"This is a little bit of an unusual deal," head coach Bret Bielema said Thursday night. "Over the course of time, we've always started on Monday, gone an entire week and given them off Sunday. This is a little bit different with the two (practices last week), had Sunday off and jump in it. (This i)s the first time we've ever had two-a-days in the middle of the week like we did today.
"I think it's a learning experience for everybody but it's good because … that Thursday game is a little different, as well."
FB: Bradie Ewing
RT: Rob Havenstein
From the Infirmary
When Jon Budmayr started complaining about pain in his right elbow, the same elbow he had surgery on and missed roughly two months as a true freshman, the coaching staff had a right to be concerned. So when the x-rays came back negative and the result of the pain was just swelling, Budmayr will be back competing.
"Really when the swelling goes down," Bielema said of when he expects Budmayr to return. "He was actually pretty good yesterday. He wanted to do handoffs yesterday, but it got a little sore and a little bit more swollen."
Senior right guard Kevin Zeitler missed his second practice of the day after tweaking his right ankle in yesterday's practice. Fellow senior Josh Oglesby did not practice to give his right knee a break Chris Borland continues to be limited, but did participate in kickoff return drills. Louis Nzegwu also only did some special teams work. Nick Toon (foot) was given the night off.
In terms of Borland, Bielema probably won't let him scrimmage tomorrow, but will let him scrimmage next Thursday.
"The part we had to be careful of as when he was coming back was when he was in the most danger because he gets fatigued so quickly," Bielema said.
After hernia surgery, Manasseh Garner made an appearance, riding a stationary bike and watching practice from the sidelines. Brian Wozniak (hamstring) took turns with him on the bike and should be back early next week.
"He just had the surgery, feels real good and they encourage you to get up and walk around," Bielema said of Garner. "He should be back in three weeks or a little bit less."
Peniel Jean (mild MCL sprain), Jordan Fredrick (sinus infection) and Austin Maly (concussion) were out. Philip Welch (strained right quadriceps) and will start kicking early next week. Dallas Lewallen (knee cap), Marcus Trotter (hamstring), Michael Trotter (hamstring), A.J. Fenton (hamstring), and Brendan Kelly (foot) remained out.
"The Trotters we expect back early next week," Bielema said. "Michael might come back before Marcus. They are relatively light hamstring pulls."
Freshman Fred Willis had an unfortunate innocent at the end of this morning's practice.
"He was in a battle for the ball over, he came up and the bone was sticking out of his hand," Bielema said. "He goes, ‘Coach, I think I broke my thumb.' He just dislocated it. He had surgery this afternoon and should be back within five to seven days once the skin heals over."
The biggest injury so far of camp has again been sustained by sophomore Nick Hill, who tore the ACL in his left leg as he attempted a comeback from a torn ACL in his right leg.
"Disappointing day for him," Bielema said. "I feel bad for him. He's been battling back pretty good, so that was tough."
In His Ear
With the Badgers kicking position apparently wide open, Bielema is making sure his young kickers get put in as pressure-filled situation as possible, specifically redshirt freshman Kyle French. Bielema yelled in his ear, blew his whistle and threatened the entire unit with up downs if French slipped up. He never did, including nailing a 48-yard kick to save the up downs.
"(I) like the word Kyle French is doing," Bielema said. "He's hitting the ball incredibly well."
French knows a little bit about pressure situations in Camp Randall. He pushed a 40-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter of the WIAA Division 1 state championship game in a 7-0 loss to the Trotters and Milwaukee Marquette, but scored the only actual points in the spring game on a 44-yard attempt and made rapid fire kicks of 23 and 33 yards.
"I don't think French has missed one in four days," Bielema said. "I even tried to put some pressure on him and I think he's looked exceptional. Just his body has changed and his confidence level."
Sophomore Alec Lerner also made a 45-yard attempt and had good distance on his kickoffs, putting everyone inside the 10-yard line and a couple in the end zone, things that put all the more pressure on the injured Welch.
"He had four kickoffs with 4.0 (second) hang time or better," Bielema said of Lerner.
With Bielema putting Wilson and the first team offense in third down situations of varying distances, Wilson had decent results, unofficially going 10 of 13 and completing his last eight passes. He was victimized by a Jeff Duckworth drop and lost one first down when Drew McAdams fumbled the ball after getting hit. He also suffered two sacks as a result of solid coverage by the first-team defense, a group that has really solid of late in big situations.
His best throw was a timing route to Abbrederis, who ran an outside slant after stutter stepping to the middle of the field. Right before Abbrederis started his fake, Wilson released the pass and put it in the right spot, resulting in a 17-yard completion.
Brennan didn't have the chains to work with, but was fairly efficient, unofficially going 7 of 10 by utilizing Jeff Lewis and Melvin Gordon out of the backfield. Brennan is throwing the ball better than he did in spring, and might have an opportunity to win the backup job if he continues to make the strides he's on.
