MADISON — At a normal Badgers football practice on the field of Camp Randall or inside the McClain Center, one can expect to hear the speakers blaring a wide selection of music from country to rap. This week, however, may be a little different as running back Dare Ogunbowale suggested a quiet week of practice to prepare for their away game against Northwestern.
After several away games in big crowd, high energy atmospheres including Michigan and Michigan State, the Badgers head to Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. to play Northwestern. This week’s challenge will not be fighting through crowd noise, but instead building the energy themselves.
“Playing at Camp Randall we don’t have to worry about that [energy] because we have such a good atmosphere here,” Ogunbowale said
“It’s a challenge to play down there because it’s kind of a dry type of feel for a college football game.”
He wants to not play music at practice this week so that “guys can figure out how to create that juice or grit.”
The senior running back said that the defense usually does not struggle to create their own energy on the field, but that the offense may need a little bit more work.
“It’s kind of a personality thing,” he suggested.
This week’s game poses more challenges than just a quieter atmosphere. The team returns to an early game with an 11 a.m. start time. Tight end Troy Fumagalli said the time also poses a challenge as the team has played in later games recently including two night games at home. Getting ready and getting amped up early on is crucial for the team.
While the defense may excel at creating their own fire, outside linebacker Vince Biegel thought Ogunbowale’s music-less practice could help the team this week.
“Whatever our offense or whatever our team needs to kind of that approach this week,” Biegel said. “I think that’s a great idea and the reason why I say that is because Northwestern Stadium poses different challenges than we’ve seen up to this point. What I mean by that is it is a little more of a quiet stadium. The crowd isn’t as big of a factor as we’ve seen previously.”
But the important thing, cornerback Sojourn Shelton stressed, is that the team doesn’t focus on these external factors such as stadium atmosphere. What is most important to bringing home another win is playing the game the way Wisconsin has all season.
“For us it’s just a matter of focusing,” Shelton said. “No matter what stadium we play in, the field conditions, if it’s raining, if it’s grass, if it’s turf, you got to be able to play your best football if you expect to win.”