Spring Practice - 4.15.13

On a rainy, dreary Monday afternoon, Wisconsin's dress rehearsal for Saturday's spring game was an impressive performance for the Badgers' experienced defense and an inconsistent day for its evolving offense.

MADISON - In its final tune-up before Saturday's spring game, Wisconsin's offense matched the weather: dreary.

On a rainy, windy Monday afternoon, the first and second-team offense looked uncharacteristic in Wisconsin's second open scrimmage to the public by having multiple pre-snap penalties, a handful of drops and turning the ball over four times.

"It was up and down," said senior quarterback Curt Phillips, who was intercepted by Michael Trotter on third down in the redzone during the approximate 80-minute scrimmage. "I pride myself on not making dumb mistakes like that. I can't throw late down the middle. Something you can't do but can definitely learn from."

The scrimmage was dominated by the defense. In addition to Trotter's interception, junior cornerback Peniel Jean jumped a Jordan Fredrick out route for an easy interception off a telegraphed pass by Joel Stave. Senior linebacker Conor O'Neill had a tackle for loss and PBU, Marcus Trotter broke up a redzone completion and converted safety Kyle Zuleger broke up a Brett Arnold first-down completion by ripping the ball out of his hands on a third-down pass.

Sophomore defensive end Jake Keefer had two sacks, including stopping quarterback Danny O'Brien in the end zone for a safety, while Jean, James Adeyanju and Logan Schmidt and Vince Biegel all added one sack.

Junior tailback Jeff Lewis rushed 16 times for 52 yards (unofficially) on the second-team offense, but lost two fumbles in the conditions in what was a sloppy day for the offense.

"Everybody has done a pretty good job protecting the ball all around, all the quarterbacks," said Phillips. "It's something we definitely don't want to have, especially in a red-zone situation."

"It was disappointing," added offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig of the turnovers. "You have to take care of the football. That's our number one priority. We didn't get that done obviously."

While the quarterbacks were the victim of dropped passes (A.J. Jordan dropped a first-down catch and Sam Arneson dropped passes on back-to-back plays), the signal callers' numbers weren't impressive.

Phillips was 1-for-4 with an interception and an only a four-yard completion. Stave was 6-for-12 for 80 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and redshirt freshman Bart Houston was 2-for-4 for 28 yards and a touchdown. O'Brien played but didn't complete a pass while Chase Knox and Thad Armstrong took reps late in the scrimmage, as well.

Receiver Chase Hammond led the receivers with a 35-yard catch from Stave at the end of practice, tight end Austin Maly hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Houston one handed and senior tight end Brock DeCicco caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Stave.

"I think it's nice to have practice in the weather like that, even though it's not the ideal environment, because we'll play in weather like that," said Phillips. "It's good to adjust."

Wisconsin's offense wasn't the only unit that struggled, as the Badgers two kickers struggled with the conditions. Junior kicker Kyle French made a 37-yard and 33-yard try kicking to the north, but missed a 30-yard kick and a pair of 42-yard attempts going to same direction.

Sophomore Jack Russell's day was even worse. Although he made a 32-yard kick facing the UW Fieldhouse, Russell came up well short on a 42-yard attempt, badly missed a 42-yard attempt wide left, missed a 35-yard attempt wide left from the right hash and a 35-yard attempt between the hashes.

Senior James White rushed three times for 23 yards and sophomore tailback Melvin Gordon made good work of his short day, too, rushing six times for 65 yards. Gordon's open practice with a 50-yard touchdown run around the right side, making three defenders miss and one in the backfield.

Wisconsin will go through a light workday on Wednesday before having its spring game at 4 p.m. Saturday

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