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Bielema gives up special teams’ duties to several assistants

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Benjamin Worgull
August 3, 2010
— With criticism mounting since the 2007 football season over the University of Wisconsin’s lack of special teams’ success, coach Bret Bielema finally has allowed his assistants to do the hands-on work while he watches from a distance.

Defensive line coach Charlie Partridge, whom Bielema originally wanted to name special teams coordinator, feels comfortable enough with the status of the defensive line to run both punt and kickoff coverage. New secondary coach Chris Ash will handle the punt return and punt block unit, while tight ends coach Joe Rudolph will direct kickoff returns.


Greg Jackson originally was expected to handle that role, but Bielema wanted his new assistant to have time to get acclimated to the program. So Jackson will help on all four units, while Bielema has no qualms about giving more work to Rudolph.


“He’s one the rising stars in this profession,” Bielema said of Rudolph. “To give him something that allows him to take a coordinator-type of position and to see what he does with it.


“I’m not oblivious to the fact that Paul Chryst is a very good coach, and I have to prepare for the unexpected,’’ Bielema said of his offensive coordinator. “I want to see what Joe does in that type of situation.”


Bielema did maintain that he will have final say in personnel issues.


Fresh freshmen

All 30 freshmen who joined the football program in February as signees or preferred walk-ons are listed on the UW roster, and Bielema was quick to signal out a couple.


In addition to talking about senior lineman Culmer St. Jean and how the Naples, Fla., native has come full circle, Bielema commented on how Cameron Ontko (Seven Hills, Ohio), Michael and Marcus Trotter (Racine) and Josh Harrison (Huber Heights, Ohio) have impressed the staff during the summer.


One player many coaches expect to contribute immediately is Minnetonka, Minn., freshman defensive lineman Beau Allen, who has been the hot topic among the upperclassmen. From text messages to Bielema from senior defensive back Jay Valai, and with junior J.J. Watt calling him one of the most prepared incoming linemen he’s ever seen, Allen appears poised to help the front four.


“Good players recognize good players,” Bielema said. “I think that makes a good statement. (Allen has) been 100 percent go the whole way through.”


Allen is the nephew of Janesville native and former Badger John Westphal.


Injury update

Bielema said linebackers Chris Borland (shoulder) and Mike Taylor (knee), who are returning from off-season surgeries, might be limited in camp on days the Badgers practice twice but should be ready for the season.


-- Lineman Peter Konz (blood clot) has been cleared and is practicing at 100 percent, and quarterback Curt Phillips (knee) has started throwing, dropping back and participating in modified drills.


“He’s ahead of the schedule in the rehab department,” Bielema said of Phillips. “He’ll be with us, but he won’t be with us in an obvious live scrimmage situation. If we can control it, he’ll be a guy we can use as well.”


Bielema ideally hopes Phillips will be ready by the start of the Big Ten schedule, but recognized that time frame might be pushing it. Phillips tore his ACL this past March.


“He’s just a hard charger,” Bielema said. “He’ll be back sooner than later.”



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