Spring practice report, April 14

News and notes from the Badgers' 11th practice of the spring season

MADISON — The University of Wisconsin football team practiced for about two hours in Camp Randall Stadium on a beautiful Friday afternoon. The Badgers practiced in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets, and engaged in some light contact work.

UW has four spring practices remaining, including next Saturday's spring game.

Defensive line

Rather surprisingly, Jamal Cooper participated in every drill Friday. Granted, this was not full-contact work, but Cooper had previously only taken part in individual drills and was not expected to participate in any contact sessions this spring.

Cooper performed very well, especially for a player who is coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered last season.

Perhaps Cooper's most impressive play came during 11-on-11 work. Quarterback Tyler Donovan drifted to his left as he looked for a receiver, then tried to step up in the pocket and run. But Cooper, coming from his far-side left-end position, evaded one blocker, looped underneath another and cut Donovan off behind the line of scrimmage.

During the 11-on-11 blitz period, Cooper had two sacks and he combined with defensive tackle Justin Ostrowski for a quarterback hurry.

Brandon Kelly supplanted Kurt Ware with the first-team defense Friday. Kelly was joined on the first-team defensive line by end Joe Monty and tackles Jason Chapman and Nick Hayden.

The second-team line was tackles Ostrowski and Mike Newkirk and the three-end rotation of Cooper, Ware and Terrance Jamison.

Kelly had another strong day in what continues to be an impressive spring for the Bedford, Ohio, native. During 11-on-11 work he quickly beat a lineman off the line of scrimmage, forcing tailback Dywon Rowan to spin away from trouble — and into the waiting grasp of will linebacker Jonathan Casillas.

On the very next play Kelly burst into the backfield and wrapped up Rowan for a tackle for loss.


Ryan Flasch was injured late in practice, though to what extent is unknown. Head coach Bret Bielema was not scheduled to speak to the media after Friday's practice.

Flasch suffered the injury on one of the final plays of the afternoon, as he was tracking tailback Jerry Butler. As Butler cut up field, Flasch had to adjust direction and reach back. His upper body twisted, but his leg appeared to catch in the turf and buckled. After receiving several minutes of assistance from the training staff, Flasch walked gingerly to the sideline on his own power.

A transfer from UNLV last summer, Flasch has been emerging as the No. 2 will linebacker, behind Jonathan Casillas.

Bielema said last week that he would rest mike linebacker Mark Zalewski some in order to give other players an opportunity to receive more reps. That was the case Friday, with Zalewski sitting out most of the team work. As a result, Elijah Hodge stepped up with the first-team defense, in between Casillas and sam linebacker DeAndre Levy.

The second team linebackers were predominantly Flasch at will, Josh Neal at mike and O'Brien Schofield at sam. Schofield also worked in with the first team, giving Levy a breather. Schofield's most extensive work with the first team came in the nickel defense.

Schofield had two sacks on the day.

Casillas forced a fumble during 9-on-9 work.

Paul Joran, who worked in with the second and third defenses at sam linebacker, had a tackle for loss.

While assuming his spot with the first defense late in practice, Zalewski dropped an interception.


Second-team cornerback Zach Hampton had an interception during 11-on-11 work versus the scout offense.

First-team cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu nearly had two interceptions, but had to settle for a pair of pass breakups. Working against the scout team, he pounced on a Tyler Donovan pass and probably should have had the pick, but it slipped from his hands. During 7-on-7 work, Ikegwuonu made an athletic play to get to a pass and nearly secure it, but he was dislodged from the ball and landed roughly to the turf after colliding with free safety Roderick Rogers.

Rogers broke up a pass a few plays later.

During the 11-on-11 blitz period, Rogers forced a Marcus Randle El fumble with a hefty hit. Casillas recovered the fumble and ran it back for a touchdown.

Walk-on Phil Ayeni rotated in with Prince Moody and Jameson Davis as a third-team cornerback. Moody also received some reps with the second team, rotating in behind Ben Strickland and Hampton.


During 9-on-9 work, quarterback Dustin Sherer and center Marcus Coleman fumbled three exchanges, one of which linebacker DeAndre Levy picked up and returned for a touchdown.

Offensive line

Kraig Urbik has looked right at home at right guard. He made several fine blocks while pulling Friday afternoon.

The first- and second-team offensive lines both struggled in blitz pickup, a departure from recent practices.

Running backs

P.J. Hill is the Badgers current No. 1 tailback, with Jamil Walker and Dywon Rowan also in the depth. Hill had a solid practice Friday, consistently running with power between the tackles.

Walker followed up an improved performance in Wednesday's practice with a strong showing Friday. He had a couple of big runs during 9-on-9 work and a pair of good runs during an 11-on-11 segment.

After catching a pass in the flat, Dion Foster had a great juke to get past Ryan Flasch, then made another neat move to side-step cornerback Ben Strickland. But as Foster planted to run past Strickland he lost his balance and fell toward the turf—fumbling as he tried to recover.

Wide receivers

Redshirt freshman Jarmal Ruffin has been receiving more reps with the depth lately. He had a strong catch during 7-on-7 work, holding on despite Zach Hampton's hit and persistent tugs at the ball.

Marcus Randle El had a diving catch during 7-on-7 work.

Richard Kirtley snagged a pass and held on despite a hard hit from cornerback Allen Langford.

Tight ends

Andy Crooks made a good catch in traffic during 7-on-7 work, not allowing Ben Strickland to pry the ball loose from him.

Probably the most impressive pitch-and-catch of the day goes to a John Stocco pass that was zipped over the middle to tight end Sean Lewis, who caught it and held on despite immediately receiving a crushing hit from safety James Kamoku.

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