Afternoon State Sports Briefs: Packers have decisions to make on running gameWisconsin Sports
-- The Green Bay Packers will have to make some decisions about their running game, as they get ready to host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers will have to make some decisions about their running game, as they get ready to host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Second-year pro Alex Green has averaged over 20 attempts in his last three games. But the Packers are only getting less than two-and-a-half yards a carry, in what’s been the biggest commitment to the running game since the midway point of last season. Coach Mike McCarthy has no regrets about starting Green, saying he’s earned the privilege. But still, there’s a healthy James Starks on the bench – and McCarthy says he’ll consider using him more at practice as the week goes on. Starks, a third-year pro, was going to be the Packers’ starting tailback until he suffered a turf-toe injury at training camp that kept him out for two months. He’s been back for three years, but he’s only had six carries for 19 yards. Starks might have had more playing time last Sunday against Jacksonville had he not suffered an illness that caused him to miss all of last Thursday’s practice, and some of last Friday’s workout.
The Green Bay Packers have pulled off several trick plays this year – and special teams’ coach Shawn Slocum says they’ve injected some energy into his units. The Packers have made two fake field goal attempts – one for a touchdown against Chicago, and one that didn’t work last Sunday against Jacksonville. Then there was a fake punt on fourth down deep in Green Bay territory against New Orleans that John Kuhn pulled off for a first down. And the Pack succeeded with a surprise on-side kick at Saint Louis nine days ago. They’ve all been in the Packers’ playbook for several years. But Slocum said they weren’t needed last season, when Aaron Rodgers and the offense were piling up points. This year, Slocum says the coaches are calling trick plays on a strategic basis – and they’ve given the team a real pick-me-up. But head coach Mike McCarthy says he won’t be repeating the one that didn’t work against Jacksonville. Field goal holder Tim Masthay dropped back into the shotgun – and he underthrew D.J. Williams on fourth-and-six from the Jaguars’ 37. McCarthy said it was worth a try, because it happened in the place where he’s most likely to go for a first down. The coach said Masthay didn’t throw the ball where it was supposed to go. The Packer players are off today and will start practicing tomorrow for their Sunday home contest against Arizona.
Milwaukee Brewers’ infielder Hector Gomez has signed a new minor league contract with a chance to make the big club at next year’s Spring Training. The Brewers out-righted Gomez to its Triple-“A” Nashville farm club 11 days ago. Gomez has become the third non-roster player to be invited to Spring Training in Arizona in March. The others are catcher Dayton Buller and right-hander Darren Byrd.
University of Wisconsin running back Montee Ball has been named one of 16 semi-finalists for the Maxwell Award as college football’s player-of-the-year. The senior Ball is having another stellar season with 1,028 yards in nine games. That’s the ninth-highest in the country. Ball also has 13 touchdowns, and is five short of the NCAA career record of 78 TD’s set by Travis Prentice of Miami-of-Ohio. Wisconsin has a bye this weekend, and will play at Indiana on November 10th.
The University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team is one spot away from the national Top-10, after sweeping a pair of games from New Hampshire last weekend. The Badgers dropped out of the Top-10 a week ago in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll. Mark Johnson’s team is now 5-3-2 overall.
Zach Shaw of Wisconsin Lutheran is the football offensive player-of-the-week in the Northern Athletics Conference. Shaw, a senior quarterback, threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns in a 48-nothing rout of Maranatha Baptist. He averaged 11-and-a-half yards per passing attempt. Defensive back Shawn Corwin of Aurora was the top player on defense. There were no nominations for the weekly special teams’ award.
The NAC also recognized Logan Andryk and Natalie Gayner, both of Milwaukee School of Engineering, in men’s-and-women’s soccer – and Katie Reimer of Marian in volleyball.
Lamont Williams of Carroll University in Waukesha has been named the football offensive player-of-the-week in the Midwest Conference. And Carroll’s Jacob Lindmair took the weekly honors on defense. Williams, a sophomore running back, ran for 232 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-14 Carroll victory over Cornell. Lindmair, a junior defensive back, returned an interception for a touchdown against Cornell. He also forced a fumble and had six tackles. Matt Newman of Illinois College was named the special teams’ player-of-the-week. Also, Cassie Burke of Lawrence University in Appleton is defensive player-of-the-week in women’s soccer. Burke, a senior goal-tender, had a shutout against Beloit and 10 saves in a 1-0 loss to Saint Norbert.
UW-Stevens Point will play for its fourth title in five years, when the WIAC women’s soccer tournament opens this afternoon. The Pointers have the third seed this year, and will host La Crosse. Defending champion Oshkosh also has a first-round contest as the Number-Four seed. The Titans will host River Falls this evening. The winners of those two games will face top-seeded Whitewater and Number-Two Eau Claire in the semi-finals on Thursday. The title match is set for Saturday. Oshkosh defeated Whitewater in a shootout to win last year’s tournament.
Meanwhile, the Northern Athletics Conference women’s soccer tourney resumes this afternoon with the semi-finals. Top-seeded Aurora will host No. 5 seed Milwaukee School of Engineering. And No. 2 Edgewood is at home against Concordia-Mequon. The winners will square off in the title contest on either Friday or Saturday.
Defending champion Edgewood has the top seed in the Northern Athletics Conference volleyball tournament that begins tonight. Edgewood will host eighth-seeded Concordia-Mequon in their first-round quarter-final matchup. Also, No. 2 Benedictine entertains Wisconsin Lutheran. Third-seeded Dominican hosts Marian. And No. 4 seed Maranatha Baptist is at home against Lakeland, the 2009 champion. Tonight’s winners will advance to the semi-finals on Thursday night. The title match will be played Saturday.
The WIAC volleyball tournament opens tonight with a pair of first-round matches. Third-seeded UW-Eau Claire will host Stout. And No. 4 seed River Falls will entertain Oshkosh. The winners will play in the semi-finals on Friday night at top-seeded Stevens Point, and the third-place and championship matches will be played on Saturday. Stevens Point and Number-two Whitewater both have first-round byes. Whitewater has won four of the last six conference tournament titles. The Warhawks defeated the Pointers three-sets-to-one a year ago.