Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin
By JESSE TEMPLE  |  Last updated 10/8/13
MADISON, Wis. -- The college football season is short enough as it is with only 12 guaranteed games per season. For Kenzel Doe, a playmaker still trying to find his footing on Wisconsin's team, the last thing he wanted was to sit out two of those games with an injury. But that's exactly what happened to the Badgers' 5-foot-8 speedster. Doe strained a hamstring in practice before Wisconsin's Big Ten opener against Purdue and couldn't recover in time for a huge matchup with Ohio State. "It's been hard because of the fact that the season isn't long," Doe said. "You play in three games and then you get hurt before the Big Ten opener, so it's definitely been hard." Doe spent the Badgers' bye week on the mend and has been cleared to play when Wisconsin (3-2) hosts No. 19 Northwestern (4-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. And his impact will be needed on the field as both a slot receiver and return man. A year ago, Doe caught 16 passes for 121 yards and developed into one of the few reliable wide receivers outside of standout Jared Abbrederis. He also proved to be a solid kick returner. His average of 27.9 yards per kick return ranked best on the team. He averaged a team-best 12.4 yards per punt return, including a spectacular 82-yard touchdown return against Utah State last season that swung momentum in Wisconsin's favor during an eventual comeback victory. This season, Doe is averaging 22.2 yards per kick return and 9.4 yards on punt returns. Doe's 9.4 yards would rank sixth-best in the Big Ten if he had enough chances to qualify. But perhaps his most important contribution is keeping Abbrederis off the field for punt returns -- and away from absorbing even more hits. Abbrederis has returned five punts, though he has been involved in numerous fair catches. Given that he is the team's best wide receiver, the Badgers cannot afford for him to suffer an injury. "The first thing you hope Kenzel can give us is a boost in the return game," Wisconsin wide receivers coach Chris Beatty said. "It'd be nice to not have to use Abby back there as much, take some of the hits off of him, use him more when you need to. And then on kickoff returns as well. I think thats a big thing. "Plus, you'd just like to have another player in the slot. I think Alex (Erickson) has done a good job. He's going to continue to play there. But I think Kenzel gives us a little different run-after-catch potential. Those things can make the group better. It's just a matter of him getting full speed. He's got to get back in shape, knock some of the rust off. He needs to hurry up and do it." As a wide receiver this season, Doe has not produced at a rate that would take pressure off Abbrederis. He has made two catches for 19 yards and has only been targeted a total of five times. As a means of comparison, Abbrederis has been targeted 59 times and has 33 catches. Still, Doe is the type of receiver who can make a game-changing play from the slot, and his addition as the Big Ten season continues could prove vital. "He can make big plays," Badgers wide receiver Jordan Fredrick said. "He hasnt always been presented with the opportunities. It's the same thing as me. We all make plays every once in a while. We're all capable of making them. But Kenzel is quick. He's so quick off the line. He's got a special athleticism. You've just got to give him an opportunity." An opportunity is something Doe has been waiting on for three weeks since his injury. And he is simply grateful there are more games for him to make an impact. "I'm definitely excited," Doe said. "Missing two games, thats hard. But knowing that I've got seven more games to prove myself on special teams and as a receiver, I'm very excited to go out there and contribute to the team the best way I can no matter what it is. "I'm not disappointed. I'm not down about it like, 'Man I've got seven games.' No, it's seven games. Thats a lot of time to continue to prove yourself and take a load off Abby." Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Hue Jackson: Kizer 'positioning himself well' to win starting job

Grading the deal: Celtics, Cavs trade Kyrie and Isaiah Thomas

Jon Jones tests positive for steroids, reportedly stripped of title

Report: Bills have not made LeSean McCoy available in trades

Emmanuel Sanders involved in car accident on way to team facility

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Old Isaiah Thomas tweet about LeBron goes viral following trade

Reports: Cavs, Celtics complete trade involving Irving, Thomas

Report: Smaller-market teams support Pacers in tampering case against Lakers

Report: MRI confirms ankle sprain for Odell Beckham Jr.

Jason Garrett indicates Ezekiel Elliott could play this week

Chuck Pagano: Still no timeline for Andrew Luck’s return

The 'When the Doctor took the Big Apple by storm' quiz

BIG3 Referee Hotline: Calls routed from 1-900-MIX-A-LOT

The Indians are on a mission to make you pay attention whether you want to or not

15 college football coaches who are on the hot seat

Getaway Day: The playing field is leveling off as the wild-card chase takes shape

The 'Anquan Boldin calls it a career' quiz

Sports & Politics Intersect: Echoes of Charlottesville ripple across the sports world

BIG3 Playoff Preview: Can anyone stop Trilogy?

Why the SEC is not the best football conference anymore

Box Score 8/18: Reds and Cubs claw through a 23-run game

The 'M! E! S! S! Mess! Mess! Mess!' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Giancarlo Stanton won't stop hitting homers

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

BIG3 Referee Hotline: Calls routed from 1-900-MIX-A-LOT

The 'When the Doctor took the Big Apple by storm' quiz

The Indians are on a mission to make you pay attention whether you want to or not

The 'Anquan Boldin calls it a career' quiz

Getaway Day: The playing field is leveling off as the wild-card chase takes shape

Sports & Politics Intersect: Echoes of Charlottesville ripple across the sports world

BIG3 Playoff Preview: Can anyone stop Trilogy?

The 'Bye bye to the Beast Incarnate?' quiz

Why the SEC is not the best football conference anymore

The 'M! E! S! S! Mess! Mess! Mess!' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker