UW football: Badgers plan to practice like they mean it — again

2010-10-19T20:46:00Z 2010-11-05T08:40:31Z UW football: Badgers plan to practice like they mean it — againTOM MULHERN | tmulhern@madison.com | 608-252-6169 madison.com

University of Wisconsin senior left guard John Moffitt is a believer in the power of preparation.

Admittedly, Moffitt took a little time to come around to that point of view, with some help from offensive line coach Bob Bostad.

"Coach ‘Bo,' I've really learned a lot from him. I don't even know if we like each other yet," Moffitt joked recently of his ultra-intense coach. "I think we're getting there.

"I mean, man, have I really learned a lot from him about preparing the right way, about practicing the right way. Because it does carry over. It's everything. I just don't believe you can have a bad week of practice and a great game. You have a good indicator if you say, ‘I had a great week of practice, I did everything right. I'm ready to play this game.' You set yourself up to do everything right."

That approach is more important than ever this week, given No. 10 UW faces a tough preparation before playing at No. 13 Iowa on Saturday.

Not only are the Badgers coming off the high of upsetting formerly top-ranked Ohio State, it's their eighth straight game before heading into next week's bye. The Hawkeyes should be fresher, having a bye two weeks ago before beating Michigan 38-28 last week.

Then there's the issue of the Kinnick Stadium environment that should be every bit as hostile as the one the Buckeyes faced at Camp Randall Stadium.

"I graduated from Iowa," UW coach Bret Bielema said. "They treat me very badly. ... They're right on top of you.

"I think our kids will embrace the challenge. ... We have to explain to them and make them understand how that noise has got to make them play harder, play longer, play faster."

Bielema has been pleased with the team's preparation all season. He pointed to the Austin Peay game when the Badgers went about their business, winning 70-3 over an inferior opponent.

"We talked all week about not having a letdown against a team that you're better than," Bielema said. "They had the right response that week. They had the right response (last) week. I think they'll have the same response this week."

That response has to do with preparation. In that regard, the seniors — and the offensive linemen — can show the way.

Last week, the offensive line had its best game of the season against top defensive end Cameron Heyward and the toughest front four it had seen to that point. Its reward this week is to face top defensive end Adrian Clayborn and possibly an even better front four.

"A lot of the same keys to victory, or keys to success, against Ohio State, at least offensively for us," Bielema said. "Which is great, because there's a good carryover (with) matchups, production, efficiency, all those same things will be coming up."

That's the way it is every week for an offensive line that hopes to play at a consistently high level, regardless of the opponent. So, even though Bielema challenged the line last week, nothing had to be said.

"They knew the challenge, just like they know the challenge every week," Bostad said. "Two weeks ago against Minnesota, everybody wasn't jumping up and down about their defensive front. It still was the same expectation (and) preparation, to dominate that front. It doesn't matter. We can't be up and down."

Bostad takes meticulous notes during the week and mistakes on Saturdays can always be traced back to something that happened in practice.

"I can go back to practice, pull out all of my practice sheets, my pictures, everything that I've got and say, 'You did the same thing here on Tuesday, rep 25,' whatever play, it's there," Bostad said.

It wasn't just the offensive line that responded last week. Tailback John Clay ran more determined than ever, with 21 carries for 104 yards. Freshman James White added 75 yards on 17 carries.

"I thought the backs really ran hard," Bostad said. "John really responded, really got north and south. You never saw his feet get wide. It was a (heck) of a difference."

Now, the Badgers must duplicate the same preparation and performance on the road against another top opponent.

The seniors talk to the team on Sundays about the challenges ahead for the week and what needs to be accomplished. The focus this week, undoubtedly, is preparation — which might be the lasting lesson from the Ohio State victory.

"I thought we had our best week of preparation (last week)," senior quarterback Scott Tolzien said. "We've really got to up that. That's the tough thing, you set the bar like that, sometimes you feel there's no way to go but down. We've really got to stress that. As seniors, that's the onus on us, we've really got to make sure everyone stays locked in and presses forward."

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