Dan Voltz

Badgers QB Stave clears concussion protocol

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A win against Illinois came with a price for Wisconsin this past weekend. Center Dan Voltz was lost for the season and it is unknown when wide receiver Robert Wheelwright (leg injury) will return. There is some positive injury-related news though. Starting quarterback Joel Stave has been cleared to practice with the Badgers this week and will be expected to retain the starting job. Stave was forced to leave last weekend’s game against Illinois with a concussion.

“I talked to him [Monday],” wide receiver Alex Erickson said, per a report from Journal Sentinel. “It seemed like he was doing good. Obviously he is going through the protocol and taking that step by step. So we’ll see how that progresses. But he is feeling better.”

On Tuesday during a Big Ten conference call, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst announced the latest information regarding Stave. Chryst confirmed the quarterback was allowed to practice after completing the concussion protocols. Stave is fifth in the Big Ten in passing with 1,757 passing yards, although he has thrown just eight touchdowns to five interceptions. Having Stave leading the offense at least provides some level of comfort for Chryst, but having to replace the injured Voltz at center is a concern. Voltz injured his knee in the third quarter against the Illini, which will force Wisconsin to move on with redshirt freshman Michael Deiter handling the snapping duties. Deiter has already started six games for Wisconsin, doing so at left guard and once at center, so he is not completely lacking in starting experience.

Wisconsin hosts Rutgers this Saturday. At 6-2, the Badgers are still very much in the hunt for the Big Ten West Division championship, although the Iowa Hawkeyes will have to lose twice in order for that to be a possibility. Iowa defeated Wisconsin, 10-6, back in Week 5 to claim a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Badgers.

52 college football centers named to Rimington Trophy watch list

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If your college football team has a center, there is a decent chance he has been named to the Rimington Trophy watch list, released Tuesday morning. Of the 128 teams in FBS and roughly 41 percent of those teams are represented on the Rimington Trophy watch list. Fortunately, this is reduced from the 64 names that appeared on the 2014 watch list.

The award for best center in college football has been presented by the Boomer Esiason Foundation since 2000. Auburn’s Reese Dismukes was handed the trophy last season. Michigan is the only school with multiple Rimington Trophy winners, although the Wolverines do not have a player on this watch list. This year’s Rimington Trophy winner will be recognized on January 16, 2016.

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2015 Rimington Trophy Watch List

Siaosi Aiono, Utah

Jack Allen, Michigan State

Nick Beamish, Central Michigan

Dalton Bennett, Troy

Austin Blythe, Iowa

Deyshawn Bond, Cincinnati

Bo Bonnheim, Fresno State

Evan Boehm, Missouri

Jacoby Boren, Ohio State

Jake Brendel, UCLA

Freddie Burden, Georgia Tech

Josh Chester, Middle Tennessee

Lucas Crowley, North Carolina

Ryan Crozier, UConn

Ty Darlington, Oklahoma

Taylor Doyle, Texas

Kyle Friend, Temple

Kyle Fuller, Baylor

Max Halpin, Western Kentucky

Matt Hugenberg, Army

Joey Hunt, TCU

Jake Hurcombe, Eastern Michigan

Jared Kaster, Texas Tech

Nick Kelly, Arizona State

Ryan Kelly, Alabama

Alex Kelley, Colorado

Kayden Kirby, North Texas

Alan Knott, South Carolina

Robert Kugler, Purdue

Gabe Kuhn, Memphis

Taylor Lasecki, SMU

Eric Lee, UTEP

Nick Martin, Notre Dame

Mike Matthews, Texas A&M

Tim McAullife, Bowling Green

Josh Mitchell, Oregon State

Andrew Ness, Northern Illinois

Ryan Norton, Clemson

Alex Officer, Pittsburgh

Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia

Ethan Pocic, LSU

Spencer Pulley, Vanderbilt

Jacob Richard, Ball State

Michael Selby, Marshall

Graham Shuler, Stanford

Mitch Smothers, Arkansas

Matt Sparks, UMass

Austin Stephens, Utah State

Jon Toth, Kentucky

Max Tuerk, USC

Dan Voltz, Wisconsin

Kirby Wixson, Louisiana Tech

Outback Bowl: With Muschamp in coaches box, Auburn forces two first-half turnovers

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In the first Big Ten vs. SEC battle of the day, No. 19 Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has been the more efficient of the two quarterbacks on the field through one half of play in the Outback Bowl. A 66-yard bomb to Ricardo Louis midway through the second quarter gave the Tigers a 14-7 advantage on the Badgers. Auburn holds that 14-7 lead at the half. The Tigers also have Will Muschamp helping out with the defense with the new defensive coordinator in the coaches box with a headset. The Tigers have forced a pair of turnovers.

