Wisconsin’s special teams kick back

first_imgBRYAN FAUST/Herald photoAs Wisconsin native and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo exquisitely demonstrated this past winter, a lot more goes into a successful kick than simply a strong, accurate leg. The snapper, the holder, the kicker: All three must be on the same page and function as one.It’s certainly a difficult task, but one that is made much easier when all three contributors are on the same page, and even more so when they’re all great friends.”Obviously we’re guys who hang out all the time [during practice],” kicker Taylor Mehlhaff said. “We’re good friends off the field too. It’s nice because during the game, I’m kind of there to help [punter Ken DeBauche], and he’s there to help me out too.”Aside from handling punting duties, DeBauche also serves as the team’s primary holder for field goals and extra points.For someone who was on the kicking end of the equation in high school, the transition to holding was a process for DeBauche.”I was a kicker in high school, so I wasn’t able to hold for myself,” DeBauche joked. “It was something that when we work so much together, it’s only natural that the punter would be the one holding for the kickers … because we can get so much work in.”My redshirt freshman year I held for [former UW kicker] Mike Allen, and he was a right-footed kicker. I felt pretty comfortable with that, then Taylor came along and I kind of had to start all over.”The third portion of the kicking equation is the long snapper. Duties are split between Steve Johnson (punts) and Dave Peck (field goals).After coming to UW as a linebacker, Johnson was quickly thrust into the backup longsnapping role as a freshman and eventually was elevated to first-team after former Badger Matt Katula graduated. Johnson has thoroughly enjoyed the position change.”I love it now, I think it’s great,” Johnson said. “Practicing for two periods [out of a 22-period practice] is nice. You get to do a lot of individual work.”Most of our practice is just our group of special teams guys, and we have real good camaraderie.”That camaraderie comes from a lot of time spent on the sidelines during practice working together and killing time. The group even has come up with some creative ways to pass the time between live practice sessions.”We have all kinds of little games and jokes and stuff,” Mehlhaff said. “We started this one game where we have codes and everything to talk about famous athletes … just to kill time at practice; you got to come up with stupid stuff.”Still, the unit puts in a lot of hard work.”A lot of people don’t see the time we actually put in, the tons of time we put in during the summer and in the offseason,” Mehlhaff said. “After conditioning we go up and kick for an hour and a half, two hours.”All that hard work has paid dividends for the Badgers in the form of a very solid kicking game. Both Mehlhaff and DeBauche should be in the running for conference and national honors this coming season.”What I focus on is what I need to do to get to those awards, those accolades,” DeBauche said. “If I do what I have to do for my goals, those things will come.”Mehlhaff helped out the Wisconsin defense last year by pounding kickoffs into the end zone to give opponents a poor starting field position. After a change in the tee height last year, the NCAA has instituted a new rule again this year to move the kickoff spot back five yards to the 30-yard line.The rule changes have motivated Mehlhaff to improve his already dominating kicking game.”In the end, my goal is to play at the next level, and that’s where they kick from,” Mehlhaff said in reference to the NFL. “I’m kind of actually excited for it. I told [head coach Bret Bielema] that I think our team will definitely have an advantage over a lot of other teams.”I went back and looked at the tapes [from last season] and a lot of the kicks that were touchbacks will probably still be touchbacks.”Practice notesAllen Langford and Ben Strickland both missed practice and watched in shorts. … On consecutive plays, safety Shane Carter nicely defended a downfield pass, then jumped in front of an Allan Evridge pass for an interception. … After a long pass along the sidelines was broken up by Carter, wide receiver Paul Hubbard crashed into the wall and lay in pain on the ground for several moments. He returned to practice a short while later. … And embattled defensive end Jamal Cooper returned to practice for the first time this spring after taking time away from the team to get his academics in order.”I just wanted to make sure he understood what needed to get done, and he’s done a tremendous job in the areas I thought he needed to improve upon,” Bielema said.last_img read more

