Notebook: vote of confidence for kickers

Mehlhaff, Schober showing improvement in camp; Carter's hit puts exclamation point on competition

Heading into fall camp, University of Wisconsin football coach Barry Alvarez said his biggest concern was with the team's kicking game. But through 11 practices and nine days of training, place kickers sophomore Taylor Mehlhaff and redshirt freshman Adam Schober are winning Alvarez's praise.

"They've worked very hard and it's starting to pay off," Alvarez said after practice Thursday.

Mehlhaff struggled immensely to make field goals in his first fall camp last year and was inconsistent at best in the spring.

"One thing looks different," Alvarez said. "He makes them all. I don't think he's missed one this week… Schober missed one today… That may be the first one they've missed all this week."

The kickers spend most of practice using the indoor facility at the McClain Center, while the rest of the team is out on the turf inside Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers chart the kickers' results in McClain, but for the sake of the competition between Mehlhaff and Schober, Alvarez is more concerned with their results during scrimmage sessions.

"I haven't looked at the charts," Alvarez said. "I watch when they kick when it counts and they haven't missed. Like I said, Schober missed one today. They just haven't missed."

Asked if he expected the competition to continue throughout camp, Alvarez said UW will go with "whoever's the hottest. I think competition's healthy."

"I'd be just thrilled if they'd be as consistent throughout this season as they have been this past two weeks," Alvarez said.

"I'd like to see it for 12 games during the season," he added. "That's the important thing. But if you do it in practice and you gain confidence normally that carries over to the game. Their execution time is very good and our snappers have done a nice job. I think Steve Johnson's really improved his snapping… Those kids have worked hard. I'm glad to see that we've seen results thus far and hopefully it will carry over to the games."

The hit heard 'round the stadium

Shane Carter has established himself as one of the top true freshmen in camp, a player who will be in the depth at cornerback. Thursday afternoon he added one of the camp's biggest hits to his résumé.

During a red zone drill late in practice, Carter walloped tailback Booker Stanley, limiting the junior to a one-yard gain and forcing a third-and-goal at the 4.

"I thought we had a good workout today," Alvarez said. "I really like the way they competed. Did some good things on both sides of the ball. And a great teaching tape for the young kids.

"I just told them, you want to gain respect around here, you whack somebody like Shane Carter did. You've got to learn how to compete and some of the guys that don't quite know what they're doing they stand out and the ones that go hard they stand out."

Carter was announced on signing day in February as a safety or wide receiver, but has found a home at cornerback thus far.

"I really liked his athleticism," Alvarez said of recruiting Carter. "He really has tremendous ball awareness. You could see that in some of the picks he made in high school. He would hit you. Soft hands. And we knew he could do a number of things. I wasn't sure he could play corner but not too sure he can't. And I know he can go on the other side and play too."

More praise for Shaughnessy

True freshman defensive end Matt Shaughnessy continues to be an impressive pass rusher and appears to have cemented a role in the rotation.

"I think Matt was probably 205 pounds when we recruited him but we could see what kind of athlete he is and he has a big frame," Alvarez said. Shaughnessy weighed in at 233 pounds last week and stands 6-foot-6. "He'll play for us. He'll get on the field. He's very athletic and he's really going to be something some day."

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