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MADISON - Embrace the Suck.
That was one of the mottos Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald coined last season after the Wildcats did some training with the Navy Seals in preparation for their season. Doing the same type of combat training as the Seals, Fitzgerald took one of the unit's mottos – "Embrace the Suck" – and applied it to his players, putting it on t-shirts and all.
While Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen agreed that Fitzgerald's motto of training was a good idea, the first year head coach isn't planning on any surprises when Wisconsin, along with the rest of college football, begin its fall camp practices this afternoon.
"The way we practice is the way we practice, but there's a different sense in fall than there is in spring," said Andersen. "We're getting ready to play."
Wisconsin will have 24 practices over the next three weeks to prepare for its season opener against Massachusetts on August 31. According to Andersen, his schedule for camp is in the same format he used when he was at Utah State.
Since the players are still in summer school, Wisconsin will treat this week like practices during the season, having morning meetings for roughly one hour and having afternoon practices. Beginning Saturday, Wisconsin will have two-a-day practices six times over an 11-day period.
"If you have a day that's not so good, you have got to bounce back the next day and practice the right way," said Andersen. "The defense wins, then the offense wins; special teams does a poor job and then comes back and does a great job. Kicker misses a game-winning kick on Wednesday night practice August 12, it matters because you have to come back the next day and make the next kick."
Morning practices will be 21 periods and oriented toward the run game and physicality. Evening practices will be 18 periods and focused on blitz pickup, play-action passes and other less-physical activities in half packs.
Wisconsin will also scrimmage on Mondays – Aug. 12 and 19 – and both will be open to the public. Wisconsin Football Family Fun Day is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 17 from 5-7 p.m. Admission is free.
"I appreciate the grind the kids put into it, but I do love it," said Andersen. "I love the way it builds relationships. I love the way it tests kids. I love the way it tests coaches. It's hard. It's a grind. It needs to be a grind. It's where you get your identity from a toughness standpoint as a team."