MADISON, Wis. - The Badgers already made a move to address their kicking woes this week when head coach Gary Andersen pulled Kyle French from his starting spot in favor of Jack Russell. French was 5-for-8 on field goals so far this season before getting the hook midway through Wisconsin's 35-6 win over Northwestern.
But installing Russell as the primary placekicker is no sure fix, because Russell has yet to make his first collegiate field goal. He's 0-for-3 between last season and this season, which gave the Badgers enough pause to have linebacker Chris Borland start kicking field goals from 45 yards out or longer this week during practice.
Andersen met with media members after practice on Thursday, and insisted that he wasn't joking when he said Borland might get to kick for the first time since 2009 this weekend against Illinois.
"Chris Borland is also in the mix," Andersen said. "We'll see how that goes but if we're going to try a long one it's probably going to be Chris who goes out there, as crazy as that may seem."
Andersen said Borland is 2-for-2 on long field goals so far this week during practice, after kicking a few field goals for fun during spring and fall camp. Borland made three extra points in 2009 against Hawaii, and Andersen said he would feel comfortable with Borland kicking if the Badgers need to call his number on special teams this weekend.
"He's good at just about anything he tries to do athletically," Andersen said. "We worked at it a little more this week where we can get him there, timing it up and giving him a little coaching."
News and notes:
-- Andersen said he expects both Jared Abbrederis and Darius Hillary to play against the Illini this weekend. Abbrederis left last week's game with a head injury and didn't return, but practiced on Tuesday with a green 'no contact' jersey and practiced normally on Thursday. Andersen said Hillary will be a little sore after he got rolled over against Northwestern, but at this point it's nothing more than normal week-to-week soreness for the cornerback.
-- Wide receiver Chase Hammond retired from football earlier in the week after undergoing multiple ankle surgeries during his career. Andersen said he wasn't surprised by Hammond's decision, which Andersen said was the end result of an ongoing conversation that stretched back "weeks and weeks and weeks."
"He's really given it all to the university," Andersen said of Hammond. "There just comes a time where what you're putting in to it you're not getting any return. For him to focus on school and get graduated as soon as possible is the focus now and I completely agree with it. It's hard to walk away for those kids but sometimes it's the best decision and in this case I agree."
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