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December 19, 2010MADISON - Looking at the calendar, it's sometimes amazing how many things can change in a short period of time.
Since the Badgers clinched a share of the Big Ten title and what wound up being a trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl, UW has boasted numerous All-Conference players, All-American players, national award winners and the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year.
The UW program has also seen one of its coordinators rise to the top of his profession by landing a head-coaching gig. All of this within a span of three weeks.
But through all the hoopla and media attention that's been honed in on the program, the Badgers, like they have all season, have stayed locked in.
After all, its focus during practice throughout the season has been what's sparked this Wisconsin football team to championship level.
Nothing seems to be changing.
"I go back to last Tuesday and Wednesday," UW head coach Bret Bielema said. "They were snapped in and focused. Everybody was here. It's tough on a day like today (Sunday) when you're missing seven or eight seniors (graduation) because that chemistry is going to be thrown off a little bit.
"Moving forward we'll get more guys coming back and then on Wednesday and Thursday we shouldn't be missing anybody. I really believe this group will focus in."
As one of the most disciplined teams in the country, Wisconsin has really made its strides in the penalty department. These Badgers simply don't hurt themselves with penalties.
That is a direct result of practicing at a high level with attention to detail a top priority. It translated on the field throughout the season and has yet another opportunity to snap in entering the Rose Bowl game against TCU.
"The thing I've asked them to do is really talk about what they're doing away from the football field. Guys might be done with classes and they might be trying to sneak in a trip home before Christmas or whatever.
"That's the part I've asked them to really focus in on."
Feeding the three-headed monster:
Having three running backs with a legitimate chance to break the 1,000-yard plateau is basically uncharted territory. It simply doesn't happen often at all. So with that type of success, and having three running backs all capable of doing impressive work, how do you go about feeding it?
How do you go about keeping them happy?
How do you make sure everybody is on the same page?
"Before the year started I gave all the coaches an area to talk about," Bielema said. "I gave Bob Bostad why he loved being an offensive line coach, I gave the coordinators assignments and I gave coach John Settle the topic of coaching the running backs and a group that usually might be a group of primadonna's. So before the season even started, before any of this three-headed monster started going forward I knew we had a special group that needed to be together all the time."
John Clay, Montee Ball and James White eat together. They watch film together. They hang out in the locker room together. Basically they do everything together.
A lot of that credit can go to Settle.
"Set talked about managing personalities and being able to take pride as a group," Bielema said. "I thought he's really done a nice job in doing that. That formulates into what you see during the day and kind of forces that bond that those three guys have."
Injury report, etc:
-According to Bielema, any player that may have been nicked up or injure, outside of the guys that suffered season ending injuries or had surgeries during the regular season, are back in practice.
"We've got everybody back," Bielema said. "Anybody that wasn't involved with a test was out there today. We're at 100 percent full-strength with everybody else."
-The Badgers had a couple of double-day workouts over the past couple of days and will have another practice tomorrow before taking Tuesday off. The team will roll back onto the field Wednesday and Thursday before taking off for Pasadena Saturday afternoon.
Bielema on Travis Frederick
"If he can do what I think he's capable of doing he could be as good of a guard as we've had strength wise and ability. He's just got to snap in all the things around him that are going on. He's a serious kid so I'm excited to watch him play. He plays with a little edge to him. I've had to have a couple of conversations just when we're going good-good about the type of demeanor he shows on the football field. It's one thing when you're going against somebody else, but playing against your own guys you've got to watch out."
The following is the audio file from Bielema's interview Sunday night.
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