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Saturday, October 16, 2021
Kendricks, special teams shine in victory despite earlier issues

kendricks: Lance Kendricks will hope to become a big part of Wisconsin?s resurgent passing attack after missing games in 2008 with an injury.

Kendricks, special teams shine in victory despite earlier issues

The first two weeks of the Badger football season, fans saw a passing game coming together with consistent receiving targets like junior receiver Isaac Anderson, sophomore receiver Nick Toon and senior tight end Garrett Graham.

Well, you can add one more to that list.

Junior tight end Lance Kendricks announced his arrival as an impact player Saturday, making a slew of plays in the first half after a quiet start to the season.

""We've been waiting for that break out game out of Lance,"" Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said. ""I just always thought he was a special kid, and now we're beginning to see that stuff take forward and hopefully this is the beginning. Because now, all of a sudden, you've got 89 [Graham] in there, you've got 84 [Kendricks], you got some wide receivers are out there.

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""If we put the ball on the ground anymore, maybe we'll just go empty [backfield].""

Bielema's joking about his team's turnovers aside, it does point to the strong day Kendricks had. He finished with six catches for 70 yards and did most of his damage in the first half when the Badgers turned a close game into a blowout.

The biggest play for Kendricks came early in the first quarter when he leapt in the back of the endzone and snagged a Scott Tolzien pass for the first touchdown of his career and the first touchdown of the game. At 6'4'', Kendricks is a big target with quickness, which could make him a big read-zone threat.

""It felt good going out there and getting to touch the ball, so I think today I really had fun,"" Kendricks said, noting that his big day was not planned by the coaching staff, but simply unfolded in the flow of the game.

In the first two games Kendricks did not have a catch, but played well in the running game. Last season, the converted wide receiver racked up 141 yards but suffered a broken leg against Michigan State and missed the end of the season.

""It was great seeing Lance out there making plays,"" Tolzien said. ""He's definitely a threat in the passing game and it was good to get him going today.""

Special teams offer something special

The Badger special teams unit might just be the most maligned part of the team. Between coverage issues, missed kicks and the absence of numerous big plays, those units have drawn their share of criticism. 

Well, that big play part might not ring true anymore.

One of the biggest plays in Wisconsin's 28-point second quarter explosion came when true freshman linebacker Chris Borland hurdled the second level of Wofford's punt formation and knocked senior Chris Tommie's punt back into the end zone. It looked like the ball would roll out of the end zone for a safety, but freshman defensive end David Gilbert sprinted in to fall on it for the touchdown.

""We had a block on where we had more guys than they could block to the left side,"" Borland, who didn't even see the ball hit his hand, said. ""It was just me and the wedge. They back up a little bit, most wedges try to stand firm, and when they backed up, I just went over them.""

The score put the Badgers up 17-0, and helped open up the game after a 3-0 first quarter that saw Wisconsin stumble out of the gate.

The Badgers had not blocked a punt since 2007 and had not scored on a blocked punt since Bielema's first game as a head coach in 2006.

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