Fall camp report: Aug. 11

News and notes from day two of the Badgers' training camp

The University of Wisconsin football team practiced for about two hours under overcast and sometimes rainy skies on the field at Camp Randall Stadium Thursday afternoon.

For the second consecutive day, per NCAA rules, the Badgers practiced in shorts, jerseys and helmets. Still, through drills, 7-on-7, 9-on-9 and 11-on-11 work, a collection of highlights emerged.

  • Joe Stellmacher had an excellent practice. He appears to be tracking receivers better this fall than he did a year ago or during the spring. Early in practice Stellmacher, the Badgers' second-team strong safety, stepped in front of a pass and hauled in an interception. He also had three pass breakups. On one of those plays, John Stocco threw a pretty good pass to receiver Jonathan Orr deep down the field, but Stellmacher jarred the ball loose.
  • It is admittedly very early in camp, but true freshman Shane Carter has stood out in the drill and light contact scrimmage sessions. He is very athletic and he does a good job of getting his hips turned and running with receivers. He has played at right cornerback the past two days with the all-freshman defense, but head coach Barry Alvarez said following practice that Carter could also play strong or free safety. Carter had the only interception during the first day of practice. Thursday he had back-to-back pass breakups. On the first, Stocco was trying to complete an out to Brandon Williams. The pass was on target, but Carter closed quickly and made a lunge to bat it away. The next play he knocked a Bryan Savage pass away from T.J. Theus.
  • The depth remained largely intact from Wednesday to Thursday across the board, with a few subtle variances. For instance, the second-team linebackers again were Casey Hogan at sam, Josh Neal at mike and LaMarr Watkins at will. However, Travis Beckum worked in at sam and Paul Joran worked in at mike.
  • Ever since his first fall camp as a tight end two years ago, Owen Daniels has been among the top two or three skill players on the team as far as his hands and route running. That is certainly the case again this year. Daniels does a terrific job getting into position to receive the pass and making sure he corrals the ball with his hands, then secures it before the defense converges.
  • Daniels' top competition for the aforementioned honors continues to be Brandon White, who has been the No. 3 receiver behind Brandon Williams and Jonathan Orr to start camp. White has been impressive in the early going. He showed very good concentration on a deep pass from John Stocco.
  • A caveat: on these days with no pads and light contact, it is difficult to get a feel for the physical aspect of the running game. As far as footwork goes, however, tailback Brian Calhoun does an excellent job of picking his way through traffic. His balance and quickness in between the tackles has been especially impressive, and the burst he shows when finishing runs is top notch.
  • A lot has been said already about Calhoun's potential as a pass receiver. During a drill where the running backs were executing a short pass pattern, Calhoun ran his route so well that co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Brian White let out a whoop and, to paraphrase, said that Calhoun could make a lot of money some day running routes that well.
  • Dontez Sanders intercepted two passes Thursday and returned the first for a touchdown. Sanders has looked good during the first two practices. He put on 15 pounds in the offseason and still moves very well for a linebacker. And, of course, he is still a vocal leader.
  • Second-team fullback Chris Pressley has trimmed down about 10 pounds from this time last season, and nearly 20 pounds from his peak weight. As one might expect there is more bounce in his step. Though it appears he will be primarily called upon to block during his UW career, he looks more confident catching passes and carrying the ball than he did last fall, when he was playing tailback.
  • Marcus Randle El made a couple of nice catches. He slid to pick a Savage pass off the turf and he made a lunging grab on a pass from Tyler Donovan.
  • The play of the day belonged to receiver Luke Swan. Running down the right sideline on a go route, Swan had to twist and leap sideways to catch the ball over his right shoulder as he fell to the turf. The play elicited roars of approval from the offensive sideline. Savage delivered the pass.
  • Third-team free safety Jameson Davis nearly intercepted an overthrown pass, but could not quite come up with it.
  • Following practice, Alvarez said that this fall the Badgers are coupling the quarterbacks with the receivers and ends they are likely to throw to in a game. For that reason, in drill and scrimmage work first-team quarterback John Stocco has been working predominantly with receivers Williams, Orr, White and Minton and ends Daniels and Jason Pociask.
  • Again, it is very early, but the top three quarterbacks have all looked fairly sharp so far.

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