MADISON - Likely aiming to set the unofficial record for number of spring practices held outside, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst praised the energy from the players following the team’s 10th practice, but added that there are “a lot” of things UW has to clean up over the course of the next several weeks and months.
The laundry list is a lengthy one.
For starters UW needs to find a solid starting offensive line unit. Losing three seniors off last year’s group and having junior Dan Voltz once again relegated to a walking boot on his left ankle, offensive coordinator/line coach Joe Rudolph used fifth year seniors Tyler Marz and Ray Ball at left guard and left tackle, respectively; redshirt freshman Michael Deiter at center; redshirt junior Walker Williams at right guard and redshirt sophomore Hayden Biegel at right tackle throughout practice.
The results were mixed, with some good run and pass protections but a handful of false start penalties and missed assignments on critical downs.
“Inconsistent,” said Chryst. “Doing some stuff that’s good (but) we’ve got to build on it. We’ve got to be more consistent.”
Another area that needs to be addressed is consistency at the wide receiver and tight end position, as the Badgers suffered no less than five drops during team drills. That also doesn’t account for a handful of missed assignments that allowed defenders to make easy plays on the ball.
While he hasn’t worked there much during spring, Chryst is considering giving senior Derek Watt some opportunities at tight end in much the same way former head coach Gary Andersen was planning to do until Watt missed five games with a foot injury a year ago.
“Those positions really become interchangeable,” said Chryst, referring to tight end and fullback. “There’s times where guys are better suited on the line or off. I think Derek has shown the ability to be comfortable and do some things on and off the ball. Smart. I think we can use him in a number of different ways, hoping to at least.”
A Closer Look at Trezy
Expected to work at defensive back this upcoming season, redshirt junior Serge Trezy spent individual drills and team drills working with the running backs. It became a rude start, as he fumbled inside the five-yard line on one of his first carries during team red zone drills. Good news was that it was the only turnover of practice.
Turnover aside, Chryst called his performance “all right.”
“I wanted to take a look at what Serge can do,” said Chryst. “You watch his high school tape and just see if it’s a place that suits him.”
Tailback is nothing new for Trezy. After rushing for 4,164 yards and 54 touchdowns in three years as starter at Orlando (FL) Agape Christian Academy, Trezy rushed for 814 yards (7.8 average) and six touchdowns at Eastern Arizona College, earning first-team All-Western States Football League honors.
His sub-4.4 40-yard dash speed attracted Andersen and former safeties coach Bill Busch. He was forced to redshirt last season because of a transcript issue but said before spring break that the staff were having him work specifically at corner and on special teams.
“It has been a long journey to get here but me being here in the spring gets me ahead in learning the plays and getting ready for fall season,” Trezy said.
Wisconsin’s top three quarterbacks were given at least one series with the ball at the defense’s 20-yard line. Senior quarterback Joel Stave was given two sets and was lucky to finish with three points. After an incompletion over the middle and a five-yard run by Corey Clement, Stave and his receiver were evidently not on the same page, since his corner route throw was directed right to safety Michael Caputo, who couldn’t hang on to the ball at the goal line. Jack Russell kicked a 33-yard field goal.
Stave’s next series started with a promising 8-yard run by Clement, but ended with a sack on fourth-and-1 from the 11-yard line. In between the defense held Clement to no gain and Taiwan Deal to one yard.
D.J. Gillins’ one series was bookended by Trezy missteps, the fumble ending the drive and getting drilled for a five-yard loss by inside linebacker Jack Cichy to begin. In between, Gillins had a nice 6-yard scramble through the defense and completed a 15-yard pass to Krenwick Sanders on third-and-long down to the five.
Bart Houston scored the only touchdown of the four drives and did so by simply handing the ball to Dare Ogunbowale. Currently UW’s second-string tailback, the junior ran on all five plays, gaining the bulk of his yards on a 10-yard carry on second-and-8 and scoring on a 2-yard touchdown.
From the Infirmary
After being taken to the hospital in an ambulance for precautionary measures at the end of practice Sunday, cornerback Derrick Tindal was released later that evening with what Chryst said was a concussion. While no timetable has been set for his return, Chryst was encouraged by what he’s seen from the sophomore since the incident.
“I saw him probably about 8, 8:30 down in the cafeteria over at the dorms and he’s in good spirits,” said Chryst. “You never quite know (how they react). Each guy is a little bit different. We’ve got a good protocol. Follow that and we’ll see.”
Receiver Rob Wheelwright (undisclosed) missed a second straight practice and ran stairs with a handful of other injured players (Rafael Gaglianone, Connor Senger, Eric Steffes, Peter Roy, Jordan Fredrick, Devin Gaulden, Jake Stengel, to name a few).
“You just want to make sure everyone is taking advantage of what they can do,” said Chryst of the stair workouts. “Kids want to feel that when they come out here that there time has been worth something. Maybe they can’t be participating in football but want to be able to get a workout in, do whatever they can. They feel like they are going forward. It’s frustrating as an injured player. You’re either getting better or getting worse. Maybe it’s a little bit different on the field, but you still want to feel like you’re getting something positive out of the time.”
Extra Points: Leon Jacobs and T.J. Edwards continue to take reps as the starting inside linebackers … Chikwe Obasih, Alec James and Jake Keefer rotated at defensive end with the first team defense while Arthur Goldberg and Conor Sheehy rotated at defensive tackle … Sheehy and Ball got into a shoving match in the final set of team drills and had to be separated … Chryst said sophomore receiver Jazz Peavy has “flashed” during spring and he has an “awareness” when he’s playing the game … UW returns to the practice field Friday afternoon.