"Mike Newkirk and Andy Crooks are pretty well entrenched at a second-team mike and sam linebacker, currently."
—Badgernation.com Monday morning practice report.
On second thought, perhaps Newkirk and Crooks weren't as entrenched as previously believed. Paul Joran took the bulk of the reps at No. 2 mike linebacker Monday afternoon and John Gillen played sam. Walk-on Ben Landgraf worked in as the third-team sam linebacker.
New look nickel
Last season, Wisconsin was very productive using a "speed nickel" that put Alex Lewis on the edge as a rush end. The Badgers began looking at ways to get as much speed on the field as possible this season Monday afternoon.
Toward the end of practice, Wisconsin simulated 2-minute drill scenarios with the first and second offense employing spread formations and the defense responding with a nickel scheme. The Badgers' first nickel defense initially placed ends Erasmus James and Joe Monty at defensive tackle, with Jonathan Welsh and Jamal Cooper at end. Later, Welsh and James flipped between end and tackle.
This ‘all end' line grouping was not very successful. Mike Lorenz, playing right tackle with the first team, handled the speedy Cooper surprisingly well and Joe Thomas did a number on Welsh and James on the other side. Whether Welsh, James or Monty, the ends were not big enough to get a push against the Badgers' offensive front line. On the other hand, Wisconsin's nickel defense did not blitz once.
Levonne Rowan and Scott Starks served as cornerbacks on the first-team nickel, with Chuckie Cowans at nickel back.
Cowans, though, took most of the reps opposite Starks with the first base defense.
Davis strong at guard
Morgan Davis continued to look good at right guard during the late session Monday, making a habit of standing up Anttaj Hawthorne at the line of scrimmage and often driving the potential All-American away from plays. Hawthorne did beat Davis for a sack, however.
The second team offensive line was a constant during Monday's afternoon session: Danny Kaye at left tackle, Jake Wood at right tackle, Jason Palermo at center, Matt Lawrence at left guard and Marcus Coleman at right guard.
Jake Wood has had a very good fall camp in making the transition back to offensive tackle. He has enough explosion and foot quickness to be an adept pass blocker.
Luke Knauf (center), Kraig Urbik (right guard) and Randy Gyllin (left guard) have been constants on the third offensive line since practice began. Monday, however, Andrew Weininger moved to third-unit right tackle, pushing Mike Van Someren to the left side.
Zach Hampton, who has been rotating with Casey Hogan as a third-team free safety, also worked in with the second and third team nickel defenses as a nickel corner in drill work.
During one drill, receiver Brandon Tobias did more than beat Allen Langford's bump at the line of scrimmage. Tobias knocked Langford off his feet. He then proceeded to drop the ensuing pass as Roderick Rogers came over to help from his free safety position. On a positive note, Tobias is learning to use his size and strength to be a pretty good blocker. He drove Joe Stellmacher well out of the play on one screen pass.
Brandon White, who had another poor practice Monday morning, had a strong effort Monday afternoon, catching two touchdown passes in 7-on-7 work. He also caught a touchdown passing during one 11-on-11 situation.
Credit Brandon Kelly with a tackle for loss and a practice sack from his defensive end position.
Erasmus James batted down two passes, including one that might have hit him in the shoulder pads had he not batted it away.
Stellmacher read a screen and corralled Booker Stanley behind the line of scrimmage. Dontez Sanders did the same to Chris Pressley just a few plays later.
Nick Hayden worked in with the second defense Monday and recorded a tackle-for-loss.
Scott Starks had an interception and a pass breakup in various scrimmage situations. Starks also spent significant time working with the specialists as a kick returner.
Fall camp report, Aug. 16 afternoon session
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