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September 30, 2011MADISON - It would be an interesting notion to hear the sentiments from the defensive side of the ball because their thoughts surely would be different. But when you ask Peter Konz, there is simply no hesitation.
"I like to have the ball first," he said. "To get out there and to get out on the field right away .I want to be first."
He has a point.
During Bret Bielema's tenure as head coach Wisconsin has scored on its opening drive a total of 33 times out of a possible 69 attempts (48 percent). Of those 33 scoring drives, 26 went for touchdowns, including David Gilreath's scintillating opening kickoff return against Ohio State.
"It makes you feel good," Konz said in regards to Gilreath's kickoff return. "But at the same time you're thinking there's a lot of game left. We still haven't proven anything as far as our offense. It's great for our team and for our kicking and kick return.
"But I just want to get out there and prove what I can do."
When Wisconsin receives the opening kickoff during the Bielema era it has scored a bit less frequently (17-of-38, 44 percent), with 12 touchdowns. Though the numbers are a bit weaker overall, if you include just the past season plus, UW has scored 11 times out of a possible 17 chances (64 percent).
"I don't really like waiting to get in," Konz said. "I like to play right away. That's just what I like to do."
Konz redshirted during the 2008 season, the one where the Badgers went a disappointing 7-6 after climbing into the top 10 nationally to start league play. That year, UW went an alarming 2-for-10 when it received the opening kickoff. It also had two turnovers during those opening drives.
The Badgers only received the opening kickoff three times in 2009. They scored on two of those drives. The 2010 season, the best offensive season in school history, was also pretty impressive.
The Badgers scored on seven of their game opening drives, all touchdowns. They had 11 chances.
"I just love when the emotion is high and the adrenaline is high," Konz said. "You get the first hit and you know they're going to be playing their best because they're out there and their emotion is high."
So far in 2011, Wisconsin has received the opening kick twice. Against UNLV, UW marched down the field and scored without even thinking twice about it. Both Oregon State and NIU elected to receive in those respective games so UW didn't have an opportunity to score to start the game.
Last week, against South Dakota, Brad Nortman punted following UW's game-opening three and out.
So far this season UW is 1-for-2 when receiving the opening kickoff and 2-for-4 with two touchdowns during it's first offensive possession of the game.
When Nebraska comes to town, as long as Konz has his way and the coin flashes the proper symbol, don't be surprised to see UW opting to return the opening kickoff.