Fall camp wrap: Special teams

Williams the returner; Mehlhaff's improvement buoys kicking game

Depth chart

News and Notes: Brandon Williams will be the kick returner for the fourth straight season. He also won the punt returner job… Jarvis Minton and Jerry Butler were in contention for both return jobs and Marcus Randle El and Brian Calhoun were in the mix at punt returner… Ken DeBauche remains the No. 1 punter, followed by Paul StandringTaylor Mehlhaff appears to have won the place kicking duties, and will be backed up by Adam Schober and Matt FischerSteve Johnson went on scholarship as the No. 1 long snapper.

Fall MVP: Ken DeBauche. He was a good punter last season and was even better during camp this year. DeBauche has a strong leg and has great control, with impressive hang time and the ability to spot his punts well. He should be an all-conference level punter this season.

Player on the rise: Taylor Mehlhaff. The difference between his first fall and second fall was night and day. A year ago, Mehlhaff had a tough time getting the ball off the ground, let alone putting it through the uprights. In team work this year, however, he was true on kick after kick. His kickoffs, which were very good last year, should be elite this season.

Questions answered: Williams not only retained his kick returning job but commanded the punt returning role. Why? Because he was clearly UW's most consistent option at both spots.

Steve Johnson is not Matt Katula but he is a competent long snapper who should do just fine this season.

Questions remain: Mehlhaff showed a great deal of improvement from last spring in grabbing the kicking duties. But what happens when the games are real? He has near limitless potential and in team work he displayed quite a bit of consistency during this camp. If he can stay in a rhythm this season the Badgers will have few worries with the kicking game. Schober was also improved and could step in if Mehlhaff falters.

Will the Badgers get anything out of the kick return game? This has not been an area of strength in recent seasons, but that does not fall on Williams' lap. The blocking has left something to be desired and it was not particularly good in fall camp.

Final thoughts: Special teams should be a strength on balance. The coverage teams should be solid, though UW will miss Scott Starks' prowess at downing punts. The kicking game should be improved.


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