Junior quarterback Curt Phillips will miss a second straight season for the University of Wisconsin football team following more problems with his right knee.
Phillips tore the anterior cruciate ligament in that knee twice in the past 13 months and appears to have done it again, although UW coach Bret Bielema refused to confirm that.
"Basically, his knee didn't heal the way we projected or he wanted," Bielema said after the spring game on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. "He's going to have to go in for another procedure (surgery) at some point, probably after school is out. He'll be out for the season."
Phillips first tore the ACL during spring practices a year ago, then did it again in practice last November. He took part in skeleton passing drills, without a pass rush, during the spring.
He started having problems again the past two weeks and underwent a minor surgical procedure on Friday to find out the extent of the latest issue.
"It was kind of reassuring to him because I think he overall didn't feel the knee was right, where it was at," Bielema said of the latest news. "It kind of gives him some answers to move forward."
When addressing the media, Bielema had not spoken to Phillips since the latest procedure. But Bielema indicated Phillips was not yet ready to give up on his football career.
"He's already thinking about his options, petitioning for six years ... amazingly, the resolve he has and his mental toughness and awareness," Bielema said.
Phillips missed all of the 2010 season and would have one year of eligibility remaining after 2011, unless the NCAA granted him a sixth year.
"It's devastating," sophomore quarterback Jon Budmayr said. "Not only did we lose such a great player on our team, he's a very close friend.
"You hate to see a close friend go through that one time, even twice. Now, he's going through it a third time. We just have to be there for him. You guys know Curt, he's a strong kid and he'll come back from this even stronger than before."
Bielema expressed no alarm about having, in effect, only three quarterbacks. Budmayr is the projected starter. The only other scholarship quarterback is redshirt freshman Joe Brennan. Freshman walk-on Joel Stave is No. 3.
The fourth quarterback, senior walk-on Nate Tice, was given three series during the scrimmage but doesn't project into the plans. "It's really been the same every year," Bielema said of the quarterback depth. "We've always had three guys we kind of felt were in the rotation.
"The three guys we've got are going to be the ones that are going to be able to get us through the fall season. Nobody's won a football game yet, that's been a starter, so that's always a concern."
Welch long, inconsistent
Senior kicker Philip Welch displayed the good and bad from his career during the scrimmage.
Welch nailed kicks from 58 and 61 yards during "rapid-fire" kicking segments at the end of the first and third quarters. Welch was 8-for-8 overall in those two segments, with each field goal counting three points toward the final score.
He hit from 28, 34, 43 and 58 from the right hash mark in the first segment, then from 27, 33, 42 and 61 on the left hash in the second segment.
But during the team portion, he missed from 49, 52 and 38 yards.
That drew another springtime rebuke from Bielema, who was also critical of Welch coming out of spring as a redshirt freshman three years ago.
"He's got to be able to handle the pressure, he's got to be consistent with where we're at," Bielema said. "He's got one of the stronger legs I've been around, but he's got to learn to be accurate with it."
Two of Welch's misses were from fairly long distances and the conditions were somewhat windy.
"They were real close," Welch said. "The 52 (-yarder) I thought was down the center but then just shot to the side. The wind was funky today, real strong. I'm not too disappointed. I would have like to have made them but they were good hits off my foot."
When asked about Bielema's comments about needing to handle the pressure, Welch said, "It's definitely true. I would have liked to have made them. I'll be stronger during the season."
Senior punter Brad Nortman had a busy day, averaging 38 yards on 12 punts. Because the offense was so prolific last season, Nortman punted only 38 times all season, averaging 42.7 yards.
"I'd rather not put them all in one day," Nortman joked about making up for lost work. "My leg's about to fall off."
Nortman has been especially good at dropping the ball inside the 20-yard line. He pinned the offense back at the 3 on one punt, then had a chance for another one deep but the ball rolled through the legs of Dezmen Southward.
"I thought Brad punted the ball very well," Bielema said. "There was one missed opportunity on the pooch, but he's really done a nice job all spring with the pooches."
Sophomore linebacker Chris Borland, who missed spring practices following shoulder surgery, was allowed to punt the last time and hit a line drive of 32 yards without any warmup.
"I walked over to him and said, 'You want to punt?' " Bielema said. "He said, 'I've got no cleats.' I said, 'I'm talking about punting, I don't need you to run a drill.' "
From the infirmary
The only injury suffered in the game was to the left knee of redshirt freshman guard Dallas Lewallen. Bielema said the initial diagnosis was something with the kneecap.
"If that's all there is, it should be a matter of a couple weeks," Bielema said.