MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen met with the media after practice on Thursday, and took questions about his team for the last time before they'll host Tennessee Tech this Saturday. I took a few notes from the talk, which are included below.
With Derek Watt expected to miss the game on Saturday with a hamstring injury, fullback Derek Straus will take over as the starter.
But Andersen wants to be prepared for another potential injury, so they're going to activate true freshman Austin Ramesh and give him some reps against the Golden Eagles.
"He is not planned to redshirt at this moment," Andersen said. "Right now we're planning on him playing. We need the youth in this program."
Andersen said that in a few years they might regret not redshirting Ramesh, but the need is there right now for the Badgers.
Andersen also said that true freshmen wide receiver Robert Wheelwright will probably get in to the game against Tennessee Tech, at least on special teams if not with the actual offense.
I would expect Wheelwright to take some reps with the second team offense, if the Badgers get to a point in the game where they want to send in some subs.
True freshman linebacker Garret Dooley was at practice in half-pack pads on Thursday, and seems to be close to returning to practice. Dooley missed all but the first few days of fall camp with a knee injury, and Andersen said he expects him to be full-go within the next 10 days or so.
Andersen and the coaches broke out an interesting punt drill on Tuesday during the open part of practice- the coaches loaded up the punt block team with extra defenders, to try and put the punt protection team in the worst scenario they could think of.
The coaches didn't risk any injuries to Drew Meyer- Stephen Salata took the reps instead, but Andersen said he hopes that drill will pay off when it matters most.
"It doesn't get any harder than that," Andersen said. "PAT or field goal where they're about 12 inches offsides. We're just trying to make it the worst-case scenario. Make it tough in the moment, so hopefully when we get [backed up] we can react in a positive way when there's only 11 and they're not offisides."
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