September 10, 2008

Beckum may make debut Saturday

MADISON, Wis. - A year ago at this time, there surely were plenty of Badger fans that thought they were watching the final season of lauded tight end Travis Beckum in the cardinal and white uniform. They undoubtedly had to think what the UW offense would look like without arguably it's best receiving threat.

Well, so far this season, that question has been answered. Both Garrett Graham and Lance Kendricks have served, and been very effective, as Allan Evridge's primary targets in early contests against Akron and Marshall.

Maybe, though, the better news is that Beckum is not flaunting an NFL uniform. He is still on the Badger roster, and may be ready to unveil the 2008 version this Saturday at Fresno State.

"I mean tomorrow is not promised and you've got to look at it like that," the All-American tight end said. "But I'm intending on playing on Saturday and I'm looking forward to it."

In his absence, Graham has tallied the most completions (six) and touchdowns (2) on the team. Kendricks, leads the team in reception yards with 102 and is coming off a career day of three receptions for 94 yards against Marshall.

"It's tough of course not playing, but it's great to see guys make plays," Beckum, who is nursing a tender hamstring, said. "For instance, Lance Kendricks, he brought me up and the plays that he made really energized me.

"And I can kind of carry that over to other guys too and make an example out of him."

With the Badger's trailing 14-0 against the Thundering Herd, it was Evridge's throw to Kendricks down the sideline that jumpstarted the offense. 51 points later, UW found themselves 2-0 and with plenty of offensive momentum heading out to the San Joaquin Valley, especially if Beckum returns.

"He's a vertical threat," Graham said. "And when it comes to blocking he gets the job done too, so it will definitely help us out."

Perhaps, more than anything, it will allow the run game to open up by stretching the field, a critical part of the Badger offense, especially early. However, a main concern has got to be timing when Beckum returns.

"I've worked with Evridge for two years, almost three years," Beckum said. "So I think we're on the same page. He's worked with me well enough to know what I'm going to do and I know the same with what he's going to do."

Still and all, if Beckum plays and plays effectively remains to be seen. The security blanket that has been established at the tight end position, much like the running backs, is great because of the depth. Not many schools has as much talent at one, let alone two skill positions like UW, so if Beckum returns it would only boost that facet.

"It will definitely give us a lot of versatility, give guys more rest" Kendricks said. "I think it will give the offense a lot more confidence."

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