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TRAINING DAZE
Adam Duerson
August 22, 2008
When returning Badgers started going down in bunches during the off-season, Wisconsin put an emphasis on off-the-field preparation. Everyone—right down to the last reserve—has had to buck up
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August 22, 2008

Training Daze

When returning Badgers started going down in bunches during the off-season, Wisconsin put an emphasis on off-the-field preparation. Everyone—right down to the last reserve—has had to buck up

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Spring Awakening
A rash of off-season injuries threw a new slew of Badgers into the mix. And that's not a bad thing

COACH BRET BIELEMA CAN ONLY HOPE THAT THE OLD "April showers" adage holds true, because it was certainly a gloomy month in Madison. Two days before the April 19 spring game a Wisconsin employee grumbled about what appeared to be a curse this spring: Starting linebackers Jonathan Casillas and DeAndre Levy were shelved with ankle and leg injuries. Receivers Kyle Jefferson and Nick Toon had leg problems, the former's suffered in dorm-room shenanigans. And nary a starting defensive lineman was healthy, save for All-Big Ten end Matt Shaughnessy—that is, until a yelp echoed from the far end of the McClain indoor practice facility. (Literal April showers had the Badgers indoors.) Team doctors raced to the scene, muttering, "No, no, no...." But the news came out a day later: Shaughnessy would need six to eight weeks to heal a broken right fibula.

Now here's the sunny upside. The wounded, all of whom are expected to be healthy this summer, have been able to focus on behind-the-scenes minutiae, hitting the weight room and honing their mental games. Meanwhile, reserves such as backup safety Chris Maragos, who had a diving interception in the spring game (page 70), have stepped up. And Bielema suddenly has depth at linebacker, plus a D-line at least eight deep. Two days after Shaughnessy's injury, the defense stood strong in the spring game, holding the second-team offense to a field goal and drawing the praise of Bielema for creating "positives from the negatives." In other words, a dreary spring spent mostly indoors could make for one sunny regular season.

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