Spring Practice - 4.17.13

Through 14 practices under first year coach Gary Andersen, the Badgers have worked on installing a 3-4 defense and learning new terminology on offense. As much as they'll need to know those aspects, UW will need to know the lyrics to 'On Wisconsin' this fall.

MADISON - Whether Wisconsin is in the friendly confines of Camp Randall Stadium or in a hostile environment like Ohio Stadium, head coach Gary Andersen is going to break out the song book post game in 2012.

Regardless of the outcome, Andersen said the Badgers will sing the school's fight song, ‘On Wisconsin,' after every game this season; practicing just as hard on the song as if it were in Wisconsin's new playbook.

"The kids have wrapped their arms around it," Andersen said following Wednesday's practice. "We sang it again today. We'll have a team meeting to make sure we're getting the hang of it, and it's coming around … I want to start that tradition. Kids are excited about it."

It's one of the many things Andersen has instilled in the program since arriving in December to build a family culture. So far this spring Andersen has drawn publicity for his team-building exercises, such as a dance-off video that went viral.

And while Andersen admits that signing the school song will be hard after a loss, not acknowledging the fans in attendance would be even tougher.

"The fans come to watch us play, they travel, spend money, the support is awesome that they give us," said Andersen. "Win or lose they deserve that, in my opinion, from all of us in the program to show our respect."

Andersen said defensive linemen Beau Allen and Tyler Dippel are taking the lead on being directors while he continues to master the lyrics.

Monday Scrimmage Rewind

Having gone through a lengthy scrimmage four days before its annual spring game, Andersen was impressed with the way his defense was able to create an actual pass rush and generate turnovers.

But …

"Always the flip side of that in spring ball was are ball security was not good enough," said Andersen. "We had two balls not thrown well."

Going through their final practice before Saturday's spring game, Wisconsin spent time fixing things that popped up in the scrimmage: protecting better and the quarterbacks delivering their passes on time.

"It was much, much better today, much cleaner," he said. "That made some successful plays for the offense today at practice."

Those plays were the ones Andersen has been looking for throughout spring: explosive ones. With inconsistent depth in the passing game last season, the Badgers had only 27 pass plays that went over 20 yards (1.93 per game).

The big plays have been few and far between throughout spring, but the Wisconsin tight ends, especially Brian Wozniak, Austin Maly and Brock DeCicco, have started regularly making those plays.

"The opportunities to spread them out at times is good," said Andersen. "They're a weapon and can cause mismatches."

The same can't be said at the wide receiver position minus Jared Abbrederis.

"We need to continue to develop that. The young men are working hard. It's just a matter of getting ourselves in position to make those plays down the field. We'll make some here and there, but then you'll see some critical drops."

Andersen also said incoming freshman receivers – Jazz Peavy and Rob Wheelwright – will have an opportunity to compete for playing time, as well.

Personnel Update

Wanting to preserve its star players, Wisconsin will sit out tailback James White, receiver Jared Abbrederis and lineman Ryan Groy on offense and linebacker Chris Borland, safety Dezmen Southward and defensive tackle Ethan Hemer on defense in the spring game.

Andersen also said junior tailback Jeff Lewis will be out for the spring game after getting injured Monday. After having a strong tailback unit throughout spring, the Badgers will only have a healthy Melvin Gordon and Derek Watt Saturday.

"(Kyle) Zuleger might pop over there and get a couple carries if we get to that point," said Andersen. "We'll just have to get through it."

Kicking Update

Although he's been feeling good about the way his kickers have been connecting with the ball throughout spring, Andersen, along with many others who watched practice Monday, were unnerved with how poorly junior Kyle French (2-for-5) and sophomore Jack Russell (1-for-5) kicked field goals, including missing four in a row at one point.

"It's a work in progress but like anybody else, (we're) going to keep fighting through it to get it better," said Andersen. "The snaps were not horrible. In turn, the placement of the ball was pretty good. They just didn't hit them right."

Andersen said it wasn't scripted on Monday when the kicking sessions would be, just like it's unscripted in a game when Wisconsin would need to attempt a field goal.

"I like putting them in those spots," said Andersen, "and they've got to react."

Extra Points: Andersen is amazed by the way Abbrederis, Kenzel Doe, Gordon and White catch punts and kickoffs, but says he'll have a hard time putting his two starting tailbacks on kickoff return and best receiver on punt return. Andersen said Sojourn Shelton has an opportunity to grow into that role … Senior Ethan Armstrong is schedule to play inside linebacker, known as the ‘rover' spot in UW's defense … Armstrong will play next to Borland, who Andersen believes will be more active in the pass rush this season.

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