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Badger Bits: Zeitler working hard under the radar

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Kevin Zeitler celebrates one of Wisconsin's 48 rushing touchdowns in 2010.
Kevin Zeitler celebrates one of Wisconsin's 48 rushing touchdowns in 2010.

The Badgers are one of the few college football teams where the offensive line is known as more than just the guys making sure the quarterback doesn't get knocked on his back. You can thank former linemen such as Joe Thomas and Gabe Carimi for that- they were and are very big guys from Wisconsin who dominate at opening running holes and protecting the quarterback. With Carimi's departure to the NFL, redshirt junior Ricky Wagner is receiving a lot of hype as he is slated to replace Carimi at left tackle this season, much like Carimi replaced Thomas at the position back in 2007. Redshirt junior Peter Konz is back to anchor center this season and he is a vocal leader for the line. Right tackle Josh Oglesby came to Wisconsin as a hyped five-star recruit, and fans are hoping he can stay healthy and showcase that talent in his senior season.

Meanwhile, senior right guard Kevin Zeitler relatively flies under the radar on the offensive line. One likely reason for this is that the right side of any offensive line generally gets less attention from the fans and press. And as Mike Lucas reports, Zeitler prefers to carry a low profile when it comes to his role in the program. But that's only because he's too busy being one of the hardest workers on the team: "If you asked our entire roster who's the hardest working guy on the team,'' head coach Bret Bielema said, "I bet you Kevin Zeitler would get more than half the votes; he's so respected for that.''

Carimi would often tease Zeitler about being a robot. But no flashy personality, no problem. This robot finds himself on offensive line award watch lists this season and is ready to leave his final mark as an offensive lineman at the University of Wisconsin. As an aside, Zeitler is currently dealing with a minor injury.

Introducing the Bucky's 5th Quarter injury report: It hasn't been a particularly healthy first week of Wisconsin training camp, so you may want to put the B5Q injury report in your bookmarks to keep tabs on the various ailments. For example, Zeitler was limited in practice yesterday because of a left ankle injury. It should be noted that being 'limited' in practice is desirable to missing it all together and likely indicates a non-serious injury,

Bielema spits in the face of every coaching mentor he's ever had: Okay, maybe that's not the best characterization. Bret had really nice things to say about every coach he's worked under. But he says he has to make coaching decisions from his own perspective, not from the perspective of Hayden Fry, Kirk Ferentz, Bill Snyder, or Barry Alvarez. Which is probably a good thing because Ferentz's coaching at Kinnick against the Badgers last season was atrocious.

Russell Wilson's eyes widened as one-by-one, eight Wisconsin big boys walked into the room: These are the guys that will be protecting me??? What do they feed you boys here?????????

No pressure, guys: Wisconsin at North Carolina will be the final game of the 2011 ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Tip-off is 8:30 PM Central time and it will be televised on ESPN. The outcome of the Challenge may rest solely on the Badgers' shoulders in enemy territory.

Five observations from Wednesday's practice: Courtesy of Tom Mulhern at the Wisconsin State Journal. Injuries may be hurting the defense's cohesion right now.

Preseason rankings and projections galore: ESPN has a video discussing your Wisconsin Badgers, who ended up No. 11 in their preseason ranks. Meanwhile, currently projects the Badgers to face the Oregon Ducks in the 2012 Rose Bowl (they also have Nebraska facing Texas A&M in the Fiesta Bowl). Finally, Sports Interaction ranks Bucky at No. 7.

As if UNLV isn't already in trouble...: UNLV's top receiving target Phillip Payne is out with an injury, and might not return in time for the September 1st game at Camp Randall. Payne had 4 receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown against the Badgers last season.

Should the Texans have passed on J.J. Watt?: SBNation's Battle Red Blog explores some of the criticisms levied at the decision to take Watt with the 11th pick in the draft. Long story short, they conclude it was a good pick.

Finally, we end with some 2010 UNLV/Wisconsin highlights. The Badgers offense was actually somewhat inept early in the season last year...