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August 20, 2012

Notes: Battle continues at guard



MADISON, Wis. - The Badgers opened their third week of fall camp Monday, and head coach Bret Bielema spoke with the media after the practice. Even after naming Danny O'Brien as the team's starting quarterback, Bielema still gave a few updates about his team to the assembled media.

Battle for right guard continues

The Badgers announced their starting quarterback for their first game, but the battle for right guard will probably continue through this week. The Badgers released their first two-deep of the year, and it listed redshirt sophomore Kyle Costigan as the No. 1 right guard, with true freshman Dan Voltz behind him on the second team.

Costigan's placement wasn't surprising, since the 6-foot-4 converted defensive lineman practiced well over the last few days and appeared to beat out fifth-year senior Robert Burge for the job. But Voltz's shift was surprising, as the 6-foot-4 lineman got most of his reps as the No. 2 center for most of camp.

But the Badgers are looking at Burge as their backup right tackle now, and the coaching staff has been willing to shift Voltz around before.

"Obviously we'd like to name a starter before we start game week preparation," Bielema said Monday. "We're going to continue to see those two guys work out."

The Badgers will really get into prep for Northern Iowa a week from now, so Voltz will have to really impress the coaches if he wants to unseat Costigan for the starting job.

Surprise on special teams

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the updated two deep came on special teams. At the beginning of fall camp, it was widely assumed that redshirt sophomore Kyle French would handle field goals for the Badgers, but incoming freshman Jack Russell would give him a run for his money on kickoffs.

But after picking up steam over the last few practices, Russell was listed as the No. 1 place kicker, with French assigned to kickoffs. Bielema said that the competition is still fluid but French has been getting good distance and hang time.

It also looks like Russell's strong leg has given him the edge on some longer field goals. Russell hit 2-of-4 field goals in practice Monday, but he's had a strong performance over the last few days.

"Even if they can split those roles I hope we'd be a stronger unit overall," Bielema said.

Injury update:

-- Sam Arneson had a knee procedure today, but the Badgers don't think the redshirt sophomore tight end will miss much time.

-- Bielema said defensive tackle Warren Herring was concussed during tackling drills Monday. It's unclear how long the concussion will sideline Herring, who was working as the team's No. 3 defensive tackle before the injury.

-- Linebacker A.J. Fenton has been struggling with a series of back problems, but Bielema said the redshirt junior linebacker would undergo a series of shots to relieve tightness. Bielema also said the team would be lucky to get Fenton back next week.

News and notes:

-- Jake Keefer will have to learn a new position again, as the Badgers moved him inside to defensive tackle. Keefer previously switched from linebacker to defensive end, but Bielema said the redshirt freshman did a few things during the scrimmage Saturday that impressed him.

"He just plays big," Bielema said. "He's just one of those kids that probably plays bigger than he is."

-- There was some confusion over the weekend about running back Vonte Jackson, who tweeted that he would be redshirting after Bielema said Saturday that Jackson could help them on special teams. It doesn't look like they've finalized what Jackson will do this year, but Bielema said that the decision is ultimately up to the player.

-- Bielema mentioned that the Badgers have a player who is planning on graduating early in order to potentially explore transfer options after this year, but Bielema didn't say which player it was.

-- Running back Montee Ball wore a green 'no contact' jersey during practice Monday, but Ball said after practice that he should return to the field early this week. Ball will meet with the team doctor tomorrow, and if he's fully cleared he should be full-go Tuesday or Wednesday.

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.


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