Spring practice report, April 15

News and notes from Wisconsin's 12th practice of the spring

MADISON — The University of Wisconsin football team practiced for about two hours Saturday inside Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers conducted a controlled scrimmage for much of practice, simulating a variety of situations, from third-and-short to goal line to drives starting any where from inside the negative 10 to the 50. The Badgers alternated series with the first-team offense versus the first-team defense, then the second-team offense against the second-team defense. The final segment of practice consisted of scrimmaging between the third teams.


John Stocco managed the scrimmage situations very well. His completion percentage was not something to write home about, but that had more to do with the coverage and the pass rush than his throws. On numerous occasions Stocco made the right decision to throw the ball away rather than throw into harm's way. He did not have any turnovers.

During 7-on-7 work Stocco made a great throw over the middle to Marcus Randle El amongst tight coverage.

Reserve quarterbacks Dustin Sherer and Tyler Donovan each struggled. They split reps with the second team, with Sherer getting into the action first.

Sherer threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown on the first play of the third-team scrimmage.

Offensive line

Kraig Urbik continues to consistently impress. After a good redshirt freshman season at right tackle, Urbik could be dominant at right guard.

With UW quite thin on the offensive line, left tackle Mike Van Someren took almost every rep with the first, second and third teams.

Running backs

The tailback quintet appears to be sorting itself out, with P.J. Hill followed by Dywon Rowan, Jamil Walker, Jerry Butler and Dion Foster.

Hill and Butler had the two most impressive plays at any position.

On a third-and-two run early in the scrimmage segments, Hill burst through a hole off the left side of the line. Joe Stellmacher came up from his strong safety position to aggressively fill the hole, but Hill won the collision handily, sending Stellmacher flying backward.

Hill kept right on running, out-sprinting the rest of the defense for a 73-yard touchdown.

Much later in practice, Butler skirted through a sizeable hole up the middle on a draw play, driving through an attempted arm tackle along the way. He then darted to his left to evade a would-be tackler and let loose his considerable speed, eating up the angle that cornerback Ben Strickland had taken. Safety Shane Carter was slowed when he bumped into an official, but Carter still had an angle to the sideline. Butler, though, was too fast for Carter's angle too and he sprinted down the sideline for a 70-yard touchdown.

Hill had a productive day, displaying an ability to move a pile with his sheer power and to get through a hole quickly. He also showed some nifty footwork on an 11-yard gain on a screen pass.

Rowan also displayed some pop. He was the victim of a defensive line that for the most part controlled the action against UW's offensive line, but Rowan made some strong runs for first downs in the third-and-short segment.

Rowan was mighty impressive as a pass receiver. On one catch he darted upfield and got the better of a downfield collision with linebacker Mark Zalewski, surging forward a couple more yards for a gain of 13.

In a different scrimmage segment, Rowan caught a screen pass near the left sideline and broke tackle attempts by Paul Joran, Brandon Kelly and Jason Chapman on his way to a gain of 10.

Three plays later Rowan out-ran Zalewski and went down the sideline for a gain of 11.

On a fourth-and-one play, Rowan moved the pile, powering ahead for a gain of six. He was helped along the way by a great block by Kraig Urbik.

Walker had another good day, running with confidence between the tackles. He is not a particularly nifty runner, but with his size and speed he can take advantage of the opportunities the offensive line provides. He made his own opportunity during red-zone scrimmaging, when he out-ran the pursuit for a 1-yard touchdown.

Foster broke free while running with the second offense, taking advantage of some good blocking for a 24-yard run.

Foster took a swing pass 16 yards during the third-team scrimmage.

Wide receivers

The receiving corps was especially thin Saturday, with Luke Swan and Jeff Holzbauer nursing injuries, walk-on Shane Phillips out with a broken hand and Jarvis Minton still out with a lower right leg injury.

During practice Marcus Randle El re-aggravated a right ankle injury that has been nagging him recently.

As a result, players like Jarmal Ruffin and T.J. Theus received a large supply of repetitions with the first-team offense. Even before Randle El went out, Ruffin was the most frequent counterpart to No. 1 receiver Paul Hubbard during scrimmage segments.

