Year ends for UW’s Swan

first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoAs upsetting as falling to Illinois Saturday was, it was nothing compared to the sense of loss felt by the Wisconsin football team after losing one of its top wide receivers and leaders for the season.Fifth-year senior Luke Swan will undergo surgery Wednesday afternoon, according to UW head coach Bret Bielema, to repair a torn left hamstring that will effectively end his Badger career. He injured it late in the second quarter when he landed awkwardly on his left leg following a 17-yard reception.”Luke’s a great kid. And it was a hard day yesterday,” Bielema said, holding back tears during a press conference Monday. “Anytime you lose somebody for a season, but especially when they’re a senior, and they’ve done so many things, it’s tough for everybody.”I’m sure whatever comes out of this, Luke will make it as positive as he can.”The most difficult component about Swan’s injury is that it was something out of everyone’s control.”When things are ended without it being your own decisions, those are very, very hard to deal with,” Bielema said. “Bottom line, the only thing I do care about is the personal safety of our players.”With Paul Hubbard at least a couple weeks away from returning, Wisconsin will rely heavily upon two freshmen at the receiver position — David Gilreath and Kyle Jefferson — as well as tight ends Travis Beckum and Garrett Graham.”Kyle’s a ballplayer,” Bielema said of his new No. 1 wideout. “He enjoys everything that’s right with game days.”Swan was second on the team in receptions (25) and receiving yards (451). His best game of the season came against Washington State when he caught eight balls for 170 yards and two touchdowns.Defense plays softBeyond the missed tackles, the blown assignments and hundreds of yards allowed, the defense is playing hesitant.Even though much has been made about the increased team speed of the Badgers this year compared to last season, it’s irrelevant if the players can’t make confident, quick decisions.”I believe that if you just take the strong safety position in particular, and you took Joe Stellmacher out last year and raced him against Aubrey Pleasant, I know who’s going to win the race,” Bielema said. “It’s great to have defensive speed, but if it doesn’t carry to the football field, it’s really a nonfactor for you.”More importantly, speed doesn’t equate success.”How you perform, just because you’re fast … doesn’t mean you make plays,” Bielema said. “And bottom line, you can only play as fast as you can see, and that’s what we’ve got to be able to do.”Bielema said part of the problem for the defensive unit all season is that it hasn’t practiced together for a full week since fall camp.”It has really affected the way we practiced and carried over into what we do on Saturdays,” he said. The defense hasn’t had the consistency and dependability that has been expected of them, Bielema said, with one notable exception being Nick Hayden.”Our linebackers and our defensive backs need to take more of a, ‘I don’t need to see great, I just need to have accountability. I want you to do what you’re supposed to do and be able to count on me,'” Bielema said. “And I think that will carry forward a lot further.””I saw DeAndre [Levy]’s comments in the media where he said what he said after the game,” Bielema continued. “And it’s one thing to say it, but now you got to go out and do it. … Our good players need to play well on defense for us to have success.”Moving onWisconsin lost for the first time in more than a year Saturday. For some players, it was their first loss as a Badger.While the loss is troubling, the team cannot dwell on its defeat.”The worst thing you can do in football is let a team beat you twice,” Bielema said. “Illinois earned a victory and beat us this past Saturday. We got to make sure that we focus on Penn State and leave that behind us. … I see teams that may get defeated twice in a row by a lingering effect from the first game, so we try to shake that out of us.”In order to do that, Wisconsin began practicing on Sunday rather than waiting until Monday in hopes that early preparation for Penn State will clear its players’ minds of Saturday’s loss.last_img

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