With freezing rain, sleet and hail making Wisconsin's spring football season a winter wonderland, the Badgers headed back indoors for their Friday practice. The practice was conducted in helmet and shoulder pads in the McClain Center.
Here are some news/notes from Friday's session:
- Travaan Hayes has been moved back to wide receiver, where he is not yet in the mix for playing time with the No. 1 offense. The decision was a collective one from several UW coaches, feeling Hayes wasn't in a position to contribute in the secondary, and his best chance at seeing the field in any capacity would be on the offensive side of the ball. We will have more on this story in an online update Monday.
- After missing Wednesday's practice with a class conflict, Jonathan Clinkscale returned to the No. 1 right guard position. Kalvin Barrett and Jeff Lang continued to split reps with the No. 2 offense (Barrett appears to still be the official No. 2).
- Alex Lewis had a really strong practice, particularly during inside running drills, where it's always his time to shine. As Badger fans are well aware of, Lewis is at his best defending the run, and while there was no tackling to the ground in this practice, Lewis laid the smack down on some people Friday afternoon.
- Several people have asked about the linebacker depth at the Mike and Eagle positions. Right now the top three Mike and Eagle backers, in order of depth, are Jeff Mack, Kyle McCorison and Mark Zalewski (Mike) and Alex Lewis, Elliot Goode and Reggie Cribbs (Eagle).
- Many fans have been wondering if and when Traison Lewis will progress and break into the defensive line rotation. This spring might be that time. Lewis has been getting a lot of reps in the regular rotation. Lyle Maiava and Mark Gorman are two other young faces that are getting increased reps and have a chance to become regulars.
- Erasmus James was a standout during one-on-one drills matching defensive linemen vs. offensive linemen. The highlight of the drill was him steamrolling through one blocker to get to the quarterback dummy.
- Matt Schabert had a strong practice throwing the ball, including a bomb to Darrin Charles down the right sideline during 7-on-7 drills, threading the needle in tight coverage from Levonne Rowan.
- Speaking of Rowan, don't count him out of the race for starting cornerback. Coach Ron Lee indicated Friday afternoon that he realized he was pressing Rowan too hard, too soon, and wanted to pull back on him to relieve some of the pressure this spring. He has a good chance to recover his starting position if he proves himself throughout the rest of the spring and into fall camp. Rowan has been getting reps with the No. 1 defense as the left cornerback, but has played right cornerback with the No. 2 unit.
- Jim Leonhard is being withheld from all scrimmage contact this spring, as a precautionary measure after the string of injuries that sidelined him last year. Meanwhile, Ryan Aiello is dealing with a recurring shoulder problem but is not being held back from contact (which he is thankful for). Aiello will spend a lot of the summer rehabbing his shoulder and expects it to be 100 percent before fall camp begins.
- Lee Evans ran some light routes during practice with help from a fellow injured Badger, Owen Daniels, who reverted back to his old position for Evans' sake. Daniels threw a variety of routes to Evans midway through practice.
- This practice was a standout afternoon for the secondary, particularly for cornerbacks Brett Bell and Scott Starks, who prevented Brandon Williams from having his normal highlight reel practice with a few athletic pass breakups. Bell made the play of the afternoon with a leaping interception to rob Williams on a deep ball.
- Booker Stanley broke a long run for a touchdown during team drills, beating a defender to the edge and streaking down the left sideline untouched.
- Jason Clemens, a senior linebacker, lined up at right defensive end with the No. 2 and 3 defenses during drills.
- Aside from the starters, Robert Brooks might be having the best spring practice of any member of the secondary. He has put himself into a position to play regularly next fall, and Coach Lee is looking for any way he can get him onto the field because of his consistent solid play.
- Kareem Timbers is still the starter at drop linebacker, but unlike the previous few practices, Lamarr Watkins was sharing reps at the position with the No. 1 defense.
- Brandon White is having a really solid spring practice. He is involved in almost every three and four wide receiver set.
Al Johnson, Ryan Simmons, Russ Kuhns and B.J. Tucker were among the attendees to the practice session.
April 4 Practice Report
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