Bielema reaffirms faith in return man Doe
OCT 11, 2012 7:24p ET
The move is noteworthy because Doe muffed two punts last week against Illinois and finished the game with three punt returns for minus-three yards. Jared Abbrederis, one of the top punt returners in college football last season, took his spot for the final two punts.
"Kenzel will start as long as everything looks good," Bielema said following Thursday's practice. "I want Kenzel to have that role. And you know what? I think Abby sees that too and can appreciate his first experiences back there. He can bring us a little bit of something."
The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Doe has the ability to electrify a stadium. He returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown earlier this season against Utah State that changed the momentum of the game. Wisconsin trailed, 14-3, at the time of the return, and the Badgers went on to win, 16-14.
Doe ranks second in the Big Ten in punt returns, averaging 12.4 yards per return.
Last season, Abbrederis ranked third in the country, averaging 15.8 yards per punt return, second-best at Wisconsin in one season (minimum 15 returns).
The decision to keep Doe on punt return duty comes, in part, because Abbrederis is used so often at wide receiver. Abbrederis leads the team in receptions (27), yards (516) and touchdown catches (five).
"If Abby's had a six-, seven-play series and he's a little bit gassed," Bielema said, "to go back out there on the flip side and punt return, I'd rather give him rest."
Costigan returns: Badgers right guard Kyle Costigan, apparently, can handle pain better than most human beings.
Costigan dislocated his right kneecap during Wisconsin's game against Nebraska on Sept. 29, but the knee popped back in place and he finished the game. Two days later, he underwent surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage. He also had sprained his medial collateral ligament.
He sat out last week's game against Illinois but returned to practice Tuesday and will be in the starting lineup this week against Purdue.
Bielema said he wasn't surprised Costigan was back so soon.
"It's because I know Costy," Bielema said. "He is an incredibly tough individual. Doctors thought he'd probably make it back just knowing Costy and how he came through the first time. Obviously, (he's) a guy that champions himself on toughness."
Injury updates: In addition to Costigan's return, Wisconsin also will get cornerback Peniel Jean back this week. Jean has been out since fall camp with a broken foot, although he isn't expected to play cornerback against Purdue.
"Right now, I would say he's not in the plan," Bielema said. "He's there. He's just like a reserve. It's been one of those things where he came back a little bit last week. He wasn't quite where we needed him to be. We did put him on special teams this week, so there's a good chance he'd get in the game."
Defensive end Tyler Dippel, who has been wearing a sling over his left arm this week, is set to travel with the team to Purdue. Dippel has started the last three games and has 12 tackles and two sacks.
Bielema said Dippel's status would be a gametime decision.
Also on the injury front, reserve guard Dallas Lewallen has not yet been cleared to practice. Lewallen missed all of spring practice with a knee injury. Bielema said Lewallen would travel to Purdue.
"I feel bad for him," Bielema said. "He's trying. He's competing. He will come with us on an emergency basis. He could be there. But as of right now, he's not in the plans."
Road rage: Wisconsin will attempt to win its first road game of the season against Purdue. The Badgers are 0-2 on the road, with close losses to Oregon State (10-7) and Nebraska (30-27).
"The ultimate thing is to win on the road," Bielema said. "You have to win on the road to win a championship. I know that's true. For us to have this opportunity again to go on the road to Purdue, a team that I think is a very good football team, it's an opportunity that I think our guys are excited to jump into."
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