Spring Game Thoughts

Some postgame thoughts on the 2003 Spring Game from Badger Nation Editor Ronny Whitworth.

The 2003 Spring Game marked the last time we will see the UW football team until fall camp opens next August. Here are some initial thoughts from the 15th and final UW practice of the spring season:

- Byron Brown showed everyone this afternoon why the coaches have been raving about him throughout the spring. He led the receivers with seven catches for 73 yards combined for the two teams. While he is not as explosive as some of his peers in the receiving corps, he is a consistent performer who has improved immensely and will be an asset next fall.

- Jim Sorgi's struggles were partially because of the situation he was asked to play with. Because play was not live, Sorgi hesitated greatly to scramble or take off running, because at that point, any contact from a defender would end the play. While Sorgi wasn't as accurate throwing the ball as he normally is, the thought process he went through in the pocket was different than usual because of the game situation.

- Sorgi didn't have a great day, but his rundown of Levonne Rowan following his interception was the best play of the day. Rowan, a sprint champion in high school, was knocked out of bounds by a much faster than expected Sorgi, and trust me, he already wishes he had that one back. Rowan has already been hearing it from his teammates all day long. Rowan didn't get caught the second time, however, as on his second pick of the day, he went the distance for a touchdown.

- Matt Schabert was the only quarterback that had a good day, and he took another step towards solidifying the No. 2 quarterback position. Coach Barry Alvarez' comments indicated he feels John Stocco is a better athlete and has a better arm, but winning the backup quarterback spot is an uphill battle.

- The coaches were looking for an indication of improvement in the punting game on Saturday, and they got the exact opposite. R.J. Morse and Adam Wozniak were erratic, and the door is wide open for a walk-on to step in and take the job next fall.

- When asked about the "cluster" formations used regularly during Saturday's game, with three receivers bunched up together in a cluster, Offensive Coordinator Brian White's eyes lit right up. We will have a story on the site later this week about that formation, and what it allows the Badger offense to do to a defense. Along with the two tailback-sets, this is a wrinkle that is a direct result of the improved depth and talent on the offense. We will also have a very informative Q&A with White in our next print edition that will explain a lot of the changes in depth.

- Mike Allen proved once again that he is the best man for the starting kicker job, going 2-for-2 with field goals of 44 and 39 yards. The coaches put on the pressure, with Matt Domonkos and Scott Campbell having opportunities to match Allen's kicks immediately, but both backup kickers missed opportunities. Campbell's kickoffs were worrisome, with the majority of them landing between the 10 and 20-yard line, although in the second half, with the wind, his distance improved.

- It was hard to get a read on the tailbacks early in the day because there was no tackling, but Anthony Davis didn't take long to show his explosiveness, going 47-yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. Jerone Pettus showed the improvements he made during the tackling portion of the game, and Booker Stanley also looked solid.

- The No. 1 defensive line dominated the No. 2 offensive line, as it should have, with Jason Jefferson and Anttaj Hawthorne looking particularly impressive. Hawthorne had two tackles-for-loss and forced a fumble. If the quarterbacks didn't have green jerseys on, they would have been dismantled on a few occasions by defensive ends Erasmus James and Jonathan Welsh. James led both teams with three sacks on the afternoon. Matt Gajda showed a lot of fire on the No. 2 defensive line, making a few nice plays.

- For the record, the leading tackler on either team was Joe Stellmacher, who finished with seven tackles. He also had an interception. Rowan was the defensive star of the day, finishing with five tackles and two picks, both with long returns, including one for a touchdown.

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