Spring practice report, April 8

News and notes from Wisconsin's practice at Camp Randall Stadium Friday afternoon


The Badgers worked their 7 on 7 drill in the red zone Friday and first-team quarterback John Stocco enjoyed considerable success, throwing touchdown passes to Brandon Williams and Jason Pociask.

Tyler Donovan also did well in this segment, zipping a touchdown pass to Williams and showing nice touch on a scoring toss to Owen Daniels in the back of the end zone.

Bryan Savage had the best pass of the day, throwing a beautiful deep ball to Jonathan Orr, who extended to haul in the reception down the left sideline during scrimmage work.

Running backs

Brian Calhoun took advantage of a solid point-of-attack block from tight end Owen Daniels to cut off tackle for a big gain. Calhoun has been branded in the past as a pure edge runner, but he has shown the ability this spring to run between the tackles and make plays. With his ability to diagnose a play and make quick cuts, Calhoun does not absorb many clean hits.

Wide receivers/tight ends

All things considered, Friday's session was a bit rough for the receivers and tight ends, with catchable passes and outright dropped balls hitting the turf too often.

Brandon Williams managed to slip into the seam, seemingly unknown to the secondary, and caught a deep touchdown pass from Tyler Donovan.

Joel Nellis had a pass reception during live scrimmaging. Nellis has been an adept blocker this spring but pass catching has not been an every day occurrence for him during scrimmages. He has adequate hands and runs decent routes, so while blocking will be his forte in two and three tight end sets, Nellis is capable of getting free in the secondary and making a play.

Offensive line

After missing four complete practices with an ankle injury, redshirt freshman Kraig Urbik has been thrust back into the right tackle competition with sophomore Danny Kaye the past two practices. The duo took about even reps at tackle Friday.

For the second consecutive practice, Marcus Coleman was the second team left tackle, with Andrew Weininger the second-team right guard. Coleman has played some tackle in his time with the Badgers but has primarily been a guard, while Weininger is receiving his first look at guard.

Guard Matt Lawrence and center Donovan Raiola did a nice job getting to the edge and making blocks on a screen pass, springing Booker Stanley for a big gain.

Defensive line

In initial scrimmage situations the first-team left defensive end was Joe Monty, while tackles Justin Ostrowski and Nick Hayden and end Jamal Cooper maintained their usual first-team spots. Jason Chapman worked in with the first team at left defensive end and the second team at right defensive end.

Gino Cruse had a pretty good practice playing with the second-team defense. The redshirt freshman has a world of potential, and he exhibited it by getting into the backfield on several occasions Friday, providing a disruptive force against both the run and the pass. But he has struggled with consistency and some mental aspects of the game throughout spring and has a ways to go before he will challenge for playing time.

Kurt Ware remained at defensive tackle Friday and again played well. For a 274-pound player he looked agile as an end; he has been surprisingly sudden at tackle and has caused some havoc while playing with the second-team defense.

Ware made a very nice play during one scrimmage session, taking a good angle down the line of scrimmage to head off a scrambling Tyler Donovan for a short loss.

Mark Gorman also worked in at tackle with the second team.

While Chapman rotated in with the first and second teams, the primary second-team defensive ends were Mike Newkirk and Brandon Kelly.


A few young linebackers have made significant pushes up the depth chart this spring, beginning with sam linebacker Casey Hogan, who has probably made the biggest jump of any Badger this spring. In the matter of 10 spring practices, he has gone from a third or fourth-string safety to the second-team sam linebacker, backing up Mark Zalewski.

Hogan had an excellent practice Friday. He played well in coverage, including one pass breakup, and for an athlete listed at 6-foot-5, 201 pounds, he has held up very well against the run. One play in particular stood out. Left tackle Marcus Coleman delivered a jarring block on Hogan but despite giving up about 100 pounds, Hogan stood his ground, refusing to give in as Coleman tried to drive him out of the play. As a result, tailback Dywon Rowan had to cut back to the inside, where he was swarmed under after a short gain.

Hogan also made a very good hustle play. Two defensive backs overshot receiver Jarvis Minton has he juggled, then hauled in a pass reception. As Minton sprinted diagonally up field to evade the one remaining safety barring him from a long touchdown, Hogan, who had responsibility for a short coverage zone, came barreling out of nowhere to tackle Minton.

Another young linebacker who seems to be enduring himself to the coaching staff is Josh Neal, who has rotated in at mike ‘backer along with Andy Crooks and Paul Joran on both the first and second teams for the past few practices. Neal is so-so in pass coverage, but he has been strong against the run. He has a good motor and does an admirable job fighting through blocks.

Crooks, who won the starting mike linebacker job during his true freshman campaign last season, is still clearly the starter, but Joran and Neal have shown they can be capable backups.

Joran played some mike in practice last season, including during fall camp, but he has been primarily a sam linebacker since Bret Bielema took over as UW's defensive coordinator more than a year ago. The fourth-year junior-to-be delivered the biggest hit of the day Friday, drilling fullback Chris Pressley after a reception over the middle. Much to Pressley's credit, however, he held on to the pass.

Defensive backs

In what was — by and large — not a particularly good day for the secondary, second-team free safety Zach Hampton stood out with three interceptions. Hampton has been the Badgers' best coverage safety this spring, with first-team free safety Roderick Rogers and second-team strong safety Joe Stellmacher in close pursuit. Rogers has appeared a little more sound in his assignments, but Hampton has made more plays than the rest of the safeties.

First-team strong safety Johnny White, who continues to star in run support, has been improving in coverage.

Reserve cornerback Ben Strickland also had a strong day, with a two lunging pass breakups on throws intended for Jonathan Orr and a big hit in the flats against Bill Rentmeester, stopping the fullback for a short gain. Strickland appears to have an edge on Antonio Freeman for the No. 5 cornerback spot.

For the second-consecutive practice, Jack Ikegwuonu worked in with the first-team defense at cornerback, playing with Levonne Rowan or Allen Langford. All three of those players also saw time with the second team, opposite Strickland.

Rowan recovered a fumble during one scrimmage session.

Jameson Davis, who was converted from cornerback to safety this spring, appears to be getting more reps at strong safety recently. He primarily played free safety early in spring. The redshirt freshman received some reps with the second defense Friday.

Special teams

The Badgers' full-speed special teams work of the day was kickoff coverage.

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