Afternoon State Sports Briefs: UNI to start freshman against BadgersWisconsin Sports
-- Northern Iowa will start a freshman at quarterback when it opens the season a week from tomorrow at Wisconsin.
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Northern Iowa will start a freshman at quarterback when it opens the season a week from tomorrow at Wisconsin.
Panthers’ coach Mark Farley has named Sawyer Kollmorgen as his quarterback against the Badgers. The 6-2 Kollmorgen is a second-year student who red-shirted a year ago. He’ll start in place of sophomore Jared Lanpher, who’s out with a sports hernia. Farley says Kollmorgen is calm and competitive – and he’s been the most consistent among three available signal-callers at Northern Iowa’s training camp. Kollmorgen led Jenks High School of Oklahoma to three consecutive state championships. The Badgers have named Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien to start the season opener.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the lack of available tight ends limited what the Green Bay Packers could do on offense in the final three quarters of last night’s exhibition win at Cincinnati. Starter Jermichael Finley was expected to play – but he made a last-minute trip to Green Bay for the birth of a child. Tom Crabtree – the only tight end not to miss any time at training camp – went down with a shoulder injury in the first quarter on a hard hit from the Bengals’ Taylor Mays. That left the Packers with only two available tight ends – Ryan Taylor, and undrafted rookie Brandon Bostick. Two other tight ends missed the game with injuries, D.J. Williams and DeMarco Cosby. McCarthy said backup quarterback Graham Harrell had his game plan “minimized greatly.” He only threw for 26 yards and was sacked three times. The coach said Harrell and the backups had to run plays they didn’t practice this past week – and that hurt the team’s evaluation process as it gets ready to cut players. The roster’s currently at 90, with a 15-player cut due on Monday. All NFL teams must get down to their regular season roster of 53 by a week from tomorrow.
Aaron Rodgers says he believes the Green Bay Packers are going to be ready for the regular season, following their performance in last night’s exhibition win at Cincinnati. The starters racked up 245 yards of offense in the first half, while the defense held the Bengals to just two field goals. And one of those came after Cincinnati failed to reach the end zone on first-and-goal at the one-yard-line. Outside linebacker Erik Walden sacked Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton in that sequence on third down. And Cincy had to settle for a 30-yard field goal. Coach Mike McCarthy had high praise for Walden afterward, saying he’s had a terrific training camp. Rodgers threw for 154 yards – and he was again the Packers’ leading rusher with 52 yards. The quarterback scrambled his way to both of Green Bay’s first half touchdowns, taking a 17-6 lead to the locker room. The final was 27-13. Cedric Benson scored high marks in his Green Bay debut, averaging just over six yards on each of six carries. McCarthy said the veteran Benson looked natural and quote, “He’s an instinctive, powerful ball carrier.” The coach said the Packers played better on both sides of the ball, in winning their first exhibition game against two losses. Green Bay will play its preseason finale next Thursday night at home against Kansas City.
Mike Fiers has lost his last two starts – and he hopes to turn things around tonight, when the Milwaukee Brewers face the Pirates in Pittsburgh. The rookie right-hander gave up four walks in a home loss to Philadelphia last Saturday. That tied a season-high. Fiers is 6-6 with a 2.90 ERA. Meanwhile, Pirates’ starter Wandy Rodriguez has dropped his last three starts. The left-hander is 1-3 in five outings with Pittsburgh, after he was traded from Houston a month ago. Rodriguez threw two innings of relief last Sunday, when the Pirates topped Saint Louis 6-3 in 19 innings. Rodriguez is 8-and-12 overall this season, with an ERA of four. The Pirates have only won nine-of-their-last-24 contests, but they’re still just one game back for the National League Wild Card. Milwaukee has long been out of the pennant race – but the Brewers have a three-game winning streak. And they hope to start winning on the road, after dropping 14-of-their-last-15 away from Miller Park.
The Milwaukee Brewers will try to improve on a dismal road record this weekend at Pittsburgh. The Crew has only won a-third of its games away from Miller Park this season – and they’ve dropped 14-of-their-last-15 on the road. But the Pirates have not been playing so well, either, despite the fact that they’re just one game back for a Wild Card playoff spot. Pittsburgh has dropped three straight, and they’ve lost 15-of-their-last-24 games overall. Andrew McCutcheon, the National League’s leading hitter, went 6-for-29 in his last six contests while his average fell to .349. Rookie right-hander Mike Fiers will start for Milwaukee this evening against Pirates’ southpaw Wandy Rodriguez. The Brewers have nine games coming up against the Pirates in the next four weeks. They’ve split six contests at Miller Park this year, but Milwaukee has won 51-of-their-last-68 games against Pittsburgh dating back to 2008. The last time they got together, ex-Brewer Casey McGehee belted a homer for the Pirates. But the Brewers won’t see him this time. He was traded to the New York Yankees a month ago.
In the Midwest League, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will go for a sweep of their three-game home series with Cedar Rapids tonight. The Rattlers are coming off a 6-3 win last night at Fox Cities Stadium near Appleton. The Beloit Snappers will close out their home series with Peoria, on the heels of a 6-1 Snappers’ loss. Beloit and Wisconsin are both at 30-29 for the second half. They’re tied for third in the Western Division, after both qualified for the playoffs in the first half. In other games tonight, Clinton plays at Burlington. Kane County is at Quad Cities. Bowling Green hosts Dayton. Fort Wayne plays at West Michigan. Lansing is at Great Lakes. And Lake County entertains South Bend. With 11 days left in the regular season, Clinton has a six-game lead over Burlington. Bowling Green tops the East by three games over Fort Wayne and Lake County.
The UW-Green Bay women’s basketball team will start its Horizon League title defense on January eighth, when it hosts Detroit in its league opener. And UW-Milwaukee will play its first conference game two days later, on January 10th at home against Wright State. Kevin Borseth returns to coach the Phoenix, after spending five years at Michigan. He was 216-62 during his first nine-year stint in Green Bay. UWM also has a new coach, former Badgers’ standout Kyle Rechlicz. Each Horizon League team will play two games against all eight of their conference opponents. Butler withdrew earlier this year, after it moved to the Atlantic-10.
UW-Eau Claire has been investigating to see if former football coach Todd Hoffner committed any inappropriate behavior when he was there. University official Teresa O’Halloran said her school would be remiss if it didn’t investigate. That’s after the 46-year-old Hoffner was charged in Minnesota this week with making videos of his three young children while they were nude, and putting them on his employer-owned cell phone. Hoffner was put on leave as the football coach at Minnesota State-Mankato. Authorities said Hoffner asked a school employee to check a problem with his school-issued phone, and a technical employee found the nude images and called police. As of yesterday, O’Halloran said she found no red-flags about any similar behavior committed while he was at Eau Claire. He coached the Blugold football team from 1999-2005.