August 15, 2010

Notes from media day: Taylor update

MADISON - With one week of fall camp in the books, it seems the most serious news item to come from camp is the setback Mike Taylor has undergone.

At UW's annual media day event Sunday afternoon inside Camp Randall Stadium, head coach Bret Bielema made it evident that Taylor's injury will likely keep him out longer than previously though.

"Mike is going to have a procedure done on Tuesday," the fifth year head coach said. "It looks like it could be anywhere from a two-to-four week rehab. It's not something that's uncommon. It's very common with the knee injury he had.

"He just kind of re-aggravated an area and it looks like it's going to be through."

At this juncture, Taylor is expected to miss the season opener at UNLV just less than three weeks from now. According to Bielema, though, it seems as though the redshirt sophomore will be healthy come the start of Big Ten play.

"I do think he could make it back in time (for the opener) just based on the timeline Mike has shown in the past," Bielema said. "But we want to for sure have him in a position where he can help us going into Big Ten play."

Bielema has had seven knee operations himself, so he knows the patience it takes to overcome such a serious and nagging injury. He plans to help Taylor in any way possible as he continues to recover and progress from this setback.

"I know Mike's got those questions," Bielema said. "Anytime you go back into that knee for the second time you've got that fear and frightening fact. We'll share some experiences with him and let him know that he won't be put on that field until he's 100 percent ready."

A hit up front:

During yesterday's second practice, starting right guard Kevin Zeitler suffered a high ankle sprain and will be out for at least a week.

"(He) got rolled up last night in practice," Bielema said. "The guys reaction from the defensive side of the ball that were part of that pile up-Kevin will be back within the next week-but you could see how uneasy our defensive guys were because they knew how valuable Kevin was to our team."

At this point, it looks as though senior Bill Nagy will be the first one in to backup Zeitler as he recovers from his injury.

"Nagy was actually in a tie going into fall camp," Bielema said. "We had Billy and Kevin on the same line. That's why Kevin is extremely upset. Anybody that knows Kevin knows that he doesn't want to miss one minute of practice, let alone for a week or so.

"He's basically got a high ankle sprain and every case is a bit even."

The hype machine:

With the season opener less than three weeks away, most of the media hype machine and polls have been put into motion. A lot of prognosticators think highly of Wisconsin as most place the Badgers in a range from No. 3 to No. 23.

The coaches poll has Wisconsin at No. 12 in the nation, which marks pretty lofty expectations from an outsiders perspective.

"A couple of years ago we had low expectations and I didn't really address them at the time," Bielema said. "I just made our guys concentrate on what we're doing and where we're going. We're not going to change that plan really at all. I know it's mentioned to them probably more than I realize, not only from their parents but their friends, girlfriend and people they see on a regular basis.

"If I could say this now, more so than any other time than my seven years here, they really do just concentrate on the task at hand. They don't try to skip ahead."

Part of that has to do with a high level of senior leadership that this team possesses. With so many returning cogs to a machine that operated at a high level a season ago, it should come as no surprise that things are taken as they come.

"They're at the front of the room for a reason," Bielema said. "Everyone looks up to them. They're people that have been there and done that. They've been able to help every one of our guys through difficult times. I've shared with the team different stories that I've dealt with those seniors on a personal level, on the football field and in life.

"You can't blame somebody for not knowing something they don't know. You have to be able to educate them and prevent certain things from happening to them."


Under the radar:

When asked to assess any under the radar type guys that could make an impact this season after undergoing a few years in the program, Bielema didn't have to take much time to think it over.

"On defense one of the guys that is going to jump out to you is Marcus Cromartie," Bielema said. "Marcus is probably playing as good of football as he has since he's been here. We've kind of challenged him a little bit to step up to the play and move forward.

"Dez Southward is another guy that we've moved and he's shown some ability there (safety) as any safety we have in the program. Then we have Kevin Rouse and Kevin Claxton. Both of them are playing at a level that is above what I could be at this point."

On the offensive side of the ball, it was much the same story.

"A guy that jumps out it Jake Byrne at the tight end position," Bielema said. "Jake is at practice everyday going against one of the better defensive ends in our league in J.J. Watt. To see Jake hold his own and get the better part of J.J. says some good things about him."

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