Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - December 5, 2013

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W LUCAS AT LARGE BY MIKE LUCAS // UWBADGERS.COM Andersen says team will be ready to respond 12 isconsin coach Gary Andersen had a metaphor in mind for taking a step back from football and the benefits of some much-needed time away from the practice field. "It's like plugging in your cell phone at night," he said, "and waking up in the morning with 100 percent battery. That's what I would hope." In determining who would practice this week, and who wouldn't, Andersen broke it down along the lines of "major contributors" and those who weren't. But he said there was no "perfect breaking point" on who would take part in the three practices ― Wednesday through Friday ― and who would have the week off. Not that "off" means totally off. Even the Chris Borlands and James Whites would have a number of required lifts and runs; standard practice on even off weeks. Andersen did say outside linebackers Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel "are not going out there with the young kids" even though they are still young kids themselves. Both are second-year players. So is Nate Hammon. But Andersen said that he would be practicing this week "just because of our numbers at safety." Thin would be the operative word, especially since Andersen reported that safety Dez Southward will be taking it easy early on in bowl prep. So is linebacker Ethan Armstrong. Same goes for center Dallas Lewallen, who missed the last four games. // VARSITY December 5, 2013 On top of that, Lewallen's replacement, redshirt freshman Dan Voltz, has been "playing at maybe 70 percent for two weeks" according to Andersen. "These kids are never going to make excuses, especially on the offensive line," Andersen said. "But we were broken down and worn down the last couple of games. "I want to get those kids back and hopefully we can get them charged up and rejuvenated and excited to play a really good opponent in the bowl game." Andersen has never ceased to be amazed by Armstrong's recuperative powers, particularly since the fifth-year senior has been essentially held together with duct tape. "It's unprecedented with any kid that I've been around to go through what he has continually gone through," he said. "But he'll come back and play real hard one more time." After Monday's team meeting, Andersen is more convinced than ever that he will get the same response from everybody in preparation for a 13th game and potentially a 10th win. "These kids have a little edge," he said. "They're excited about the opportunity to compete one more time. In the game of football and life, it doesn't always go your way. "We sat down and talked about where we are. I let them know my views and beliefs on that football game (the Penn State loss). "We're all responsible for not coming out with a victory. But we need to put on our big boy pants, accept it, look at ourselves in the mirror and move onward and upward." Throughout the week, Andersen has conducted a series of one-onone meetings with the underclassmen to get a feel for where they are academically and socially. "I ask them two simple questions," he said. "How is life outside of football? Are you behaving yourself and changing from a young man to a man? That's basically it. "It's not about football. If they want to talk briefly about football and the future, we do that. But it's more about the social world and their academic world right now. "It's important for me to meet with them face-to-face and if they have any concerns or issues or questions for me that I can help them with, we talk about it." If they ask, he will also explain the purpose of this week's practices; what he's calling "short, crisp and clean" lab sessions for those players who most need them. "It's not just pretend, this really matters," he said. "We'll study it hard and evaluate and they're well aware our recruiting board can change by what we see out of them. "Being involved in a mini-spring ball is going to be a little stressful for some of these young kids but it's good because they need to be stressed a little bit." Bowl practices begin Monday. "A bowl game is a reward," Andersen said. "But the best reward is winning at the end of the day and we'll prepare to win the football game."

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