We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Wisconsin sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, hockey or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
Today is Thursday, Sept. 22, and this is your Wisconsin Wake-Up Call.
It’s official now for Hornibrook at QB
First there was a report on Sunday from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Alex Hornibrook would start against Michigan State this week, which coach Paul Chryst denied, saying he’d take the week to decide.
Then on Tuesday, Hornibrook himself let it slip, before quickly returning to the company line that the coaching staff was getting him and Bart Houston ready to face the Spartans.
Finally, on Wednesday, we got perhaps the most concrete evidence that Hornibrook will make his first career start when the No. 11 Badgers travel to East Lansing to take on the eighth-ranked Spartans. And it came in the form of the school’s own weekly Facebook Live video with their two radio announcers — Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas —and host Chris Hall.
#Badgers officials announced (via Facebook) Hornibrook to start at MSU. Caught me off-guard. ???
— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) September 22, 2016
As we’ve been saying all week, the move to the inexperienced Hornibrook is the right one. Despite having just 17 career passes, he’s shown in a short amount of time that he can be productive. And while Houston, a fifth-year senior, hasn’t been bad, Hornibrook did enough to overtake him for a job the pair battled for throughout spring practice and fall camp.
— Jesse Temple (@jessetemple) September 19, 2016
Hornibrook will be the first freshman Wisconsin quarterback since 1999 to make his first career start on the road. Back then, it was Brooks Bollinger, who helped the Badgers to a 42-17 victory over Ohio State.
That’s a result Hornibrook and the Badgers would love a repeat of early Saturday afternoon.
Good sign on the injury front?
Wisconsin can’t win at Michigan State without some semblance of a running game, and on Wednesday it appeared things are looking up when it comes to the health of its main tailbacks.
After having to use true freshman Sam Brodner just to get through Tuesday’s session, senior Corey Clement and redshirt sophomore Taiwan Deal each were in full pads, indicating they were more involved than earlier in the week.
Corey Clement in pads today and has some sort of wrap on his left leg/ankle. pic.twitter.com/8LyBDwDj0N
— Jason Galloway (@Jason_Galloway) September 21, 2016
Clement didn’t play against Georgia State last Saturday after going down with an ankle injury the week before. It was the 10th time in the last 16 games for Wisconsin that they didn’t have their best running back on the field. Some have suggested that Clement’s absence last week was an effort to have him ready to face what most would consider a much more difficult opponent in Michigan State, but running backs coach John Settle said that wasn’t the case.
“He was out last week because he wasn’t 100 percent . That’s the only reason,” Settle said. “We feel like every game is an important game, and we want our best players on the field. We hope by having some extra time he will be available come Saturday.”
Clement is Wisconsin’s field tilter. It’s a term former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf would use to talk about guys that can single-handedly give your team an advantage, thus tilting the field in your favor. The more you have the better, obviously. But despite improved weapons such as tight end Troy Fumagalli and wide receivers Rob Wheelwright and Jazz Peavy, it’s Clement that remains the Badgers most important player on offense.
If Clement plays, Wisconsin has a chance to win at Michigan State for the first time since 2002. If he doesn’t, the chances Chryst and his team can pull the upset become remote.
Hayes takes to Twitter
The Wisconsin basketball team is full of intrigue on the court, but that’s not the only place their impact is or will be felt this season.
Just days after guard Bronson Koenig embarked on a trip to North Dakota to support a protest against an oil pipeline that would impact sacred burial grounds for Native Americans, it was the Badgers other prominent senior, Nigel Hayes, who took to Twitter in the wake of two more officer-involved shootings of African-Americans.
Land of 10’s Sean Keeler has a collection of Hayes’ tweets, but this is the one the All-Big Ten forward started the night with.
Racism towards black people isn't getting "worse", it's getting filmed and shared for all to see what actually goes on. #BlackLivesMatter
— Nigel Hayes (@NIGEL_HAYES) September 21, 2016
Hayes was active on social media in the summer when similar tragedies took place in Minnesota, Louisiana and Dallas. And back in March, just as the Badgers were making their run to the Sweet Sixteen, he made it clear to Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal how important the civil rights movement and African-American history was to him, and that he hoped to share that knowledge with those unaware of it.
For some, it’ll be difficult to separate the basketball player from the outspoken student on racial topics, and if Twitter is any judge, he can expect backlash for his beliefs. But all of it is what makes Hayes abnormal to the typical athlete. You can’t put him in a box. He’s not a basketball player or a civil rights activist. He’s so much more than one or the other.
And while that might not sit well with certain segments of society, that’s not his problem. Hayes represents all that a student-athlete should be.