MADISON – Paul Chryst made it perfectly clear: he loves spring practice
Talking to reporters following Wisconsin's ninth spring practice (and second scrimmage) Saturday, Chryst was excited acout a practice that saw 15 series between his units.
“Every play is an opportunity,” he said. “Not all of them go well, but there’s great opportunities to learn and get better.”
With fifth-year senior Bart Houston running approximately eight series and redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook having the rest between the first- and second-team offenses, the younger Hornibrook delivered one of his better practices.
Unofficially 15-for-21 for 236 yards, Hornibrook threw touchdown passes to Reggie Love – a leaping 20-yard catch during the red-zone portion of the drills – and to George Rushing – a 27-yard corner fade route that was perfectly placed to end practice.
His longest pass was 48 yards, he threaded a tight window to Jazz Peavy between four defenders for 30 yards and didn’t commit a turnover.
Houston’s day was more up and down. Battling consistency issues all day, Houston had nice completions to tight end Kyle Penniston down to the 1-yard line, a 24-yard touchdown pass to tight end David Edwards over the middle the field and hit 6 of 7 throws late in practice.
However, Houston telegraphed an interception to safety Arrington Farrar that was nearly returned for a touchdown and was picked off by cornerback Derrick Tindal in the end zone in tight one-on-one coverage. That pass was also nearly returned for a score. He finished 10-for-22 for 140 yards.
“These are all learning opportunities,” Chryst said. “Quarterback is easy to evaluate because everyone sees it and you can sit on the side and keep track easier. There’s a lot of things that go into it. If you make a mistake and it stings … if you internalize it and don’t feel good about it, you’re going to learn from it.
“In spring you’ve got to figure out how small a window you can throw in. You don’t know until you try. You don’t grow until you’ve pushed yourself out of your comfort zone. You can put that in every position.”
With tailbacks Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale again sitting out the scrimmage, redshirt freshman Bradrick Shaw delivered some impressive, athletic runs. He scored on a 25-yard run off a pitch, making two defenders miss with an array of jukes and cuts. He lowered his shoulder for a 1-yard touchdown run, and later broke a run appearing to go between the right guard and tackle outside for a 16-yard carry down inside the 10.
Shaw finished, unofficially, with 10 carries for 56 yards and the two scores. Taiwan Deal had 15 for 34 and Jazz Peavy had a jet sweep for 16.
“We see guys throughout the course of spring make plays,” Chryst said. “That doesn’t just happen. I think there was good effort all around.”
Other notable scrimmage plays:
Sophomore inside linebacker Chris Orr stuffed a fourth-and-inches play at the goal line during red zone drills.
Junior kicker Rafael Gaglianone went 2-for-3 on his field goal kicks, sandwiching makes of 37 and 50 yards around a 48-yard miss.
Rushing had three catches of at least 20 yards and Love had five of his catches go for at least 10.
In addition to his interception, Tindal caught Hornibrook’s 48-yard pass and nearly caught a 41-yard pass from Houston, only to see Rushing’s route cut in front of him. After receivers coach Ted Gilmore said Tindal worked at receiver earlier this week purely because the unit’s numbers were down, Chryst isn’t shutting the door on Tindal seeing some reps on offense in the fall.
“These guys care about this team,” Chryst said. “That’s why they’re doing it.”
WR stats: Rushing 8-134-1, Love 6-72-1, Peavy 1-30, Penniston 3-34, Edwards 2- 31 TD, Shaw 1-13, Roy 1-8, Deal 1-6, Fumagalli 1-3.
Ramczyk Excited for the Opportunity
With his high school career about to conclude in 2012, Ryan Ramczyk didn’t know if he was passionate enough about football to pursue it in college. One thing he did know that he didn’t want to leave the Midwest, even with Chryst offering him a scholarship when he was the head coach at Pittsburgh.
“I was probably going to go into welding,” Ramczyk said, “some hands-on career.”
Obviously this is better than the alternative. Ramczyk has anchored the left side of the offensive line since spring practices began March 19, bringing stability to a group that dealt with a slew of injuries all year long that led to seven different starting offensive line combinations last season.
Although the group is still missing five-year senior Dan Voltz at center as he rests an injured right knee, the Badgers have been able to rely on Michael Deiter at center (projected starting left guard), Beau Benzschawel at right guard and Jacob Maxwell at right tackle. All three of those players are redshirt sophomores.
“Team chemistry on the offensive line has improved a lot,” Ramczyk said. “Guys are getting closer together, on and off the field. It’s been big. I think we’ve seen a big improvement since spring ball started.”
Described as a freak athlete by his teammates, he wouldn’t be the first transfer to make an immediate impact following a transfer. Transferring to the program as an underweight tight end in 2008, J.J. Watt bulked up his frame and developed into a feared defensive end. He parlayed that work ethic into defensive scout team player of the year, 36.5 tackles for loss in 26 starts and, well, you know the rest.
While Ramczyk didn’t have to switch positions, he brings in a similar pedigree. A first-team all-state selection at Stevens Point high school, Ramczyk went to tech school for a year after leaving Winona State after only a week. He regained his passion for football and went to UW-Stevens Point, becoming a two-team All-WIAC selection, including a first-team pick in 2014. In his final year he helped the Pointers rank third in the league in both scoring and total offense.
Feeling he had the ability to play division 1, Ramczyk reached out to Chryst and got the wheels in motion to come to Madison.
“Ryan is a talented football player, and that’s a good starting point,” Chryst said. “I think it’s important to him. He’s like the whole group. There’s good in him … We think he’s a talented player. He’s not season ready, but we don’t need to be.”
Extra Points: Junior defensive end Alec James started with the No.1 defensive line next to Conor Sheehy and Olive Sangapolu … Wisconsin used safeties Joe Ferguson, Farrar and Leo Musso in certain packages together … Hornibrook went 6-for-8 in 7-on-7 and team drills prior to the scrimmage, while Houston went 8-for-11. Inside linebacker T.J. Edwards did pick off Houston with a diving interception over the middle … UW 2016 commit Luke Benzschawel was at practice … George Panos was removed from the injury report and worked at second-string right tackle … Titus Booker (right thigh) was out Saturday, along with safety D’Cota Dixon (left groin) and others … Wisconsin returns for practice 10 of 15 on Tuesday morning.null