Hughes: Big Ten media days notebook, Day 2

first_imgCHICAGO – Players and coaches sat at tables for one-on-one interviews in another eventful day at the Big Ten football media days. I caught up again with those representing Wisconsin. Let me fill you in on the good stuff from day two:Henry thankful for Bielema’s astuteness Aaron Henry, a redshirt senior out of Immokalee, Fla., said some pretty interesting things about the relationship he’s had with Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema over the years.Let’s start at the beginning: Henry enjoyed a rather successful year at cornerback as a true freshman for the Badgers in 2007. He played in 12 games, started two, and totaled 3.5 sacks, one interception and 38 tackles. But after suffering a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament in a practice prior to the Outback Bowl, Henry said he and Bielema began to disagree on some things.“Me and Coach B, our relationship has never been really negative, but sometimes we didn’t always see eye-to-eye on things,” he said.Henry said he had his doubts on whether or not he could recover from such an injury, but his head coach was more optimistic. Henry agreed to redshirt the 2008 season to rehabilitate his knee and spent the following year in 2009 as a nickel back. After that though, Bielema had a change of plans. And again, Henry didn’t initially take to the idea.“I end up redshirting and he moves me to safety,” Henry said. “I hated it. I was a cornerback my whole life, I wanted to be a cornerback my whole life.”“But as you guys can see, the guy is smarter than he looks.”Clearly. In his first season at safety last year, Henry was named Second-Team All-Big Ten by the coaches in starting all 13 games and accumulating 58 tackles, two interceptions, three fumble recoveries and scoring three touchdowns.Henry said over the course of recovering from his knee injury he contemplated transferring and even reconsidered playing football as a whole. But after sticking with it and reflecting on the past, he knows he owes a lot of his success to Bielema.“I’m so thankful for that today,” Henry said. “Coach B has truly been an instrument of my success here.”A reminder of what the D-line has Wisconsin has some pretty big holes to fill in from last year’s Rose Bowl squad and, right now at least, it looks like the Badgers have the right personnel to absorb those blows. But given the mammoth effort J.J. Watt put forth a year ago, his departure has left more people wondering.And sure, Butrym, a redshirt senior, knows just how much Watt contributed, but after being asked if he was growing tired of questions relating to Watt, Butrym answered in a nice way and pointed out something that a lot of people (present company included) have overlooked.“The funny thing is, we literally return three starters (on the defensive line) and [several] contributors,” he said. “But [Watt] was the No. 11 pick of the draft and the guy can play, no question about it… We gotta replace him somehow.”He’s got a point, though, there is plenty of experience on the defensive line. Himself and Louis Nzegwu started all 13 games last season while redshirt sophomores Jordan Kohout and Ethan Hemer split the 13 starts. And behind those three are several more guys who played in more than 10 games last year.Even if a standout player fails to emerge, you got to like the chances of the line at least forming a fundamentally sound group.But can anyone replicate Watt?“You look at the past couple years, guys had solid previous seasons and then just burst onto the scene,” Butrym said. “J.J. Watt… and O’Brien Schofield is the other guy… I just kind of take the approach they took.”Watt and Schofield’s final years as Badgers were a different species compared to their penultimate seasons. And when you look at Butrym and Nzegwu, two guys who played solid up front last year, it can be easy to see one or possibly both making a similar leap.Until that time comes though, replacing Watt will probably remain a valid question. But just be sure to keep Butrym’s point in the back of your mind.Bielema and Chryst in harmony Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst has become a hot commodity in the football world recently. In the past, Chryst has been offered a position as the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterbacks coach but over the course of this offseason he earned offers from Texas, as an offensive coordinator, and Pittsburgh, as a head coach.Despite chances of higher wages and prominent positions, Chryst, who has been with Bielema throughout his career at the helm of UW, decided to remain in Madison.I’d heard a lot about how Chryst and his family – a wife and three kids – very much enjoy life in Madison and how that probably played a significant factor in keeping Chryst in town. But on Friday I got to hear Bielema talk about his fluid relationship with Chryst.“Even when I was talking to (Texas head coach) Mack Brown, I said ‘Mack, the advantage I have is he works for me right now,” Bielema said. “Paul knows what it’s like to be an offensive coordinator for Bret Bielema. I do not try to be the offensive coordinator; I do not even pretend to be. I give suggestions, ideas, and I think we have a relationship that’s really very special and that’s not common.”“Defensive coaches on my staff have it a little bit different because of my background and my history. I naturally gravitate to that side a little bit, but I think to be an offensive coach in our program with me as a head coach is a lot of fun because I don’t mettle.”Chryst reportedly accepted a pay increase at UW shortly after declining the offers from other schools. It’s good to know that things are happy at home and at work for one of the nation’s hottest assistant coaches. That’s huge for Wisconsin.Elliot Hughes is a senior majoring in journalism. Are you as amazed as he is over how positive the offseason has been for Wisconsin? Tell him about it at ehughes@badgerherald.com.last_img read more

