August 24, 2009

UW wraps up two-a-days with final night practice

MADISON, Wis. - When Gabe Carimi dropped to the ground in obvious pain last week, many feared he had suffered a serious injury to his knee. Seeing him carted off the field only added to the concern.

However, Carimi and the rest of his Wisconsin teammates seemed to have dodged a bullet when it was revealed as a relatively minor knee injury the following day. In the few days since the incident, Carimi has made steady progress and has started working drills on a limited basis.

"Today, I know he did some pass sets and did some different things," UW head coach Bret Bielema said after the night practice. "One thing we're not in a big hurry with Gabe is getting him back out there too quick."

A season ago, Carimi went down with a similar injury against Ohio State. While at the time, that injury looked as serious as his most recent one, he returned after only missing three games. This time around, the injury is on a lesser scale and should allow him to return for the season opener against Northern Illinois less than two weeks from now.

"The injury he had a year ago was the exact same thing he had this year," Bielema said. "He even said it right away that this isn't as bad as a year ago. I think he's got his own frame of mind.

"Gabe's a pretty tough mental guy, so I think he's kind of battled those elements as well."

Injury Update:

-Bielema made it known over the weekend that defensive end Brendan Kelly was hampered with a nagging groin injury. On Monday, that injury seemed to have worsened as the sophomore was hobbling around on crutches throughout the day.

"Basically what he did was he inflamed some tissue in his groin," Bielema said. "What they're trying to do is relieve it to get it back faster by not stressing it by walking. By the end of this week, hopefully we'll get him back on Sunday.

"All the X-Ray's are negative so the best thing was there wasn't anything structurally damaged. It's just a matter of getting down the inflammation that we got going."

-After sitting out most of practice during Monday's morning practice, sophomore cornerback Aaron Henry did not partake in the evening drills either. After playing through the majority of Saturday's scrimmage, the UW coaching staff is being cautious with the secondary's key contributor.

"We actually sat Aaron," Bielema said. "He's got the knee. Saturday, we scrimmaged and he took every rep with it and played as good as he's played probably since his injury. Today, because of the double day, he was a little bit slow this morning. We just felt if we gave him today, we don't want to start that down the wrong path.

"We don't want that to become an issue."

-Freshman linebacker Leonard Hubbard suffered a toe injury during Monday's morning practice. Though the X-Ray's were negative, he will likely miss a few days recovering from it.

Accountability at its finest….or not:

Nearing the end of practice, the team partook in its customary two-minute drill. This time the offense was trailing 4-0 with less than two minutes to play with the drive starting on its own 32 yard line.

With Scott Tolzien running the offense with the No. 1 unit, the team was in a position with five seconds remaining to fling one final throw to the end zone. On the play, it looked as though Isaac Anderson had a chance at the bal, but he had clearly given up on the play and the ball floated harmlessly to the ground to end the game.

Needless to say, the coaches were not happy with Anderson's lack of effort. So much so, he was the only player doing up-downs following practice.

"Nobody probably practiced through practices one through the first eight days (as well as Anderson) as anybody on this team," Bielema said. "For whatever reason, he didn't finish the play down there today when the game was on the line. That's what we're talking about."

Bielema doesn't budge on quarterback deadline:

Since the beginning of camp and even dating back to Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, Bielema has been adamant about naming a starter 10 days out from the opener. That 10-day deadline is set to expire on Wednesday. However, on Monday, Bielema did not budge, even with the decision looming on the horizon.

"I thought after the first week I kind of had one feeling," Bielema said. "What I'm going to do is I'm going to pan it all out. We'll have a practice on Wednesday. Actually on Wednesday, we're going to have officials out here and go through a pretty significant scrimmage again.

"Then we'll have an opportunity as a staff to go through some things. Then Thursday morning we'll give NIU scouting reports and kind of move forward after that."

Bielema did acknowledge, though, that he was more pleased with the way the quarterbacks performed as a whole throughout Monday's practices in comparison with the recent struggles during Saturday's scrimmage.

"I think Saturday was a little bit of a rough day," Bielema said. "There was a couple of things that jump out to you, just the turnovers as well as any consistent thing. But what I think we have to look to at that position is what's been happening the whole camp.

"Fortunately for us, I think Curt Phillips and Scott Tolzien both bounced back for us today."

Captains to be voted on Tuesday:

With the season on the horizon, Bielema acknowledged the team will vote for captains Tuesday night. In a turn of events, he said he will allow every member of the team to vote. In the past, freshmen were not allowed to vote, simply because they hadn't been around the program long enough. This year, however, their voice will be heard.

"I addressed the team last night (Sunday)," Bielema said. "There's a couple of things coming up. We'll actually vote for captains tomorrow (Tuesday) night. So we kind of talked about what we expect from there. We're actually going to let the freshmen vote this year.

"Kind of a different thing now is freshmen have been involved in our camp since the beginning of June. They know these guys just as good as anybody and can kind of give you a better perspective off of what's being seen right now."

Taylor getting reps with the No. 1 defense:

Though he has missed a decent amount of practice to this point in fall camp, freshman linebacker Mike Taylor is still making quite the impact on the defensive side of the ball. Monday night, Taylor was running with the No. 1 defense as strong side linebacker after Blake Sorensen filled in at mike for the ailing Hubbard.

"Mike's been impressive since he's been here," Bielema said. "We just haven't seen him practice a lot. One thing Mike should have is fresh legs since he's been injured. He should be able to withstand quite a bit of some practice time.

"That's why we wanted to get him in and work exclusively with the ones."

With the two-a-day portion of the schedule complete, the Badgers will return to Camp Randall Tuesday afternoon for a single practice. It will also mark the final time the media is allowed in to watch. So look for one last practice report Tuesday evening.

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