August 13 afternoon practice report

Wisconsin practiced at the O'Connor Center late Wednesday afternoon. Here are notes/thoughts from this afternoon's session:

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Last spring Badger Nation reported that Wisconsin was working on a "speed nickel" defense that, among other things, brought inside linebacker Alex Lewis down to an end position in an effort to have more athleticism on the field.


The Badgers brought this group together again this afternoon, with a few modifications. Joining Lewis at defensive end is Jonathan Welsh, playing his normal right end position. The tackles for this nickel set are starting left end Erasmus James and tackle/end Darius Jones.


Jeff Mack remains at a linebacker position in the nickel, joined by reserve outside linebacker LaMarr Watkins.


The corners remain Scott Starks on the left and Brett Bell on the right, with Jim Leonhard playing free safety and his backup, Robert Brooks, playing the other safety position. A significant change in this nickel set up is that reserve strong safety Joe Stellmacher, who has had an excellent camp, is playing the nickel back spot.


The Badgers also rotated ends Joe Monty and Jason Clemens and starting tackles Anttaj Hawthorne and Jason Jefferson into the mix at defensive line.


Schabert, Stocco showing improvement


Wisconsin's No. 2 quarterback, Matt Schabert, continues to show a deft hand at running the offense. He is not going to win any quarterback challenges for arm strength, but he makes the throws that are asked of him and he makes very good reads. Schabert always seems to know where to deliver the ball when he sets in the pocket.


John Stocco, the No. 3 at quarterback, continues to exhibit fantastic arm strength and athleticism. His decision making also has appeared solid.


"(Schabert) has done a lot of good things," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said. "He understands the offense very well. Stocco, in the same respect, I think he has done some good things. Both of them must continue to improve, yet I see improvement. I see improvement every day in those two."


Additional notes:


  • Tight end Bob Docherty made the play of the day, a one-handed over-the-shoulder catch, about 30 yards downfield.


  • Mark Zalewski had a strong practice, highlighted by a great pass break up in the end zone.


  • Left tackle Morgan Davis had another nice practice, including at least two devastating pancake blocks.


  • A representative of the Outback Bowl selection committee was in attendance at this afternoon's practice.

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