Spring practice report, March 26

News and notes from Wisconsin's sixth practice of the spring

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The Badgers practiced at Camp Randall Friday afternoon.


  • Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez acknowledged following practice Friday that receivers Brandon Williams and Darrin Charles have been missing practice with injuries. Neither Williams or Charles has practiced once this spring, though they often attend practices and sometimes jog on the sidelines. Alvarez refrained from expressing the nature of their injuries. Receivers coach Henry Mason also declined to comment regarding the nature of the injuries, though he did express hope that they would take part in practice this spring.


  • With Williams and Charles out, Jonathan Orr and Brandon White have received the bulk of the first-team reps. Orr has shown flashes of exceptional play, including laying out for a deep pass along the sideline. White will have every opportunity to become more than the strong designated blocker he was last season and he has shown the talent to become a bigger part of the passing game.


  • The Badgers closed practice Friday with an intrasquad competition matching offense versus defense in third-and-one situations. In this short-yardage set, Wisconsin's first offense, which was stuffed on 3 of 5 chances by the first defense, featured Joe Thomas at left tackle, Morgan Davis at right tackle and Mike Lorenz as a tight end to the right side. For the bulk of practice, though, Davis remained at left tackle with the first team and Lorenz played the right side. Thomas continued to get most of his reps with the second team at left tackle but did rotate in a little with the first team.



  • Dwayne Smith participated in practice for the first time Friday after serving a five-practice suspension and worked out primarily with the second offense. If he was rusty, he did not show it. He had three long would-be touchdown runs: one a burst right up the middle, one cutting back to the left and cruising into the open field and one a run around right end on the second team's first play in the third-and-one scenarios.


  • While Anthony Davis is being held out of full contact work, he is still making plays. Davis made a short pass reception along the sideline Friday and very nimbly turned up field and jetted into the clear. He also broke free for a long run. Davis participated in some intrasquad scrimmaging Friday, but the whistle blew very quickly when defenders approached him.


  • Booker Stanley received the majority of snaps at tailback with the first team. He had a big run up the middle and another around right end.


  • The defense won the third-and-one competition 5-4, forcing the offense to do a series of pushups and crunches. Situational scrimmage competitions have been common since the team put full pads on for the third practice of the spring.


  • John Gillen scored a touchdown Friday. Gillen was blitzing from his sam linebacker position when he reached up, juggled and then intercepted an intended swing pass. He also combined with cornerback Ben Strickland and defensive end Jamal Cooper to tackle Smith in the backfield during the third-and-one scrimmage. Gillen received most of his reps with the second-team defense but also worked in with the first team due to the undisclosed arm injury Mark Zalewski suffered Wednesday. Paul Joran received the bulk of reps with the first unit.


  • Brandon Kelly continued to play with the first team at mike linebacker, though defensive coordinator Bret Bielema said after practice that Kelly will spend the latter half of the spring at the sam position to determine where he is best suited.


  • Reggie Cribbs, currently second-team at mike, had a very good practice. He made a lot of plays, most notably a good hit on tight end Jason Pociask that broke up a pass and a fumble recovery after Brett Bell stripped a ball loose.


  • Strickland received a significant number of reps with the second-team defense at cornerback.



  • Donovan and Ernest Mason connected on a very pretty 75-yard touchdown pass.


  • Brandon Tobias had one of his better practices. There is still some inconsistency, but Tobias has flashed tons of ability. He made all sorts of receptions Friday, leaping to snag a pass along the sideline, beating defenders with pure speed downfield and running some crisp short routes.


  • Displaying his extremely high level of athleticism, Paul Hubbard made a one-handed over-the-shoulder catch deep along the sideline with a defender in his hip pocket.


  • Erasmus James attended practice out of uniform and worked out on the field Friday. He was not available for comment but appeared to get in a pretty good workout. He is not expected to return for spring practice, but if his sparing, but noteworthy, participation is any indication, the chances that he will approach full strength next fall are getting a lot better.

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