Saturday Practice Report

The Badgers hosted their first open spring practice Saturday, with Curt Phillips participating in limited capacity and passing drills.

MADISON — For the first time since the Rose Bowl loss, the Wisconsin football team donned pads and hit each other.

Their starvation of physical contact was evident.

Although the defense was supposed to simply meet the ball carrier and place two hands on him, on many occasions the running back or wide receiver was born to the ground. Perhaps showing his frustration or simply his competitive nature coming through, Bradie Ewing lowered his shoulder and gave a helmet to the chest of Shelton Johnson. The junior defensive back responded in kind, by tossing Ewing to the turf. Taking exception to the treatment of his teammate, Brian Wozniak came in hard and got in Johnson's face. Soon Kevin Claxton was drawn in, and we had the first fight of spring ball.

Yes, the Badgers appear ready to put the Rose Bowl defeat behind them.

"Playing in pads for the first time we thought they were going to be a little rambunctious, flying around," Bielema said. "They were pretty conscientious about the pre-snap stuff, lining up and what not. They handled themselves pretty well."

Two-Deep Offense

QB: Jon Budmayr, Joe Brennan

RB: Montee Ball or James White, Zach Brown

TE: Jake Byrne or Brian Wozniak

H-back: Jacob Pedersen, Sherard Cadogan or Manasseh Garner

RT: Casey Dehn, Rob Havenstein

RG: Kevin Zeitler, Dallas Lewallen

C: Peter Konz, Ryan Groy

LG: Travis Frederick, Jake Current

LT: Ricky Wagner, Robert Burge

WR: Jared Abbrederis, Marquis Mason

WR: Jeff Duckworth, Kenzel Doe or Isaiah Williams

Two-Deep Defense

DT: Jordan Kohout, B.A. Allen

DT: Patrick Butrym, Ethan Hemer

DE: Louis Nzegwu, Pat Muldoon

DE: David Gilbert, Brendan Kelly

MLB: Marcus Trotter, A.J. Fenton

SLB: Kevin Claxton, Josh Harrison

WLB: Mike Taylor, Conor O'Neill

CB: Antonio Fenelus, Dezmen Southward or Marcus Cromartie

CB: Devin Smith, Adam Hampton or Peniel Jean

SS: Shelton Johnson, Michael Trotter

FS: Aaron Henry/Dezmen Southward

Healing Quickly

After quarterback Curt Phillips tore his ACL in the fall, no one, including Phillips himself, quite knew what to expect as the signal caller rehabbed.

Well, as UW head coach Bret Bielema likes to put it, Phillips appears to be a "genetic freak."

Phillips took part in skeleton drills (seven on seven), where there was no pass rush. The only caveat was Phillips took every snap in shotgun, as he is not yet comfortable dropping back and pivoting.

From an arm standpoint, he performed as well, if not better, than the rest of the quarterbacks, going an unofficial eight-for-11 in the skeleton drills.

"He basically does all Skelly," Bielema said. "He is comfortable kind of moving — coming back from an ACL it is kind of the pivoting move, more than the straight ahead and that's where we are trying to be real cautious. He is healing quickly and hopefully he will be back sooner than later."

Quarterback Competition

While the contest for the starting QB job will not begin in earnest until next fall when everyone is healthy and on the same field, each rep and each throw make a difference in the coaches minds.

Unofficially, Budmayr went 12-for-21 with two interceptions combined in 11-on-11 and the Skeleton drills.

Joe Brennan went 1-for-2, while early enrollee Joel Stave made an impressive debut hitting on all five of his passes including three over 10 yards.

Budmayr flashed his entire package — good and bad. One of the picks was a careless throw that Henry took back for a touchdown, while the other Budmayr forced into tight coverage and Smith came away with the interception. Budmayr also had two of his 21 passes tipped at the defensive line, though he caught one of them and took off running. Nick Toon.

Versatile Groy

After playing both guard and fullback last season, Ryan Groy has added center to his list of potential positions. He lined up with the 'twos' at center all Saturday.

"Ryan has the privilege that he can probably play center, guard or tackle," Bielema said.

"We just want to have quality depth at that position, and Ryan is very intelligent so we are trying him at that spot as well."

Groy is clearly still adjusting to the position, however, as he had two fumbled exchanges with Brennan, a problem Bielema said persisted through the firs two practices.

Extra Points

Give Marquis Mason credit for the hit of the day as he trucked Peniel Jean over during a running play that brought woos from the crowd. Mason weighs in at 226 pounds, while Jean is listed at 187. … The Badger offense unveiled a new wrinkle with a shotgun pitch play, though the defense sniffed it right out, and James White eventually fumbled the ball. White then ran a lap. … Kenzel Doe continues to make a positive impact on Bielema, who said he is more impressed with Doe after each practice. … Wisconsin high school football coaches were in vast attendance Saturday, learning the finer points of defensive line play in particular from co-defensive coordinator Charles Partridge.

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