The voices of Badger sports, Mike Lucas and Matt Lepay bring you the best sports talk weekday mornings from 6am to 8am!
Mike Lucas has more than 38 years under his belt covering Badgers sports for the Madison Capitol Times. Along with national, regional and local writing awards, Lucas has been twice named the Sportswriter of the Year in Wisconsin. He also has more than 15 years as color analyst on Wisconsin Radio Network for Badger football and basketball. You can see Mike hosts his weekly television show, Sidelines on WISC TV (Ch.3-Ch.14). Lucas has authored five books: Barry's Badgers, the chronicleof the 1993 Rose Bowl Season; Five Golden Rings; the Saga of Wisconsin Hockey; The 25 Greatest Moments in Camp Randall History; Don't Flinch, the Barry Alvarez autobiography; and Another Hill to Climb, the Bo Ryan autobiography.
Matt Lepay is a native of Dayton, Ohio and is a graduate of Ohio State University (degree in journalism). He is the radio voice of Wisconsin Badgers Football and Basketball(football since 1994 and basketball since 1988-89) and a five-time Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year (as selected by state media members). You may have seen him on TV as the host of the Badgers Sports Report with UW coaches Bret Bielema and Bo Ryan. He also co-hosts Badgers Sportstalk radio shows with Mike Lucas.
University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez joined the show Wednesday to talk Ron Dayne’s election to the College Football Hall of Fame and the Big Ten realignment.
When he saw Ron Dayne in high school, did he have an idea of how successful he would be?
“You know with the style of play and quality of film that you saw, there’s no way that you could envision that or foresee the success that he would have, but you could see that he was really special, that he had unbelievable speed for his size. And when they backed him away from the football, you could see his vision… Just how fast he was in his bursts, we knew we had someone special.
How would Dayne fit in with today’s game?
“I don’t think there’d be any difference. You know, look at what we’re running. I’m looking at our team. I’m looking at the teams that run zone… It’s basically the same things that he ran when he played for us… All Ron needs is the ball in his hands.”
On the Hall of Fame nominees:
“It was funny during our breaks. We went through, I forget how many, but we went through every person… it’s kind of redundant. Every guy that comes up, someone around the table would say ‘Well he was a hell of a player.’ Well no kidding! He’s an All-American, he’s a first-team All-American… I think we had 3 or 4 Heisman Trophy winners. One of the Heisman Trophy winners did make it. So that tells you the competition was very stiff.”
On the Big Ten realignment:
“I really like it. I think it’ll be good for our fans. We save our natural rivalries. You know, you save an Iowa. I did not like the fact that we weren’t playing Iowa every year. We kept Minnesota. I think we have built a natural rivalry with Nebraska… I think it’s fan-friendly… A kid will go through his 4 or 5 years here and have a chance to play everyone in the league. So I think it’s very good.”
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel joined the show to give a final analysis of the Green Bay Packers draft.
How does he think the Packers did overall in the draft?
“Well, you know, on paper it looks okay. It looks like they went for a certain kind of a player. They went for a lot of physicality, big strong guys. The Eddie Lacy pick I think is really gonna be the one that defines this draft... Eddie Lacy’s the one who can kinda determine whether this is an average draft, good draft, or great draft, and there’s a lot of question marks with him.” When later asked about Cedric Benson, Silverstein added that ““I think that ship is sailed. I don’t think he’ll be back. I think Eddie Lacy is their guy.”
On their 1st pick Datone Jones:
“Jones is a solid guy. He’s enormously strong. He’s quick. He’s versatile. He’s played all over the place so, I mean, there’s a lot of positives there. But the question is, can he play in this 3-4 defense, and can he be more than just a guy?”
How does he think we will look at Nick Perry and Datone Jones in 5 years?
“5 years from now you would hope that they’re lynchpins in the defense. Clay Matthews is probably still around, but you don’t know if he’s kind of worn down given his style of play… Perry’s a first-round pick, and so a lot is expected of him. Now Jones, same thing. You would hope he would anchor one of those tackle spots and possibly be a guy who gets 7, 8 sacks a year.”
On Montee Ball not being drafted by Green Bay:
“If he had landed with someone like Jacksonville, then I would’ve said ‘No, he’d have been better off in Green Bay’, but Denver, he couldn’t go to a better place. They’re a successful team, a successful offense… and I think he’ll fit in there really nicely.”
Former Wisconsin Badger and Green Bay Packer Mark Tauscher joined Lucas and Lepay on Tuesday to talk about the NFL Draft.
What kind of draft is this going to be?:
“…there is a lot of guys, and I think the excitement level with the draft is always a little bit higher when you have, like last year, Andrew Luck and (Robert) Griffin, all these guys. This is going to be more of a meat and potatoes draft, there’s projected two guys going to go high that are big guys. First and second pick with the two offensive tackles, so it will be interesting, but I don’t know how much if it’s going to be as exciting as it was in the past because after a few years that kind of fades away, but it is how the foundation of your football team is built. If you miss in the first and second round, then you end of trying to spend back later on free agency and that screws your cap, so these picks are obviously huge. Your football team over the next five or six years really is based off of how you do Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this week.”
Where do you think Montee Ball will go?:
“I think it has to be the right fit. The running back position now, you look at what happened with Alfred Morris last year sixth round pick, who just lit the league up on fire…unless there’s a special talent like Adrian Peterson that you just know you need to put on your football team, I think there’s kind of the perception is, we can find some guy and plug him in and because of the position, and the short shelf life, and the injury potential, it really is devalued, I think that’s going to hurt Montee. The numbers that he has put up and his track record I think is going to be a big positive to somebody. It’s just a matter of can he do the blitz pickup, can he do the things to keep him on the field three downs rather than be a specialist, a first and second down guy, or a third down back, that’s going to be what’s going to be the thing that’s going to hinder him, but all it takes is 1 out of 32 teams to like you.”
