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Bielema: Flying under radar 'a good place to be'

CHICAGO - Bret Bielema couldn't help but notice a lack of interest in the Badgers at Monday's Big Ten Media Days in Chicago.

'I was expecting more [questions]," Bielema said after only fielding five questions and finishing the day as the only coach to not use his allotted 15 minutes of press conference time.

When asked if it meant the Badgers were flying under the rader, he replied, "Could be" and said it reminded him of 2006 when Joe Thomas and John Stocco accompanied him to Chicago and told him, "Coach, they don't think much of us."

He responded by telling his '06 seniors that it was "a good place to be" and of course the Badgers went on to win 12 games in  Bielema's inaugural year as UW's head coach.

Naming a quarterback

As was the case the last two seasons when UW entered fall camp without a certain No. 1 quarterback, Bielema said a starter would be named 10 days before the Northern Illinois game at the very latest. That means UW will have its starter by Aug. 26.

As for who that starter will be, there's no question Dustin Sherer has the upperhand, but Bielema said he is "excited to see what Jon Budmayr can do ... He throws as good of a ball as anybody."

Freshman impact

Bielema said he currently sees 14 freshman that "can do something for us." He said that number usually gets reduced to six to 10 freshman, but he thinks "this class might be different."  

Among the freshmen mentioned as possibly having an impact were RB Montee Ball, WR Kraig Appleton, OL Ryan Groy, OL Travis Fredrick, LB Chris Borland, DL David Gilbert and DL Tyler Dippel who is battling a knee injury.

Bielema said if there are freshmen ready to play then he doesn't mind saving the red-shirt.

"I kind of like having it in your hip pocket because injuries do happen," Bielema said.

Clay dancing his weight around

NCAA rules prevent coaches from weighing their players during the summer, but Bielema is happy with John Clay's efforts to manage his weight.

"[Clay] says he is 235 pounds, but "he's dreaming." Bielema said. "If he gets to 235 then he'll be on the dancing show somewhere. That's not his football weight"

Meanwhile, Kyle Jefferson is over 180 pounds and Bielema said the two helmet-to-helmet hits he suffered the last two seasons have not phased him.

Hidden talent

Bielema mentioned that Wisconsin tends to harbor a lot of hidden talent, like when P.J. Hill came out of nowhere to have a breakout 2006 season after red-shirting his freshman year.

Bielema said linebackers Culmer St. Jean, Blake Sorensen and Mike Taylor are among this year's "hidden talents."