April 8, 2010

Bielema discusses scheduling efforts

MADISON - When Bret Bielema mentioned that Wisconsin was discussing possible playing dates with Notre Dame or Nebraska on his Twitter page, UW fans noticed.

However, before you start planning for a blowout weekend in Madison during the fall of 2012, take a step back. It seems the two schools aren't really all that close.

"The finalization part is contracts and all that," Bielema said following Thursday's spring practice. "We're not in that stage yet."

That doesn't mean that UW and one of those schools couldn't eventually reach that point however.

When Purdue decided not to play Notre Dame in 2012, Bielema and athletic director Barry Alvarez thought it would be interesting to see if there was any mutual interest with the Fighting Irish.

"Notre Dame started a couple of years ago," Bielema said. "We heard Purdue was going off their schedule and that's what kind of peaked our interest. I know coach (Alvarez) had some discussions with their athletic director a year ago, but I didn't have any discussions with (former coach) Charlie Weis. When Kerry Cooks went, I just kind of threw it out there.

"That's the part that you've got to kind of feel yourself through."

At this point it seems as though Notre Dame would be more fitting than Nebraska simply because Nebraska doesn't have an open date in 2012 and therefore wouldn't be able to make the trip to Madison until a later date.

Because the Badgers need to fill that date in that year, it seems as though Notre Dame may be the best option.

"I do think if the Nebraska one, if it did materialize, would be later rather than sooner," Bielema said. "They have schedule conflicts."

According to Bielema, since the announcement was made via Twitter three other schools (undisclosed at this time) have contacted UW and inquired about those open dates.

"It's one of the most challenging parts of our jobs," Bielema said. "Without a doubt, every division one coach talks the exact same way. Especially if you're an elite program, or a top 30 program and want to play that formula of one road game and having the other three at home."

Injury report:

The week and a half layoff during UW's spring break recess has given several nicked players a chance to recover and rejoin the team.

"Gabe Carimi, obviously he was a little bit rusty, but to get him back was huge," Bielema said. "I think we'll get John Moffitt back in drills on Saturday. He should be able to go back the entire week next week. We got Tyler Dippel, Brendan Kelly and Eriks Briedis back.

"So there are a couple of guys that really are going to get some good work the last two weeks."

There is also an outside chance that Mike Taylor could become involved in some non-contact portions of practice during the final week of spring camp next week.

"It would be an outside possibility," Bielema said. "I'm not sure we would want to do it, but next week we could maybe get him involved in non-contact stuff. He looks really good running and getting back to himself. But fatigue really sets in quickly because the muscles don't have the strength that they had."

As it stands, both Taylor and Chris Borland look to be on track to rejoin the team when summer conditioning begins in early June.

Saturday's scrimmage:

On Saturday, UW will be exactly one week out from the annual spring game and all the festivities that come with that. At the same time, that event will also mark the final practice of spring camp for a team that has been looking to build momentum coming off its impressive bowl win over Miami.

So naturally, the UW coaching staff is making it a point to get the team as ready for the spring game as possible by hosting another lengthy scrimmage during Saturday's morning practice.

"It's big because it will be the last time we go good-good live," Bielema said. "It will be good against good and we'll make sure that we'll get all four phases of the game in. Regular down and distance, third down, short yardage and red zone. It will be big for us.

"We'll have the officials out there and it will be as live as live gets."

Special team coaches:

During Bielema's first season at the helm, he assigned several of his assistants to lead a specific phase of special teams. Now, as the coach enters his fifth season as the head man, it seems he will employ much of the same strategy.

"We have guys in charge of every phase," Bielema said. "Charlie Partridge will run all the punt. Greg Jackson is going to run all the kickoff coverage. Joe Rudolph will run kickoff return and Chris Ash will run punt return. On my staff I now actually have five guys that have been special teams coordinators, so I'm trying to split it up between us."

Bielema, who had a major hand with the special team units in the past, will still be involved, but not as much as he had been in the past.

"I'm a coach on every unit," Bielema said. "But it will be a support role. But, I will have a lot of experience, too."

Up next:

UW will have Friday off before returning for Saturday's scrimmage. That practice is open to the media, so expect a full scrimmage report from BadgerBlitz.com Saturday afternoon.

The following is the audio file from Bielema's presser:
Bielema, 4/8/10

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