Wisconsin's first fall camp practice took place Wednesday afternoon on the three practice fields at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center. The Badgers practiced without pads (other than helmets) on a bright, sunny and relatively pleasant August afternoon. Wisconsin practiced for two hours and 15 minutes to kick off the fall camp season. Here are highlights and notes for this session:
- If Darius Jones is in the doghouse as a result of his suspension, it was not indicative on the field. Jones was in his normal spot in the rotation, as he and defensive tackle Nick Cochart rotated into the line with the first unit. For a series of plays during a 9-on-9 scrimmage session (no receivers or corners) the defensive linemen rotated in and out in pairs. End Erasmus James and tackle Anttaj Hawthorne formed a pair, as did end Jonathan Welsh and tackle Jason Jefferson.
- Lee Evans' showed absolutely no ill effects of his surgery and rehabilitation in the first practice of fall camp. If a passerby did not know Evans' medical history, they would have no reason to believe he had ever been injured. The jury will remain out until Evans takes contact, but Wednesday Evans participated in every drill and looked fine. He made crisp cuts and showed exceptional burst during all manner of drills. He ran ins, outs, fly patterns, quick comeback routes, underneath crossing patterns and receiver screens—all with no ascertainable loss of quickness, speed or football skill.
- Brandon Williams looked exceptionally quick throughout the practice day. Williams impresses every time he is on the field with his athleticism and this was no different. He consistently made solid football plays, showing good hands and quickness in and out of cuts. Williams also made some incredibly quick moves during punt return drills. On multiple occasions he fielded a punt, made a couple of moves and left the gunners trailing the play.
- The flip side is that corner Scott Starks twice overran the return man when playing a gunner role, failing to break down to make a play.
- During his afternoon press conference, Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez mentioned Anthony Davis' increased size and strength. Davis has always looked the part, but there was a noticeably positive difference to his physique this fall, even compared to the recent spring. He should be even more successful breaking tackles this season.
- Alvarez also mentioned that Davis had substantially improved his hands and this too was very evident during Wednesday's practice. With Davis' nimble feet, it should be no surprise that he could run good routes. In addition, throughout passing drills, 7-on-7 work and full, no contact scrimmaging, Davis displayed good hands, extending to snag the ball and snapping it crisply into a protecting position. On one particularly memorable play during a full scrimmage session, Davis darted out of the back field and slanted to the middle of the field, extending his hands in traffic for what one writer in attendance said was likely the best catch he had ever made. If Davis becomes a real component of the Badgers passing game, it is just one more special weapon for UW's offense.
- Another running back, Phillip Fuller, seemingly received constant plaudits from coaches Wednesday. He was quick out of the back field, making solid cuts while running pass routes or reading his blockers. Fuller's burst up field after he turned the corner was particularly impressive.
- Owen Daniels is listed in the fall camp roster as a tight end, but he ran drills with the wide receivers throughout the practice session.
- The Badgers made it out of the first practice without injury, though running back Dwayne Smith was momentarily shaken up when he stumbled trying to make a reception on a short pass attempt. Smith got up slowly and limped for a short time, but appeared fine as practice continued.