Badger seniors set up Camp for final time

first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoThis is it. Saturday marks the end of the road at home forthe 2007 senior class, and what better way to conclude it than by playingbitter rival Michigan and retiring legendary Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne’snumber.”It’ll be an emotional day for us,” senior wide receiverPaul Hubbard said. “It’s the seniors’ last day at home, and who better to havethan Michigan come into our own backyard and playing.”It’s a big game for myself, and for everybody.”To add more emotion and fire to what will already be amemorable afternoon for Wisconsin (7-3, 3-3 Big Ten), senior wide receiver LukeSwan, who tore his hamstring in early October against Illinois and has been oncrutches since, will attempt to walk unaided during the Senior DayIntroductions.”I’d be so amped if he did that,” Hubbard said. “If I seehim walking out of that tunnel without those crutches, I think that would do somuch for the team.”Unlike last season, when the likes of Joe Thomas, JohnStocco and Mark Zalewski, to name a few, went out with a nonconference matchupagainst Buffalo, this year’s senior class gets an opportunity to go out with abang, according to Hubbard.For others, the significance of the game hasn’t sunk in justyet.”I haven’t really thought about it like that,” said seniortight end Andy Crooks, who has been slowed much of the season with a nagginghamstring injury. “Sure, after the game it will feel different probably, butfor now it’s just another game.”After Hubbard went down with an injury of his own, it wasSwan who played for his friend. Now with Swan on the sidelines for his finalgame at Camp Randall, every catch Hubbard makes Saturday will be for the bothof them.”[Hubbard] always said go out and play for me, when he washurt,” Swan said. “Now he’s doing the same for me.”Hopefully he catches a bunch of balls Saturday.”It will be up to quarterback Tyler Donovan to make thatconnection happen, in what also will be his last game before his home statefans.Aforementioned untimely injuries to key players and someearly- to mid-season struggles on defense have led to unfamiliar territory forwhat could inevitably end up being the winningest class in UW history. It’s thefirst time they have endured three losses through 10 games. However, no one isgoing to let that get in the way of Saturday’s festivities.”Nothing that we wanted to occur for us this season hashappened so far,” Hubbard said. “But we’re not going to stop playing because ofit.”Winners of eight straight, Michigan (8-2, 6-0) is led by aproficient and prolific offensive attack that, after a series of injuries, isfinally all out on the field at the same time.Senior running back Mike Hart is back in full-go, indicatedby his 110 yards on 15 carries against Michigan State last weekend. He missedtwo-and-a-half games with an ankle injury. And quarterback Chad Henne returnedfrom a shoulder injury last weekend that has sidelined the senior three times.Thus far, Hart has amassed 100 yards on the ground in every game, and has 1,188yards on the season.”With a player like that, you’ve just got to try and containhim and keep him away from the big play,” sophomore safety Shane Carter said.Junior Mike Newkirk will make the switch back from defensiveend to the position he started the year at and the position he prefers on thedefensive line: tackle. The move became necessary following the season-endinginjury to starter Jason Chapman. Wherever Newkirk is lined up, however, he’snot too concerned about one of the top running threats in the nation.Hart is “not Superman back there. He can be stopped justlike everybody else,” Newkirk said.In addition to Hart, Henne has arguably the best receivingtandem in the nation in Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington.”Jack (Ikegwuonu) was telling me that those receivers arethe best there is,” said freshman cornerback Aaron Henry, who will get thestart in place of the injured Allen Langford. “Manningham runs great routes,has great hands, while Arrington is a huge target.”It will be up to him and Ikegwuonu to shut down the talentedduo. Henry isn’t afraid.”It’s another day in the park,” Henry said.If nothing else, whether Wisconsin goes out on top or not,the experience for these seniors was worth every minute.last_img

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