Spring practice report, March 13

Position-by-position look at news and notes from spring workouts

Wisconsin put on pads for the first time this spring for its two-hour workout Sunday afternoon. The highlight of the practice was certainly the live scrimmage work, which afforded the first full-contact look at the 2005 Badgers.


The Badgers continued to alternate No. 2 rep days for quarterbacks Tyler Donovan and Bryan Savage. It was Donovan's turn Sunday, so the sophomore-to-be played some series with the first team and took the majority of the reps with the second team. Savage worked in with the second team.

Starter John Stocco made a solid throw along the sideline to Luke Swan and a better delivery on a skinny post to Jarvis Minton.

Savage made a heady play, rolling to his right to evade a quick pass rush and finding fullback Josh Balts open on the sideline.

Offensive line

In a 9-on-9 goal line scrimmage session, Jason Palermo made a terrific block, pulling to clear the way for a Brian Calhoun touchdown run. Palermo looked very good on the first day of full contact work.

The guards in general played well. Matt Lawrence was sturdy at left guard with the first team Sunday and Andy Kemp and Marcus Coleman had some sterling moments with the second team.

Kemp was particularly impressive, taking his man to the ground at least a half dozen times, including five pancake blocks along the line of scrimmage. On a screen pass he got out in space and upended starting mike linebacker Andy Crooks, though another player snuffed out that play before it could gain any yardage. Kemp was comfortable drive blocking at the point of attack, fluid on his pulls and downright scary when he slipped to the second level to block downfield.

With Joe Thomas back from the NCAA Indoor Championships to play left tackle, Kraig Urbik and Danny Kaye split reps at right tackle with the first and second teams. Kaye had been taking his first-team reps at left tackle. Andrew Weininger continues to take reps at left tackle with the No. 2 unit.

Running backs

Chris Pressley's future is still most likely at fullback, but the big sophomore did an admirable job moonlighting back at tailback Sunday and could have a future as a short-yardage runner. He was particularly impressive in the goal line 9-on-9 work, running downhill with authority and punishing tacklers. Pressley ran with a great deal of intensity and delivered as many blows as he received from tacklers.

Brian Calhoun had some nifty runs in the 9-on-9 drills, weaving his way towards the goal line with regularity.

Booker Stanley showed some decent vision during 9-on-9 drills, making quick reads and running hard to the holes.

Stanley had the run of the day. Going around left end, he dashed toward the sideline to elude a couple pursuing linebackers, then made a move to leave a corner waving at air before he proceeded downfield.

Stanley and Calhoun have each looked fluid as pass receivers, running good routes and displaying good hands out of the backfield.

Calhoun showed off his speed without the ball Sunday, sprinting across the field to knock LaMarr Watkins, who was returning an interception, out of bounds.

Reserve fullback Bill Rentmeester bowled over a safety while running the ball on the last play of the day.

Receivers and tight ends

Early in spring practices sophomore Jarvis Minton has helped himself as much as any player on the Badgers' roster. Minton has the speed and body control to get in and out of his breaks quickly, which helps him beat coverage and quickly and get open. He has not made the spectacular catch yet this spring, but he has very reliable hands, with the size and strength to ward off defenders. When Minton makes a catch he is elusive enough to make people miss and break down field. He entered spring listed as a second-team receiver and has solidified himself in that role thus far. Minton made a handful of impressive plays Sunday, including the long touchdown catch.

As expected Jason Pociask and Owen Daniels are splitting reps at first-team tight end. A handful of players are rotating in with the second team at tight end, but Joel Nellis and Sean Lewis were the primary rep recipients Sunday. Lewis, surprisingly, was used as the in-line tight end, while Nellis was the U tight end, or H-back.

Nellis made a textbook catch along the sideline on a corner route from quarterback Craig Meier, reaching up to snag the ball clean with his hands before tucking it in quickly and making sure he held on as he got his feet in bounds.

Paul Hubbard found his way behind the defense on a handful of occasions Sunday and came up with some long receptions.

Redshirt freshman receiver Joe Walker made a nice adjustment to catch a Bryan Savage pass along the sidelines.

Redshirt freshman tight end Dave Peck made a good catch along the sideline with Joe Stellmacher draped all over him.

Jonathan Orr reeled in a high pass, absorbing a hit from LaMarr Watkins in the process. Orr had a very good overall day catching the ball.

Defensive line

Jamal Cooper may be undersized to play defensive end but he plays much bigger than his listed 217 pounds. Cooper, who is a somewhat lanky 6-foot-4, is a tactician. He has performed very well in position drills, showing off the less heralded skills that made him a productive player in a reserve role last season. In both drills and scrimmage sets, Cooper has done a very good job of reading blocking schemes and formations, and tends to beat blocks with quickness and smarts, while not yielding the point of a attack as would be expected of someone of his slight weight.

Kurt Ware had an excellent practice. He really looks comfortable at defensive end, a far cry from the tentative player who served as a tight end early in his career. Ware batted down two passes at the line during live scrimmage work. During a 9-on-9 drill, Ware beat a pulling guard to the spot and, along with second-team sam linebacker Paul Joran, stuffed a play in the backfield.

Defensive tackle Justin Ostrowski also beat a pull to make a play, sliding down the line to take away the running lane.

Brandon Kelly managed a tackle for loss on Pressley.

Jason Chapman practiced with the second team at defensive tackle and the third team at defensive end.


Elliott Goode negotiated through traffic, evading would-be blockers to stop Pressley for a short gain.

Goode also broke up a Savage pass intended for Sean Lewis.

Goode (mike), Jammar Crane (will) and Paul Joran (sam) continue to form the second-team linebacker corps, though Nick Sutton is rotating in at sam.

Crane is starting to show off the suddenness and instincts that the Badgers saw in him when they recruited him for the class of 2004. Crane made a nice read on a short pass Sunday, getting a good break on the ball and nearly intercepting it before knocking the pass harmlessly to the turf.

Crane was involved in the biggest collision of the day, an open-field hit with Pressley.

LaMarr Watkins intercepted a pass that had been tipped near the line of scrimmage and ran to the left side before Calhoun knocked him out of bounds.


Jack Ikegwuonu and Antonio Freeman played corner with the second team defense. Fellow redshirt freshman Jameson Davis has been moved to free safety, and is playing that position with the third team, alongside strong safety James Kamoku.

Freeman put a big hit on receiver Derek Konkol to break up a pass from Savage.

Ikegwuonu, who was a star receiver in high school, displayed great concentration in intercepting a deep pass.

Joe Stellmacher made an impressive hit to stand up Chris Pressley during one drill.

Johnny White joined the hit parade, breaking up a pass intended for Owen Daniels.

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