There’s only one surefire way a coaching staff can guarantee that one of its star players won’t be injured in an essentially meaningless spring game — don’t put him on the field.
And, as it turns out, that’s exactly the tack Bret Bielema has decided to take.
The Wisconsin head coach announced Monday evening that star running back Montee Ball will not participate in UW’s spring finale this Saturday. While not specifically mentioning the risk of injury, Bielema intimated that said risk simply wasn’t worth it for a player of Ball’s caliber.
“When you see him run in practice, you’ll know why he didn’t need the practice of getting hit,” Bielema said in quotes released by the team. “We will in the fall. He’ll take some shots in the fall.
“But in my six years as head coach, I think there are certain guys that you just realize they’re… Montee Ball’s the hardest worker, the hardest repper in practice. At this point we don’t feel it’s necessary to take him to the ground. He’s been in there, mixing it up, full go, pass protection, all that stuff. Yeah, just don’t need to.”
Coming off a season in which he was a Heisman finalist after leading led the country in rushing yards (1.923) and rushing touchdowns (33), Ball’s name will litter preseason stiff-arm trophy watch lists. The last thing Bielema needs, especially with the departure of Russell Wilson and utter uncertainty at the quarterback position, is for Ball to sustain any type of injury in an irrelevant exhibition game that would negatively impact what will be the back’s final season with the Badgers.