Spring practice report, April 2

Wisconsin kicked off the second-to-last weekend of spring practice Friday afternoon at Camp Randall

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  • With Ernest Mason suspended, Paul Hubbard competing in the Texas Relays and Brandon Williams still out with an injury, the Badgers had just seven receivers available for the full practice Friday. Darrin Charles, though, practiced lightly with the team, taking part in some pass-catching drills. The senior had missed all of the spring season with a back injury but has worked out lightly on the sidelines from time to time.


  • Mark Zalewski also returned to practice Friday, though wearing a club on his right hand. Zalewski worked out with the first-team defense at same linebacker in 7-on-7 drills and some light contact work. Paul Joran remained with the first-team in full contact action.


  • Linebackers coach and defensive coordinator Bret Bielema said last week that Wisconsin was gradually implementing its blitz package. "You can't put something out there that is going to blow their minds," he said. "But at the same time you have to try to feed them here and there…For the most part it is something that we haven't put on anything but the basic principles yet." Bielema added that he would like to have 75-80 percent of the blitz packages in by the end of spring. That process appeared in full swing Friday, with the offense feeling a heavy dose of various blitz packages throughout scrimmage sessions. As a result, the Badgers' quarterbacks were pressured consistently.


  • Brandon Kelly and John Gillen did not make an anticipated position switch Friday. Kelly remains the No. 2 mike linebacker, while Gillen, with Zalewski's return, is the No. 3 sam linebacker, with walk-on Adam Purcell still pushing him for playing time.


  • Reggie Cribbs has been on a roll since retaking the first-team mike linebacker duties. The sophomore looks very comfortable in space. He has been aggressive in pass and run defense and has consistently made plays. Cribbs was very active when blitzing Friday and made a habit of working his way into the backfield. Elliot Goode was the No. 1 mike linebacker before he injured his knee earlier this spring, but he will have his work cut out for him regaining the position in the fall.


  • Wisconsin's offense struggled throughout the day but came together during the practice-closing competition scrimmage. The scenario was a late-game first-and-goal from the nine-yard line with time winding down, needing a touchdown to win. A Cribbs sack put the first-team offense in a fourth-down hole at the 17, but Brandon White wrestled John Stocco's fade pass away from Scott Starks in the end zone for a touchdown. On the first play of the second-offense-versus-second-defense scrimmage, Dwayne Smith went around left end for a score.


  • For most of the afternoon, though, the defense was in control. In addition to a strong pass rush, there were numerous pass break ups, including a diving play by safety Johnny White.


  • Defensive tackle Justin Ostrowski made the most improbably play of the day, dropping into coverage on a zone blitz and intercepting a pass. Scott Starks also had an interception.


  • Jamal Cooper had a strong practice, using his quickness off the edge to frequently visit the Badger quarterbacks in the backfield.



  • There were a few receptions of note. Jonathan Orr made an excellent diving catch on a slant pattern. Jeff Holzbauer made a leaping, full extension catch in traffic over the middle. Finally, tight end Kurt Ware, who has rotated in with the second-team defense, hit the turf and reached behind him for a low pass over the middle.

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