Saturday's Practice Report

With the sun peaking out to try and warm the cool breeze off the lake, Wisconsin football had its first refereed scrimmage in Camp Randall Saturday. Although the running back had plenty of positive moments, the defense set the tone.

MADISON - Getting the use of the full 100 yards and officials, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema wanted to use Saturday's scrimmage as a major teaching tool, having officials whistle every penalty, allow the defense to do some hitting and get the offense moving.

With senior Aaron Henry cracking sophomore Jared Abbrederis on the first play, creating a smashing of the pads that echoed throughout the whole stadium, it was obvious that both sides were ready to start some physicality.

"I thought there was a lot of great energy," Bielema said. "I liked the physical energy. A good day, a good starting point."

The scrimmage, according to Bielema, was set up in a couple phases. Starting with first down and second down scenarios, the offensive coaches want to see the team gain four yards or more and the defensive coaches want to see three yards or less. From there, the team went into a third-down drill, a red-zone drill and then a move-the-ball segment, which teaches ‘football the way it is on Saturday.'

Out of scrimmage today were the expected – Ethan Armstrong, Chris Borland, Tyler Dippel, Curt Phillips, Josh Oglesby and Nick Toon – and some unexpected. Brian Wozniak was held out with a MCL sprain, Sherard Cadogan with a lower leg contusion, Bradie Ewing with a shoulder injury and Jeff Lewis had a funeral.

During the scrimmage, only Peter Konz (high ankle sprain) and Michael Trotter (toe sprain) left the game with an injury. Both are expected back Tuesday when UW resumes practice.

Three-Deep Offense

QB: Jon Budmayr, Joe Brennan, Joel Stave

RB: Montee Ball or James White, Zach Brown, Kyle Zuleger

TE: Jake Byrne or Jacob Pedersen

H-back: Jacob Pedersen, or Jake Byrne

RT: Casey Dehn, Rob Havenstein, Riki Kodanko

RG: Kevin Zeitler, Dallas Lewallen

C: Peter Konz, Ryan Groy, Jake Current

LG: Travis Frederick, Jake Current, Zac Matthias

LT: Ricky Wagner, Robert Burge, Rob Havenstein

WR: Jared Abbrederis or Manasseh Garner, Isaiah Williams

WR: Jeff Duckworth, Kenzel Doe, Chase Hammond

Three-Deep Defense

DT: Jordan Kohout, B.A. Allen or Eriks Briedis, Bryce Gilbert

DT: Patrick Butrym, Ethan Hemer, Joseph McNamara

DE: Louis Nzegwu, Pat Muldoon, Warren Herring

DE: David Gilbert, Brendan Kelly, Jake Irwin

MLB: Marcus Trotter, Josh Harrison, Cody Byers

SLB: Kevin Claxton, A.J. Fenton, Cameron Ontko

WLB: Mike Taylor, Conor O'Neill

CB: Antonio Fenelus, Marcus Cromartie, Andrew Lukasko

CB: Devin Smith, Peniel Jean

SS: Shelton Johnson, Michael Trotter, Jerry Ponio

FS: Aaron Henry, Dezmen Southward , Adam Hampton

The Good

Without question, the highlights of the day were the plays of first-team running backs Ball and White. Ball is 12 pounds lighter and has been running with a purpose this spring while White, who had fumble problems earlier this week, ran with an added burst. On a couple plays, White showed the patience to allow good seal blocks from Wagner and Fredrick and get big gains, including a draw play than went over 15 yards.

"I think Montee and James are very good football players," Bielema said. "I thought the run game did look good today … They just competed all winter and really put themselves in position, I think, to have a great year."

With the amount of inexperienced receivers in camp, the UW quarterback's completion numbers have been hindered by drops or timing. That wasn't the case with Pedersen. A couple times the sophomore made good catches on the sidelines or over the middle of the field, including one for 15 yards with Southward draped over his back, drawing a pass interference penalty. With Wozniak out and Kendricks graduated, Pedersen is looking like the main draw at tight end.

One can tell that the defensive line is an experienced group, and that UW's second-string offense is still a work in progress. After UW lost no senior defensive linemen last year, that group registered upwards of seven sacks on Saturday, constantly pressuring the quarterbacks into rushed or ill-advised throws. One of those throws was from Stave, who tried to rush a pass out to Hammond before the receiver was ready, allowing Fenton to jump the route and return it for a score. Fenton had the only interception of the day, but always seemed to be around the football, a good sign for UW's linebacker depth.

