MADISON, Wis. - Sunday was an appropriately gloomy day in Madison, almost as if the weather were copying the mood after the Badgers' first loss of the season to Michigan State. Head coach Bret Bielema still looked a little glum during his weekly press conference Monday, but nonetheless believes his team showed they could bounce back from adversity.
"For them to come back in the third quarter, kinda take a swing here a swing there, get a field goal, make a couple stops, punt the ball a few times, and then finish the fourth quarter, gives me a lot of indication about what I'll see this week," Bielema said.
"We'll come back to work on Tuesday, expect this group to bounce back as they did late in the fourth quarter, and put everything into this preparation [for Ohio State.]"
Even dating back to last season, the Badgers haven't had to regroup often on the Sunday after a game. The team did not have their usual post-game meeting after the loss in the Rose Bowl to TCU, so they only had to re-group during their meeting after their previous loss in Spartan Stadium.
But Bielema believes it's a good sign that his teams haven't had much experience when it comes to losing, and that the ability for a team to bounce back depends for the most part on the players you have and how good their character is.
"Fortunately we haven't had to do it that much," Bielema said. "The biggest thing is what kind of kids you have in your program. What kind of character you have, and then also just what are they willing to sacrifice to make it not happen again."
"I said to them ‘You should never get used to this feeling. This feeling should hurt, should be in your mind, and it's something that we need to get rid of and shake out tonight. But if you ever accept it, or it becomes common for you, or you can think that this is something that you can deal with, then its going to happen more than you'll ever want it to.'"
And don't expect the Badgers to change how they approach games just because they suffered a heartbreaking loss.
"When you are faced with adversity, you go back to what you believe in more than ever," Bielema said. "You don't try to change what you're doing."
-- One positive for the Badgers after the MSU game: no starters were severely hurt in the game. Dezmen Southward came away with a shoulder injury, but he shouldn't miss much practice time.
"[Strength coach Ben Herbert] thought the kids were a lot better than we thought they were going to be," Bielema said. "Guys just weren't as beat up as we thought possible coming in."
-- Defensive end David Gilbert had an x-ray today on his broken foot, to see if it has healed to the point where he could play against Ohio State. Bielema said he would be shocked if Gilbert played this Saturday, but noted that he's an athletic freak so he wouldn't rule out a quick healing process.
News and Notes
-- There aren't any offensive defensive, or scout team MVPs this week. Bielema said they don't hand out those awards after a loss.
-- Bielema emphasized that he has experience with divisional play from his years as Bill Snyder's defensive coordinator at Kansas State, and told his players that they still control their own fate in the Big Ten. Four of the Badgers' next five games are within the Leaders Division, so Bielema is not concerned about motivating his players.
-- The issue of Bielema's questionable second timeout in the fourth quarter came up, and he unsurprisingly defended it.
"We had three timeouts, I thought if they were trying to go into overtime, in any way shape or form, then I wanted to get the ball back. We have number one offense in the country, we have a quarterback I've seen through four or five of our first games score at will at the end of a half. Phil Welch had hit a 50 yarder in practice going that way before, so if there was any way of getting the ball back, I wanted to do that.
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