After the defense dominated Wednesday's practice, the offense were the clear winners in Saturday morning's public practice, which saw approximately 850 fans come out despite iffy weather conditions.
"That's the way it should be for a good football team in spring ball, one side of the ball and the other the next," said Andersen. "That was a positive … I was really proud of the way the offense bounced back and made some plays today."
After putting it only a third of the defense before spring break, Andersen said Wisconsin coaches really ‘amped up the volume' with the amount of installs during practice seven and eight. The results showed Wednesday with the Badgers' defense being solid on third-down conversion drills and the offense struggling to adapt.
It was clear Saturday that the offense was ready to fight back, especially redshirt sophomore Joel Stave.
After struggling in his week back from spring break, Stave ran four of Wisconsin's team drills and ended two of them with touchdown passes. One was a 20-yard pass to Jordan Fredrick that ended practice and the other was a 60-yard bomb to Jared Abbrederis in one-on-one coverage against Peniel Jean that brought the crowd to its feet. Unofficially, Stave had only one incompletion during team drills.
"(He had) better command today," Andersen said of Stave. "I tried to sit back and be involved … and see the kids' eyes. Listen to Joel communicate, (he) did a good job with that. A better handle of the offense. Poise in the pocket was better today."
Curt Phillips ran two series, finishing one with a rushing touchdown and one with a field goal after the 14-play drive stalled at the five-yard line. Bart Houston ran two drives, one of which was ended by Nick Hill's tackle-for-loss on fourth-and-one.
While the personnel changed throughout the drills, Wisconsin ran a lot of three tight-end sets, which Andersen believes could be something the Badgers rely on this upcoming season if a number two wide receiver doesn't step up consistently.
"If we get into ‘13' personnel, it's an option for us," said Andersen, referring to the three tight-end formation. "Our tight ends are skilled, they run well and they are athletic enough to get out in space and cause some mismatches in space as well as the line of scrimmage. There are a lot of positives to that. It can slow down an aggressive defense in there sub packages and not allow them to get much skill on the field because they don't know what's coming."
Among the running backs, James White rushed six for 71 yards, including a two-yard touchdown, a 30-yard cutback to the outside and a 24-yard touchdown run that was set up with a little stutter step. Jeff Lewis had 16 carries for 73 yards, including a violent stiff arm to true freshman cornerback Sojourn Shelton. On his only carry, Kenzel Doe took an end around for a 30-yard touchdown in which he was untouched thanks to a downfield block by Austin Traylor. All stats are unofficial.
"I thought James ran the ball well, had a couple nice cuts," said Andersen. "James comes to work every day. He's excited to be here. He ran with more aggression today in a couple of those short-yardage situations. His reps are going to be limited but he's not counting his reps, he's making his reps count. It was impressive to see."
Changes to Spring Game
With less than eight healthy kids on the offensive line, Andersen said the Badgers won't have a spring game, but rather a ‘healthy scrimmage' on April 20th.
"It'll be fairly short, we'll be on and off quick, which is good for spring games," said Andersen. "That's kind of what everyone wants when you are in the last 15th practice. We'll still use it as a workday. It will not be a traditional football spring game."
On Saturday, Wisconsin's first team offense were (from left to right) Ryan Groy, Dallas Lewallen, Dan Voltz, Zac Matthias and Rob Havenstein. On the second team were Lewallen, Ball, Voltz, Trent Denlinger and Tyler Marz.
Because of the numbers, Groy has been taking plenty of reps at the left tackle spot, where he filled in at times for Ricky Wagner last season.
"(Groy) is so smart and so athletic that he can play a number of different spots," said Andersen. "These are good learning reps for him regardless of where he plays in the fall and further along for him in his future. Does this solidify him at left tackle? Absolutely no. We just have to get healthy again."
Red Zone Skele Notes
Phillips went 7-for-9 in the drill with three touchdown passes. Phillips hit Abbrederis for 18 yards in one-on-one coverage with Jean just past the pylon at the goal line, hit Fredrick for an 18-yard score and found Austin Maly in the back of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown.
Stave went 4-for-9 with no touchdowns in the drill. Danny O'Brien, who curiously did not get any reps during the team drills, threw a four-yard pass to Brett Arnold after going through his checks. Houston did not complete a pass in the drill.
One More Open Practice
Next Friday's practice will be the second and final open practice for the public, which will likely start around 5 p.m. With the positive turnout Saturday, Andersen can see this becoming a regular event.
"This is important," he said. "It matters to the kids. It gets them even more invested to the public and to Badger Nation. It matters to them. It matters to us."
Extra Points: Andersen believes sophomore linebacker Joe Schobert could be a special player because of he's a ‘youthful, excited player with great natural instincts' … Andersen said, in addition to White, he is being cautious with Brendan Kelly, Jared Abbrederis and Chris Borland to limit their reps during the spring … Andersen said Tyler Dippel (shoulder) and Devin Gaulden (leg) will be out for the remainder of spring, but should be ready by the start of summer conditioning June 9 … Kyle Costigan rode a stationary bike in full uniform as he gets ready for the summer … Doe, White and Abbrederis were the three players on punt return Saturday.