Marcus Trotter had another solid practice for UW's linebackers and Bielema calls him an extremely hard and talented player.

"He's got pretty good instincts," Bielema said. "He fills when he supposed to fill and he fills aggressively. One of the things he's got to learn is his responsibility with how it fits with everything. Sometimes he goes like a mad man. If he's supposed to be the edge of the defense, it affects the other 10 players."

Another good thing from the linebackers is the continued solid play from senior Kevin Claxton. After shifting to outside linebacker last year, Claxton appears much more comfortable in the role. On one play, Claxton did a spin move against starting right tackle Casey Dehn and was untouched on his way to the quarterback.

"From where he has come from to where he is today, he's shown he can play at this level," Bielema said of Claxton. "I know he wants that starting position."

Shelton Johnson took advantage of his reps with a couple well defended plays and a solid pass breakup, laying a good hit on Abbrederis to knock the ball loose.

Late in practice with the three-team offense and defense were on the field, Zuleger had the longest play of the practice, taking a hand off on 3rd-and-2 along the right side for a 36-yard gain.

The Bad

Penalties – both presnap and postsnap – were high today, but that was to be expected with the officials on the field for the first time, and some other unforced errors. Dallas Lewallen was whistled for a couple of holding penalties, Garner had a false start and. Sophomore Ryan Groy continues to struggle at times snapping the football, as there were a number of center-quarterback exchanges today that resulted with the ball on the ground. As a result, Bielema made the whole team doing up-downs every five yards for 100 yards and the perpetrators do another set.

For the third day in a row, Marquis Mason started to practice only to leave early with a lower-body injury. Word from the sideline is that Mason might be warming up correctly, which is costing him reps and patience with receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander.

The quarterbacks still appear to be a little off with the receivers, a product of the youth at both positions. None of the QBs looked particularly sharp throwing the football, which is only a slight concern at this point in the year. The one quarterback that really struggled was senior Nate Tice, who went 1 of 7 in mop up duty. Junior Curt Phillips mentioned after practice briefly that he should be cleared by summer conditioning, which is a good sign moving forward.

Red Zone

First team offense vs. first team defense

1st-and-10 from the 17 – A play-action pass from Budmayr to Byrne in the right flat yielded the offense 12 yards. 1st-and-goal from the 5 – Marcus Trotter breaks through the line and stops Ball for a one-yard loss. 2nd-and-goal from the 6 – On a sweep left, James White found a seem and pounded his way into the end zone, taking Aaron Henry with him.

Second team offense vs. second team defense

1st-and-10 from the 18 – Manasseh Garner gets whistled for a false start. 1st-and-15 from the 23 – Kenzel Doe catches a quick pass in the flat and turns it in to a 13-yard gain. 2nd-and-1 from the 10 – Fenton smashes Brown on a cutback to the left side and takes him down for a two-yard loss. 3rd-and-3 from the 12 – Brown to the left for two. 4th-and-1 from the 9 – UW fakes a dive and Brennan gets three years on a naked bootleg.

1st-and-goal from the 6 – Brown up the middle for no game. 2nd-and-goal from the 6 – Brown muscles his way through the left side for four yards. 3rd-and-goal from the 2 – Brown runs into the left guard Current and his stopped at the goal line.

First team offense vs. first team defense

1st-and-10 from the 18 – An inside slant to Abbrederis goes for four yards. 2nd-and-6 from the 14 – Running behind Wagner and Fredrick, White waits for the two linemen to seal their defenders, opening up a gap and a 9-yard gain. 1st-and-goal from the 5 – James White up the middle for 2. 2nd-and-goal from the 3 - White runs between Zeitler and Dehn and makes for the corner of the end zone.

Play of the Day

With his right thumb immobilized and a cast on his right hand, it's not easy for Chase Hammond to catch the football. So he was allowed to have a little juggle on a 35-yard deep ball before he secured it into his chest before falling to the turf on third down.

"Chase Hammond has flashed a little bit," Bielema said. "With a cast on one hand as a wide receiver, it's not a good thing. Chase needs to understand of the toughness we bring to the table here, but I can't argue with the way he's competing right now."

In the Crowd

2011 verbal commits Sam Arneson, Jordan Fredrick, Melvin Gordon and Fred Wills were all in attendance. Also, hop on the insider board later for news of a new in-state walk-on.

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