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August 26, 2013Follow @JohnVeldhuis
MADISON, Wis. - After about eight months on the job, Gary Andersen's first game as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers is just five days away. His Wisconsin Badgers will host the UMass Minutemen on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, and Andersen said he can't wait to start coaching actual games for the Badgers.
"Please, Saturday, come as fast as possible," Andersen said Monday during his weekly press conference. "We'll never turn down a practice opportunity, but it's just time. It's time for these young men to get their legs back, but I am absolutely excited about the opportunity to take the field with this crew and watch them go to work."
The Badgers are currently listed as 45-point favorites over Massachusetts, but several Wisconsin players said they know the Minutemen will come in to Camp Randall Stadium expecting to win. And after Northern Iowa gave the Badgers a scare in their home opener last year, the Badgers don't want to sleep on any of their non-conference foes.
"These teams come in here expecting to win," linebacker Chris Borland said Monday. "This is a huge game for [UMass] at Camp Randall. We have enough mature guys that understand that, and nobody takes UMass lightly."
The Minutemen finished 1-11 in their first year at the FBS level, including a 63-13 loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor. UMass head coach Charley Molnar said on the MAC's weekly teleconference that playing the Wolverines on the road last year
"I think our team is going to be better prepared to go into that type of environment than they were a year ago," Molnar said. "I think playing at Michigan was a great experience for our guys; playing in front of a crowd of that size and are now perhaps more used to that. I know it's going to get loud and we will be playing a good football team, but that's what we are trying to do - measure ourselves against the best teams in the country."
But even if the Minutemen are more equipped to handle the environment and fan noise this time around, they'll have to show some significant improvement on both offense and defense to give the Badgers a scare. UMass finished last in the FBS in scoring offense last year, and only Idaho, Marshall, and Colorado allowed more points per game last year.
News and Notes
Landisch will start opposite Chris Borland at inside linebacker, but Conor O'Neill will see the field for the Badgers next to Borland as well. Caputo grabbed a hold of the starting job at free safety with a late push in fall camp, and Shelton will be Wisconsin's third "starting cornerback," according to Andersen.
"If we get to our nickel package, Darius and Peniel Jean and Sojourn are the starting corners. That's where we're at," Andersen said. "Darius has been by no means beaten out."
Voltz is recovering from a hamstring injury and the coaching staff is being cautious with Costigan, who's been dealing with a knee injury recently.
"It's going to be some moving pictures as far as that goes throughout the year," Andersen said. "I just hope that we stay healthy."
Wisconsin's game with UMass is scheduled for an 11 a.m. kickoff this Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. The game is scheduled to air on the Big Ten Network.
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