The University of Wisconsin football team could be starting its fourth different combination on the offensive line in seven games Saturday at Penn State.
Right tackle Rob Havenstein, who suffered a strained medial collateral ligament in his right knee against Ohio State last Saturday, was limited to working on the sidelines with trainers on Tuesday.
"I moved around a little bit, did a couple things with the trainers, a little position work, technique and all that," Havenstein said. "Then I went in and did a little conditioning. It was pretty limited."
Havenstein said he expects to be a game-time decision. "I'm thankful it was just an MCL and not anything worse," he said.
He was replaced by senior Rob Burge, who is expected to start if Havenstein can't play.
The Badgers still rushed for 206 yards against Ohio State — counting minus-36 yards on sacks. The Buckeyes came in allowing 107.9 rushing yards per game.
Tailback Montee Ball rushed for 191 yards, becoming the first player since Penn State's Eric McCoo in 1999 to rush for more than 190 yards against Ohio State.
That the Badgers accomplished all of that while having to replace a starter for more than a half is testament to the line's ability to function with several different combinations.
Right guard Kyle Costigan (knee) missed the Illinois game, then left tackle Rick Wagner (knee) was knocked out in the second quarter the following week against Purdue and missed the next two games.
That caused two shifts on the line, with left guard Ryan Groy going to left tackle and Burge starting at left guard.
The only game in the past seven in which all five starters were available for the entire game was two weeks ago against Indiana, when UW rushed for a school-record 564 yards.
Earlier in the season, junior Zac Matthias and Costigan shared time at right guard.
"It's a struggle, but that's also where we have an advantage," offensive line coach Bart Miller said. "We have capable players like Rob Burge and Zac who can come in and play.
"You like to keep your unit intact throughout the year and last year they did. That was one thing that helped, you had the continuity throughout the season. We've had to battle through some injuries, but we've also had some guys step up and play well."
Last year's line had three starters miss time to injuries: left guard Travis Frederick and right tackle Josh Oglesby both missed one start, while center Peter Konz missed three starts.
Havenstein appeared to be asserting himself recently after struggling against Michigan State's William Gholston three games ago.
Although he gave up a sack to John Simon, Havenstein also had seven knockdowns prior to getting hurt with less than 4 minutes left in the first half.
"Actually, the play I got hurt on was a knockdown," he said. "I drove the guy to the ground and my leg got caught up in the pile, kind of snapped back and I felt a couple pops.
"I was praying to God it wasn't anything ACL-wise, but everything is stable in there. It's going on how I feel and I feel pretty good."
Source: Officials erred
A UW source said the Big Ten Conference office confirmed some blown officials calls that went against the Badgers last week.
It was not known how many plays UW coach Bret Bielema sent to the league office to be reviewed, but three plays stood out: a missed pass interference call when Ball was hit well before the ball arrived by linebacker Ryan Shazier; a personal foul against safety Dezmen Southward for a late hit on quarterback Braxton Miller; and a missed holding call against defensive end David Gilbert in overtime.
UW coaches refused to complain publicly about the calls.
"I'm not really going to talk about the holding," UW defensive line coach Charlie Partridge said. "Braxton Miller did a great job of getting really deep on his escape and David did everything he could to flatten off and cut him off and wasn't able to."
The scramble by Miller, to Gilbert's side on second-and-6, set up the winning touchdown on the next play.
Southward appeared to fall on Miller at the end of a run. Partridge said he noticed in watching film that Miller seems to draw a lot of penalties for late hits. Partridge said it could be a result of Miller being so elusive and defenses knowing they need extra tacklers to bring him down.
"Sometimes when you're going against a special player like him, I wonder if anyone's ever done a study," Partridge said. "I saw as many late hits on Braxton in film prep as maybe I've seen all year on a specific individual.
"I think it's guys fighting to get into position on a really fast human being. Maybe he goes down and the whistle blows as you're attacking him and you get the flag."
French identifies issue
Partridge, who also works with the kickers, evaluated Kyle French's 40-yard missed field goal against Ohio State on film and wrote down what he saw. Then French came in and did the same thing.
"We saw the exact same thing," Partridge said. "His plant foot was not perfect, it was not pointed to the target. It was opened up a little bit and he pulled his eyes a little bit. The combination of that, it was wide left."
French, a sophomore, had a streak of five straight made field goals snapped with the miss.
The miss early in the fourth quarter with UW trailing 14-7 was a critical play in the 21-14 overtime loss.
"Obviously, (Saturday) night in the locker room, like all of us, he was disappointed and upset," Partridge said. "(Sunday) morning he came in and he was very analytical.
"(He) knows what he did wrong and what he has to do next time he's in that situation," Partridge said. "No doubt, he has the talent. I think he's a mentally tough young man. He'll do better next time."