Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - September 13, 2012

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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Bouncing back key for Azzanni, receivers LUCAS AT LARGE MIKE LUCAS • UWBADGERS.COM on his wide receivers to inspire them after the Badgers lost a non- conference game to Oregon State and their most productive wideout, Jared Abbrederis, to injury. Dialing up George Patton, the ultimate field general, Azzanni re- minded his position group that you don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom. Read that to mean "bounces back.'' "You don't like to have to use that quote at this point in the season,'' Azzanni said. But desperate times call for … never mind. That's an- other quote. Besides, he believes his players aren't desperate as much as they are determined. W "These kids have got to grow up in a hurry and they are — they're fighting their butt off,'' he said. "They make mistakes, but they're practicing hard. They have a high 'care' factor, so we're going to get better.'' But how much better can they get without Abbrederis, who has the Badgers' only "big'' plays cover- ing more than 25 yards — catches of 26 and 53 yards — through two games? "We have to manufacture ways for those yards,'' Azzanni reasoned. Maybe it's through a run- ning back on one play. Maybe it's through a tight end on another play. Maybe it's through spreading the field with more receivers. "It might not just be one guy,'' Azzanni said. 10 » VARSITY SEPTEMBER 13, 2012 isconsin assistant coach Zach Azzanni felt the urgency to go "Patton'' "That's just how we've got to do it.'' Junior wideout Jeff Duckworth endorsed this message. "It's hard to replace a guy like that (Abbrederis) and it's definitely a tough task,'' he said. "As a group, we have to kind of come together and pick it up — one by one — all of us have to improve our game and it starts in practice. "I had a key drop out here today (Tuesday) in blitz pickup that I can't have if I want to keep the chains moving and the offense roll- ing. That was just focus. I got a little distracted and I had it bounce off my hands.'' Duckworth had a career-high seven receptions for 55 yards at Or- egon State; almost half the number of catches (15) that he had all of last season. "A couple of little pitch-and- catches,'' he said. "It's nice to get a couple under your belt and have an opportunity to make some plays.'' Duckworth, of course, will for- ever be identified with his clutch 36-yard catch on fourth down against Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game. "That definitely seems like a long time ago,'' he said with a sigh. What's the key now for someone like Duckworth? "I don't need him to be Abby (Abbrederis),'' Azzanni said. "I just need him to be Jeff Duckworth and go make plays when they are there. I don't need him playing outside of his body. I just need him to do his job. "He's not Jared Abbrederis. There aren't a lot like him, to be quite honest. So everybody has to pick up the slack together. I'm not going to ask him (Duckworth) or anyone else to do anything out of the ordinary.'' The wideouts have obviously come under considerable scrutiny. "It's no secret,'' Azzanni agreed, "everyone is all over our group right now. And I like it, I relish it. I'm trying to get them to grow up and grow up in a hurry. Nobody cares that we're young, nobody cares that we're inexperience. "Nobody is showing Reggie Love's highlight film from Spanish River (high school) on the Jumbo- tron. They don't care. "They just want to know did he catch it? Or didn't he? Did we win? Or did we lose?'' Azzanni sees the upside in Love, Jordan Fredrick and A.J. Jordan. "Nobody cares, but Reggie is a true freshman,'' he said. "He's learning plays for the first time. It's not instinctive yet to go out there and run a certain route and know exactly where the coverage is, and where the ball is going to be.'' That's just the reality confronting the team, he reiterated, not unlike the reality of the loss at Oregon State, and the loss of Abbrederis. That had Azzanni reaching for a Lou Holtz quote — "Life is 10 per- cent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.'' — to raise the bar for Saturday night's game. Read that to mean "bounces back."

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