Spring Practice Report - March 28

Although his head coach didn't want him to be tackled this spring, sophomore Corey Clement talked his way into playing during the Badgers' 80-play scrimmage Friday afternoon, and didn't disappoint in UW's first outside practice of the season.

MADISON - The original plan was for sophomore tailback Corey Clement to go throughout spring practices without participating in live tackling drills, as Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen didn't see the benefit of risking one of his budding playmakers to injury.

But as Wisconsin progressed throughout the third week of camp, Clement managed to talk his way into participating in the second scrimmage of the spring, and he didn't disappoint.

Clement was the standout performer in Wisconsin's approximate 80-play scrimmage Friday afternoon, the first practice held outside in Camp Randall Stadium. With junior tailback Melvin Gordon being held out as a precaution, Clement did the brunt of the work with the first-team offense, which included rushing for all 99 yards on a drive where the Badgers were backed up against the goal line.

After a simply dive play gave the offense some breathing room, Clement executed a 20-yard scamper on a cutback to the right sideline. After two more carries set up a third-and-two, Clement took advantage of the large gap the offensive line created for him on the left side of the line and went untouched for 68 yards.

"He was excited about having the opportunity to run a little bit," said Andersen. "It was good for him. He wanted to do it."

Clement's play didn't disguise the fact that Wisconsin's quarterbacks struggled throughout the hour-plus scrimmage. Andersen said no quarterback stood out during the scrimmage and that it's a work in progress, two things nobody was arguing with him about, but added that it's hard to evaluate with most of UW's top receivers on the sidelines with injuries.

"There were some nice balls that were dropped today," said Andersen. "It's a little bit difficult, but the ball in practice is being thrown well. Anybody who comes to practice can see that we're throwing the ball better than we have. Hopefully that continues."

Wisconsin hopes that sophomore Rob Wheelwright is able to return next week, as he's missed the last two-plus weeks of a spring that Andersen said was "so important for him." UW doesn't expect to get back Reggie Love or Jordan Fredrick, who went down with a right shoulder injury in practice Tuesday.

With only a handful of healthy receivers, the coaches were forced to move junior A.J. Jordan back to the receiver position for the remainder of the spring, taking away valuable safety reps.

"A.J. was excited about the opportunity to move back and embrace the situation," said Andersen. "He understands that we need him to be there. I don't know if hard is the right word but he's in a good spot. He's going to help this football team, whether as a wide receiver or safety."

Andersen added that Wisconsin is a better team with Michael Caputo back at safety, meaning UW also moved Joe Schobert from inside linebacker to outside linebacker and Michael Trotter to inside linebacker with his brother, Marcus Trotter.

"You mesh the team together every single year and you mesh the positions together to the best fit to meet the needs of the team and the opportunity to win," said Andersen. "Felt pretty good about it."

After the defense wads berated by defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a for a below-standard practice on Tuesday coming off spring break, the unit certainly stepped up to the plate.

Using part of the scrimmage on the red zone drills, the defense, getting a major boost from the defense line, stopped four straight Austin Ramesh runs inside the two-yard line and forced a nonexistent field goal try on the next series.

UW didn't break through until D.J. Gillins hit tight end Eric Steffes at the back of the end zone from 12 yards out. Gillins also had a couple athletic runs escaping pressure, including a 34-yard scramble.

"D.J. did some good things," said Andersen. "He made some plays with his feet, converted a couple third downs. He's playing with a very young crew. There is a lot of moving pieces to the offense. I thought he made some plays when he had to and he'll learn a lot from this tape as he continues to get better every single day. The way he handles the amount of offense coming at him, he improves daily, he studies hard at it and it means a lot to him."

Thinking about the Tigers

Although Wisconsin's 2014 opener is a little over five months away, Andersen said the coaching staff will start to install some LSU preparations next week for about 10 minutes a practice. Saying there is a lot of carryover between Wisconsin's offense and LSU's offense, the main goal is to work on some tendencies to give the kids some tape to review over the summer.

"It's a big game and it's an opening game," said Andersen. "It's a little bit of a different feel to an opening feel than they've had for a long time. I know they've mentioned to me and they are excited about a tremendous challenge. I think it helps motivate them."

Quotable

Andersen on his $300,000 pay bump he received on Monday

"All I can say about that stuff is I have a great boss. I love the situation that I am in. He takes care of people and I think it's a great working environment for all of us. I look forward to the future."

Extra Points: Both redshirt freshman Alec James and Chikwe Obasih got a healthy dose of reps with the first-team defense Friday, reps Andersen said the two need to have … offensive lineman Alex Walker appeared to be the only player injured in the scrimmage when he shaken up midway though practice … Jack Russell unofficially went 3-for-4 on his field goal tries (ranging from 35 to 47) while Andrew Endicott went 2-for-4 (ranging from 41 to 37) … Former linebacker Chris Borland was on hand for the scrimmage.


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