Spring practice report, April 10

News and notes from Wisconsin's scrimmage heavy session at Camp Randall Sunday

Overview

The Badgers spent the bulk of Sunday's workout scrimmaging, beginning with situational sets and proceeding to a full-fledge scrimmage. An officiating crew patrolled the Camp Randall Stadium turf throughout.

Wisconsin's defense dominated the action early in the day. In particular the Badgers' defensive line raised havoc with UW's passing game, making it very difficult of the quarterbacks to set up in the pocket.

As the practice wore on, however, the offense gained some headway and put together several touchdown drives.

Quarterbacks

The rep breakdown was similar to last Sunday's scrimmage session. John Stocco took almost all of the reps with the first unit, while Tyler Donovan received a fairly equivalent workload with the second team.

The Stocco-led first-team offense struggled early in the first situational scrimmage. The No. 1 quarterback did not receive much help from his receivers or linemen, but he was able to make a good throw to Brandon White for about a 15-yard gain to the sideline.

After several more tough series for the offense — two directed by Donovan, one by Bryan Savage and two more by Stocco — Donovan injected some life in the moribund offense. Not coincidentally, the offensive line gave him time to throw and other skill position players made plays.

Donovan punctuated the first scoring series with a softly thrown 23-yard pass to the back of the end zone, where Jarvis Minton out-leapt a defensive back for the score.

Donovan led a touchdown drive on the next series as well, this time hooking up with tight end Sean Lewis.

Savage made an excellent throw late in practice, while playing against the third-team defense during his most extended scrimmage work of the day. With defensive end Adam Purcell barreling down on him, Savage delivered a marvelously thrown deep pass off his back foot, hitting Joe Walker in stride for about a 46-yard gain to the 12.

Two plays later, Savage ran to his left to make something out of a busted play and strode into the end zone himself for about a six-yard touchdown run.

Early in practice Savage took three snaps with the second offense after Stocco and Donovan each played two series. After two running plays, Savage was sacked on third down.

Stocco hooked up with Brandon White for a 31-yard gain to the five to set up a Booker Stanley touchdown run. The pass was actually thrown a little too far to the outside, but Stocco put enough air under it to allow White to make an adjustment.

Running backs

Had the opening scrimmage situation been entirely live, Brian Calhoun may have scored a very long touchdown. But after he darted through a big hole to the right hand side and sprinted into the clear, the whistle blew. Free safety Zach Hampton had an angle on him, but Calhoun looked like he might be able to outrun it to the end zone had the play continued. Until Minton's catch this was the offense's best play of the day.

Calhoun had a personal touchdown drive during one scrimmage drill, turning four consecutive handoffs into about 25 yards and a touchdown, giving the offense its third consecutive scoring drive at that point.

Fullbacks Bill Rentmeester and Chris Pressley each had success running the ball, converting several short yardage situations into first downs.

Booker Stanley slipped a couple tackles versus a blitz to pick up 12 yards late in the full scrimmage.

Wide receivers/tight ends

Jarvis Minton made a good catch for a 14-yard gain early in practice on a pretty well placed throw from Donovan, and held on despite a solid hit from safety Roderick Rogers. Minton's catch of Donovan's first touchdown pass was a thing of beauty. He shielded the defensive back from the play and skied to catch the ball clean.

Tight end Owen Daniels, who has been sturdy but relatively quiet this spring, made a strong catch on a well-thrown corner route from John Stocco. Joe Stellmacher made a big hit at the end of the play, but Daniels held on as he went out of bounds.

Daniels nearly made a miraculous catch several plays later. After a well-timed Johnny White hit knocked Daniels away from a Donovan pass, the ball skirted into the air over the head of White and free safety Roderick Rogers. Donovan lunged out for it but could not quite get his hands on the ball before it hit the turf.

Tight end Joel Nellis also made a good play to hold onto a catch after Stellmacher sent him barreling hard into the sideline.

Receiver Jeff Holzbauer made a great block to free Rentmeester for about a 25-yard gain on a screen pass. Holzbauer also made a good catch to scoop out a low throw from Savage. The pass was placed in about the only position it could be in order to be complete and Holzbauer's catch was impressive.

Brandon Williams did not take part in practice Sunday.

Offensive line

For the third consecutive practice Danny Kaye took all of the first-team left tackle reps, subbing in for Joe Thomas, who spent the weekend competing with the Badgers' track team. Kraig Urbik again took the first-team right tackle reps, while the two split work there with the second team.

Jason Palermo saw some time at second-team center, in addition to his normal work as a first-team right guard.

Donovan Raiola made an excellent block near the line of scrimmage to take down a linebacker, allowing Brian Calhoun to bounce into a hole off right guard.

Defensive line

Jamal Cooper, Mike Newkirk and Adam Purcell stood out from their defensive end positions with the first, second and third units, respectively.

Each of the three got the better of the Badgers' offensive tackles and made a habit of getting in the backfield to make plays. Cooper had one sack, two tackles for loss, two batted down passes and a quarterback knockdown. Newkirk registered 1 ½ sacks, 1 ½ tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Purcell made quarterback Craig Meier's practice-closing scrimmage session a miserable one, with his second and third sacks of the day.

Kurt Ware remained at defensive end and registered a batted down pass. Tackle Gino Cruse also tallied a pass breakup.

Defensive end Brandon Kelly, playing with the second defense, was also busy, with a tackle for loss, a half a sack, a fumble recovery and a quarterback knock down.

Linebackers

Paul Joran again took the bulk of the reps with the first-team at mike linebacker, while Andy Crooks and Josh Neal also rotated in. Crooks was the primary second-team mike, with Joran and Neal working in with the second unit as well.

First-team sam linebacker Mark Zalewski registered a sack. Zalewski also made an impressive play against the run when he stood up Andy Kemp at the point of attack, allowing the pursuit to hold up ball carrier Bill Rentmeester at the line of scrimmage.

Playing with the second team at will linebacker, Ben Landgraf beat an offensive tackle off a blitz and forced a quarterback to fumble.

The fourth-team linebackers were mike Alex Sell, will Victor Meckstroth and sam Julian Edwards. Elliot Goode followed Sell at mike.

Second-team sam linebacker Casey Hogan continued his string of strong showings, including a tackle for loss.

Defensive backs

Roderick Rogers and Johnny White took most of the reps as first-team safeties, but Zach Hampton and Joe Stellmacher also played some with the first team.

Senior-to-be cornerback Levonne Rowan had his best practice of the spring. He was very strong in coverage, more often than not blanketing his receiver. He had four pass breakups.

Strong safety James Kamoku returned to practice after missing time with an injury and played well, with three pass breakups, including a jarring hit to separate tight end Sean Lewis from a Tyler Donovan pass.

After getting beat down field, Ben Strickland was called for interference on a deep pass to receiver Jonathan Orr. The penalty, however, likely saved a touchdown. Though this was not his best day in coverage, Strickland broke up a pass later in practice.

Free safety Roderick Rogers did a good job in run support, with a two tackles for loss. He was also solid in pass coverage, including an interception that would have been returned for a long touchdown if the scrimmage had been completely live.

Special teams

Jarvis Minton, Levonne Rowan and Marcus Randle El took the primary reps at kick returner. Ben Strickland was the up back with the first-team kick return unit, while Jack Ikegwuonu filled that role with the second team.


Badger Nation Top Stories