April 19, 2010

Spring game notes: Appleton done with team

MADISON - Prior to spring camp, Wisconsin head coach suspended three players for an off-field incident. Now, with UW's 15 practices in the book, it seems as though two of those three have a chance to rejoin the squad.

The third, Kraig Appleton, is no longer enrolled in school thus ending any chance he would be allowed back on the team.

"Appleton is not even in school or with us at all," UW head coach Bret Bielema said following Saturday's spring game. "He won't be with us in the fall."

According to Bielema, it seems as though both Nick Hill and Shelby Harris have an opportunity to get back to the team. At this point, it depends on whether or not the players reach the goals Bielema has laid out for them.

"I've had some information gathered," Bielema said. "I'll make a decision in the next couple of weeks. They weren't going to be with us for spring ball. I put some things into parameters that they needed to accomplish and they needed to do.

"I'll check back in with them now."

Different feeling following the spring:

A year ago at this time Wisconsin was finishing up spring camp that followed an ugly, if not embarrassing, loss to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl. The feeling left in the team's palette was nothing less than sour and that helped motivate the team to a 10-3 season, capped with an impressive win over No. 14 Miami in the same bowl game.

So, after a happy finish to a season it seems as though the team has set goals to build upon that success by catapulting that momentum into the upcoming season.

"This year's group is a little bit different. Some of our better players, our guys that are going to be significant for us defensively in Mike Taylor and Chris Borland, weren't even out there the entire spring. So it's kind of hard to gauge that. Offensively, just not being able to have all of our guys in there and the rotation at the offensive line position.

"But it's a group that hopefully has understood what they do today is going to determine their success tomorrow and you can't take anything for granted."

As one would imagine following a 10-win season, it seems both the coaches and the players have a better grasp of what to expect this season. The expectations are high, it's only a matter of reaching them.

Even if that takes until the fall when the rest of the incoming freshmen get on campus.

"I think as a coach you probably always want to be on the edge," Bielema said. "You never really quite have a grasp of where you're at. I think this group, as the summer goes along, I really believe there is going to be some in the incoming class of recruits that are going to help us, similar to what Borland brought to the table a year ago. Some guys might be able to help us and make some big, explosive plays like Chris and David Gilbert were able to do for us.

"Until those guys get here and the sum of the parts are out there, I won't know."

Strong words for Oglesby:

In somewhat surprising fashion, Bielema singled out junior right tackle Josh Oglesby during his post game press conference. Heading into his second year as a starter on what could be a dominant offensive line, Bielema is hoping to see more aggression out of Oglesby.

"Josh Oglesby isn't close to where he needs to be as a right tackle to win in this league with consistency," Bielema said. "I know he's going to take it upon himself."

To be fair, Bielema also said the rest of the offensive line was nowhere "close" to being ready, intimating that they all had work to do over the summer leading into fall camp.

"With the first unit, the only guy we were really rotating in there was John Moffitt," Bielema said. "Until we got Ricky Wagner in there. I saw a couple of guys get beat on easy moves that are elementary to football. We're nowhere close."

Good spring for formerly injured players:

Bill Nagy, who missed the majority of 2009 with a foot injury suffered during a moped accident last July, was able to participate throughout the entirety of spring camp on the offensive line.

Tyler Westphal, who has had problems staying healthy throughout his career with injuries dealing with his back and shoulder, was able to return to practice and participate at defensive end. In addition to Westphal, Bredan Kelly also returned to the defensive line this spring after missing time last season due to his respective injury.

However, at this point, it doesn't seem those players are close to factoring into Charlie Partridge's defensive line rotation.

"They have to come a long way," Bielema said. "Brendan Kelly is a guy that has never really been able to be here consistently just due to injuries. Tyler has the same thing. He's had some inconsistencies. It's nothing of their fault, they've just been a little snake bitten in that category.

"Right now they're not in the picture from a playing standpoint, unless they really make a big jump in the summer to get into that rotation."

Up next:

Now that spring camp has been completed, the team will not be able to practice again until August's fall camp begins. However, the team will reunite June 7th, for summer conditioning and workouts.

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