Protests shake Rio hours before opening Olympics gala

first_imgBearers Diego Scofano (L) holds the Olympic Torch of Rio 2016 Olympic Games during a torch relay with Giuseppe Pellegrino atop the Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, 2016. PHOTO AFPRio de Janeiro, Brazil | AFP |Thousands of Brazilians angry at political upheaval, corruption and the cost of the Rio Olympics blocked traffic in protests hours before the gala opening ceremony.Most people came to vent anger at center-right interim president Michel Temer who took power in May on the suspension of the elected leftist president, Dilma Rousseff, for an impeachment trial that her supporters claim amounts to a coup.The demonstrators, however, also targeted the Olympics, saying the billions of dollars spent on staging South America’s first Games fueled corruption and only helped the elite.Waving signs that read “No to the Olympics!” and “Temer out!”, about 3,000 people blocked a major avenue outside the luxury Copacabana Palace Hotel where many Olympic team members are staying.Guests with Olympic accreditation around their necks looked down from the hotel terrace at the protest, while the crowd jeered at vehicles taking Olympic VIPs and athletes through the upscale neighborhood.When a limousine surrounded by police outriders came through, the crowd surged forward, chanting “no to the coup” and “putschists, fascists, we won’t let them pass!”The protest was the latest unwelcome distraction for Brazilian authorities and Olympic organizers ahead of the opening ceremony at the 78,600 capacity Maracana stadium.Authorities are also dealing with rampant crime, including a lengthening list of muggings against Olympic delegates and journalists, despite the deployment of 85,000 soldiers and police to protect the Games.Police at the Copacabana protest, which was to be followed by more demonstrations near the Maracana stadium, were restrained.Even when the protesters blocked the busy Avenida Atlantica, causing a major traffic snarl-up, the dozens of officers held back. The tactic was in marked contrast to the tear gas and rubber bullets used several times in the last few days to clear protesters from the Olympic torch relay. Just a facade Protesters, many of them from Rousseff’s leftist Workers’ Party, said Brazil’s deep economic and social problems are being swept under the carpet for the Olympics. “They’re holding the Olympics when people are having a very hard time,” said Ricardo Parents 59, a psychologist.“The Olympics is a facade, it’s for show. It doesn’t represent the reality of Brazil. They want to show everything nice and perfect.”Over and over again the crowd chanted “Temer out” and called for Rousseff’s return.She is charged with breaking budgetary laws and looks almost certain to be thrown out of office by the Senate in the next few weeks at the end of an impeachment process that she says has been manipulated by Brazil’s right, calling Temer the chief “conspirator.”“I am demonstrating for democracy in Brazil. The world is watching so we are here to denounce the coup,” said one demonstrator, Iraci Franca, 57, a nurse.She also said that the Games were a distraction at a time of national economic crisis.“It’s very hard right now in Rio state for education and health because of the lack of funds and non-payment of salaries,” she said.Rio de Janeiro won the right in 2009 to host the Olympic Games at a time when Brazil was economically and politically on the rise. The collapse in stability and wealth since then has been brutal.Temer is to open the Games at the Maracana stadium, while Rousseff and her predecessor and political mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have refused to attend the ceremony.With opponents promising to boo Temer at the stadium, organizers plan to play loud music immediately after his remarks and mask the heckling, according to Brazilian media.“We want to take advantage when the world’s attention is on Brazil to denounce what’s happening, how we are on the path to dictatorship,” said one demonstrator, Ubiratan Delgado, a 59-year-old engineer.“We’re not against the Olympics, it’s the criminal Olympics we oppose.”Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more

