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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin aiming to beat the heat and ASU

Senior wideout Jared Abbrederis has exploited opponents all season to the tune of three touchdowns and 184 yards.
Senior wideout Jared Abbrederis has exploited opponents all season to the tune of three touchdowns and 184 yards. photo: Jen Small

The last week has been pretty hot in Madison, but for the Wisconsin football team things are about to get much hotter.

No. 20 UW (2-0) heads to Arizona this weekend for a battle with Arizona State (1-0) Saturday night, where temperatures are projected to be around 95 degrees when the game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. in Tempe.

As a result, head coach Gary Andersen elected to take the team west a day early — flying to Arizona on Thursday instead of Friday — so they have more time to acclimate to the desert-like surroundings.


“That is a little bit of the thought process to get there on Thursday afternoon and practice because we will practice there Thursday afternoon,” Andersen said at his Monday press conference. “We don’t play with the sun shining, but we do play in the heat. So we’ll get used to that a little bit.

“Regardless of how all that boils down, that doesn’t matter that we’re flying across the country. It doesn’t matter that we’re going two time zones. It doesn’t matter that it might be really hot. That’s part of traveling.”

Echoing the remarks of their coach, team members say the heat doesn’t seem to have gotten into their heads either.

“It’s all mental if you ask me,” redshirt sophomore running back Melvin Gordon said. “It’s just one part of the game, so we have to go in there knowing that the weather won’t beat you and we’ll be alright.”

Saturday’s game will also mark the first time this season that Wisconsin will enter the game as the underdog, with many choosing Arizona State as 5.5-point favorites to win.

For many of the new players on the roster, 75,000 fans screaming for a team other than Wisconsin — combined with the most talented team they have faced — will likely be an eye-opening experience.

“We just told [the new guys] road games get pretty loud,” Gordon said. “You’ve got to be really focused. That’s the big thing. Other than that you just play football — that’s it — and that doesn’t change when you’re on the road.”

On the field, the first couple of weeks for both teams have been eerily similar.

Neither team has allowed a single point so far this season. Wisconsin shut out its first two opponents each of the last two weeks, while ASU shut out FCS opponent Sacramento State 55-0 last Thursday in its season opener.

A big factor in ASU’s success against Sacramento State rests on the shoulders of junior quarterback Taylor Kelly. Kelly finished the game with video game-like numbers, including throwing for 300 yards and five touchdowns on 23-for-31 passing.

A more unfortunate similarity, however, can be seen in both teams’ struggle with the kicking game early on this fall.

In response to a 0-for-1 field goal attempt and 6-for-7 PAT showing Sept. 7, Andersen decided to reinstate a competition for the job heading into Saturday’s game.

“It hasn’t gone the way we want it to be,” Andersen said. “So I’m going to look at myself and try to fix it and put them in positions to be successful and try to create a game-like environment because it’s not practice that’s the issue.”

While Wisconsin went back to the drawing board this week, creating a competition between redshirt junior Kyle French and sophomore Jack Russell, ASU will have its own uncertainties should the offense be stalled in field goal territory.

Last week against Sacramento State, freshman kicker Zane Gonzalez made only two of four field goals, which comes a year after a kicking platoon finished the season a combined 15-for-24 in 2012.

Many Badger fans will remember that in Wisconsin’s last matchup with Arizona State, special teams played a critical role in UW’s slim 20-19 victory at Camp Randall.

After Arizona State scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to bring the game within one, former ASU kicker Thomas Weber had the extra-point kick blocked, gifting UW a victory in front of its home fans.

On offense for the Badgers, things don’t look any easier.

In ASU’s lone game in 2013, they have given up an average of 1.6 yards per rush and only 5 yards per pass.

For senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis and company, numbers can only tell you so much. Instead Abbrederis said they just want to get out there and finally get their chance to prove themselves.

“If we go out there and just be successful and play as a team, I think we will do well,” Abbrederis said.

“We’re excited to go out there and just play football. They are going to be a good team.”

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