Borland rates return just average
In his first game since a season-ending shoulder injury last September, the Wisconsin linebacker made seven tackles as the 11th-ranked Badgers beat UNLV, 51-17.
It also was his first start at middle linebacker, where his responsibilities include making the defensive calls.
“I would give myself a C,” he said after the game when asked to grade his performance. “I was rusty. I was giving effort, but I have to get better.
“After I shake off the rust, I’ll be better next week.”
Next up for Wisconsin (1-0) is Oregon State (0-1), which visits Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday on the heels of a 29-28 overtime loss to FCS team Sacramento State.
Borland played outside linebacker and was a standout as a freshman for the Badgers in 2009.
Coach Bret Bielema said “There’s no doubt in my mind” moving Borland inside was the right move.
Borland played only four quarters last season—three in the Sept. 4 opener against UNLV and the first quarter against Arizona State in the third game on Sept. 18—before the recurring shoulder injury ended his season.
He also wasn’t able to participate in spring practices as he recovered after having surgeries on both shoulders.
That made Thursday night’s game feel all the more odd.
“Before the game, it didn’t even feel real to me,” said Borland, the Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year in 2009. “I was going through all the routines that I’ve always gone through, but it didn’t seem like a game was about to be played.”
After reviewing the game film, Bielema said Borland’s lack of game action and increased role in the defense exacerbated matters for the sophomore.
“He’d had a couple of scrimmage plays, but nothing to the extent of what you see game speed-wise,” Bielema said. “And for the first time, he was making all the calls. Mike linebacker is the guy who is the QB of our defense.”
“So it was a new experience for him. But hopefully now he’s through that and will continue to move forward.”
That’s true of the Badgers’ defense as a whole.
Wisconsin allowed the Rebels 292 total yards and two second-half touchdowns, with missed tackles plaguing the Badgers against UNLV’s Pistol offense.
Frederick likely out
Starting left guard Travis Frederick of Walworth Big Foot has a sprained MCL in his left knee and is expected to miss the Oregon State game. Sophomore Ryan Groy is set to start in Frederick’s place. Groy started two games last year, both at fullback. Bielema said Frederick should return for the Sept. 17 game against Northern Illinois in Chicago.
QB Wilson honored
Quarterback Russell Wilson was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after excelling in his Wisconsin debut. He threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 62 yards and a TD vs. UNLV.
Budmayr has surgery
Sophomore quarterback Jon Budmayr, who was expected to be Wilson’s backup, underwent surgery Friday to relieve pressure on a nerve in his right arm.
Bielema said it wasn’t clear when Budmayr will be able to return. “It could be two weeks. It could be two months,” he said.