MADISON - Wisconsin may have its kicker back.
At his press conference Thursday night, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said senior Philip Welch practiced Thursday and that he may use him in the team’s Big Ten Conference opener Saturday against Nebraska.
Welch, who has missed the team’s first four games with a quadriceps injury, was good on all four field-goal attempts at Thursday’s practice.
“We might kick him,” Bielema said. “Kyle (French) had a perfect day again (Thursday) too. Phil, I think, could hop in there as well on kickoffs.”
Welch, who is second in Wisconsin history in career field goals made and points, earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors last year and in 2008.
French has made 2 of 4 field goals in Welch’s absence, while Alec Lerner has handled most of the kickoffs.
Oglesby, Johnson ready to go
Senior right tackle Josh Oglesby, who missed Saturday’s game against South Dakota with a left-knee injury, has practiced all week and will start Saturday.
Bielema said redshirt freshman Rob Havenstein, who started in place of Oglesby Saturday, will probably play at some point during the first half.
Oglesby, who had had six knee surgeries, has started 13 games over four seasons with the team.
Junior safety Shelton Johnson, who left Saturday’s game with a severe bruise in his left calf, is “probably” going to be able to play Saturday, according to Bielema.
“He didn’t full-go through everything (Thursday), but he’s back out there,” Bielema said. “He’s gotten a lot better in a short amount of time with that type of injury.”
Claxton likely to start
Bielema said senior linebacker Kevin Claxton, who suffered a broken left wrist in Wisconsin’s opener against UNLV, will likely start Saturday at Nebraska.
Claxton missed the Badgers’ game against Oregon State Sept. 10, but has come off the bench each of the last two games.
Sophomore Ethan Armstrong earned his first career start Saturday in place of Claxton.
Bielema gives high praise to Nebraska QB
Bielema has been thoroughly impressed with Cornhuskers sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez while watching film on Nebraska.
When reporters brought up the comparison to Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, Bielema suggested Martinez may be even speedier.
“Denard maybe has a little more shake to him, but Martinez is probably flat out fast,” Bielema said. “He’s probably the fastest player that I’ve really seen. The way he can accelerate within five yards is amazing.”
Martinez rushed for 965 yards and 12 touchdowns a season ago and already has 421 rushing yards and seven touchdowns this year.
“He’s a very gifted athlete and very fast,” Bielema said. “I think you’ve got to have solid on the edges, option responsibility in a football game. You’ve got to take care of the quarterback, the pitch in the alley. One thing about Martinez is just because you have somebody assigned to him doesn’t mean he’s going to get tackled. The guy can make plays, and that’s something you’ve got to be very conscious of.”
Alvarez to address the team
Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez is the Badgers' honorary captain on Saturday and he spent roughly 20 minutes address the team on Thursday.
“He spoke last year before Ohio State," Alvarez said. "First thing we do, we look on the NFL rosters, we try to find somebody that has a bye week on one of our games. There was nobody available for this week. I was kind of brainstorming, and I said the best captain we can find is coach Alvarez, and he went for it. They usually address the team either on Thursday night now or Friday, and it was better for coach to do it now.”
Yes, UW players will watch Gameday
Will Wisconsin players watch ESPN’s College Gameday Saturday morning?
“Oh yeah. They will, I’m sure,” Bielema said. “That’s a big deal. We’ve played a couple 2:30 kickoffs and we have to kick our guys out of the lobby. They’re all watching Gameday until we get on the bus.”
College Gameday will be broadcast from Bascom Hill on the University of Wisconsin campus.
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