Spring practice report, March 8

News and notes from day three of spring ball

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Wisconsin practiced at the McClain Center for close to two-and-a-half hours in full pads Monday. Along with position drills, the team scrimmaged and came about as close to simulating live action as practice gets. Players were instructed to go live to whistle, but to hit and wrap up when make taking on a ball carrier, rather than taking their teammates to the turf.


  • Speedster Demi Omole, a close friend of 2004 recruit Antonio Freeman, joined the football team Monday. He transferred to Wisconsin from Florida between semesters and has been working out with the men's track team.


  • Ernest Mason stood out Monday, blowing down the sideline for about a 50-yard touchdown reception and just a few plays later gaining separation on a short crossing pattern and turning upfield for a solid gain.


  • Scott Starks missed practice due to a class conflict. As a result, Brett Bell and Levonne Rowan were the No. 1 cornerbacks. Bell said after practice that the field and boundary corner roles, as designated on the official depth chart, have not yet been implemented in practice. For now, it is still right and left and Monday, Bell was at the right spot, Rowan at left. Chuckie Cowans was the No. 2 at left corner while freshman Jameson Davis and redshirt freshman Ben Strickland split reps at the No. 2 right corner spot.


  • With Anthony Davis sitting out full contact drills and Dwayne Smith on suspension, tailbacks Booker Stanley and Phillip Fuller are splitting reps with all three offensive units. Interestingly, Fuller received the bulk of the carries Monday while Stanley caught more passes. This is the time, after all, when the coaches want to see what players can do. Stanley looked fairly fluid as a receiver out of the backfield, and broke one screen pass for what would have been a near length of the field touchdown if it would have been completely live. Stanley also broke a long run Monday. Fuller's talent has never been in question, he has just been stuck behind three very good running backs. His cuts were sharp and he showed good quickness Monday, whether running between the tackles or along the edge. He will, however, still have his work cut out for him cracking the depth.


  • Zach Hampton worked with the second defense as an extra safety in 10-on-10 goal line drills. After working primarily as a free safety the first two days of spring practice, he was the No. 3 strong safety Monday. Casey Hogan was the third team free safety.


  • The depth chart will likely ebb and flow throughout spring, but Reggie Cribbs appeared to scoot up to No. 2 mike linebacker in the middle of Monday's practice. Brandon Kelly was with the second team for most of the early drills, but Cribbs took the bulk of the reps the second half of practice and was the primary No. 2 mike during scrimmages. Typically, if players are sharing reps there is a more even rotation, rather than a distinct split. This competition between two young players with plenty of potential is one to watch as the spring unfolds.


  • Owen Daniels spent more time in a three-point stance in scrimmage work than during any other practice I have been able to watch. He looked fairly comfortable in the role and continues to develop as a receiver, though he is not likely to wow anyone with his blocking skills.


  • For the past two practices, Danny Kaye has worked as the second-team right tackle and the third team left tackle.


  • It is clear that defensive tackle will be a position of strength in 2004, but just how strong could surprise people. Anttaj Hawthorne was exciting as always Monday and Jason Jefferson continues to be a reliable performer. What bodes especially well for the Badgers is the development of Kalvin Barrett, a senior entering his first full year at the position, and redshirt freshmen Justin Ostrowski. Barrett's bull rush and Ostrowski's counter moves are something to behold. There are still spots to iron out but these two should contribute a great deal in the fall.


  • All four quarterbacks gave the defense headaches with their feet Monday. Tyler Donovan and Sean Lewis each broke contain for a pair of long runs, John Stocco had a nice scamper to the outside and Matt Schabert fooled nearly everyone with one play-action fake and was able to turn the corner and pick up about 10 yards before the whistle blew.


  • Joe Thomas and Dan Buenning were the most consistently impressive offensive linemen in pass blocking drills Monday.


  • A UW official said that Tony Moss, who battled injuries the past two years at Wisconsin, has decided to transfer. A destination was not known. Kicker Matt Domonkos is reportedly still on campus but is not participating in spring football. It is unknown whether he plans to rejoin the team in the fall.

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