University of Wisconsin junior left guard Ryan Groy had already begun the process of healing after what he considered a terrible individual performance against Penn State last week.
Still, it was nice to get a pick-me-up on Monday when Groy was named to the All-Big Ten Conference second team in his first full season as a starter. It was a timely boost for Groy going into the Big Ten Conference title game against Nebraska on Saturday night.
"It was disappointing ending (the regular season) the way it did," Groy said. "But it's reassuring to know I played decently (before that) and hopefully can keep it rolling into the championship game."
Describing Groy as upset with his performance after the 24-21 overtime loss to the Nittany Lions doesn't do justice to the depth of those feelings.
"Very upset at myself," said Groy, who is usually accommodating with the media but skipped postgame interviews. "Didn't play well. I kind of hung my head, but knew I had to pick myself up for this week."
Senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill would not be denied in his final game at Penn State, finishing with 12 tackles and two sacks. "The only thing that was going through my mind, every time I hit the field, I told myself, 'I'm not losing this game,' " Hill said.
Groy had seen that type of effort from Hill on film, but the Badgers had no answer.
"He's a great player, great motor," Groy said. "(He) kicked my butt."
Hill made so many plays that it's hard to pick out the best, but two stood out late. He beat a double-team from Groy and junior center Travis Frederick to tackle running back Montee Ball for a 2-yard loss on third-and-goal from the 2 prior to UW's tying touchdown pass. Then on UW's first play in overtime, which looked like it was blocked for a potential big play, Hill came from behind to trip Ball for a 1-yard gain.
On the next play in OT, Groy gave up a sack to defensive end Sean Stanley.
"When you lose that close of a game and you play poorly, you think, what could you have done better to change that game?" Groy said.
Hill was the latest in a line of standout defensive tackles Groy has faced this season, along with Purdue's Kawann Short, Ohio State's Jonathan Hankins, Indiana's Adam Replogle and Nebraska's Baker Steinkuhler, who is injured and won't play Saturday night.
"Going into the games, it was, 'You've really got to shut these guys down in order to win the game,' " Groy said.
If defensive tackle wasn't the strongest position in the Big Ten this year, linebacker might have been. Groy tangled with most of the best at that position, too.
"Then you send him out to (left) tackle against (William) Gholston and those guys," offensive line coach Bart Miller said of one of two starts Groy made at left tackle, against Michigan State.
"He has really performed well, all things considered. It's unfortunate as a unit we didn't play very well at Penn State because it's been a very good year for him. This should give him some momentum going into next year."
Groy wasn't the only problem in the offensive line last week. It started with the coaching staff and extended to the players.
Penn State's defensive coaches made adjustments after UW scored touchdowns on its first two drives, playing its defensive ends wider to funnel plays inside to Hill. It also played a five-man defensive front when UW went to its heavy personnel, such as using a fullback and two tight ends.
The Badgers couldn't make their own adjustments to counter what Penn State did.
"(The players) communicated well to me," Miller said. "We should have been able to talk and work out a plan for that. We stuck with some of our rules and (Penn State) made an adjustment further that kind of got us out of our rules.
"We should have made a few line calls that changed a little bit of our tracks and our paths. Protection-wise, it was nothing with communication. ... We just got beat, flat out missed sets and didn't move our feet."
UW senior left tackle Rick Wagner and Frederick were named to the All-Big Ten first team. To have three linemen honored, given the turmoil at the position, is testament to the players' ability to persevere.
In addition to switching line coaches after two games, the only starters not to be knocked out of games with injuries have been Groy and Frederick.
Still, it was hard to celebrate the accolades, given the overall performance in the last game.
"Everyone on that line should be upset," Miller said. "I didn't coach well and we didn't play very well. We were upset and embarrassed with the way we played as a unit because we know we can play better."