There is a new team in the Big Ten this season and they have already risen to the top of the conference in terms of preseason rankings. Nebraska has come over from the Big 12 and after back-to-back 10 win seasons, the Huskers are the preseason favorites to take home the title in the newly revamped Big Ten. While Ohio State is in transition after a scandal that saw them lose their head coach, Jim Tressel, it looks like the team that will have the best chance to prevent from Nebraska nabbing the trophy in year one is Wisconsin. The defending Big Ten Champs suffered some big losses this offseason, including their best defensive player, JJ Watt, and their quarterback, Scott Tolzien. However, former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson was granted a transfer and with Wilson running the show in Madison, the Badgers offense shouldn’t skip a beat.
Bret Bielema joined the Big 1070 to talk about the injury situation and how practice is going leading up to the opener against UNLV, what he looks for from his captains, what his thoughts are so far on Russell Wilson, and Wilson taking over as a captain so soon.
On the injuries to the team and how he feels heading into the first game against UNLV:
“A number of our guys have been held out and some of those guys got back in there Friday and Saturday. You can kinda begin to see where the first groups are going. Obviously we will get a little bit more into it today and tomorrow as we introduced UNLV prep last night. I’m excited, I like the chemistry, I like the way they have gone about their business and as we get more and more players back it makes everybody feel better.”
What he looks for from his captains:
“Two things. They have to be the pulse of the team for me. If there is anything I need to know or hear or if players have something they want to talk to me about a lot of times they will go through the captains as the conduit to get to me about anything and everything from football to non-football stuff like team snack. Also those guys have to kinda be the police in the locker room. The people that can get things done when the coaches aren’t around and I know these guys are seasoned veterans and all four of them will know kinda how to go about their business. It’s really a fun group and the great thing was, there was a number of votes and every starting offensive lineman received I believe four more votes. It just goes to show me there is a greater amount of respect for the offensive line and when that happens I think we’re destined to have some good results on the field.”
On Russell Wilson:
“It’s kind of fun to watch. As you guys I’m sure are around him you realize he’s true blue. None of that stuff is fake or false. I thought last night all four captains got up and addressed the team and he really kinda hit on the finer points of his unique situation but how humbled he is to get voted by them as peers. It’s one of those delicate situations but everything seems to be going good so far.”
How Russell Wilson has fit in so quickly:
“He has and a true credit to all of our guys. It was truly, at first we wanted to make sure he was going to be a fit as a human being, as a guy that we could count on and blend into our crowd. It was brought to my attention that a certain program had a bed check I guess at like 10:30 and like 40 players snuck out. Somebody asked me ‘coach do you have a bed check?’ I said ‘bed check? I don’t need a bed check.’ My guys, just the character and composure that our guys have I’m just so happy to be around them and truly blessed to have an opportunity to work with them on an everyday basis because it’s just a really fun group to be around.”