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Wisconsin Badgers news: Auburn WR Duke Williams suspended; Barry Alvarez talks to press

Auburn's leading receiver will not play in the Outback Bowl. Barry thinks the Badgers are ready. Also, giraffes!

This morning, coaches Barry Alvarez and Gus Malzahn spoke to reporters in a joint press conference, while Wisconsin continued its on-field preparation for and off-field enjoyment of the Outback Bowl.

Top Auburn receiver will sit out bowl game

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn announced that junior receiver D'haquille Williams has been suspended for breaking team rules and will not play in the Outback Bowl. Williams had missed practices the previous week and did not arrive in Tampa until Saturday afternoon. At the time, Malzahn said Williams was resting due to illness and injuries, but rumors about his absence persisted, particularly after a since-deleted Instagram post showed him with an injured left eye.

Malzahn refused to provide any more details on the situation, but explained that Williams was practicing with the team in Tampa because he plans to return for his senior year. Williams posted on Twitter today after the announcement:

Whatever the circumstances, the loss of Williams -- who led the Tigers in receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns and receiving first downs this season -- takes one weapon away from a dynamic offense. Malzahn, for his part, did not seem concerned:

"Obviously it's a blow, but we have played games without him. We have guys we that we feel very good about that are veteran guys that have make plays for us the last two years."

One such "veteran guy" would be Sammie Coates, who flashed his NFL-caliber physical skills in this year's Iron Bowl, grabbing five receptions for 206 yards and two touchdowns against Alabama. In other words, Wisconsin’s defense will still have at least one explosive vertical threat to worry about.

Barry discusses bowl prep

Alvarez spoke to the media on a number of topics. He expressed his pleasure with Wisconsin’s attention in practice and said, while not a playoff bowl, the game is still a big deal for the players, both the seniors looking to end their careers with a win and those with an eye toward next season:

"The players care about [non-playoff bowls]. That experience is something you'll remember the rest of your life. Not only that, so the bowl games are important for the kids and the experience for them to have, but also it gives you extra practices to prepare for next year. You get some extra work with your young players who have been redshirted and guys who haven't played."

He also mentioned that the players likely want to impress incoming coach Paul Chryst, who has been closely observing practices:

"Paul is out there every day. He wants to get an idea of the personnel and familiarize himself with them."

As for his own role, Alvarez said he initially didn’t want to coach the game, but could not say no when the players asked. He added that he thinks he "lends stability" to the players during a period of transition:

"I'm around enough that the players see me and they know me and they have confidence in me. I think it's more of a stabilizing force more than anything else."

Alvarez also clarified that Melvin Gordon, who missed a practice this weekend, was simply resting after a slight fever and would play on Thursday. A transcript of his full remarks is available here (h/t to for the video above).

Roller coasters and giraffes

After practice, Wisconsin headed to Busch Gardens to shake off its recent defeats in hockey and bowling:

Redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Ferguson had a close encounter with the amusement park’s wildlife:

While the pictures display their exceptional height and range, a lack of lateral quickness and poor tackling technique will likely prevent the giraffes from seeing much playing time on Thursday.