From the defense's perspective, it seems the Badgers set the tone for what hopefully is going to be a productive week stopping the offense.
FB: Bradie Ewing
RT: Josh Oglesby
C: Peter Konz, Ryan Groy
From the Infirmary
After the last practice Saturday night, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema was confident that he would get as many as 10 to 12 players back Monday. Perhaps he was referring to tonight's practice, as many walking wounded are still on the sidelines.
Of that group, Fred Willis (dislocated thumb), Tyler Dippel (concussion), Marcus Trotter (hamstring), Austin Maly (concussion), Jon Budmayr (right elbow), Manasseh Garner (hernia surgery), Dallas Lewallen (knee cap), Nick Toon (foot), Kevin Zeitler (right ankle sprain) remain out, although Zeitler was dressed in full uniform without a walking boot.
A number of players returned in limited means: Brendan Kelly (foot), Michael Trotter (hamstring), linebacker A.J. Fenton (hamstring), tight end Brian Wozniak (hamstring) and cornerback Peniel Jean (knee). Ethan Armstrong (concussion) returned, but was in a no-contact jersey.
The only player that fully returned was Claxton, who didn't practice Saturday night after a rib injury flared up. The only new injury was that Rob Havenstein did not practice.
7-on-7 Skelly Drills
With Wilson was at quarterback, Fenelus, Henry and Smith came up with some big defensive plays that set the tone for the entire practice. Fenelus started the drill by breaking up a pass attempt to Abbrederis by getting his hand into the passing lane, Henry stuck with his receiver and provided blanketing one-on-one coverage and Smith delivered two plays back to back. After a catch by Cummins, Smith stuck with the redshirt freshman and eventually knocked the ball out, prompting praise from his safeties coach. Smith aggressive coverage also could be credited in yielding a drop from Cummins on the next play, as the senior cornerback was right on his back.
In all, Wilson missed his first six passes, settling for a short dump off to Doe to barely break the streak, as the freshman bobbled the pass before hauling it in.
Fenelus continued his productive work when the second team came out, diving to break up a completion and getting physical with Cummins to break up another. When the first team came out, Fenelus nearly had another interception, jumping a Pedersen route only to bobble the interception. There is little debating that this was one of Fenelus' best practices.
Chalk it up to having a day off, but Wilson and the offense just didn't look smooth in skelly drills. Dropped passes by the receivers and average throws led to the defense allowing less than six completions in the drill, a pretty hard stat to achieve even if you are trying for deficiency. The better throws did return, as Wilson threw a couple nice passes to the back shoulder of his receiver, allowing a guy like Pedersen to turn, catch and fluently move down field.
Still, the offense generally looked out-of-sync and the defense was simply impressive, especially when it came to third down.
Third Down Situation
First vs. First
Third-and-2 On a play-action fake, Borland didn't buy the fake, stayed on his key and stopped Wilson for no gain.
Third-and-4 Great coverage in the secondary led to long incompletion to Doe.
Third-and-6 Wilson completed the pass to Ball in the flat, but Nezgwu forced him out two yards short of the first down maker.
Third-and-8 A fumbled snap led to the play's timing being off, and to Nzegwu getting enough pressure on Wilson to register a sack/throw away.
Third-and-3 Wilson made a nice throw on the run and Pedersen did an even better job of holding on to the ball, as Shelton Johnson was doing everything he could to force the fumble.
Third-and-6 Kevin Claxton make a shifty move to get past Ball, who stayed back in pass protection, but Wilson's quick release to Abbrederis got his team a first down.
Third-and-10 An inside handoff to Ball was sniffed out by Cameron Ontko, who made the stop at the line of scrimmage for no gain. Ontko continues to fill it nicely for Fenton in team drills.
Third-and-12 Wilson made a great throw with a collapsing pocket to hit Abbrederis for a 17-yard gain and the first down.
Third-and-10 A pass to Pedersen in the flat was incomplete when the tight end failed to turn around.
Twos vs. Twos
Third-and-3 A false start on Mattias forced the Badgers to reset the drill. UW finally got a first down on the second third-and-3 when Gordon bounced an inside handoff outside and got 6 yards.
Third-and-5 Despite a blitzing Harrison, Brennan was able to complete a first-down pass to Doe, who made a diving catch two yards past the marker.
Third-and-8 A.J. Jordan caught a pass with his outside shoulder and turned it up field to get past the first-down maker, one of his better plays of the fall in team drills.
Third-and-10 A full-out blitz caused a jailbreak at the line of scrimmage, as the pocket collapsed and all Brennan could do was hold the ball.
Third-and-15 With Brennan in the shotgun, a penetrating Butrym got into Brennan's face and made the quarterback step up in the pocket. The result was Brennan losing a grasp of the ball and a turnover.
Wisconsin defense continued its practice dominance when Bielema pinned his offense at the two-yard line. Not only did the offense stop two running plays and get a false penalty, Borland was able to sack Wilson in the end zone on a gap blitz, forcing the second-string offense on the field.
When the two-team defense came up, O'Neill blitzed through the open gap and tackled Gordon in the end zone for the second safety. Two plays later, the defense punctuated the drill when Harrison came untouched through the left side and sacked Brennan, who didn't even try to escape.
After throwing just out of the reach of Abbrederis on first-and-10 from the 18, Nzegwu made a thunderous pass block that would have made J.J. Watt jealous. He also spearheaded the pressure on third down, as Wilson was forced to make a thrower quicker than he wanted that sailed out of the back of the end zone.
With the second team up in the same scenario, a rush to right by Jeff Lewis went for a loss of two when Harrison followed the play and was able to make a stop for a two-yard loss. Brennan missed a golden opportunity on second down when he had Cummins wide open coming out of his break. Due to a collapsing pocket, however, Brennan led Cummins too far and the pass was incomplete. Jordan Fredrick saved the drive, however, as the freshman made a leaping catch over freshman Darius Hilary for the touchdown grab.
Move the Ball
Starting on the 40, Wilson hit Pedersen on a crossing route that only went for five yards because Borland chased him down. The same couldn't be said for Abbrederis on the next, who caught a six-yard pass and immediately broke inside, catching Smith on his heels and getting the ball down to the 28. When DeMontie Cross saying his defense needed a turnover, Borland answered, making a diving interception to his left at the 20-yard line in front of Byrne, which was easily the play of the day. Just like it was for Fenelus, this was easily Borland's best practice of the fall.
The second-team offense was put in a hole early when Costigan hit Gordon behind the line for a loss of two and Brennan lead Lewis too far on a running back go route, setting up third down. Brennan misfired to Jordan to end the practice.
Travis Frederick on whether this morning was a good practice for the offense.
"Today was a practice for the offense. I think everyday is a little bit different and the struggles are a little bit different. I don't think we had a good day today. I don't think anybody had a good day today. Some people would beg to differ, but we really need to come out and improve tonight. That's the key."
Up Next: Wisconsin will practice again at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Head coach Bret Bielema is expected to address the media after.