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October 27, 2011

Dehn chooses track, leaves program

MADISON - Sophomore offensive tackle Casey Dehn has left the program according to head coach Bret Bielema.

Dehn, a 6-foot-6, 335-pound left tackle will pursue a career on the Wisconsin track and field team.

"I could see it kind of coming," Bielema said. "There were a couple of things where I just didn't think he wanted to keep going. He came in Tuesday morning and fell out of love with the game.

"We're going to give him all the support we can."

Dehn was listed as the No. 2 left tackle behind Ricky Wagner. Now that he's departed the program it seems as though either Ryan Groy or Robert Burge will back up the junior left tackle.

Bielema did ask Dehn if he wanted to play football anywhere else, but Dehn made it clear he wanted to stay at UW.

"He wants to stay here and do track," Bielema said. "It's sad to see, but it's one of those things."

Injury report:

To be concise, everybody that traveled to Michigan State a week ago will make the trip to Columbus Friday afternoon. Montee Ball has practiced all week and he should be good to go. Shelton Johnson and Dezmen Southward are both recovered from their respective injuries.

"Shelton started playing pretty well in the second half last week," Bielema said. "I think he's in full stride."

Southward, who was not in during that fateful last play in East Lansing, suffered a stinger and should be fully recovered when UW squares off with Ohio State.

-Though there was speculation regarding junior defensive end David Gilbert making his return, that doesn't seem to be the case. Bielema said he's still at least a week away.

"He had an X-Ray Monday," Bielema said. "They said everything was good and that it's moving along good. He thinks he'll be back next week (Purdue), but I wouldn't hold my breath.

"Maybe the week after."

-Freshman wide receiver Fred Willis, sidelined with an ankle injury, also won't play this weekend at Ohio State.

"We just kind of made the decision," Bielema said. "Fred's benefit for us is that he's fast. He can't run full speed right now. Next Tuesday I'd expect to have him back 100 percent."

Hangover effect?

Obviously following such a shocking and gut-wrenching loss along the lines of what went down at Michigan State is going to take some time to heal. The players and coaches alike have to lick their collective wounds and press onward. Should Wisconsin win out, it will wind up in the inaugural Big Ten title game.

That's been the heavily repeated message throughout practice this week. According to Bielema, it seems as though his players are adhering to it.

"I think the way they responded in the fourth quarter with some adversity shows me that they know how to respond," Bielema said.

Following a 34-24 loss at Michigan State in 2010, the only game the Badgers went on to lose, Bielema remembers seeing a bunch of sad faces inside the Spartan Stadium locker room. This year, in a complete 180, Bielema saw a bunch of upset and angry faces.

That has encouraged the sixth-year head coach.

"I saw guys that were frustrated and angry," Bielema said. "I think they want to get back out there and play the game like they know how."

Special teams:

Two years ago Ohio State put the cap on one of the more unusual games in recent memory with a punt return for a touchdown. Wisconsin doubled Ohio State's offensive production in that game, but two returned interceptions and the aforementioned punt return touchdown put an end to any hopes of UW winning the game.

Last season, when UW upset then No. 1 Ohio State, David Gilreath opened the scoring with a touchdown return on the opening kickoff. It's fair to say that special teams has and will likely continue to play a major role in the series.

"It's kind of funny," Bielema noted of Ohio State's special teams depth. "All these guys that are running down on kickoff we're like, 'Oh yeah, we recruited him and we recruited him."

So needless to say there is some quality depth along the Buckeye's special team's units.

Quotable:

Bielema on the possibility the NCAA will institute the new $2,000 player stipend that's being proposed:

"I would think that one would get shot down. I think paying $2,000 would make a lot of sense, but unless there is some specific wording in the way they do things…If you had a multi-year scholarship what's the situation if (somebody) doesn't want to play anymore? We would obviously be obligated. If they go to that it would have to be very specific on how a scholarship is terminated. It's scary. The one-year thing protects the school and the athlete. At least I would think.


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