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November 12, 2011MINNEAPOLIS - Kevin Zeitler and Peter Konz, arguably Wisconsin's best tandem on a better than solid offensive line, enjoy a great friendship and bond with one another.
They obviously spend a lot of time on the field together, but they also spend time off it doing things any normal friends would do. So as Zeitler watched Konz get carted off the field with an apparently severe ankle injury, he was struggling to come to terms with the magnitude of the situation.
"I feel bad for him," Zeitler said following UW's 42-13 win over Minnesota. "Hopefully he's all right. It is pretty bad. Just seeing it happen looked really bad. He's my best buddy so it's like it double sucks."
Head coach Bret Bielema didn't know the severity of Konz's ankle injury but judging by the tone in his voice and judging by the fact that Konz is in a local Minneapolis hospital, it's apparent the Badgers may be without their best lineman for quite some time.
"He's the guy," UW junior tailback Montee Ball said. "He's the guy that makes all the calls up front for the other guys around him. He's just a good guy and a motor that we need on the offense."
Sophomore utility-lineman Ryan Groy filled in for Konz after he suffered the injury early in the fourth quarter. Should Konz miss any time Groy will likely man the center position in his absence.
He'll have a week to prepare for Illinois and he'll have the task of filling a void left by arguably the best center in college football. That's not anything that will be easy.
"He's a good player," UW sophomore left guard Travis Frederick said. "He's lacking experience a little bit, but for him to get a chance to go out there and play today and the fact he played against Oregon State for me I think he's got a lot of good things going.
"He's got a lot of potential. We all have good confidence in him and we're excited to move forward with that."
Senior free safety Aaron Henry pulled himself out of Saturday's game when the score indicated UW had things well in hand. He suffered a high ankle sprain during Wisconsin's win against Purdue a week ago and figured he didn't need to push things with the score heavily in the Badgers favor.
"I just let Dezmen Southward come in there and play," Henry said. "He had been practicing all week. He did well. I didn't want to jeopardize my teammates or myself. I was thinking more so about my team."
Henry admitted after the game that his ankle is 'really, really sore' and that he will have to endure that pain moving forward. He also made it clear that there was never the thought of missing playing time in his mind.
"I don't want to be considered soft or anything," Henry said. "You know how sometimes people take that. Why go out there and limp around for most of the second half when we have a healthy guy that really, really knows what he's doing?
"Plus we were up by 20 or 25 points or Something like that."
Knowing the Badgers control their own destiny and knowing his ankle is going to continually pester him throughout the remainder of the regular season, Henry is focused on setting that discomfort aside in favor of earning victories.
"These are my last two games of my collegiate career," Henry said. "Whatever it takes (to play) would only be right. I preach to my teammates so often to give it everything you've got and to lay it on the line. Why would I not go out there and do the same thing?
"There are going to be injuries and people are going to be hurting, but I think this is the true testament of my faith and where I stand in it. I've just got to go out there and battle to fight through it."
-Sophomore wide receiver Jared Abbrederis left the game in the third quarter after suffering some sort of shoulder injury. According to head coach Bret Bielema, initial X-Rays came back negative.
"It's a shoulder strain," Bielema said. "Hopefully he'll be back on Tuesday."
-Junior linebacker Mike Taylor left the game during the first half after suffering a slight sprain to his right knee. He was able to return to the game after sitting out a series and he finished as UW's leading tackler with 13 takedowns.
"The same thing happened last week, too," Taylor said. "Something in my knee pops. It didn't pop back in like it did last week so I just went back in."
Taylor also admitted that he felt a bit slower and that he didn't have his top end speed that he normally does after he returned to the game.
"Just wearing a brace affects me the most," Taylor said. "I don't have the range and all that."