MADISON - Junior center and first-team All-Big Ten selection Peter Konz remains optimistic about his chances to play Saturday night in the inaugural Big Ten title game.
With three full days left before game day, Konz is focused on doing everything in his power to get his injured left ankle healthy enough to play. He originally suffered the injury late in UW's win over Minnesota more than two weeks ago.
After Tuesday's practice let out, BadgerBlitz.com, along with a number of other reporters, caught up with Konz. The following is a question and answer with the veteran center.
Would you have to do stuff Thursday or Friday (in order to play)? Where do you have to be until you're (cleared)? Or is it just going to go right up to game time?
Konz: It might go up to game time. I'm at practice and I'm getting mental reps. I'm watching film and doing everything I normally do other than the amount of practice I do. That's going to be limited. We've already played 12 games up to this point and I've played 10 personally. As long as I get some physical reps I think we'll just go up to game time and see where it's at.
What are you going to try tomorrow (Wednesday)?
Konz: We're trying to progress, but at the same time you don't want to regress. If I do too much and there's too much swelling that can hurt me. We're just going to have to find this fine balance. Right now I'm walking and I'm feeling good. I'm hoping tomorrow we'll progress. There will be a couple more icings tonight to try to get that swelling down.
How tough has it been for you…?
Konz: I can't even tell you. Just being like this right now makes me almost nervous. I just want to play so bad. This is such a historic event and it's something I want to do really badly. You're just hoping your ankle loosens up just enough to go full speed. I could play right now and there would just be discomfort. I want to be 100 percent Peter Konz. Every day I'm hoping it loosens up a little bit more so I can get to that point.
Coach Bob Bostad it's three trips to the training room a day for you? Are you just doing everything possible?
Konz: Easily three if not more. That's not even including what I'm doing at home. Sometimes I get my girlfriend - - and I hope she doesn't mind me saying this - - but I'll lay in bed and she'll make ice trips back and forth while I have it raised on some pillows and stuff. She's been great about that and I appreciate everything she does for me.
You said you wanted to play so bad. Is it hard not to push yourself or do you get a pretty good idea?
Konz: Actually since last year, because I had a similar situation where I came back for Iowa and then I went down during halftime and it really stiffened up, I can kind of compare it to that. At one point I just want to push it really hard. Then I realize I need to back off otherwise I'm going to make it worse and then I'm definitely not playing. I'm just trying to give myself a chance with enough reps where it won't swell up or anything like that.
Sorry if you were already asked this, but the status with you is what? Is it a game time thing?
Konz: Just day-by-day. When I'm talking to the coaches its about game time. If I'm ready then that's what it's going to be.
Can you put a percentage on where you're at?
Konz: I can't tell you. Right now, like I told everybody else, I did individual practice and I didn't do any team versus scout. We're just going to keep progressing.
Were your ankles sore before you hurt it at Minnesota?
Konz: No. Actually I was doing good. This ankle had never gave me any problems. It was just a one time thing.
I was just curious. I know you pull a lot, so I'm wondering if you can plant on it or push off?
Konz: Yeah, I can. There's a little limp with it, but as far as could I go out there? Yeah. I can push through and be physical with it.
Would you shoot it up if you…
Konz: Actually I couldn't. I'm allergic to it. It's au naturel.
Can you take ibuprofen or anything for it?
Konz: I can't. I'm allergic to that, too. Apparently it's related to the stuff. I mean, I can take some of the more serious drugs (laughing), but you don't want to play football or operate heavy machinery while doing that.
Do you have any reaction to first-team All-Conference? How did you find out?
Konz: I found out through text messages. I didn't know when that stuff was coming out being a media guru like myself. I had no idea. I was actually finishing up some papers when it came out. I'm an academic first. You know, student….athlete.
It's not athlete-student, right? But seriously, have you been able to focus on academics pretty well over the past couple of weeks?
Konz: A little bit. I still try to stay in touch with football because you still want to stay mentally sharp. I didn't want to dip. I've been able to try to set everything straight so that when I do comeback all I have to worry about is my finals and that will be it. I'm trying to get everything out of the way while I have time.
You talked a minute ago about how bad you want to play in this game and how much it sucks that you're questionable. Is it amplified because of the way you guys lost to them last time? Or is it more along the lines of it being a historic game with a chance to go to a Rose Bowl?
Konz: I'd say a mixture of both. I definitely want to replay them because you leave with a bad taste in your mouth knowing you could have done things better. The fact that my good friend Kevin Zeitler has two games left and Josh Oglesby has two games left makes me want to be out there with them. I want to be out there to help win the Big Ten championship and to possibly go to the Rose Bowl.
I just want to be out there for that. We'll go to a bowl game and hopefully it will be a good bowl game. Everybody around here is working toward that goal and we always have been. You kind of want to be the person who got everybody there and the person relied upon. You don't want to just insert yourself after it's all said and done. That's one of the big motivators.
You mentioned Kevin and Josh. You must have been pretty excited to find out how they were first-team All-Conference, too. Did you find that out through text message, too?
Konz: I had no idea what happened. Everybody was just congratulating me and then when I found out I was a little jealous because they were both the media and the coaches. (Laughing) Then again these are my buddies I've been playing with for four years. It's just been great to watch us all progress and how much their hard work and perseverance paid off. Josh has fought through multiple surgeries and Kevin has just been consistent every practice, going harder than anybody I've ever seen. They deserve everything they get.