UW motivation: Loss will spur Badgers
“I watched it once,” Konz, a fourth-year junior center, acknowledged. “I didn’t want to really.”
Nor did Butrym, a fifth-year senior defensive tackle.
“I watched it when we came back to school,” Butrym said. “I didn’t want to watch it at home. It was tough.
“I shut myself off from ESPN and SportsCenter for a few days...
“Eventually I figured you might as well (watch) it because it motivates you to get back there next year and provide the remedy.”
The road back began in winter conditioning and continued during spring practice. Big Ten Conference players and coaches are set to gather for the preseason meetings Thursday and Friday in Chicago and UW is set to open preseason camp Aug. 4.
UW returns 12 players—six on offense and six on defense—who started against TCU, as well as punter Brad Nortman, kicker Philip Welch and several key reserves.
Last season the Badgers won a share of their first Big Ten Conference title since 1999. Although the Badgers must replace quarterback Scott Tolzien, All-American defensive end J.J. Watt and All-American offensive linemen Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt, they appear capable of overtaking scandal-riddled Ohio State to win the inaugural Leaders Division title and a berth in the first Big Ten championship game.
“Hopefully we can continue to have that championship mentality,” Butrym said, “and never settle for less than that.
“I just think the Rose Bowl can provide you with such motivation for this year, to never be satisfied.”
Satisfaction is achieved by closing a wonderful season in style, with a victory in the Rose Bowl.
Gnawing disappointment is the result when you lose to a quality team like TCU in part because you fail to execute the fundamentals.
You lose when your running backs fail to pick up blitzing linebackers, which results in critical third-down sacks. You lose when your All-American defensive end crashes down too hard on the read option and allows the quarterback to get outside for a key touchdown run on third down. You lose when your quarterback uncharacteristically misses wide-open receivers.
When you lose in that manner, the disappointment lingers for months.
“It just feels weird that we didn’t dominate,” Konz said, aware UW scored touchdowns on only two of eight possessions. “I felt like we could have dominated. It still bugs me we weren’t able to throw them around. And I’m not taking anything away from them.
“But from how I felt during the regular season and how I felt that team could have done that day it felt like we weren’t the same.”
Complacency shouldn’t be an issue.
The departure of three assistants, including defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, forced coach Bret Bielema to reconfigure the staff.
First-year defensive coordinator Chris Ash appears bent on fielding a more aggressive unit.
First-year running backs coach Thomas Hammock made sure to remind tailbacks Montee Ball and James White they were far from flawless despite rushing for a combined 2,048 yards and 32 TDs.
touchdowns last season.
Offensive line coach Bob Bostad isn’t about to lower his expectations just because his unit lost two All-Americans.
Offensive coordinator Paul Chryst closed spring practice with zero experienced quarterbacks on the roster. That group included projected starter Jon Budmayr, a redshirt sophomore who played sparingly in three games last season.
When camp opens, Chryst will have a three-year starter in senior Russell Wilson, who transferred from North Carolina State earlier this month and is eligible to play this season.
The addition of Wilson, who passed for 8,545 yards and 76 touchdowns and rushed for 1,083 yards and 17 touchdowns in three seasons with the Wolfpack, gave UW national exposure and sent expectations of fans and analysts soaring.
“I know people are going to naturally go down that path,” Bielema said, regarding projections of UW as a national title contender. “One of the things I’ve tried to do is temper not only coaches’ expectations but fan expectations. I think it’s a sign of respect.
“(Quarterback) was an area that everybody was kind of looking at as a position of weakness. But to me, it’s going to become a position of strength because there’s great competition.”
UW’s staff has plenty of time to iron out personnel matters before the Badgers begin their quest to win another league title and return to the Rose Bowl.
“I am excited,” Butrym said. “First, we’re obviously happy we got there. But it is more difficult to repeat. And you need to come back hungrier.
“Never be complacent. Never. Just