Theus caught a 45-yard pass from quarterback Dustin Sherer during the third-team scrimmage.

Walk-on receiver Richard Kirtley has displayed some of the best hands on the team this spring, but they failed him on one play during 7-on-7 work. Dustin Sherer threw an excellent pass into coverage in front of safety Shane Carter, but Kirtley could not come up with it.

Tight ends

Travis Beckum made a couple of impressive plays during the scrimmage segments. On one he at first juggled a pass from John Stocco, but then secured it in time to bounce off a hit from Paul Joran and turn upfield.

During the third-team scrimmage, Beckum caught a pass in the right flat and dashed into the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. Tight end Garrett Graham made a fine play to come back toward Beckum and make a block to help spring him.

Defensive line

End Brandon Kelly remained with the first-team defense. Kelly recorded a sack for a loss of four on a second-down play.

Second-team defensive tackle Mike Newkirk made a terrific play to snuff out a screen pass, drilling P.J. Hill for a loss of five.

Two plays later, second-team defensive tackle Justin Ostrowski burst into the backfield to take down tailback Jerry Butler for a loss of five.


First-team sam linebacker DeAndre Levy and second-team will linebacker Ryan Flasch were on crutches Saturday after suffering injuries during practice Friday.

Levy has a groin injury, according to head coach Bret Bielema, that does not appear to be serious.

Flasch, on the other hand, had a full brace immobilizing his right leg due a knee injury. Bielema said they would know more about the extent of the injury Monday or Tuesday.

With Levy out, Paul Joran filled in at sam with the first team, joining regular starters Mark Zalewski and Jonathan Casillas.

Jammar Crane assumed the second-team will duties, playing alongside Elijah Hodge and O'Brien Schofield.

During the third-and-short scrimmage segment Casillas had a tackle for loss.

During scrimmage work, Zalewski had two sacks, including one where he burst through the line so quickly that he was in quarterback John Stocco's face as soon as the latter turned to roll to his right after completing a play fake.

Hodge tackled tailback Jerry Butler for a loss of one on a first-down play from inside the offense's 5.

Schofield had a tackle for loss on tailback Dion Foster. Two plays later Schofield stopped quarterback Tyler Donovan's scramble after a gain of three.

Later in practice Schofield forced John Stocco into an errant throw by applying quick pressure. Schofield duplicated that result against the second-team offense, coercing Donovan to overthrow Richard Kirtley.

Schofield was used as a rush end at times with the first-team nickel defense and he also was in on the first-team goal-line defense.

Hodge had a pass breakup during 7-on-7 work.

Zalewski also had a pass breakup during that segment, when he had excellent coverage on tight end Andy Crooks.


Jack Ikegwuonu made two exceptional tackles to step up and stick P.J. Hill near the line of scrimmage. Hill out-weighs Ikegwuonu by about 35 pounds.

On the first play of the third-team scrimmage, cornerback Jameson Davis picked off a Dustin Sherer pass and returned it about 35 yards for a touchdown.

Second-team strong safety Johnny White had a good day, filling well versus the run. He had a tackle for loss on Dion Foster during a scrimmage segment early in practice.

White had a pass breakup taken off the board when he was flagged on a questionable pass-interference call. One play later White tackled Foster for a loss of three.

Second-team free safety Shane Carter broke up a pass intended for tight end Travis Beckum.

Special teams

Punter Ken DeBauche has been superb throughout spring, displaying excellent hang time and distance.

Marcus Randle El appears to be pulling into the lead in the competition at punt returner.

During the scrimmage segments, place kicker Taylor Mehlhaff made field goals from 19, 42, 35 and 27 yards out.

Mehlhaff's one miss came when he badly hooked a 47-yarder wide right.

Backup place kicker Matt Fischer converted a 25-yard field goal, on his only attempt during scrimmage work.


It was unofficially college-football sibling day at Camp Randall. Jack Ikegwuonu's twin brother Bill, a linebacker at Northern Illinois, and Elijah Hodge's older brother Abdul, who completed his eligibility at Iowa last season, were both in attendance.

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