MADISON - If it wasn’t for the 140 character limit, Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy would have really let the world know how he felt about quarterback Russell Wilson transferring to Wisconsin.
While many anointed Wisconsin has the top team in the conference, Worthy wasn’t ready to crown the transfer from N.C. State until he played the Spartans.
"This guys on espn think that russell wilson gona change something at wisconsin,” Worthy tweeted. “It still don't matter cause they gotta come in spartan stadium. Homecoming he will see how the big ten gets down"
Not long after his interception for a touchdown against Michigan sealed a 28-14 win, helping the Spartans seniors beat rival Michigan for the fourth straight year, safety Isaiah Lewis stirred the pot yet again in preparation for NO.4 Wisconsin’s primetime visit this Saturday.
“Wisconsin should know we're coming,” Lewis told reporters after. “They have a good offense, and that quarterback. But they should just know our defense is coming. And just like any other team, if they're throwing the ball up, our DBs are going to go get it, our linebackers are going to go get it and our lineman are getting after the quarterback. And they're going to hurt him.”
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, a former defensive coordinator, finds no fault in the Spartans’ vocal, physical approach.
“The one thing you could mentally or physically challenge a quarterback,” Bielema said. “That’s exactly what they are doing on film and some of them have even kind of (said) it in the paper. It’s awareness, it’s out there … They bring pressure all over the field.”
They also bring the physicality, a great deal of emotion and a couple dirty plays. Against Michigan, defensive lineman William Gholston, a player Wisconsin actively recruited, threw a punch to the face of Wolverine offensive lineman Taylor Lewan on Saturday.
Gholston also twisted Michigan junior quarterback Denard Robinson's helmet after a play, and redshirt freshman Marcus Rush delivered a late hit on Robinson that knocked him out of the game. In all, Michigan State was flagged for six personal foul calls, had a total of 13 penalties and Worthy said after that the game was ‘definitely’ dirty.
Bielema wouldn’t say if Gholston should or should not be suspended and Wilson said that the game will be won on the field, but the head coach said that keeping their emotions in check would be critical and something the team will address.
“When we played Arizona State two years ago, they had 13 penalties before us, and we fun with it,” Bielema said. “We embraced it. We don’t run from it. I gave my defensive scout team the liberty to say whatever they want and push guys within reason. I explained this and apparently John Moffitt didn’t get the message. Marcus Trotter piped off and Moffitt snapped, went after him and almost beat the snot out of him … We’re maybe not going to go to that extent, but I want guys to have the reaction that they need to have on Saturday.
“We’re going to do that talking with our pads and between the whistles.”
The best way to neutralize the Michigan State attack is get continued solid production from the Wisconsin offensive line, which has been a point of protection this season. Through six games, the front five has only allowed eight sacks. With Wilson is under center, the number drops to five.
“We’ve got a lot of experienced guys up front and it all starts with Peter Konz calling out the protections,” Wilson said. “In terms of their run blocking and pass protecting, it gives me a lot of time to make decisions, stay up on my feet and make the right throw at the right time.
“When you watch Michigan State, they have a lot of speed. They are the number one defense in our conference. It should be a great game. That’s the reason why I came here. To play in great games, big time venues like Michigan State, so it should be fun.”
While Wisconsin has yet to be in the kind of situation it will find itself in on Saturday, the Badgers and Wilson had a successful primetime showing in the beginning of the month. With ‘College Game Day’ and a national audience watching, Wilson completed 14 of 20 passes for 255 yards, two touchdowns and running for another in the Badgers 48-17 blowout over Nebraska.
“I got on the headset at the end of the Nebraska game and he was just talking about how much he loved to be in that environment, the big stage and play as well as we had,” Bielema said. “I think because of those experiences, that’s why you really don’t expect to see him rattled.”
From the Infirmary
Senior defensive tackle Patrick Butrym is listed as a starter on Wisconsin's depth chart for the Michigan State game this week, but Bielema isn’t 100 percent on him practice until late this week. Butrym left the second quarter of the Indiana game after suffering a sprained left ankle, and returned to the sideline at halftime using crutches and wearing a walking boot.
“He felt really tight on Sunday but it was better today (Monday),” Bielema said. “He's got a goal in his mind to get out there and maybe run around a little bit Wednesday and hopefully practice Thursday.
“I think Patrick, because of the amount of reps he has gotten. He is so smart with that game plan that I would really feel good about him playing even if he didn't get any real (practice) time until Saturday itself.”
If Butrym can’t play, sophomore Jordan Kohout would get the start next to Ethan Hemer.
Wide receiver Nick Toon (foot) is also set to return this week after working out on Sunday. He left for New York early Monday with his family with his father, Al Toon, being inducted to the New York Jets' ring of honor Monday night. The Jets host the Miami Dolphins Monday night and he’ll back for Tuesday’s practice.
“He felt good on Saturday and we probably could have played him,” Bielema said. “I just felt that our other guys repped during the week … and I wanted to see our other guys perform.”
Depth Chart to Premier
After spending nearly a month of campus in August for Wisconsin’s fall camp, the ESPN film crew has edited down all of its footage for a one-hour special that will premier at 6 p.m. on Wednesday and will be shown periodically after that.
“It’ll be a must see if you are a Badgers fan,” Bielema said. “It looks pretty entertaining to say the least. We let them have some all access at some very unique times during fall camp leading into that UNLV game.”
Although it’s another positive way to market the Wisconsin program, Bielema was understandably apprehensive about the opportunity. After checking with Athletic Director Barry Alvarez, the quarterbacks and offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, all of whom were indifferent except for the gun-ho Wilson, and being told he would have final say on what would or would not be allowed, Bielema went for the idea.
“When I was talking with Russell and asked if he was OK with it, he told me that he was going to do it at Auburn, too,” Bielema said. “I knew about it when we were recruiting Russell and I of course didn’t say anything, but (Auburn) kind of used it as ‘Hey, you come here and there’s going to be a special one you.’ It was an interesting recruiting tactic.”
Added Wilson: “It puts Wisconsin on a national map in terms of what we do on a daily basis and how we would. I thought it would be fun and interesting for some of the guys, as well. The thing is once they got here, you really didn’t notice that they were here … All the cameras and outside stuff, we kind of ignored it, which is why we’re doing so well right now.”
Wisconsin named James White the offense’s most valuable player of the week after rushing for 87 yards and a touchdown in the 59-7 victory over Indiana.
“Had a great bye week and last week in his preparation,” Bielema said, “did a nice job in coming off the bench.”
The defensive MVP went to senior cornerback Antonio Fenelus, who had the first of three Wisconsin turnovers.
“He’s playing as good as any corner we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Bielema said.
Co-special teams MVP was senior punter Brad Nortman and sophomore Jared Abbrederis. Offensive scout MVP was Frank Tamakloe and defensive scout MVP was Tyler Marz.
In addition to Wisconsin’s award winners, the Big Ten named junior Montee Ball the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after he accounted for four touchdowns, three on the ground and one passing strike, and 213 yards of total offense in Wisconsin’s 59-point outing over Indiana.
It’s Ball’s first career Big Ten honor and the first Big Ten offensive player of the week award for Wisconsin since Wilson on Oct.3.
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