WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Packers hope expansion of Lambeau Field will bring more noise
With many of their ticket buyers getting older, the Green Bay Packers have been short on crowd noise at Lambeau Field in recent years. But that shouldn't be a problem any longer, now that the stadium is fully enclosed with the new addition of close to seven-thousand seats in the South End Zone. Those fans proved to be a loud bunch during the exhibition season -- and tight end Jermichael Finley says it could be a huge advantage for the Pack when it begins its regular season home schedule on Sunday against Washington. Finley says he's excited at the prospect of a juiced-up crowd of over 80-thousand. Home crowds are most effective when they try to shake up an opposing offense. Packers' defensive lineman C-J Wilson says a loud crowd fires up the defense. He says any offensive player will agree that an opposing crowd can throw them off. The Packers will start practicing today for their matchup against the Redskins. Both teams are 0-and-1.
The Packers brought in three offensive line candidates for tryouts yesterday. They were guard Michael Huey of Texas, center Tyler Horn of Miami, and guard Bryant Browning of Ohio State. Huey played for Arizona of the Arena League this past spring. The New York Giants cut Browning after their Training Camp ended in late August. Houston cut Horn nine days ago.
Both Wisconsin and Arizona State will have their first quality opponents of the season, when they face each other on Saturday night in Tempe. The Sun Devils are trying to become one of the top teams in a tough Pacific-12 Conference. The 20th-ranked Badgers are coming three straight Big Ten championships. A-S-U coach Todd Graham said he dreaded playing F-C-S school Sacramento State in his season opener a week ago. He said eight lower-echelon opponents upset their upper-division foes in Week-One around the country -- and that made Graham extremely nervous. But he had nothing to worry about, as Arizona State crushed Sacramento 55-nothing. The Badgers toppled their first two opponents 93-nothing, and some of the players have said their season begins for real on Saturday night in the hot Arizona desert. The Sun Devils went 5-and-4 in the Pac-12 last year during Graham's first season as coach. One thing Graham's trying to do is get his team more disciplined. A year ago, A-S-U was 8th in the nation in the fewest penalty yards per game with just under 35.
Hank Kujak of U-W Stout, Austin Blashka of Oshkosh, and Zach Litchfield of Platteville are the W-I-A-C football players-of-the-week. Kujak, a junior quarterback, passed for 272 yards and three touchdowns in Stout's win over Dakota Wesleyan -- and ran for 47 more yards. Blashka, a senior safety, won the league's defensive honors with two interceptions in an Oshkosh victory over Central College of Iowa. Litchfield, a senior kicker, was named the special teams player-of-the-week by booting all of his extra point attempts in Platteville's 42-17 win over Buena Vista. He broke the school record for career points by a kicker with 192.
The W-I-A-C also recognized Sam Kuchenreuther of Whitewater and Chris Kurth of Oshkosh in men's soccer -- Carly Pottle of Whitewater and Nina Behrenbrinker of Eau Claire in women's soccer -- Kimmy Mrozek of La Crosse in women's singles tennis -- Mrozek and Bryanne Blanton of La Crosse in doubles' tennis -- Kelly Schuh of Eau Claire in volleyball -- and Kate Engler of Eau Claire in women's golf.