It is very early, but walk-on freshman Adam Schober may work his way into the punting competition with R.J. Morse and Kenneth DeBauche. In three practices, Schober has displayed the best leg strength of the three and has been consistent in the brief time the Badgers have done full-team special teams work.
Schober, from Plano, Texas, has also looked good as a place kicker. The Badgers have given each of their three kickers—Mike Allen and Taylor Mehlhaff also included—two kicks apiece in full team drills early in each practice thus far. Schober is 5-for-6, with each kick between 30 and 37 yards long. His one miss appeared to narrowly sail wide right (the media has an admittedly poor vantage point to judge the kicks' accuracy from and the results are not announced). He has displayed better than average leg strength on all of his attempts.
Allen continues to be automatic from within 40 yards but does not have the leg strength to be consistent on longer kicks. As advertised, Mehlhaff has the leg strength, but his accuracy needs improvement.
Wisconsin closed camp with an 11-on-11 scrimmage, simulating a red zone situation. The second offense lost four yards in three plays versus the first-string defense, with Anttaj Hawthorne recording a tackle for loss on a Booker Stanley draw play, then sacking Tyler Donovan as he attempted to scramble. Mehlhaff's 42-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.
The Badgers' first offense versus second defense scrimmage was marred by a scuffle. Following a short run by Anthony Davis, Wisconsin's star tailback exchanged post-whistle shoves with safety Johnny White. Jonathan Clinkscale then got involved with White and Donovan Raiola and Kalvin Barrett claimed each other as dance partners, amidst other pushing and shoving around them.
The Badgers had already had a lively camp through the first two practices. Adding shoulder pads to the mix, which Wisconsin was allowed to do for the first time for Friday's workout, added to what has been an intense fall camp atmosphere.
There was plenty of actual football played as well. More notes from day three:
- Anttaj Hawthorne's dominance in the brief practice-closing scrimmage session was topped by first-team fullback Matt Bernstein. The scrimmages were a form of contact touch football: basically wrap up or make a hit of some sort without bringing the player to the ground. This is important to note because without those guidelines, Bernstein would have scored on the first play of the first offense's set and quite possibly the second. On the first, he took an inside handoff straight through a sizeable hole and was not touched until Allen Langford approached him at the five. Langford is a physical player (see note below) but I'd bet on Bernstein had that collision actually taken place.
- The next play, the offense was spotted the ball at the 10 and Bernstein came barreling through again, reaching the three-yard line. Bernstein also had a run of more than 40 yards in earlier scrimmage work, at the end of which he exultingly heaved the ball toward the hill over looking the practice field.
- Friday was another good day for interceptions, with Scott Starks, Jack Ikegwuonu and Chuckie Cowans picking off the Badgers' quarterbacks. If not for Joe Thomas, Cowans would have returned his for a touchdown.
- Brandon Kelly, who appears to be adapting well to playing defensive end, recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown during one scrimmage session. He continues to work with the third-team defense.
- Wisconsin may have found a wrinkle for Jamal Cooper. The Badgers have flirted with zone blitz schemes in the past, so this is not entirely out of the ordinary, but Cooper floated out to the flats in coverage on a number of occasions Friday. He looked a little out of sorts, but far less so than the average defensive end. He even batted down a pass in one of those situations.
- Cooper also nearly intercepted a pass while rushing the quarterback. He leapt up to deflect the pass but nearly ended up hanging on to it.
- Joe Thomas and Booker Stanley could be a dangerous combination on screen passes. Stanley did a very good job reading his blocks and making a cut to get upfield. Thomas' athleticism, meanwhile, makes it almost unfair. He was able to get to the edge at a pace that barely made Stanley pause and Chuckie Cowans could not have enjoyed the look of Thomas bearing down on him.
- Mike Newkirk took all of the reps with the No. 2 defense at mike linebacker Friday. Paul Joran continued to take the majority of reps with the second unit at sam and also played two series at mike on the third unit.
- Walk-on quarterback Craig Meier has shown good arm strength, but, like many of the quarterbacks, is having a hard time consistently hitting his target.
- Marcus Randle El got behind the defense for a long touchdown reception.
- Randle El, though, probably had his fill of Allen Langford Friday. Langford was advertised as a physical corner on letter of intent signing day last February and that is exactly what he is. He broke up at least three passes Friday, two intended for Randle El, and was very physical with his fellow freshman and the rest of the receivers he went up against.
- Particularly for a tailback who weighed in at an astonishing 270 pounds Tuesday, Chris Pressley has pretty nimble feet. He had an impressive cutback run Friday that culminated with a gain of about 20 yards.