UW's competitive sessions and scrimmages featured several big hits, but none was more ferocious than the blow true freshman Shane Carter delivered to tailback Booker Stanley during a full tackle red zone drill towards the end of practice.
With the second-team offense facing a second-and-goal from the 5, Stanley took the ball running left and tried to side step into the hole. Carter, though, crashed down from his cornerback spot and decleated Stanley with a pop that reverberated through Camp Randall Stadium and emitted a wild celebration from the defense, with first-team players spilling onto the field to celebrate with their second-line teammates.
On the proceeding play, a third-and-goal from the 4, Stanley ran into a swarm and the ball squirted out, with free safety Zach Hampton coming up with it.
The series was an exclamation point on a raucous practice on an afternoon when the defense again flexed its muscles.
The red zone session actually began auspiciously for the offense, with quarterback John Stocco floating a nice pass to tight end Jason Pociask in the corner of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown on third-and-goal.
The defense, though, would hold the offense out of the end zone on the next three possessions, all of which began at the 20.
- With the second defense squaring off against the second offense, Elijah Hodge stuffed a second-and-four running play for no gain at the 14, and nearly intercepted a third-and-four pass.
- What really got the defense fired up, though, was the first unit's goal line stand on the next series. A 20-yard pass from John Stocco to Jonathan Orr gave the first offense a first-and-goal at the 2, but the defense held firm. First, defensive end Kurt Ware, mike linebacker Josh Neal and tackle Nick Hayden converged to stop Jamil Walker for a loss of one, with Neal delivering the big hit. Then, sam linebacker Mark Zalewski wrapped up Walker well behind the line, with strong safety Johnny White giving support, forcing a third-and-goal from the 9. The series concluded with Kurt Ware batting down Stocco's pass at the line.
- Dustin Sherer then entered at quarterback with a blended second/third team offense, but Carter batted away his third-down pass. Given a second set of downs at the 10, the offense lost more than 10 yards, capped by Brandon Kelly's sack on third-and-goal from the 17.
- A bright spot for the offense, though, was that kicker Taylor Mehlhaff made field goal attempts from 32 and 37 yards out look relatively easy.
More notes from Thursday afternoon's practice:
- The liveliness of the Badgers' workout seethed into three fights.
- Allen Langford and Jack Ikegwuonu worked in at cornerback with the first-team defense, while Shane Carter, Ikegwuonu and Prince Moody were the principle corners with the second team.
- Brandon Kelly has been receiving increasingly regular reps with the second team at defensive end. Kurt Ware worked in at end with the first-team defense and took his regular share of reps with the second team. Matt Shaughnessy also played end with the second team.
- LaMarr Watkins appears to have found a new home at sam linebacker. Watkins has been the primary sam with the second-team defense after playing will at the beginning of camp. Watkins was a strong-side drop linebacker under former defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove, but was switched to the weakside will position with the arrival of Bret Bielema last season.
- Watkins combined with Gino Cruse for a tackle for loss during 9-on-9 work. Watkins, Ware and Shaughnessy combined for a practice "sack" during 11-on-11 work.
- Cruse had his most productive practice of the fall. He pressured Tyler Donovan into scrambling on one play and generally did a good job getting a push from his defensive tackle position.
- Brandon White caught what would have been an 81-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Donovan if the 11-on-11 segment had been completely live.
- Ikegwuonu had an interception and one pass breakup Thursday.
- During 9-on-9 work, Hodge had a "tackle" for loss on Stanley (the practice was ‘wrap-up only' aside from the red zone session).
- DeAndre Levy took reps with the second-team defense at will linebacker, while Hodge spent time with the second team at mike.
- Johnny White broke up a pass.
- Allen Langford broke up two passes.
- At the end of the 7-on-7 drill, Dustin Sherer completed all four of his pass attempts, delivering throws on target to Luke Swan, Paul Hubbard, Brandon White and White again.
- O'Brien Schofield batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage.
- Zach Hampton intercepted a pass.
- Dontez Sanders had a practice sack when he chased down Tyler Donovan.
- Defensive tackle Nick Hayden made one of the more impressive plays Thursday, using a very good swim move to surge into the backfield for a sack.
- Shane Carter made a very nice play to break on a pass intended for Jonathan Orr, but the interception slipped out of his hands.
- John Stocco made a particularly strong throw to connect with Brandon White on the sideline.
- Jason Pociask is an unsung, but key component to the Badgers' depth. He is UW's best blocker at tight end and has developed into a very capable receiver.