Badgers' Abbrederis expects to play at Illinois
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MADISON--After watching wide receiver Jared Abbrederis go through a light workout Monday, Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen was optimistic UW’s No. 1 wide receiver would be ready to play this week at Illinois.
“He was in the conditioning part of it and seemed to feel very good,” Andersen said before practice Tuesday. “Talked to him last night. He is excited as he always is.”
After going through a full practice Tuesday—in a green no-contact jersey—Abbrederis removed any doubt about his playing status.
He will be ready to play at 7 p.m. Saturday when UW (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) faces host Illinois (3-2, 0-1).
“I feel pretty good running around,” he said, adding he felt no lingering effects of the apparent concussion he suffered Saturday in the first quarter of UW’s 35-6 victory over Northwestern.
What would it take to keep him out this week?
“A lot,” Abbrederis said.
Abbrederis absorbed a helmet-to-helmet hit on an 11-yard reception on UW’s first possession but said Tuesday he wasn’t sure if any single hit affected his play.
“I think it might have been a couple plays, a combination of things,” said Abbrederis, who removed himself from the game after he failed to catch a sideline pass late in the first quarter. “Because I really didn’t feel anything after that (first) play. It just got a little bit worse and worse.”
According to wide receivers coach Chris Beatty, Abbrederis could have returned to the game in the second half.
“We all thought he could have come back in,” Beatty said. “It was more of a precaution. We didn’t feel like the game was in hand but we thought let’s err on the side of being cautious.”
UW moved the ball effectively and scored 28 points after Abbrederis left the game. However, the fifth-year senior leads UW in every receiving category and looked sharp during practice Tuesday.
Abbrederis enjoyed a big day in UW’s 31-14 victory over the Illini last season in Madison.
Joel Stave targeted Abbrederis nine times in the game and Abbrederis finished with seven of UW’s 17 receptions and 117 of the 252 receiving yards.
He had the lone touchdown reception, a 59-yarder that helped UW push its lead to 24-7 with 11 minutes 40 seconds left.
Four of his receptions resulted in a first down.
As good as Abbrederis is—he is second in the Big Ten in receiving yards per game at 107.7—Illinois coach Tim Beckman knows his unit must first contain the running game.
The thinking is that if you contain the ground game you can negate UW’s play-action passing game.
When the teams met last season, the Badgers managed only 40 yards on 14 carries in the first half. Abbrederis was held to four catches for 31 yards and the game was tied, 7-7, at halftime.
UW rushed 19 times for 133 yards in the second half and Abbrederis caught three balls for 86 yards—for 12, 15 and 59.
The 59-yard score came on a play-action fake.
“The run ties in with the pass and the pass ties in with the run,” said Abbrederis, who is an outstanding run-blocker. “It helps because you’re cracking safeties all day when you’re running.
“And then it looks like you’re going to crack a safety and you take it over the top.”
The Illini allowed 335 rushing yards in a 39-19 loss at Nebraska on Oct. 5 and are 11th in the Big Ten against the run (195.4 yards per game).
“We’ve got to be able to create some pressure on the run game because they definitely are a team that sets up the pass through the run,” Beckman said. “We’re going to gang tackle and tackle in space better than we did at Nebraska.”
If not, Abbrederis will be running free in the Illinois secondary once again.