Following the first nonconference loss of his career as the head coach at Wisconsin, Bret Bielema opted to stay positive as his team returns home to host Utah State Saturday night.
Bielema praised the team’s defensive and special teams effort in Wisconsin’s 10-7 loss Saturday to Oregon State University. Bielema noted the Beavers converted on just one of four fourth down attempts. He also said he was happy with how the Badgers responded when the Beavers marched down the field to score on the first possession of the second half.
“I felt we made some improvements in certain areas,” Bielema said in his weekly press conference Monday. “[Oregon State] went down and scored [to open the second half]. Our defense took that and responded very well and shut them out the rest of the game.”
Punter Drew Meyer and kicker Kyle French also earned high marks from Bielema.
“We punted way too often, but on the seven punts, I thought Drew Meyer did an outstanding job,” Bielema said. “I was really happy with Kyle French. He continued to kick the ball on the kickoff as well as on PATs.”
Bielema said he noticed a higher sense of urgency throughout the team on Sunday following the loss with more players breaking down film on their own time than usual. The team could not take the field Sunday because of the Ironman competition taking place in Madison, so Bielema and his staff focused on film study.
“We always reference ‘overtime guys’ that want to come in and do a little bit extra,” Bielema said. “I’ve seen more guys up there in the last 24 hours than I’ve ever seen, so I think that urgency is very much there.”
Abbrederis, Johnson injury updates
Several players suffered injuries Saturday, most notably redshirt junior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, who got sandwiched by two Beavers players on a route across the middle during the second quarter and had to be taken to the hospital during the game.
Bielema said Abbrederis was slightly concussed during the play. Abbrederis’s health is day-to-day and Bielema said there is a “good chance” he will be back for this week’s game against Utah State. The Badgers’ No. 1 receiver finished the game with one reception for 26 yards.
“He had significant damage just from the blow itself, nothing structurally that’s going to keep him out for a long time,” Bielema said.
Fifth-year senior safety Shelton Johnson also left the game Saturday with a broken arm. Johnson, a team captain, underwent surgery Sunday and Bielema said he hopes to have Johnson back within six weeks.
Another starter, defensive end Brendan Kelly, participated in pregame warmups, but the fifth-year senior was ultimately held out of the game as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
Upon further review
Bielema addressed the onside kick the Badgers attempted with 1:31 remaining in the fourth quarter and his team down three. With the game on the line, French recovered his own kick at the Badgers’ 46, but the play was reviewed and officials found French touched the ball before allowing it to go 10 yards.
As a member of the NCAA rules committee, Bielema said he was happy with both the call and how the officials performed in the game. Big Ten officials served as on-field referees while the replay officials were from the Pac-12.
“I have all the confidence in the world [in the review system]. In our league in particular, the officiating has jumped 110 times in the right direction,” Bielema said. “The replay is something that you’re never going to be happy with when it goes against you. We had some good rhythm going. We’ve practiced that play so many times.”
“The thing that I asked for clarification was, ‘Was it indisputable [evidence]?'” Bielema said. “We were already calling plays. The ruling on the field was it was our ball. We’ve got to improve to make sure the next time it’s not even close.”