Junior defensive end David Gilbert will not start for the University of Wisconsin football team at Nebraska on Saturday night, due to comments he made about Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez.
Bielema did not elaborate on how long Gilbert’s banishment to the sidelines will be, but it could be brief.
“I want to make him understand that,” Bielema said of what he deemed inappropriate comments about Martinez and his throwing style. “That’s just not who we are and what we are.
“(Gilbert) will be skipping rocks on the sideline with me, for the first play.”
Gilbert told ESPNMadison.com on Wednesday night, he was not impressed with the improvement Martinez is supposed to have made as a passer from last season.
“It still looks like he’s skipping rocks out there to me,” Gilbert told the website. “But that’s not my concern. That’s probably more a concern of the defensive backs. My concern is hitting him. I don’t care what he throws like. I’m not trying to let him throw at all.
“He still can’t throw. I’m just going to say it. He still can’t throw. He’s not going to beat us with his arm.”
Gilbert told the State Journal it will be his assignment to hit Martinez on nearly all of his option runs. He also called the junior signal-caller “soft.”
“It’s definitely going to be a priority,” Gilbert told the State Journal, about delivering hits on Martinez. “I mean, let’s face it, he’s a soft kid.
“When things don’t go his way and when he fumbles a little bit, that comes with getting hit hard and getting hit hard the whole game. That’s an element we’re trying to bring to the D-line.”
Martinez threw three interceptions in UW’s 48-17 victory over Nebraska last season, which was the Cornhuskers’ first Big Ten Conference game.
But he worked to improve his throwing mechanics in the offseason and currently leads the Big Ten in pass efficiency at 180.9. He is completing 70.7 percent of his passes (65 of 92) and has thrown for 878 yards, with nine touchdowns and an interception.
However, the Cornhuskers have not faced a good defense, beating Southern Mississippi (No. 104 overall) and Arkansas State (No. 66), as well as a Football Championship Subdivision opponent in Idaho State. They also lost to UCLA (No. 85).
UW junior linebacker Chris Borland complimented Martinez’s development as a passer.
“He’s changed his mechanics a little bit,” Borland said. “He seems more confident and they seem to have more confidence in him, the way they’re doing things. He definitely is improved as a passer.”
Bielema said he let defensive line coach Charlie Partridge deliver the news to Gilbert that he wouldn’t be starting. It was Partridge who called Bielema early Thursday morning with the news of Gilbert’s comments. Bielema said he was “taken back” when he heard.
“Because as you guys know that follow us, that’s just not a norm,” he said.
Partridge’s reaction sounded even stronger.
“Charlie had a pretty strong statement to his (position) room,” Bielema said. “I’m a head coach that (believes) you hold accountability first within the position groups. Charlie wanted that opportunity.”
Gilbert broke his foot during practice the week of last year’s game and didn’t play against Nebraska. Bielema said Gilbert’s exuberance for this game might have spilled over, but that’s no excuse.
“It was something he was looking forward to for a long time, but that is still no right to kind of throw those things out,” Bielema said.
“Kid’s going to learn,” Bielema added. “As a head coach, I’ve got to remind guys all of the time, obviously, the things we say and the things we put in front of the media, you said it, now you’ve got to play it.”