South African quick Dale Steyn retires from Test cricket

first_imgHe took five or more wickets on 26 occasions, achieving the feat against every other Test nation and in every continent, including five in Asia. His strike rate of a wicket every 42.3 balls was the best of any fast bowler with more than 200 wickets.Steyn took his 400th Test wicket in 2015 but injuries blighted the latter part of his career. He suffered a hairline fracture of the right shoulder in a Test against England in December 2015, which kept him out of international cricket for eight months.In his third Test back, against Australia in Perth in November 2016, a small piece of bone connected to the scapula in his shoulder broke off, sidelining him for more than a year.Then, in his first Test back, against India in Cape Town in January 2018, he suffered a freak heel injury when he stepped in a foot hole, putting him out of the rest of the series.He equalled Shaun Pollock’s record of 421 Test wickets in the first Test of a tour to Sri Lanka last year but went wicketless in the second and final Test.He finally claimed the South African record when he dismissed Fakhar Zaman against Pakistan in Centurion in December.“The greatest of his generation. Stats don’t lie,” tweeted South Africa captain Faf du Plessis.Steyn went on to play in all South Africa’s five home Tests during the 2018/19 season and was selected to play in the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England and Wales.But he suffered a recurrence of his shoulder problem during a stint in the Indian Premier League in April. He was deemed fit enough to travel to England as part of South Africa’s World Cup squad but returned home without playing a game after what was described as a new shoulder injury.Share on: WhatsApp Dale Steyn played 93 Tests for South Africa and had a bowling average of 22.95Johannesburg, South Africa | AFP | South African Dale Steyn, one of the great fast bowlers of the modern era, on Monday announced his retirement from Test cricket in a bid to extend his longevity in the shorter forms of the game.Steyn, who made his international debut against England in 2004 and last played a Test in February against Sri Lanka, is still contracted in the white-ball form of the game for the 2019/20 season and therefore remains available for South Africa in one-day internationals and T20s.Steyn took 439 wickets in 93 Tests at an average of 22.95. He held the top spot in the International Cricket Council’s Test bowler rankings for a record 263 weeks between 2008 and 2014.“Today I walk away from a format of the game I love so much,” said the 36-year-old Steyn, his country’s leading Test wicket-taker of all time and one of the top 10 in the history of the game.“In my opinion Test cricket is the best version of this game. It tests you mentally, physically, emotionally. It’s terrible to consider never playing another Test again but what’s more terrifying is the thought of never playing again at all.“So I will be focusing on ODIs and T20s for the rest of my career to maximise my full potential and ensure my longevity in this sport… I look forward to continuing to play for the Proteas in the shorter formats.”Steyn was one of South Africa’s greatest match-winners. South Africa won 48 of the Tests in which he played and he was a member of South African teams that won consecutive series in England and Australia in both 2008 and 2012, becoming the number one ranked team in the world in 2012.One of his greatest performances was in the second Test against Australia in Melbourne in 2008. He made his Test best score of 76 to help South Africa recover from a shaky position and had match figures of 10 for 154 as South Africa clinched a series win in Australia for the first time.– Remarkable strike rate –Lithe, with a whippy action that enabled him to bowl at close to 150kmh, he possessed a lethal outswinger capable of dismissing the world’s best batsmen. He also mastered reverse swing, which enabled him to be effective when the ball lost its shine.last_img read more

ThurstonTalk’s Weekend Event Calendar – Easter Weekend In Olympia Washington

first_imgFacebook1Tweet0Pin0 Easter weekend is the start of Spring Break for most Thurston County public schools.  As families prepare to take a few days off, turn to ThurstonTalk’s event calendar for all the activities around town.  Use our *new* Kids & Family section to find a new place to play or rediscover an old favorite haunt.  Using the Activities drop down menu, you can sort for either indoor or outdoor stories.Here is a recap of the Easter Egg Hunts happening around Olympia this weekend.  For more specific details, click here.Friday, March 29 –Adult Flashlight Egg Scramble at the RAC at 8:00 pmSaturday, March 30 –10:00 am – Westfield Capital Mall10:00 am – Dog Easter Egg Hunt at the RAC10:00 am – New Apostolic Church11:00 am – Tumwater High School11:00 am – Bucknell Field in Lacey12:00 pm – South Sound Church1:00 pm – Lattin’s Country Cider Mill & FarmSunday, March 312:00 pm – Priest Point Park2:00 pm – South Sound ManorOther events happening this weekend include:Dig razor clams in Ocean Shores this weekend.Play outside on Saturday, in honor of the 100th birthday of the Washington State Parks system.Visit the WET Science Center.Gather ideas for activities during Spring Break.Attend a performance at Olympia Family Theater or Harlequin Productions.  Both local theater groups have shows throughout the weekend.Catch a roller derby bout between #1 Oly Rollers and #2 San Diego Starlettes on Sunday evening.ThurstonTalk aims to be your source for positive information and events happening in Olympia.  If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at submit@thurstontalk.com.  For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.last_img read more