Wednesday's Practice Report

It's been almost two weeks on the practice field and it's almost two weeks to game time and still, the University of Wisconsin hasn't been able to keep all its starting linebackers healthy. Still, there are plenty of positive contributors chipping in on the defense, especially in the secondary.

MADISON – You can add Mike Taylor to Wisconsin's injury list. Taylor missed his third consecutive practice with what co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash said was some soreness in his right knee, the same knee in suffered a torn in against Iowa in 2009.

"Right now, we're kind of struggling with consistency with our ones, keeping the same 11 out there every single day, especially at the linebacker position," co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash said Wednesday. "That's really what we need to try to get in the next couple weeks, some consistency out of those guys just so we can get some chemistry with everybody together.

"It's a lot better when you get two guys playing side-by-side and they can communicate with each other, they can trust each other and they can feed off each other. We kind of have been missing that up to this point and hopefully, we can get that back."

Senior Kevin Claxton also was held out of practice Tuesday after taking a helmet to the knee and Devin Smith was injured in a one-on-one drill and was replaced on the first-team defense by Cromartie. Smith injury is not serious.

Rob Havenstein and Kevin Zeitler also remained out with right ankle sprains, but offensive line coach Bob Bostad said they could be close to returning.


QB: Russell Wilson, Joe Brennan

RB: Montee Ball or James White, Melvin Gordon or Jeff Lewis

FB: Bradie Ewing, Derek Straus

H-back: Jacob Pedersen, Jake Byrne, Austin Traylor

RT: Josh Oglesby, Tyler Marz

RG: Ryan Groy, Robby Burge

C: Peter Konz, Ryan Groy

LG: Travis Frederick, Zac Matthias

LT: Ricky Wagner, Case Dehn

WR: Jared Abbrederis, Jordan Fredrick, Isaiah Williams, A.J. Jordan

WR: Jeff Duckworth, Connor Cummins or Kenzel Doe


DT: Ethan Hemer, Jordan Kohout

DT: Patrick Butrym, Beau Allen

DE: David Gilbert or Pat Muldoon, Warren Herring

DE: Louis Nzegwu or Brendan Kelly, Pat Muldoon, Konrad Zagzebski

MLB: Chris Borland, Josh Harrison, Jake Keefer

SLB: A.J. Fenton, Cameron Ontko

WLB: Conor O'Neill, Ethan Armstrong, Derek Watt,

CB: Antonio Fenelus, Darius Hillary

CB: Marcus Cromartie, Peniel Jean, Adam Hampton

SS: Shelton Johnson, Josh Peprah

FS: Aaron Henry, Dezmen Southward

7-on-7 Skelly Drills

Putting his quarterbacks in situational drills, it was interesting to see how each quarterback attacked first, second and third down. Having the ability to go through their progressions without a pass rush, Wilson performance was almost statistically perfect.

Attempted six combined passes when the sticks said first or second down, Wilson never went for the money maker right away, choosing to get his offense in a short-yardage situation for the later downs. Wilson never attempted a pass beyond the marker and got the ball in the hands of his running backs or tight ends open over the middle. The result was a perfect 6 for 6 and even some first downs because of the running back's speed.

When it came to third down, Wilson really aired it out, but never really gambled on a deep pass. In five attempts, Wilson completed four passes and three went for first downs. His best throw was to Duckworth between two defenders and the defensive stop was a solid play by Southward to get his hand on the throw to knock it away from Pedersen, who had open field in front of him.

Brennan wasn't nearly as crisp or as adventurous with his throws. On first and second down, Brennan was a combined 4-for-6 with one drop off Fredrick's hands. On third down, Brennan was 4-for-7 and completed three for first downs. His best throw was a nice soft spiral to Isaiah Williams on an inside slant, but Brennan rarely stretched out the offense.

Fresh Impressions

- Drops. Too many drops. The receivers did not look sharp in many faucets Wednesday morning, and that included the veterans, as well. On third-and-long, Abbrederis sprinted off the line, not realizing the snap count. Williams had a drop that would have given the team a first down, Duckworth made a bad bobble that resulted in an interception by Johnson and a big return.

Duckworth said earlier last week that he was showing flashes, but the biggest thing he was battling is consistency. After two days with bad drops, it's obvious that the war wages on.

- Piggybacking off that, it was obvious that the players are grinding midway through their second full week of practice. Wisconsin has already practiced four times in just less than 72 hours and the intensity and energy just didn't seem to be there. The routes weren't as crisp by the receivers, the noise level was quieter than usual and there were hardly any big plays worth noting. Hopefully, the group is saving it for tomorrow's scrimmage.

- With Havenstein still out nursing an ankle injury, true freshman Tyler Marz has been thrown into the deep end of the pool. He hasn't sunk yet, but you can tell he's having trouble treading water. He struggles a little bit with his assignment and his footwork but considering he is coming off an ACL injury October, it's pretty impressive how he's moving.

"I have been very impressed with the young kid stepping in and doing what he's been doing," Bostad said of Marz. "He's had his eyes wide open a couple of times with a mismatch here and there, but I like what I see. I really do. It's awesome."

- White was able to lead Wisconsin to a pair of rushing touchdowns on second-and-goal and third-and-goal from the two. Through open practices, White looks much more confident in his runs and his cuts, a productive of working with new running back coach Thomas Hammock. Hammock instilled in White and the other running backs to run with a purpose and to strength their lower bodies.

"He's going to get the best out of us and he's going to push you to the limit," White said. "If you mess up, he's going to let you know, that's for sure. You're going to take a lap after practice, whatever it is. He's been there. He's been in our position, so he's out here to try to make us better football players."

- The depth on Wisconsin's defensive line continues to build depth, a realization when Brendan Kelly got his most extensive work in camp with the second-team defense. Kelly had been limited in camp while the training staff worked to craft a shoe insert that would better protect a surgically repaired toe when he planted and changed directions. By the looks of it today, Kelly was playing with comfort.

Red Zone

First Team

Wilson made quick work of his first red zone assignment, finding Abbrederis in the corner of the end zone after Cromartie tripped in coverage. When Wisconsin got its second chance, it was a little more methodical, and not as successful. Ball got five yards on a sweep to the left and a handoff to Abbrederis, who was in motion on the play, went for no gain. After a collapsing pocket forced Wilson to throw the ball away, a field goal attempt would have been needed.

Second Team

Brennan was able to overcome a pre-snap penalty and find Williams in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. When the drill reset, it was the defense that flexed its muscles. On first down, Jean, fully recovered from his MCL sprain, made a diving breakup in coverage against Fredrick to go along with his forced fumble earlier in practice.

For a Wisconsin team that has a sharp drop off in terms of experience after its top three corners, Jean is close to working himself into the mix.

"He's a mature kid and he's pretty even keel, not getting too high or too low," Ash said of Jean. "He's working hard to study the game and learn the concepts and his responsibilities. He's done a nice job out here in training camp. He's really improved. I compare him from last year to this year, it's not even the same kid. As long as he continues to go through the process day by day and improve, he'll be fine."

After Wisconsin got itself into a third-and-1 situation, Peprah moved up from his safety position, showed good lateral movement and stopped Lewis at the line of scrimmage to force the offense into a field goal attempt.

Extra Points: Barry Alvarez was seen roaming the sidelines at practice, one of the few times he's made an appearance over the last week and a half … Wisconsin is scheduled to scrimmage tomorrow at 2:35 p.m.

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