MADISON – With only four opportunities left in spring practice heading into the weekend, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst – nowhere close to penciling out a two-deep depth chart – wanted to see guys take advantage of the limited opportunities remaining. With a handful of receivers out with injuries, Chryst saw two seldom-used upperclassmen make some plays.
Wisconsin went through its third and final scrimmage before next Saturday’s spring game and Chryst saw both Reggie Love and George Rushing. Both battling for the No.3 receiver spot, Love had nine catches for 133 yards and three touchdown grabs off the arm of Bart Houston: a contested 17-yard pass, a 20-yard pass in red zone dills and an 18-yard catch after getting a step on the defender.
“Reggie’s played football; he knows it,” Chryst said. “Reggie knows the plays and the playbook. It’s just getting him comfortable. It was good to have him out.”
Rushing had a jet sweep for nine yards and then was active in the passing game, catching two passes for 20 yards in team drills.
“On Thursday he did some of the things repeatedly that get him trouble and I think he did a better job of them,” Chryst said. “I noticed a couple today where he’s carrying that positive steps forward … A lot of it is self confidence that he can trust himself to let it go.”
The scrimmage was far from clean. UW had five false start penalties (four on offense) and a handful of holding penalties. There was also several skirmishes that broke out that drew flags from the officiating crew on hand.
“When you jump offsides, you’re missing an opportunity,” Chryst said. “You’ve got to do something to get them to lock in. Shame on us as coaches if we put in a guy who doesn’t care. They care. If a guy drops a ball, drops a pick or misses a tackle, what’s causing it? A lot of it is trusting yourself.”
Clement Gets Work
After being held out of the scrimmages the last two weekends, Corey Clement got immediate reps with the first-team offense, carrying the ball on the first three snaps for 4, 12 and 7. Later in practice Clement showed that his injury issues are in the past, able to accelerate to full speed to get around the edge of the offense and down the sideline for a 20-yard touchdown.
“It’s been a long rehab road, but I think that he’s starting to have the confidence back,” Chryst said. “I don’t think he’s thinking as much about the injury. I think the last couple days you’ve seen him be able to turn it loose. Certainly he’s talent and has ability to make plays. It’s good to see him feel like he’s playing and not thinking about how to protect himself from the injury.”
Will Saturday’s spring game have any impact on positioning?
“I’ve told the kids this all spring, I’m not concerned with who the starters are in spring, but you are working to put yourself in positions to get a lot of reps. The first time the starters matter this year is when we play LSU. The spring game is one more opportunity that we get to play. For some young guys, they’re going to get more snaps, and can they make plays? Every guy is building their resume. Every guy (that) puts themselves out there has the ability to learn and grow. You put a lot of weight into every opportunity that we get.”
Extra Points: Junior outside linebacker T.J. Watt’s length played havoc against the first-team offense in the red zone. He delivered a pass breakup in 1-v-1 coverage on third down and came back with batted pass at the line of scrimmage on fourth down … Houston went 3-for-7 and Hornibrook went 7-for-8 in 7-on-7 drills, but Hornibrook’s one incompletion was an ill-advised pass that Leo Musso intercepted. Houston finished 10-for-13 in the scrimmage and Hornibrook was 3-for-7 … Defensive end Alec James made a great solo tackle on Clement for a TFL, while cornerback Sojourn Shelton broke up another Love touchdown at the goal line … Junior kicker Rafael Gaglianone went 3-for-3 on his field goal attempts, hitting from 32, 38 and 52 … Chryst has not finalized a format for next Saturday’s spring game … Wisconsin is off until Tuesday.