Borland hopes to return, others uncertain for Badgers

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By Jeff Potrykus
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

MADISON--Wisconsin senior Chris Borland was smiling Monday as he met with reporters.

Two days after a pregame workout reaffirmed that his right hamstring wasn't sound enough to allow him to play against Iowa, the fifth-year senior talked enthusiastically about preparing to face visiting BYU this week.

“I feel a lot better,” Borland said. “I couldn't even run at this point last week and I'm nearly 100 percent now.”

Borland, who leads UW in solo tackles (35) and total tackles (57), acknowledged he felt relieved.

“I think it's just an injury that takes time,” he said. “We did everything under the sun to try to heal for Iowa but at the end of the day your body needs a little bit of time to heal.”

UW coach Gary Andersen wasn't as certain about several other players.

The Badgers lost wide receiver Jared Abbrederis (chest), tight end Brian Wozniak (ankle), center Dallas Lewallen (ankle) and linebacker Conor O'Neill (ankle) during the 28-9 victory over Iowa.

“Probably need another day or day and a half to see for sure,” Andersen said. “We've made a lot of progress in a number of those kids.

“But I can't say anybody is going to play for sure yet. I can't say anybody is not going to play for sure yet. I haven't seen them. It's just been reported through the trainers.”

Meanwhile, Andersen does not expect reserve defensive end Tyler Dippel to return to the team this week.

Dippel, a graduate of Hartford High School, traveled to California last week to address what UW officials have called a serious family matter.

“Tyler's situation is still completely up in the air,” Andersen said. “Our concern right now is not getting Tyler back here to play in a football game. It's just being with Tyler and helping him get through the situation he is involved in. Football is a distant second, in my opinion, right now. … I'm worried about Tyler as a kid and Tyler's family.”

Several UW players Monday said that balancing supporting Dippel and preparing for a talented BYU team was a matter of being practical.

“You definitely wonder how your guys are doing,” senior safety Dezmen Southward said. “But at the same time the show goes on. As tough as that might sound, it's truly like that.

“And we really prepare that way because every single guy, you could be fourth or fifth on the depth chart, and you could be up to play the next week. You never know.”

Borland understood Southward's sentiments.

“I think one thing … is that all of our guys understand Tyler would want us to do all the right things in preparation,” Borland said. “And genuinely I think that is what he would want. I think it refocuses our guys.

“Not that it gets corny or anything, but we do want to perform well for him. Because we know how much it means to him. It is difficult and we want to ease it in any way we can.

“He's got a lot invested. When things go wrong … football is kind of an oasis, a place of normalcy. We can help him (work) through it.”

Familiar foes

Gary Andersen, a stickler for detail, missed one item when he agreed to take over Wisconsin's football program.

Andersen didn't know he would face an old rival in his first season with the Badgers.

“Having BYU on the schedule was probably one of the most shocking things that I looked at when I took this job,” Andersen said Monday. “It's amazing. They follow me all the way here.”

UW (6-2) hosts BYU (6-2) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Andersen went 1-3 against the Cougars in his four seasons as Utah State head coach and 6-5 during two stints as an assistant at Utah.

BYU whipped Utah State, 35-17, in 2009, Andersen's first season with the Aggies. Utah State won at home, 31-16, the next season to snap a 10-game losing streak in the series. BYU won the last two meetings—27-24 in 2011 and 6-3 last season.

“Our goal when we went to Utah State was to try to find a way to create a rivalry game again against BYU, which had not been there forever and ever,” Andersen said. “It's been lopsided games and we were fortunate enough to win a game against them and compete at a high level for every year we were there except probably the first year, and created a rivalry again in that situation.”

Andersen and Bronco Mendenhall, in his 11th season as head coach, have known each other for decades.

They were rivals as players—Andersen at Ricks College and Mendenhall at Snow College.

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