MADISON - Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema hasn't shown any reservations when talking about his potential starting kickoff man being sophomore Alec Lerner.
He's touted the fact that he can boot the ball five yards deep into the end zone on a consistent basis and he's mentioned the fact that he's done so with a hangtime of at least four seconds.
He hasn't, however, been able to see what his potential kickoff commandeer can do under pressure, simple because his squad hasn't had the opportunity to play any games to this point.
"I had planned to cut out practice early," Bielema said following Saturday's practice. "The whole team stood behind our kickoff coverage team and I'm not saying we should mic any of our guys but there was a lot of creative taunting, yelling and screaming."
Clearly trying to establish some sort of pressure-packed environment, using an early closure to practice as the incentive, Bielema wanted to see what Lerner was able to do when the entire focus was on him and everybody was doing their best to help him fail.
"His first one got about a yard deep in the end zone," Bielema said of Lerner's kickoff. "Then he had three more kicks and every one of them was at least five yards deep and one of them actually went out the back of the end zone. I just wanted to put pressure on him because he hasn't been in that type of environment yet.
"I said if the last one was through the end zone we would be done with practice, which it already was but he didn't know it, and he hit it out the back. It was a good sign."
There still seems to be an open competition at the placekicker position between Philip Welch and Kyle French. Having returned from a quad injury last Monday, Welch has made strides throughout the course of the week at his craft.
"He came back and kicked at the end of last week," Bielema said. "We held him out of kickoffs because Alec Lerner had some great kickoffs."
The sixth-year head coach didn't have any new injuries to report, instead he had a number of good updates to share regarding that front.
Nick Toon has looked good ever since returning to practice on Thursday.
"I thought it has really showed that he's had some time off," Bielema said. "He's got fresh legs and has really made some nice catches. I think him and Russell have had some really nice (plays). You can see there is some chemistry there and it's going to continue to build."
Mike Taylor, who missed a few practices earlier this week, has continued to look strong according to Bielema. And finally, Kevin Zeitler and Rob Havenstein are schedule to return to practice Monday when the team reconvenes. Both players have missed extended time with ankle injuries.
Sherard Cadogan and Cody Byers will also return after suffering concussions at some point during the past week.
Sophomore wide receiver Manasseh Garner, who has missed most of fall camp while recovering from a hernia, ran routes during Saturday's practice according to Bielema. He's still very optimistic that Garner will return in time for the second game of the season.
Has a No. 1 QB emerged?
Regarding the above subhead, yes, there is plenty of sarcasm involved. But because Wisconsin isn't quite 10 days out from the season opener - - Bielema's usual timeframe for naming starters - - the head coach wasn't quite willing to tab Russell Wilson as UW's No. 1 quarterback. Even though he's been working exclusively with the ones for basically the entirety of fall camp.
"I know everybody wants that," Bielema said. "The thing that is really happening because of Jon Budmayr's situation is that he's been taking over all those one reps since Jon has been gone. The great thing is Joel Stave and Joe Brennan have really benefited from a bunch of reps.
"They weren't going to necessarily get them if it was Russell and Jon. We'll put out our starting lineup on Monday, but Wilson has been running with the ones all the way through."
Gee, I wonder who it will be.
The fun side of camp:
To conclude the two-a-day portion of fall camp, Bielema and his team spent Friday night in the local movie theater. And for your information, whenever 105 players try to decide on a movie that's currently in theaters, it's not easy to pick something that everybody would want to watch.
So, instead of piling in to catch an evening showing of Crazy Stupid Love, Bielema and his squad opted to watch The Hangover Part 2.
"It had to be something that made everybody happy," Bielema said.
With the season opener against UNLV just 12 days away it's about that time for the Wisconsin football team to start honing in on the tendencies and subtleties of UNLV's offensive and defensive schemes.
According to Bielema, that scouting report was first introduced during spring camp nearly four months ago.
"They definitely broadened their packages as they went through their season last year," Bielema said. "Bobby Hauck, who I have a lot of respect for, is going to come in here. We're basically going to have 14 days of preparation for UNLV.
Bielema on the way Josh Oglesby has been practicing this fall camp:
"In my opinion he's been playing as good of football as he's played since he's been here. He's really playing with a little bit of an edge to him. We've been pretty good with his work load. He's only worked during the one-a-days and he's handled it very well. Now we're in the home stretch and all of our double days are done. I hope it continues for him."
The Badgers will participate in UW's Family Fun Day event Sunday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium. They'll return to the practice field Monday. Again, practice is closed to the media.