Buoyed by a fleet of superbly talented receivers and with a new quarterback with a deft ability to get the ball downfield, the Badgers offense is likely to taken on a new identity of sorts this fall. But does that come with some negative possibilities?
"We don't like any turnovers," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said. "But if we throw the ball more, then the likelihood and the percentage of turnovers and interceptions is going to go up. We are not going to make any excuses that we are going to have more. But there are times I understand that you have to put the ball up. I think we have good receivers and you want to give them the chance to go after the ball. I just don't like it when it is forced. If you put it up there and give one of our guys a chance and he throws a pick—like in the spring game when it goes threw somebody's hands—that is going to happen occasionally. You have to understand that."
Wisconsin's dabbling with a more open, stretch-the-field mentality, has its perks as well, of course. For starters it gives the Badgers more opportunity to get the ball to its talented fleet of receivers. Lee Evans continues to amaze with how well he has played this fall. He looks completely recovered from the knee injury he suffered in the 2001 spring game. Brandon Williams has been extremely explosive throughout camp and Jonathan Orr looks a few steps faster. He has consistently shown a tremendous ability to get downfield and make plays. Throw in talents like Darrin Charles, Byron Brown, Brandon White and Owen Daniels, who have all worked with the second unit, and the Badgers are nicely loaded at the position.
The receivers cannot be lauded enough, but this is old news. What has been eye opening is the skill exhibited by Wisconsin's running backs in the passing game. Particularly intriguing are the receiving skills that Anthony Davis, Dwayne Smith and Jerone Pettus have displayed. Davis, who has caught only six passes in his career, looks to be improving by leaps and bounds in this area.
"I think Anthony has gotten better," Alvarez said. "You get what you emphasize. If we emphasize it more than we will get it more. That is football. Regardless of what you do if you put a strong emphasis on it, that is what you are going to get."
The tight ends, too, have looked much improved, particularly starter Tony Paciotti, who is asserting himself as a blocker and receiver.
Prior to the season, it appeared the Badgers had a veritable plethora of offensive weapons at quarterback Jim Sorgi's disposal. A week into fall camp it looks like that may have been understated.
"I think all three have punted well and I think they push one another," Alvarez said. "I like what I see."
- Scott Starks looks very on top of his game. During red zone drills today he locked in and shut receivers down time and time again. He is breaking on the ball exceptionally well and displaying very good hands.
- Though Reggie Cribbs, Elliott Goode and John Gillen continue to receive reps, it appears senior Kyle McCorison and redshirt freshman Mark Zalewski have a good grip on the second team inside linebacker spots.
- Redshirt freshman Joe Stellmacher has had a very good camp and is receiving significant reps at second team strong safety. Stellmacher has shown a knack for finding the ball and making a play, whether in run support of in pass coverage. Dontez Sanders, who has also played well, making quite a few eye-opening hits, remains No. 2 at strong safety behind starter Ryan Aiello.
- Andre Williams received a clean bill of health and was released from University Hospital last night. He will do conditioning work this afternoon, again in shorts and a helmet, in accordance with NCAA rules regarding student-athletes introduction to practice. It is not known what led to his hyperventilation and feelings of wooziness Tuesday.