"I think Joey Brennan, from what I saw in the spring to where we are right now, is night and day," Bielema said. "This composure in the huddle, his progression and reads … Joey is a very dedicated football player. There's nobody up in (the offices) every day when I came in during the summer (more than him). He was always in there, studying film. I just think he took it upon himself to take a big step forward and he has so far."
With Wilson under center, the senior hit Abbrederis on an inside slant for three yards and got a White run for two, setting up a 3rd-and-5. In the shotgun, Wilson hit Bradie Ewing on a five-yard out for the first down. The pass was high, but Ewing made an athletic play to haul it in.
After Butrym stymied White for a loss (although Bielema gave the offense a yard) and switched in the second team, a play-action pass was perfectly sold by Wilson, leaving Byrne wide open for the touchdown. Wisconsin reset the drill, putting the offense in a third-and-6, and saw Lewis scamper through the middle for a touchdown. Continuing to reset the drill, Gordon scored on first-and-goal from the 2.
Resetting the drill this time from the 20, Wilson made a couple nice throws when he rolled out of the pocket, hitting both of his receivers in the numbers. On third-and-3m Gordon ran behind Havenstein and Burge, getting more than enough for the first down.
On the ensuing play, Wilson called an audible at the line of scrimmage, much to the delight of the defense, who started clapping, hooting and hollering to create as much noise as possible. It seemed to work, as UW's defense stopped held consecutive runs to two yards or less. White eventually quieted the group when he scored from two yards out.
Move the Ball Starting first-and-10 from his own 8, Wilson looked to dig out of the big hole on the first play, uncorking a massive throw in Abbrederis' direction down the middle of the field. Wilson got too much on the pass, which went about 50 yards in the air, and was just out of the reach of Abbrederis. After Fenelus stopped a run to force third-and-7, he stopped Abbrederis on a crossing route to force a punt.
Brennan was given a little more slack when he took over at UW's 22, but a five-yard penalty gave him first-and-15. Brennan was able to get his unit to third-and-2 after a nice completion to McAdams over the middle and Gordon moved the chains with a nifty juke once he got past the line of scrimmage.
Another pre-procedure penalty, this time on Casey Dehn, forced a five-yard penalty. It ended up costing them when Ethan Armstrong blew up a third-and-two run by crashing the middle of the line and pushing his blocker into the ball carrier.
The practice closed with the third teamers getting some reps and Joel Stave was greeted rudely with a sack to force second-and-12. After an A.J. Jordan drop to force third down, miscommunication led to a big overthrow and the end of practice.
Scrimmage on Tap
Wisconsin will scrimmage tomorrow, getting between 15-20 reps with the ones, twos and threes. More importantly, the Badgers will have referees on the field who will hopefully educate Wisconsin on the 17 new NCAA rules, including the one that takes a closer look at cut blocks, where and when cut blocks are illegal. Basically, all low blocks are illegal outside of the tackle box and on the line of scrimmage for blitzing defensive backs. This also includes special teams (kick and punt return), change of possessions (fumbles and interceptions) and any defensive techniques that may include taking blockers out outside of the tackle box.
Needless to say, there will be a learning curve.
"In all of my years as a head coach, we've had more meetings with the officials than any other point," Bielema said. "The chop rule, offensively and defensively, will significantly affect the game … (Big Ten head of officials) Bill Carollo is on top of it. We've got a number of tapes that have been sent to us. Paul (Chryst) has met individually not only with Bill but a couple of officials that have been on campus. There is a lot of dedication to that rule.
"For instance, a lot of it is determined where you are on the field, where you start. It's really going to change the game, especially for teams like Wisconsin."
In addition, a new rule says that now fouls by both the offensive and defensive teams that cause the clock to stop with less than one minute remaining in the game will result in a 10-second runoff.
"My main summer project was when to use it," Bielema said. "They said it's going to be a fool-proof plan, but I've heard that before when we install new rules."
Getting his first work with the second team defense, redshirt freshman Konrad Zagzebski showed a good burst off the line of scrimmage and seemed at times to get the better of Dehn, who is no slouch after making a start last season. Zagzebski is one of the handful of players that got their shoulder operated on and has recovered nicely from it. There was a lot of debate on where he was going to end up, as linebacker and fullback were mentioned, but with the way his body has developed (6-3, 250) and his ability, look for him to stay put.
Bielema revealed that tight end Sam Arneson had walking pneumonia before camp started and he is just getting to full strength. Still, he looks the most physically ready to compete out of UW's three new tight ends. Austin Traylor isn't that far behind either, as he is incredibly gifted athletically and, according to Bielema, has good football awareness.
"I think one of these three (Maly included) have a chance to do something for us," Bielema said.
Extra Point: Bielema said senior walk-on linebacker and Iraqi War veteran Greg Russo will join the Badgers when the roster expands to 120 players.