Marshall has thrown for 131 yards, with roughly half of that yardage coming on the long touchdown run. He has also shown some good strength in avoiding a sack and has been fortunate to avoid having a turnover.

Wisconsin has turned the football over twice, including one interception inside the red zone late in the first half. Joel Stave has been intercepted twice in the game, while completing 7 of 13 passes for just 68 yards and a touchdown. It was a good start from Stave as he ended the game’s opening possession with a touchdown pass to Corey Clement for a 7-0 lead, but it has been rocky since.

The Badgers have put Heisman Trophy runner-up Melvin Gordon to work, with 15 carries for 81 yards, but Clement has had a role as well with interim head coach Barry Alvarez calling the shots. Clement has added 53 rushing yards.

Wisconsin’s starting center, Dan Voltz, was carted off the field late in the first quarter with what looked to be an ankle injury. He is out for the remainder of the game.

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 18 Wisconsin

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2013 record: 9-4 overall, 6-2 in Big Ten (2nd in Leaders Division)
2013 postseason: Capital One Bowl vs. South Carolina (34-24 loss)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 22/No. 21
Head coach: Gary Andersen (39-35 overall; 9-4 in 1 year at Wisconsin)
Offensive coordinator: Andy Ludwig (1 year at Wisconsin)
2013 offensive rankings: 8th rushing offense (283.77 ypg); 94th passing offense (197.1 ypg); 18th total offense (480.8 ypg); 27th scoring offense (34.8 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: 6
Defensive coordinator: Dave Aranda (1 year at Wisconsin)
2013 defensive rankings: 5th rushing defense (102.54 ypg); 17th passing defense (202.5 ypg); 7th total defense (305.1 ypg); 6th scoring defense (16.3 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: 3
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Stadium: Camp Randall Stadium (80,321; FieldTurf)
Last conference title: 2012

THE GOOD
Wisconsin has a very favorable draw in the Big Ten scheduling this season, with no Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan or Penn State. The Badgers also get Nebraska at home late in the season, but must travel to Iowa the following week, and I have already suggested how dangerous that can be for Wisconsin. The running game should be as strong as it ever is in Madison with Melvin Gordon set to carry the load behind four returning starters on the offensive line (Kyle Costigan, Rob Havenstein, Tyler Marz and Dan Voltz). Wisconsin’s season starts off with an early test against LSU in Houston, but the Badgers could be looking at a 10-win season and should be the favorite in the Big Ten west to reach the Big Ten championship game.

THE BAD
Wisconsin has had one of the more underrated defenses in recent years, but this is a bit of a rebuilding year for the Badgers on defense. Wisconsin returns just three starters from last season and must rebuild the entire front seven.  Having to replace so much in the first game of the season against LSU could make a difficult take slightly more challenging. Wisconsin may feel comfortable with Joel Stave at quarterback, but the Badgers also need to find their new go-to receiver after losing Jared Abbrederis. The top four receivers on the team have moved on since last season, leaving some uncertainty in the open field for now.

THE UNKOWN
Just how good can Wisconsin be? Is this a Badgers team that will challenge Ohio State or Michigan State for the Big Ten championship in Indianapolis, or will this be a team more likely to play in the Capital One Bowl or Outback Bowl? There is nothing wrong with Orlando or Tampa, but the Badgers will have a chance to prove themselves worthy of being in the same conversation as the Buckeyes and Spartans early on if they can show something against LSU.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Nebraska
The season opener against LSU will certainly be the highlight of the 2014 Wisconsin schedule, and for good reason, but the more realistic make-or-break game will come at the other end of the schedule. With back-to-back November games against Nebraska and Iowa, the Badgers will likely have to do no worst than spit the two in order to earn a trip back to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game. Getting a win out of the way against Nebraska before heading to Iowa would be wise and could prove to be the deciding factor in the Big Ten West this fall.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: Running back Melvin Gordon
We will be highlighting top players from each team in our preseason top 25, but Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon is a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender. Gordon rushed for 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, and that was while splitting time with James White (1,444 yards, 13 touchdowns). With White gone, Gordon’s production may actually increase and challenge the numbers put up by Montee Ball in 2012 or 2011. Of course, getting Gordon some rest when possible could be key for the success of Wisconsin this fall as well.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)