Spring practice report, April 7

Notes and notes from the eighth practice of the spring

MADISON — The University of Wisconsin football team practiced for more than two hours inside the McClain Center late Friday afternoon. The Badgers donned shoulder pads, helmets and shorts for a light contact workout. The team focused on drill work and fundamentals for the bulk of the practice day. The Badgers are expected to hold a scrimmage tomorrow.

Offensive line

Eric Vanden Heuvel took part in a complete practice for the first time this spring. As a result, Kraig Urbik's anticipated move from right tackle to right guard took place. Vanden Heuvel, who, like Urbik, hails from Hudson (Wis.) High School, played right tackle with the first-team offense.

The rest of the first-team offensive line consisted of center Marcus Coleman, left guard Andy Kemp and left tackle Mike Van Someren, who is filling in for the injured Joe Thomas.

Assuming Urbik's shift to guard sticks, the Badgers are set up to have a rather large front five in 2006.

With Thomas (6-foot-8, 306 pounds), Kemp (6-6, 321), Coleman (6-6, 314), Urbik (6-6, 321) and Vanden Heuvel (6-7, 326) in the lineup, UW's average lineman would be 6-7, 318 pounds.

Urbik did take some snaps at right tackle—where he started every game last season—with the second offense, but the bulk of his work was at right guard with the first offense. As he has been throughout spring, Urbik was the Badgers' best offensive lineman Friday. Vanden Heuvel looked solid at right tackle, even though he had been limited for the first seven spring practices.

Van Someren typically double shifted with the second offense, though Andrew Weininger also took some reps at left tackle with the second unit. Weininger was primarily the second-team right tackle.

Danny Kaye, who had been on the first offense throughout spring, backed up Kemp at left guard Friday. Mark Gorman took the vast majority of the second-team reps at right guard, with Luke Knauf at center. Jeff Stehle, who played tight end on Wednesday, received some reps behind Gorman at right guard.


Friday was not a particularly strong day for the quarterback position. The 7-on-7 segment was marked by incompletions and interceptions. In general, the passing game struggled Friday. There were a few bright spots, including a marvelously thrown deep ball by quarterback John Stocco, who hit Paul Hubbard in stride as he made his way to the sideline.

Running backs

He may not come with the plaudits of the Badgers' scholarship tailbacks, but Dywon Rowan has appeared to be the team's most consistent player at the position this spring. He received a lot of work Friday with the first- and second-team offenses. Rowan has decent speed and good size. He does a very good job protecting the football and he continues to show more quickness than he has in the past. He remains a dark horse candidate for significant playing time in the fall.

Rowan caught a pass from Dustin Sherer during one drill segment.

Jamil Walker appears to be making a concerted effort to run with a more physical style. He has looked to lower his shoulder and power into tacklers more often this spring, in situations where he used to predominantly seek to out-run people. Walker still has a ways to go, but he is improving in this regard.

Dion Foster caught a touchdown pass from Tyler Donovan during 7-on-7 work.

Wide receivers and tight ends

In addition to an impressive play to get out for the aforementioned long pass from Stocco, Paul Hubbard made a strong play to hold onto a pass despite tight coverage from Zach Hampton.

Walk-on Jeff Holzbauer gained separation from the secondary and caught a pass over the middle for about a 20-yard gain during a drill segment.

Luke Swan continues to nurse an injury. He did some jogging around the field and rode a stationary bike.

Defensive line

Prior to Friday, UW's first-team defensive tackles had almost always been Nick Hayden and Jason Chapman, with Justin Ostrowski and Mike Newkirk running with the second team. But Friday that quartet rotated liberally. Chapman appeared to take the most snaps with the first team, while Ostrowski, Hayden and Newkirk rotated through with the first and second teams.

First-team defensive end Kurt Ware had a stop for loss.

Hayden had a pair of fumble recoveries. Ostrowski also recovered a fumble.

Defensive end Adam Purcell sat out with an undisclosed injury.


The spring two-deep at linebacker has been very stable with the exception of the second-team will position, where Ben Landgraf, Ryan Flasch and Jammar Crane continue to rotate.

In the 7-on-7 red-zone work, both first-team will linebacker Jonathan Casillas and second-team mike linebacker Elijah Hodge intercepted passes along the goal line and took off for what may have been touchdowns in a completely live situation.

Second-team sam linebacker O'Brien Schofield continues to have a strong spring season. He drilled Dion Foster for a "tackle" for loss.

First-team mike linebacker Mark Zalewski provided great pressure to force Stocco to throw a pass away. It likely would have been a sack in a completely live satiation.


Shane Carter is having an excellent spring. The sophomore second-team free safety had yet another interception Friday, his fourth in a week. Carter made a nice break on the ball to come up with the pick on what was probably an ill-advised throw from Stocco.

Carter also broke up a pass intended for tight end Travis Beckum.

With Zach Hampton returning to full strength after being hampered by an injury earlier in spring practice, he and Ben Strickland were the primary second-team cornerbacks. Prince Moody rotated in with the second team.

Starting corner Jack Ikegwuonu recorded a pass breakup when he ripped the ball out of receiver Richard Kirtley's hands. Ikegwuonu nearly came up with an interception.

Special teams

Marcus Randle El, Jerry Butler, Zach Hampton and Ben Strickland took turns catching punts.

The players who rotated through as the gunners on punt coverage included Hampton, Strickland, Moody, Holzbauer, Derek Konkel and T.J. Theus.

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