Afternoon State Sports Briefs: Packers hope to avoid communication problems vs. ColtsWisconsin Sports
- The Green Bay Packer offense will try to avoid communication problems on Sunday when they play at Indianapolis.
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packer offense will try to avoid communication problems on Sunday when they play at Indianapolis.
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga said everyone will have to be on the same page, especially early. He says the best thing would be to have a long drive with several first-downs. Bulaga said it would quiet the Indy fans a little bit. The Colts switched to a 3-4 defense this year, but they still have Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney as their outside pass rushers. They’ve combined for 190 sacks over the last 11 seasons. In Green Bay’s last road game, the Packers had trouble moving the ball at Seattle when the offensive line gave up eight sacks in the first half. Bulaga and left tackle Marshall Newhouse had problems controlling Seahawks’ pass rushers Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons. When the Packers run the shotgun, center Jeff Saturday must look back to Aaron Rodgers for a signal that begins the snap-count – and because Saturday cannot see the defense, his guard-mates T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton must relay any adjustments in protection to the tackles to avoid communication breakdowns when defenders make last-second moves. Sunday’s game will be at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy. The Colts are 1-2, and will return from a bye week. The Packers are 2-2, coming off a one-point home win over New Orleans.
Green Bay Packers’ guard T.J. Lang returned to practice today, after a trip to Michigan to be with his family following the death of a grandmother. The only two Packers who did not practice are receiver Greg Jennings and rookie safety Sean Richardson – and both will be out for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis. Jennings was ruled out yesterday, after he aggravated a groin injury last weekend. Richardson has had a nagging hamstring injury, and has been out for about the last month. The Packers practice inside the Don Hutson Center, where crowd noise was piped in to help the team get accustomed to a loud atmosphere on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Coach Mike McCarthy said running back James Starks is close to returning after his turf-toe injury – but he had not made a decision on how much he’ll play on Sunday, if at all. Nose tackle Ryan Pickett practiced today with knee and shoulder problems. McCarthy said he’ll wait to tomorrow to see how he’s doing before he makes a decision on his availability for Sunday.
Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy said it was the “right thing to do” to make a gracious phone call to the replacement official who apparently cost the Packers a victory at Seattle. McCarthy called Wayne Elliot a few days after the September 24th Green Bay loss, and left a voicemail to offer his support. He said he knew that Elliot was having a rough week with all the critical messages he got from angry Packer fans. And while he didn’t agree with the official’s call, McCarthy wanted Elliot to know that he handled the matter with class. Elliot called a Seattle touchdown when replays apparently showed it was Packer interception on a Hail Mary pass at the end of the Seahawks’ game. Had the interception been called, the Packers would have won the game. McCarthy’s phone call was meant to be private, but Elliot talked about it on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” program this week. Elliott said he was around when McCarthy called – but he ignored it because the caller ID listed a Wisconsin number. McCarthy said he was trying to move his team forward past the controversial decision – and he believed that Elliot should do the same.
Four WIAC football teams will try to go 2-0 in conference play tomorrow. UW-Oshkosh is the only team with an undefeated overall record, at 4-0. The Titans, ranked 19th by D3football.com, will host UW-Eau Claire tomorrow. Both are 1-0 in league play, along with Whitewater and La Crosse. The fifth-ranked Warhawks host River Falls. And La Crosse is at home against 14th-ranked Platteville, which lost its league opener to Whitewater last weekend. Also, Stevens Point travels to Stout. In the Midwest Conference, Beloit plays at Knox College. Carroll is at Lawrence of Appleton. Saint Norbert travels to Cornell. And first-place Lake Forest host Illinois College. Lake Forest is 4-0. Monmouth and Illinois College are both 3-0. Saint Norbert is next at 3-1 in league play. Concordia-Mequon, Concordia-Chicago, Wisconsin Lutheran, and Aurora all won their league openers last week in the Northern Athletics Conference. Tomorrow, Concordia-Mequon hosts Maranatha Baptist. Wisconsin Lutheran plays at Concordia-Chicago. Aurora is at home against Benedictine. And Lakeland hosts Rockford.
In the CCIW, Carthage plays at Wheaton. Carthage is 1-0 in conference play, and 3-1 overall.
Milwaukee Bucks’ forward Drew Gooden does not like the new NBA crackdown on “flopping” – the act of falling to the floor on purpose to try-and-draw a foul. Gooden, a 10-year NBA veteran, says the rule will especially penalize players who lead the league in taking charges. He said defenders are sometimes vulnerable when taking hits, and there are times when defenders must anticipate an opponent’s contact. Gooden says the rule will just take away from the game and quote, “I’d hate to see the league 10 years from now.” Penalties will be determined after video reviews. That means players can draw charging fouls and still be fined the next day. The players’ union has come out against the crackdown. Players have mixed reactions to it. The first flopping offense draws a warning. Fines are levied for subsequent violations – and more than six could result in suspensions.
The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team will host the U.S. Under-18 squad in an exhibition game tomorrow night in Madison. The Badgers are led by junior forward Mark Zengerle, who made the All-WCHA pre-season team this past week. Zengerle was a third-teamer a year ago, when he led Wisconsin with 50 points and 37 assists. Meanwhile, the Badger women are in Saint Charles, Missouri to play Lindenwood tonight and tomorrow afternoon. The third-ranked Badgers are 1-0-1, after beating and tying Minnesota State in their season-and-conference openers last weekend. Wisconsin is led by senior Brianna Decker, who led the nation last year with 37 goals. They’ll play a Lindenwood squad that’s 0-2.
UW-Eau Claire is going for its fourth straight WIAC women’s golf title, as the conference tournament opened this morning in Wisconsin Rapids. The Blugolds are led by senior Catherine Wagner, who won the national Division-Three individual championship last season. UW-Stevens Point placed second in the league meet in 2011. The Pointers are led by sophomore Brittany McNett-Emmerich. She has been the best scoring average in the WIAC at 78.1. The conference tourney runs through Sunday.
Also, the Midwest Conference began its three-day league tournament this morning in Springfield Illinois. Carroll University of Waukesha is going for its fourth straight title. The Pioneers are led by the returning individual champion, Angelina Parrinello. Carroll won last year’s league tourney by 23 strokes over Grinnell. In the CCIW women’s tournament, Carthage was in second place after the first round. They trailed Illinois Wesleyan by seven strokes at Meadowbrook in Racine.
Nate Ray of UW-Oshkosh and Jacob Gahart of Ripon College are among 10 kickers in the NCAA’s Division III to receive the Fred Mitchell Award for September. The award recognizes accomplishments both on the field and in the community. Selection committee chairman Chris Kearney says the honored kickers are having quote, “tremendous success on the gridiron this season … and their civil and volunteer activities are having a profound and positive effect on their communities.” Thirty-one kickers from all college and junior college divisions have received the monthly Mitchell award. One recipient will be chosen for the season award in mid-December. The award is named in honor of Fred Mitchell, who’s an award-winning kicker for Wittenberg University and a sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune.
UW-Eau Claire assistant wrestling coach Jon Ames will be the interim head coach this season. He’ll take over for Russ Peloquin, who’s taking a sabbatical. Ames has spent the last two years as an assistant with Eau Claire, after wrestling for three seasons with the Blugolds. He was a team campaign in his senior year in 2009-and-’10.