Spring Practice Report - April 10

With Wisconsin going through its final practice before Saturday's spring game, head coach Gary Andersen talked about the strides his club has made and his expectations for the weekend event.

MADISON - Gathering his players after their final closed practice of the spring and a little less than 48 hours away from Wisconsin's annual spring game on Saturday, head coach Gary Andersen had a simple message for his team: we need to compete.

"We need to play football, so I want to see a productive offense, a productive defense," said Andersen. "Like I always say in practice and in games, you need to earn your way, and that needs to happen."

Andersen was adamant that Wisconsin was nowhere near to play LSU in the season opener in Houston Aug.30, but believes the Badgers – as long as they stay healthy on Saturday – are moving in the right direction heading into the summer.

The spring game will be divided up into two parts. The first part will be controlled situations without any live tackling. The second half of the scrimmage will be two quarters of a football game, minus the punters. Punts will be a mandatory 35 yards, but the Badgers will attempt live field goals.

Andersen said tailbacks Corey Clement and Melvin Gordon and right tackle Rob Havenstein will be involved in the first half of the scrimmage and will be very limited in the second half.

A good play on offense equals a bad play on defense and vice versa, so Andersen is looking more for limited mistakes and a lack of administrative penalties (false starts, illegal formation, delay of game, etc.).

"We've got to be able to execute," said Andersen, "and look like a division 1 football team."

Obasih to Start?

Wisconsin lost a bevy of defensive linemen off last year's roster (Beau Allen, Tyler Dippel, Ethan Hemer, Pat Muldoon, etc.), meaning the spring was going to be a vital time for defensive line coach Chad Kauaha'aha'a and the coaching staff to find some potential playmakers at the position. UW had one senior defensive end on Konrad Zagzebski and has seen Alec James make significant strides at the position since converting from outside linebacker.

But if the Badgers had a real game tomorrow, Andersen is convinced that redshirt freshman – and 2013 defensive scout team player of the year – Chikwe Obasih would be the starter because of his way to play with good pad level, having strong hands and footwork.

"Chikwe has really made great strides," said Andersen. "He's got himself in a good spot right now … He still understands he's got a lot of work to do. Alec, Leon (Jacobs) and those kids have really grown into their spots. They've accepted change."

Andersen added that James and Jacobs are both in positions to play in sub packages and be a big part of the defense.

Gaulden Emerges

Andersen didn't have a big scouting report on Devin Gaulden when arrived on campus two winters ago because the junior cornerback has struggled to stay healthy with consistent leg problems. Entering the spring game Saturday, Gaulden is wrapping up his best camp since his arrival, and has emerged as the team's No.3 cornerback behind Darius Hillary and Sojourn Shelton.

"Once he got healthy, it became very clear, just moving through the drills, that he was a very talented young man and he's got what you look for," said Andersen. "He's got good hips, can change direction, can get in and out of break very well for as a corner. Secondary just the way he handled the scheme coming back from not being involved mentally. We learned that he had prepared himself. When he was injured he was paying attention, and that's a credit to that young man for doing that."

Quotable

"A lot of teams that are experienced may not need to play as much football in spring. There's a time where we ultimately need to turn them loose. When I say that, really for the spring game, it's the fact that the coordinators are upstairs, the coaches are on the sidelines and when the whistle blows, the huddle breaks, the kids are out there 11-on-11 by themselves. That's where there's not a coach telling you to move over six inches or find out where number two is or all the stuff that we coach kids to do. They've got to do that themselves and the team has to find an identity, find themselves and being out there by themselves is what really matters."

Extra Points: Looking to fill the other safety spot next to Michael Caputo, who will also play some at the line of scrimmage Andersen said Austin Hudson, Peniel Jean and Leo Musso (who has been out with an injury) will all be in the mix. Andersen did not mention Nate Hammon, another player who has been out with injury … Andersen said Joel Stave (shoulder) has been evaluated and that he will start his rehabilitation today. He says surgery is not an option currently … A.J. Jordan will stick to wide receiver throughout the spring game.


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