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November 4, 2010MADISON - Just look back to the Badgers game at Iowa and see if the Wisconsin football team's pass rush was up to par.
Not seeing enough consistency in that department?
In a move to help bolster that aspect of the defense, head coach Bret Bielema made it known Thursday evening that freshman athlete Manasseh Garner will be playing defensive end full time for the rest of the season.
"We switched him full go to defense during the bye week," Bielema said. "He's taken the last two weeks at defensive end and is working a lot in our base defense as well as our sub package."
Garner was recruited to UW as a wide receiver prospect, but judging by his stellar performance as a prep linebacker, the coaching staff toyed with the idea of playing Garner on the defensive side of the ball.
It looks as though the lack of a consistent pass rush was the final straw.
"When we made a decision to play him pass rush started (it), but it was also (his work) on the line of scrimmage," Bielema said. "Against spread teams where you can have a guy on the end at techniques we're going to play there."
Though the move is permanent for the remainder of 2010, there's no guarantee Garner will be a defensive player come 2011.
"The offense had a waiver clause on that one," Bielema said. "We'll just get through this season and see where it's at. He was doing some really nice things at receiver. We lose three of our tops guys this year so it will be a discussion topic come winter."
Another tight end in the mix?
When Brian Wozniak suffered a shoulder injury early in fall camp, it looked as though the Badgers tight end rotation would take a hit for quite some time. But when the doctors went in to perform the surgery, they realized the injury wasn't as serious as originally thought.
Knowing that, and knowing the progress Wozniak has made since then, it seems the redshirt freshman tight end may have an impact offensively throughout the rest of the season.
Especially if Lance Kendricks isn't able to play as much as he, or the coaching staff would like, at Purdue.
"He's been back with us now for three weeks," Bielema said. "I'm excited to watch him play. He's been in our two or three tight end packages. He's basically taken over the role that Jacob Pedersen had moved into by Lance being out."
As previously hinted at, it seems as though the Badgers will return to health at Purdue for the most part. However, UW will likely be without a couple of important players when they take the field.
"Lance went yesterday and he went today," Bielema said. "I don't know if we're going to use him. It will kind of be how he feels on Saturday and how he reacts to what we've done here over the past couple of days. James White kind of has the same situation. We'll see where he's at in the next 24 hours. He did practice yesterday and today on a limited basis.
"Otherwise everybody else is good to go."
Bielema made it clear that he didn't want to play around with the idea of playing such key contributors at Purdue unless they were completely healthy. So whether Kendricks or White plays remains to be seen.
"I grabbed both those guys and I said, 'Hey, I know you've have limited practice and limited reps. I only want to go if you guys are 100 percent," Bielema said. "That's the part that I wanted them to understand. They both really play the way they play because they go 100 miles per hour. There's no in between ground for those guys and at that position in particular."
-Peter Konz, who missed the second half of the game at Iowa two weeks ago, will start at center as he's fully recovered from his ankle sprain.
-Nick Toon is at 100 percent and should be raring to go come Saturday afternoon.
-Jordan Kohout is back to health. He won't start the game but he'll play a part in it.
The following is the audio file from Bielema's presser.