WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Packers defense look recover vs. Eagles
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay defense is looking to make a big recovery on Sunday, when the Packers host Philadelphia.
The Pack gave up 442 total yards in their Monday night home loss to Chicago. That's the most since Week 1 when they gave up 494 yards in a loss at San Francisco. Green Bay had a four-game winning streak when Aaron Rodgers went down, and the offense then struggled to the point in which the defense spent 33 tiring minutes on the field. That followed a solid four-game stretch in which Green Bay's total defense rose from the 28th-best in the NFL to No. 11. The Packers only allowed an average of 15 points in those four contests, despite the absences of starting outside linebackers Nick Perry and Clay Matthews. Both are expected to return on Sunday from fractures. Outside linebacker Mike Neal was limited at yesterday's practice with a knee injury. Coach Mike McCarthy said Neal was quote, "just a little beat up." Defensive end Ryan Pickett was also limited with a bad knee.
Pundits are saying how easy the Green Bay Packers' schedule is -- and how fortunate that is for a team without Aaron Rodgers. But you won't hear any such talk from 1265 Lombardi Avenue, where the Packers are figuring out ways to beat Philadelphia at home on Sunday -- and nothing beyond that. Coach Mike McCarthy says he'll slightly adjust the game plan, to reflect the talents of backup quarterback Seneca Wallace. He's now the starter after Rodgers, the 2011 league MVP, went down with a broken collarbone on Monday night in a loss to Chicago. Whether they want to admit it or not, the next four games are crucial to Green Bay's playoff hopes. They're 5-3 now, and victories over the Eagles, Giants, Vikings, and Lions would give them nine wins going into December. The Green Bay Press-Gazette says only 18-of-132 teams since 2002 have made the playoffs after going 9-7 or worse. So even if they run the table in November, they'd still probably need at least one win in December to make the post-season. Rodgers will reportedly be out for three weeks, or maybe longer, with his injury.
Former University of Wisconsin offensive guard John Moffitt says two-and-a-half years in the NFL is enough. The 27-year-old Denver Bronco said he lost his love for the game of football -- and he wanted to leave with his good health intact. Moffitt called the Broncos from his home in Seattle to say he would not be returning to the team after its bye from last week. The Broncos placed Moffitt on a special reserve list for players leaving their teams. As of Tuesday, they had five days to officially release Moffitt. He surrendered the final year-and-a-half of his contract, leaving a million dollars on the table. Seattle made him the 75th overall draft pick in 2011 out of the UW, and he signed a four-year contract for almost three-million dollars. Moffitt says he knows many fans will think he's crazy for giving up such fortune-and-fame -- but he said he was not happy, and he knew of lots of people making a lot less money and being a lot happier. Moffitt is also giving up a chance at a possible Super Bowl this season with the Broncos. He says he doesn't care about that, either. He said it was great experience to play in fantastic stadiums against the best players in the league -- and that's good enough for him. Moffitt played in two games for the 7-1 Broncos this season. He made $1.8 million dollars in his two-and-a-half pro campaigns. Moffitt said he has saved enough money. He wants to do something else, while his body is healthy enough to do so.
The University of Wisconsin men's hockey team will keep one of its biggest rivals that it lost when it moved from the WCHA to a new Big Ten circuit. This morning, the Badgers announced that they'll play a two-game series with North Dakota in four of the next six seasons. Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said it would keep a spirited rivalry alive, and it would test the Badgers by matching up with one of the nation's top programs. North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol said he's excited about continuing to face one of his traditional rivals on a long-term basis. They'll pick up their rivalry next season in Madison, and the following year in Grand Forks, North Dakota. After a year off, North Dakota will visit the Kohl Center in the 2017-18 campaign -- and then the Badgers will again be off to Grand Forks in the '18-19 season. The Badgers and Fighting Sioux have played 163 games. Wisconsin leads the series 86-65-12.
The Wisconsin men's-and-women's hockey teams are both taking a breather this weekend. The Badger men tied-and-beat Top-15 Lake Superior State last weekend -- but it did not help Wisconsin's ranking, as the Badgers stayed at No. 12 in the USA Today-USA Hockey Magazine poll, and 13th in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll. Mike Eaves' team is 3-2-1. They'll play at No. 7 Miami-of-Ohio next weekend. Meanwhile, the Badger women won't be playing at home for a while. After their bye this week, the second-ranked Badgers will play six consecutive road contests, starting with a two-game tournament in Vail, Colorado next weekend. Wisconsin will open against Northeastern a week from today.
University of Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis and linebacker Chris Borland will both start tomorrow, when the 21st-ranked Badgers host Brigham Young. The senior Abbrederis had a rib injury in last week's victory at Iowa. Borland has been out for almost two weeks with a hamstring injury suffered in a win at Illinois. Both practiced full-tilt yesterday. Center Dallas Lewallen will miss tomorrow's game, after he hurt his right leg six days ago at Iowa. Redshirt freshman Dan Voltz will make his second start at center. Backup defensive end Tyler Dippel could also play. He's been away all week with a family emergency, but he's expected to return to the UW today. Both teams come into this contest at 6-2 overall. The Badger defense will have the challenge of facing a no-huddle offense which averages almost 90 plays a game. The Cougars are 14th in the country with almost 259 rushing yards each week.
