Wisconsin's offense rebounded Wednesday afternoon after getting shellacked in the early session (see report).
The defense still held its own in 11-on-11 scrimmage sessions with the first offense facing either the first or second defense and vice versa. The offense, however, made some big plays after barely looking like it could play in the morning, and hearing plenty about it from the Badgers' coaches.
The big playmakers Wednesday afternoon were from the regular cast. Anthony Davis had a few sterling runs and had a big gain on a screen pass. Darrin Charles, Jonathan Orr and Brandon Williams also shined in the afternoon set.
Charles has really had a good camp and Wednesday afternoon he showed why he could be a very productive receiver. Despite incredibly close coverage from freshman Allen Langford, Charles leaped up and snagged a fade pass in the back of the end zone for a touchdown during red zone drills. Later in red zone work, he drew a pass interference call on another defensive back.
Orr and Brandon White each caught touchdown passes during the same sequence. Williams made a first-down reception inside the five. In another, non-red-zone scrimmage, he caught a short pass along the sideline and quickly darted upfield, evading the coverage or a gain that was only stopped by the whistle.
The defense had its highlights as well and the competition was very intense Wednesday afternoon, with the most trash talking heard at a Badger practice throughout camp. It was, in some ways, the culmination of two weeks of back-and-forth between the two units.
Every unit of the Badgers' defense provided highlights Wednesday afternoon, beginning with the defensive line. Erasmus James and Jonathan Welsh have been purely dominant of late, and each spent his fair share of time in the offensive backfield Wednesday, both in the morning and afternoon sessions. James recorded a pair of sacks in the afternoon.
Anttaj Hawthorne was particularly boisterous and productive. Always a presence, he wreaked havoc Wednesday. In the afternoon he knocked down a pass and recorded a tackle for loss.
Reserve defensive end Brandon Kelly had a tackle for loss.
LaMarr Watkins continues to look better as a blitzing linebacker. He had a sack Wednesday afternoon.
Reggie Cribbs made a lunging play along the sideline to break up a pass. He felt he should have intercepted it, though.
Cribbs combined with Paul Joran to force out Anthony Davis for a loss of one yard on one red zone scrimmage play.
The biggest hit of the afternoon belonged to Jim Leonhard, who decked Derek Konkel just as a pass touched his fingertips.
Runner-up honors go to Roderick Rogers, who took advantage of a tipped pass and shoved freshman receiver Jarvis Minton to the turf.
Jack Ikegwuonu broke up a pass.
Smith at practice, unavailable
Dwayne Smith returned to the practice field in street clothes after missing the previous two practices while seeing a specialist for his undisclosed medical issue.
Smith and Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez were unavailable for comment following the practice Wednesday afternoon.
Linebackers play in a variety of places
Wisconsin continued to rotate its linebackers in nickel situations, though Dontez Sanders received the most playing time of the top quartet. Mark Zalewski, Reggie Cribbs and LaMarr Watkins could earn a spot on the nickel.
Watkins is still primarily a second-team will linebacker, but he worked in with the second- and first-team at mike as well Wednesday.
Zalewski is clearly still the starter at sam, but his understudy, Paul Joran, took quite a few reps with the first team at sam Wednesday afternoon.
With Watkins double-shifting again, freshman Jammar Crane worked often as the second-team will linebacker.
Back to his roots
Starting center Donovan Raiola helped out the second-team offense at both left and right guard Wednesday afternoon. Raiola's first college start came at right guard two years ago, in place of an injured Jonathan Clinkscale.
Jeff Holzbauer is now wearing No. 5, rather than No. 17. Langford, who, like Holzbauer, could be a regular contributor on special teams, wears No. 17.
Fall camp report, Aug. 25, afternoon session
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