeks. We're taking things in that we've learned during those two weekends of loss. But the bottom line now is if we don't go and take care of business against Illinois it's all for naught. So it's really on just the task at hand."

The following are audio files from Bret Bielema and Russell Wilson's presser.
Bielema, 11/14/11
Wilson, 11/14/11


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