The University of Wisconsin women's basketball team won its second-and-final exhibition game last night, 80-51 at home over Division III Stevens Point. The Pointers led by as many as seven in the first half, but the Badgers went on a 22-10 run to take a 12-point lead at the break. Wisconsin then outscored the Pointers 39-22 in the second half. They outshot Stevens Point 56-to-39 percent for the game. Michala Johnson led Wisconsin with 18 points. Kaitlyn Jacobs led the Pointers with 11. The Badger women will open their regular season on Sunday at home against Drake.
Milwaukee Bucks' coach Larry Drew says he'll help center Larry Sanders take positive steps, after his sluggish start to the season and his participation in a night club brawl. Prosecutors said the 24-year-old Sanders was part of a group throwing punches early last Sunday at the Apartment-720 club -- but it was not certain who instigated it. One lawyer said a patron had eight stitches above an eye. Sanders hurt a thumb. The district attorney's office said yesterday it would not file criminal charges against anyone involved. Milwaukee Police can still issue citations, and they're still investigating. Sanders has not been available for comment. Drew said it's unfortunate the incident happened, but Sanders needs to learn from it -- and he has indicated to the coach that he will. The coach said he would quote, "continue to be that little birdie on his shoulder -- not just for him, but for all the guys." The Bucks are off to a 2-2 start. They'll host Dallas tomorrow night.
Milwaukee Bucks' point guard Brandon Knight returned to practice yesterday, after he strained his right hamstring in the season opener at New York nine days ago. Coach Larry Drew says Knight won't play again until he can make it through a full practice -- and he's not sure when that might be. Backup point guard Luke Ridnour is making progress with his back pain, but Drew said he doubted that Ridnour could play tomorrow night, when the Bucks host Dallas. Forward Caron Butler missed practice yesterday with a personal matter.
Menomonee Falls will play Sun Prairie, and Neenah will go against Westosha Central tonight in the Division 1 semifinals at the girls' state high school volleyball tournament. All four teams advanced after last night's quarter-finals at the Resch Center near Green Bay. Neenah had the only shutout of the night, eliminating Wausau East in three sets while converting 68-percent of its attacks. Sun Prairie needed the maximum five sets to top Appleton North, with a 15-13 score in the final set. Menomonee Falls advanced three-sets-to-one over Milwaukee Pius XI. Westosha Central also took four seats to eliminate Muskego. Play begins today in three other divisions. Semi-finals are up first in Division 4. Wausau Newman plays Hilbert, and Clayton takes on North Crawford. The Division 3 semi-finals are set for early this afternoon. Auburndale goes against Racine Saint Catherine's, and Eau Claire Regis plays Brodhead. In the Division 2 semis late this afternoon, Oconto Falls battles East Troy, and Madison Edgewood faces Altoona. Title matches are set for tomorrow in all four divisions. None of last year's champions returned.
Pewaukee native Mark Wilson is tied for 80th place after the first day of the PGA's McGladrey Classic at Sea Island, Georgia. Wilson shot an even-par 70, while others could not finish their first rounds due to a two-hour fog delay yesterday morning. Jerry Kelly of Madison was four-over-par after 12 holes. He was third-to-last among the 132 players at that point. George McNeill had the lead when it got dark. He was at eight-under with two holes left in his round.
Top-seeded UW-Whitewater will host Number-two Oshkosh tomorrow night for the championship of the WIAC women's soccer tournament. Both won their semi-finals last night, after having byes in the first round. Whitewater blanked Eau Claire 3-0. Carina Krausert, Carly Pottle, and Sierra High scored for the Warhawks. Two overtimes were not enough in the other semi-final, as Oshkosh won on a 4-2 shootout. Nicole Palmquist took the game to overtime by scoring for Oshkosh with 54 seconds left in regulation.
Edgewood will host Dominican tomorrow in the title match of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference women's volleyball tournament. Top-seeded Edgewood blanked Lakeland in three sets in the semi-finals last night. Lindsay Swansby had 13 digs and 33 assists for Edgewood. Second-seeded Dominican won the other semi-final, eliminating Benedictine three-sets-to-one. Claire Dezelski had 22 digs and 18 kills for Dominican.
In women's exhibition college basketball... Wisconsin 80, UW-Stevens Point 51
At the WIAA girls' state high school volleyball tournament in Green Bay... Division 1 quarter-finals
Menomonee Falls 3, Milwaukee Pius XI 1
Sun Prairie 3, Appleton North 2
Neenah 3, Wausau East 0
Westosha Central 3, Muskego 1
In the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference volleyball tourney... Semifinals
Edgewood 3, Lakeland 0
Dominican 3, Benedictine 1
In the WIAC women's soccer tournament... Semifinals
UW-Whitewater 3, UW-Eau Claire 0
UW-Oshkosh 2, UW-Stout 2 (Oshkosh wins 4-2 shootout)