Former Badger Travis Frederick is getting devalued by some people because of his slow 40 yard dash time, does that really matter for a guy who is probably going to play guard or center?:
“The thing is there’s so much time, you have three or four months to really dissect everybody, know you have rather than just Mel Kiper or somebody else, you have so many different people looking at you. What it comes down to I think the teams that do it right will look at the film and put 90-95 percent of their evaluation on that, and talk it down to the coaches who have been with these kids four and five years. Does the kid love football? Is he a hard, tough-nosed football player? I think you can say that about Travis Frederick. So now it comes down to, is the speed going to hinder his ability to get the job done at the next level, and some teams are going to say yes.”
Wisconsin Badgers head football coach Gary Andersen joined the show in lieu of Saturday’s upcoming spring football game.
We will see a bit of a new format during Saturday’s spring game, with defensive players being able to score points for creating turnovers, blocking a field goal, etc. On this new spring game format:
“We did it last year like that. The year before we felt like we had enough numbers to break up into a team, and ideally I would like to break up into a team… We came up with this system to try to make it be competitive, and it will be competitive. It will be very, very close… But it’s fun. It’s a fun tempo for the kids to be able to know that if there’s a big play like I just talked about, that’s 20, 25 yard run, you’re going to get points as an offense… You obviously will score in the traditional ways on offense and on defense, but the defense gets awarded for sacks and things like that. It is a game-like environment. We’re going to split the teams up. The kids will be in opposite locker rooms, and we’ll do everything we can to make it be a quality experience. And again, this is an important day for these young men that haven’t played a lot of football with the University of Wisconsin. To play in front of their fans, that’s a big responsibility, and I’m excited to see how they’re going to handle it.”
On the new tradition of singing “On Wisconsin” after games:
“I think we should be able to learn that thing and get it knocked out. But we are going to sing that after every game, whether we’re on the road or whether we’re at home… It’s a tremendous tradition. It’s a very powerful, powerful song.”
1 or 2 things that jump out to him from spring practice:
“Their consistency and their ability to want to learn… Overall I think we’re a team that wants to get the information from practice and evaluate themselves along with their unit and move on. On the flip side… football’s a hard game to play when you gotta do everything exactly right, and we need to be more explosive on offensive, and that’s hard sometimes when you don’t have Jarred out there and James doesn’t get as many carries as you want. At the end of the day, those are just excuses that can happen. We need to be more explosive as a football team.”
How will they go about becoming more explosive?
“Well, we need to make the big plays… Offense is very difficult, especially when you’re playing against a defense that’s aggressive and moves around and does some things, and if you can’t get yards and chunks you’ve got issues… We need to get some throws over 25 yards, and we need to get some runs over 15 yards consistently. When you do that, you’re a good offense.”
How does he best motivate a player?
“Through trust, through competitiveness… There’s tough love just like a parent, and there’s easy love that you can give out. And coaching, to me, is no different than being a parent and the way I believe in parenting.”
Brian Anderson from Fox Sports Wisconsin joined the show on Thursday to talk about the Milwaukee Brewers.
How big of a moment was that walk off hit for Blake Lalli?:
"He was so excited, I had talked to him... two days ago before the game. He had come to Miller Park in the exhibition series with the White Sox, and that was the first time he had taken batting practice at Miller Park. Of course he went back to the Minor Leagues right away, he was in a good battle with Khris Davis for that final roster spot. He wasn't on the roster so Davis got that spot, and Lalli had to go back to Triple-A, and then more injuries occurred. Roenicke really liked him in Spring Training, I know the rest of the coaching staff did as well. He truly earned his way to the big leagues, and for him to have a moment like that, (I'm) very happy for him, he's a great kid. He's persevered, he had his moment in the sun, and he delivered in a big way... Roenicke originally had (Martin) Maldonado in the on deck circle, Maldonado was going to hit there, and for whatever reason, hunch, matchup, or whatever, Roenicke pulled Maldonado back just before the at bat, and he sent Lalli out there."
Was that win against St. Louis on Sunday as a big a win as a team could have in April with the way they were playing?:
"Yeah absolutely. I said that on the air that day, it is April and you have to take it in perspective with a long baseball season, but this was a spiral downward for this team. The fact that they were about to be swept, they weren't hitting, Braun wasn't hitting. Braun still is struggling in a big way. He's having neck problems, he's trying to stay in the lineup, I give him a lot of credit for continuing to play because he is a force even when he is not a 100%. He walked three times last night, and that created traffic. For Braun to hit that home run in St. Louis in the eighth inning, it was such an improbable come back. I think if they do go on...to do something special., if they have a playoff type year... then I think you will be able to look back on (that win)."
Does John Axford talk a lot with Trevor Hoffman?:
"He and Trevor are constantly texting, obviously he got under the wing of Trevor Hoffman in 2009 when he first came to the Big Leagues. They are very close, and I think Trevor's been extremely helpful for him because you can work mechanics, you can talk a lot of things, but very few people have been in that role, and that pressure of that ninth inning. That's what's so impressive about Jim Henderson. This is not an easy thing to do, to pitch in the ninth inning. It's just a totally different animal. And Axford is in constant communication with him, and as he put it, he usually (has) more communication with him when things are going bad than when things are going good. It's usually initiated by Trevor which is still just a great thing for Trevor to do."