MADISON, Wis. - The battle for Wisconsin's right guard job went on for all of fall camp, but head coach Bret Bielema announced Thursday that Zac Matthias will start Saturday against Northern Iowa. Matthias entered the competition for the job late in fall camp, but the redshirt junior appears to have wrested the job from Kyle Costigan, at least for the time being.
"Matthias will probably start, but I expect both of them to play," Bielema said after practice Thursday.
Bielema also mentioned that redshirt senior Robert Burge will get some work on Saturday, but it seems clear that Matthias and Costigan will get the lion's share of the reps against the Panthers.
The Badgers have been hoping someone would step up and claim the right guard position since they started fall camp. But Bielema said they have a backup plan if things go wrong when they actually take the field for their first game of the season.
"There is a chance if things (go wrong) … depending on where they're going we could move Ryan Groy over to right guard and play certain guys at left guard as well," Bielema said.
Bielema also announced that kicker Kyle French will handle both kickoffs and placekicking duties for the Badgers on Saturday. French was previously locked in a battle for both jobs with walk-on freshman Jack Russell.
News and notes:
-- Bielema said his expectations for the first game of the season haven't changed much since he coached his first game for the Badgers against Bowling Green in 2006.
"My expectations haven't changed from the first game when we were in Cleveland," Bielema said. "I think that first game, you really want to make sure that everything you've seen in practice carries over to the game."
-- Linebacker Vince Biegel is out of his walking boot, and should be back in action for the Badgers in about a week or so, according to Bielema.
-- Wide receiver Chase Hammond is also unavailable for Saturday's game, but he should be back in about a week as well. Bielema said Hammond is dealing with a nagging foot issue that just needed some rest.
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