FB: Bradie Ewing
For the first time, Wisconsin's coaching staff went with a double set of skelly drills, with the ones vs. ones on one side of the field and the twos vs. twos on the other side of the field, allowing the Badgers to maximize their repetitions.
It was Monday's first real passing competition, and it was evident that Wilson is a highly experienced and tremendously talented quarterback. Yes, Wilson didn't have to face a pass rush, but it was easy to see that he plays with an internal clock in his head. Wilson showed good mobility, the ability to go through his progressions and to tuck and run instead of forcing as pass.
Through his reps, Wilson was nearly perfect, only victimized by a Jeff Duckworth drop. Wilson didn't unleash a lot of deep balls, choosing to hit the safe receivers in the flat on check down routes to move the chains, but did uncork a beauty to sophomore receiver Jared Abbrederis. In coverage with senior cornerback Devin Smith, the combination of Wilson's perfect spiral and Abbrederis leaping at the right time equaled a 28-yard gain.
Budmayr, Wilson's main competition for the starting job, wasn't nearly as sharp. Forcing throws and having miscommunication with his receivers, Budmayr only completed a couple checkdown passes, including a four-yard completion on 3rd-and-9. Budmayr's worst throw came when he tried to force a pass in to traffic that was tipped by Marcus Trotter and intercepted by the secondary. His best throw came when his two primary receivers were covered, but went through his progressions and calmly hit sophomore tight end Jacob Pedersen on an inside slant.
After struggling in the spring game, Brennan looks like a more polished passer. He was plagued by a couple of drops, but seemed to develop a good chemistry with freshman Drew McAdams, a converted quarterback. McAdams caught a couple of touchdown passes from Brennan going over the middle, including a 25-yard grab that McAdams was fully extended on. Brennan still has his moments though, including one pass where he badly overthrew the receiver and the pass landed right in the arms of cornerback Jameson Wright for an interception.
With a light rain shower coming down, it seemed like foreshadowing when Ball fumbled a Wilson handoff and Byrne let a pass slip through his fingers. Throw in the fact that Budmayr's first pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage, the drill was off to a rocky start.
Each quarterback had a highlight in the predominately run drill. Wilson showed top-end speed when he was flushed out of pocket by a pass rush, tucked the ball and sprinted down the right sideline for a 20-plus yard gain before heading out of bounds. Wilson did the move a couple times, including one run around the left tackle when he zigzagged through traffic.
Budmayr also had a good connection with Toon, throwing to the senior on a deep sideline slant that the receiver grabbed with his far hand and got a foot down in bounds. Problem was the play was blown dead after a blitzing pass rush collapsed the pocket. He did respond though, throwing a great ball over the middle that Jeff Duckworth hauled in to move the chains.
When asked Sunday if his defense was going to continue the aggressive theme it showed during spring practices, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said that the players usually follow the philosophy of its position coach, following that with a joke that co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash is, ‘an angry man.' Turns out, he wasn't the only one.
After a lackadaisical few run through with the reserve offensive and defensive line, offensive coordinator Paul Chryst unleashed a verbal furry on the players, telling them to basically get their act together or simply get out.
Even after the first day in half pads, it's obvious that the Badgers coaches aren't settling for complacency.
One of the big questions was where Wisconsin would slot in Madison Memorial athlete Jordan Fredrick, who played wide receiver and safety for the Spartans. Originally being looked at as possible a linebacker, the UW staff has started Fredrick at receiver, and he certainly looked the part during individual drills. Listed at 6-3 and 200 pounds, Fredrick reeled in an over-the shoulder pass one handed, an impressive display of concentration. Next time through the rotation, Fredrick outstretched for another deep ball, getting both hands in the play but couldn't haul it in after three steps.
Ray Ball is massive in size, but his footwork appeared a little off Monday in individual drills with the tackling dummy. Ball has good initial impact and good lift, but he struggled extending through the opponent. The Badgers aren't in need of an offensive lineman to step in right away at this point, so it's a hardly an area of concern. With the 2012 commitment of Kyle Dodson, UW's offensive line looks to be a dominant Ohio force in the coming seasons.
Melvin Gordon has the speed and agility to play right away if he can get a handle on the playbook and the fundamentals. Showing a burst of speed from the point of attack, Gordon cut his way through the line of scrimmage a times and out ran a number of the linebackers. The goal now is to learn the value of ball security. Nearing the end of a run, Gordon started to slow down and was caught from behind by Wisconsin's veteran secondary and popped the ball out a fumble at the end of the play. It didn't sit too well with running back coach Thomas Hammock, who chewed out Gordon and made him run a couple laps.
Gordon also got a rude welcome when he seemed to break a play around the left side only to be greeted by Michael Trotter's shoulder and a fall to the turf.
Extra Points: Henry, Abbrederis and Doe all fielded punts with no live rush. Despite a couple of ducks, the group didn't bobble any of them … After missing all spring following foot surgery, senior Nick Toon looks like his old self. Toon didn't miss a beat, or a catch for that matter, and seemed to have a good chemistry working with Wilson … The Big Ten Network football crew was set up in the south end zone and filmed practice and interviews. Madison was their first stop on a 12-city, 3000-mile tour throughout Big Ten Country. Wisconsin's show will air on Sunday at 7 p.m. CT.