MADISON, Wis.—Entering the spring, replacing linebacker Jeff Mack and Alex Lewis was a burgeoning questions for Wisconsin. At the end of spring camp head coach Barry Alvarez is still answering those questions.
"I think the biggest concern is depth at quarterback and the linebacker position," he said.
With junior Elliot Goode and sophomore Mark Zalewski sustaining injuries early in spring workouts, junior LaMarr Watkins, sophomore Reggie Cribbs and sophomore Paul Joran filled starting roles throughout the spring, including Saturday's Cardinal-White scrimmage.
Watkins' shining moment came in the first quarter, when he picked off a pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Donovan, who was playing with the White team at the time. The Cardinal squad scored on the ensuing drive.
Junior Dontez Sanders, Watkins backup at will linebacker all spring, had a number of solid tackles playing for both teams. In the third quarter, he drilled junior tight end Jason Pociask on a 3-yard pass from Donovan, forcing a fumble that caromed out of bounds. Sanders was unofficially credited with 10 tackles. Joran had three tackles, including one for loss when he brought down sophomore tailback Phillip Fuller one yard behind the line of scrimmage. Cribbs had four solo tackles and frequently assisted on plays.
"I think we got much better at linebacker but we didn't get to work with two of the top three that were injured right away," Alvarez said. "So we are going to have to start from scratch there (in the fall)."
"We have some other guys coming in I think can help us in the depth, some incoming freshmen that can help us depth-wise," Alvarez added.
Two of those incoming freshmen were in attendance at the spring game. Andy Crooks and Luke Lopas were finalists for an award offered by the National Football Foundation and were honored at halftime. Each Wisconsin school nominated a player for accomplishments on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Menomonie's Mike Gust was selected as Wisconsin's representative and was awarded the $1,500 George H. Chryst Memorial Scholarship. He will attend UW-Madison in the fall. (see – Gust chosen to represent Wisconsin)