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Thursday, October 21, 2021
01/29/2010 - Evil Bird

01/29/2010 - Evil Bird

Bielema pleased with lopsided victory

Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema seemed comfortable and confident during his weekly news conference Monday about Wisconsin's victory against Wofford and its upcoming contest against Michigan State.

Although some questions linger, such as who will start the game for the Badgers at the running back position Saturday, Bielema seemed content about the play of many individuals, as well as the play of the team as a whole.

Even though the official depth chart currently has junior Zach Brown as the starting running back, Bielema said the starting position may be decided by the performance of Brown and sophomore John Clay in practice this week.

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Bielema also said he is waiting to see how both Clay and Brown respond this week, and also hinted at the possible use of freshman running back Erik Smith in the future.

""Smith came in and by no means took himself further out of the race,"" Bielema said.

Smith rushed for 54 yards on 10 carries against Wofford. Clay rushed for 70 yards on Saturday, while Brown collected 63 yards on the ground.

 Bielema also did not seem overly concerned with the ball-protection issues the team had against Wofford.

""I don't mean to minimize six fumbles on Saturday, but what I do understand... through 15 games, John Clay put the ball on the ground four times,"" Bielema said. ""To put it down three times in one game is unacceptable, but it's not like this is something that's been a chronic issue. You can't just overemphasize what happened in front of you.""

As for the man handing the ball to these rushers, Bielema praised his quarterback, junior Scott Tolzien.

""[Tolzien] has probably done more than what I expected. Scott always seemed to move forward [during the spring].""

In fact, the Badgers' starting quarterback ranks second in the Big Ten in both pass efficiency (161.8) and pass completion (69.1 percent).

The offensive line has played a large part in this success, allowing only two sacks on Wisconsin quarterbacks through the first three games. That line was bolstered Saturday when juniors John Moffitt and Bill Nagy, who were both named starters out of the spring, finally saw their first action of the season. A healthy and experienced line will certainly be an enormous help to the Badgers as the Big Ten schedule progresses.

Bielema openly admitted that, as is the case with all Big Ten teams, he was rooting for Michigan State against Notre Dame this past weekend.

Although the Spartans will come into Camp Randall with only a 1-2 record, Bielema reminded everyone that they were very close to being 3-0.

""There are a lot of guys in this league trying to prove things,"" Bielema said.

Michigan State is certainly among that crowd, as they look to recover from back-to-back narrow defeats against Central Michiganthe Irish.

Speaking of agonizing defeats, Wisconsin fans will certainly remember last year's game against the Spartans. The Badgers had an 11-point lead with less than 10 minutes left in the game, before Michigan State began to dominate down the stretch, resulting in a 25-24 victory for the Spartans, courtesy of a last-second field goal.

However, Bielema stressed that predictions and preparations for a game cannot be based on what happened the previous year.

""I know we don't have the same team. It's up to us to prove that on a game-by-game basis,"" Bielema said.

Through all the ups and downs in the past three weeks, however, one very important statistic stands out for Bielema.

""The big thing I like is three wins, zero losses,"" Bielema said.

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