MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said in his weekly press conference that his team would start post-practice conditioning soon to prepare for the Rose Bowl, and he wasn't kidding. As Tuesday's practice ended, defensive players lined up against the McClain Center wall and ran sprints while the offensive players filed over for interview sessions.
Badger running back Montee Ball had his eye on his teammates as they darted back and forth in front of him, but spoke about how the extra conditioning would help the Badgers when Jan. 2 rolls around.
"Obviously it's a lot different than what we've been doing in the regular season," Ball said. "We rarely ever condition after practice."
"Obviously it's a good thing, it'll help us prepare better for Oregon. Just to start conditioning alone is a good thing for your body, but playing a fast team, it's obviously something you need to do."
In fact, Ball could only remember one time in his college career when the Badgers did extra conditioning after practice; the Badgers ran similar drills in preparation for last year's Rose Bowl game against TCU, and Ball thought it would be useful again.
"[TCU and Oregon] are kind of similar. Fast, little guys, [they'll] be all over the place," Ball said. "I believe it did help us a lot for that game. A lot of the players were able to do more plays, and stuff like that."
But even with the extra sprinting, the Badgers have a chance to get a little extra rest. Bielema also mentioned that the Badgers would have shorter practices with fewer periods, in the hope that they'll get more crisp, faster play in the lead-up to the Rose Bowl game.
"[They] give us a chance to get off our bodies," Ball said, but he also mentioned another benefit to the shorter practices.
"At this point, there's not really much football you need to do, it's just studying. Studying the opponent, because with this much time, it's really good to get in the playbook and get into their playbook."
So, with the extra time, the Badgers are trying to learn as much as they can about Oregon's style. It's an advantage the Badgers aren't taking lightly.
"We're very fortunate to play them with a month of preparation," Ball said. "The smallest things is what we're nailing down in out meetings ... it's really hard to prepare for a team like this within a couple days."
-- Center Peter Konz is still working his way back to practicing after dislocating his ankle against Minnesota, but told reporters he expects to play in the Rose Bowl. Konz is heading to Charlotte, N.C., this week to see Dr. Robert Anderson, an ankle specialist.
"I'm not concerned," Konz said. "I'm actually pushing a lot more weight. Today was a big day for me, as far as pushing weight."
Konz is hoping Anderson can give him help on how best to get his ankle ready again, and avoid injuries in the future.
News and Notes
-- Rest assured, no matter what Konz decides to do after this season, whether it's to return to Wisconsin for his senior season or leave for the NFL, the standout junior isn't going to let money become the biggest factor.
"The only thing that matters to me is happiness, and that's the only thing that will influence my decision," Konz said.
That's an important distinction for Konz, who mentioned that he'd decide either way about a week after the Rose Bowl.
"Money is nice, but if I'm not going to be happy then there's no sense in it."
-- I spoke with junior tackle Ricky Wagner about how seriously he was thinking about leaving for the NFL, and he was adamant that he never seriously considered it. He'll be back for his senior season.
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