Temperatures in the mid-60s, combined with a persistent, cool breeze and overcast skies gave Monday morning's practice a fall-like feel. The intensity on the field was similarly reminiscent of a day in September or November, not the second week of practice.
The Badgers worked on short-yardage and inside running Monday morning and the physical style likely added to the intensity and competitive spirit on the field. The defense in particular was excitable.
"You should have emotion defensively and be high strung and get after it," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said. "That is the way you expect a defense to play and I thought for the first time practicing short yardage, good against good, I thought we got a lot out of it and it will be a good teaching tape."
The Badgers scrimmaged Sunday and Monday morning. Alvarez was happy with the results.
"I tried to explain to them when you go good against good and when you scrimmage you have to learn how to compete," Alvarez said. "You have to do the little things right. I like the way they mixed it up. I like the spirit they showed and I like the competitiveness. I think we got an awful lot out of it. I thought we got quite a bit done the last two practices."
Notes/thoughts from this morning's practice:
- Defensive linemen Darius Jones and Nick Cochart are not listed first on the depth chart, but should be considered first string. Jones and Cochart rotate in regularly with the front four, much as they did last season. Cochart lined up some at end this morning and played quite well. Jones' and Cochart's versatility gives the Badgers plenty of depth up front.
- Speaking of versatility, guard Kalvin Barrett turned in double duty during short yardage drills Monday morning. In addition to playing his regular second team role at guard, Barrett was in the rotation at defensive tackle, a position he played in high school. Joining him on the defensive front four were Jason Jefferson at tackle and Darius Jones and Anttaj Hawthorne, normally a tackle, at end.
- Brandon White turned in the play of the day. White ran a deep in, lunged fully extended and plucked the ball out of the air.
- Jonathan Orr provided the second best play of the day when he leapt, extended and snagged a pass downfield among tight coverage. He took a solid hit as soon he caught the ball, but held on.
- Most of Wisconsin's freshmen class has found itself on all-freshmen or third- or fourth-team units. Exceptions, however, can be found in defensive end Justin Ostrowski and offensive tackle Joe Thomas. Ostrowski has worked solely with the second unit defensively, while Thomas continues to work in with the second-string offense. When Thomas enters, Jake Wood moves from left tackle to right tackle, replacing Randy Gyllin.
- There appears to be quite a competition brewing for the right to back up Jeff Mack and Alex Lewis at inside linebacker. Kyle McCorison, Elliot Goode, Mark Zalewski, Reggie Cribbs and John Gillen have each rotated between the second and third units defensively.
- No such muddle at the outside linebacker spot, where LaMarr Watkins has a lock at the No. 2 spot and has received situational reps with the first unit. Chris Catalano remains No. 3 at drop linebacker.
- Wisconsin only has two fullbacks on the roster, but they have each excelled in fall camp workouts. Matt Bernstein looks like a defensive lineman and is athletic enough to catch passes out of the backfield. He should be a force as a short yardage runner as well. Few players are as physical or excitable as Bernstein.
- Greg Root, has also looked very good in camp thus far. At 6-2, 256, Root packs a pop as a lead blocker. He is also a solid receiver and runner from the fullback position.
- Anttaj Hawthorne had another nice practice, on one memorable play knifing into the backfield and tackling Dwayne Smith three yards behind the line of scrimmage.