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September 29, 2011MADISON - From an injury standpoint, the Wisconsin Badgers are looking rather healthy entering their much-anticipated game with Nebraska.
Senior right tackle Josh Oglesby, who missed UW's previous game against South Dakota while recovering from a minor knee injury, is set to return against the Huskers.
According to head coach Bret Bielema, Oglesby will get the start.
"He's been in practice all week and has done a nice job," Bielema said. "I do think we'll probably pop Robbie Havenstein in there at some point during the first half, but Josh will get the start."
Defensively, it seems as though Shelton Johnson will miss Saturday's game. Sophomore Dezmen Southward will likely start in Johnson's place.
"Shelton was out there a little bit today," Bielema said. "He's day-to-day whether or not he's able to go on Saturday."
Finally, specialist Philip Welch kicked Thursday afternoon and went 4-for-4 during kicking drills. There is a chance the senior will be able to play against Nebraska.
"We might kick him," Bielema said. "Phil, I think could hop in there at kickoff."
Thursday night is basically the end of the workweek for the Wisconsin football team. It's their last full practice before a game during any given week and the last chance to really hone any major shortcomings. Friday's, with the game set for Saturday, are usually pretty low key and don't feature anything more than a standard stretch and walk through.
When asked if the next 48 hours would drag, Bielema claimed it doesn't really slow down until game day actually hits, particularly when UW is scheduled to play at night.
"Thursday is my best night of the week," Bielema said. "I love Thursday's, the day and the tempo. Tomorrow could get a little long because I've got to do a couple of media things. Then I have to do a lunch. Saturday is the day that drags.
"It does go along at a very slow clip, but you do get to watch other people play."
With ESPN's College Gameday, a number of national media personalities and writers and 30-40,000 fans from Nebraska set to descend on Madison, it's becoming more apparent than ever that game day is nearly here.
That, according to Bielema, is something that has been a long time coming.
"Our guys are just excited to play," Bielema said. "I think they take every game for what it is. We've played a wide range of teams. We had an FCS opponent and they prepared for South Dakota as they did for Northern Illinois.
"It's been the same kind of prep this week for Nebraska."
If there's been one constant throughout the week, judging by the way both coaches and players have discussed his talent, it's that Taylor Martinez is going to be a handful for the Wisconsin defense.
He's incredibly fast, he's capable of making people miss and he's had propensity to make plays through the air on a number of occasions. Slowing him down is definitely easier said than done.
"I think you need to be solid on the edges," Bielema said. "With option teams in football you've got to take care of the quarterback, the pitch and the alley. With Martinez, just because you've got somebody assigned to him doesn't mean he's going to get tackled.
"The guy can make people miss and we've got to be very cautious."
Wisconsin has had an opportunity to play against a quarterback of similar stature and nature in the recent past. A season ago, UW matched skills with Michigan and it's quarterback Denard Robinson. Throughout the course of the week, Robinson's name has been the most mentioned when comparing Martinez's skills.
"Harnish was kind of a duel threat guy," Bielema said. "But he doesn't have the level of speed Martinez has. Denard may have a little more shake to him. Martinez is probably flat out faster. He's probably the fastest player that I've really seen.
"The way that he can accelerate within five yards is just flat out amazing."
-Both Ethan Armstrong and Kevin Claxton are expected to play against Nebraska. Armstrong has started each of the past two games for Wisconsin. Claxton, though, played his best game as a Badger a week ago against South Dakota.
-Wisconsin's athletic director Barry Alvarez was scheduled to address the team Thursday night. He will serve as the Badgers honorary captain Saturday night.
Bielema on the recent tackling of Aaron Henry:
"Aaron has my opinion of him (and his tackling). I talked to him a little bit this week. I just think he hasn't been pulling the pin as much as he could. I think he's been a little bit banged up. He actually irritated that ankle in fall camp. I don't think he's truly been back. Last week I started to see it a little bit and this week he's been really good."