Spring practice report, April 19

Notes and notes from the Badgers' 13th practice of the spring season

MADISON — The University of Wisconsin football team practiced for more than two hours under the lights at Camp Randall Stadium Wednesday night. The Badgers donned full pads, though nearly the entire practice was sans tackling.

That changed in the final segment, when UW conducted a mini-scrimmage competition between the first- and second-team offenses and defenses. Each offense was given five cracks at a first-and-10 from the 27 (negative side of the field) against its defensive counterpart. In the competition, if the offense picked up four yards or more, it won the play. If the offense was held to less than four yards, the defense won the play.

In the first-team segment, the defense completely dominated. On the first play, defensive tackle Nick Hayden, who played well throughout the night, leapt up and intercepted a John Stocco pass at the line of scrimmage (the pass was labeled for the left sideline). On the second play, tailback P.J. Hill went up the middle for about two yards. End Mike Newkirk and Hayden then combined to "sack" Stocco.

The first-team offense came closest to picking up the four yards on a swing pass to tailback Dywon Rowan, but defensive end Joe Monty crashed into him hard, drilling him out of bounds at the 30. The series ended with Hayden stuffing Hill after a gain of one.

The second-team offense fared better in its matchup with the second-team defense, but still lost the competition, 3-2.

Dion Foster opened the series with a run up the middle for two yards.

That was followed by quarterback Tyler Donovan's scramble for about 13 yards, when he juked free safety Shane Carter just past the 30 and sprinted into the secondary and toward the sideline.

Two plays later Donovan hooked up with receiver T.J. Theus for a nine-yard pickup on a crossing route.

But mike linebacker Josh Neal took down tailback Jerry Butler for a loss of two on the third play and stopped him at the line of scrimmage on the fifth play to ensure the defense's victory.

The offense had to finish practice with a series of pushups and crunches as penance for its defeat.

Defensive line

It was a good day for the defensive line, despite missing defensive ends Kurt Ware, Brandon Kelly and Adam Purcell.

Head coach Bret Bielema said after practice that Ware will practice Friday and play in Saturday's spring game, but that he will undergo surgery after the spring is complete. Ware has been bothered by a knee injury this spring.

Purcell has missed the past several practices due to injury.

Short on defensive ends, the Badgers Wednesday temporarily moved second-team tackle Mike Newkirk out to the edge. Newkirk was a defensive end his first year on campus, before converting to tackle last fall.

Newkirk joined end Joe Monty and tackles Nick Hayden and Jason Chapman on the first-team defensive line.

The second-team line consisted of tackles Justin Ostrowski and Dan Cascone and ends Terrance Jamison and walk-on Brian Behnke.

Chapman had an excellent practice. During an 11-on-11 segment he burst through the line of scrimmage to stop tailback Jamil Walker for a loss of six yards. A few plays later he again came screaming through the offensive line, this time corralling Jerry Butler for a loss of eight.

Justin Ostrowski also had a strong day, including a "sack" during the blitz period.

Monty came down the line to stop Dion Foster for no gain.

Behnke had a stop for loss in 11-on-11 work.

Linebackers

Elijah Hodge missed practice due to illness, so Josh Neal filled in for him as the second-team mike linebacker. Neal was flanked by sam ‘backer O'Brien Schofield and will Jammar Crane.

Crane has assumed second-team duties since Ryan Flasch was injured in practice last week. According to Bielema, Flasch's knee injury was not as serious as originally feared — he should be back working out full strength in 3-4 weeks.

The first-team linebackers were sam Paul Joran, mike Mark Zalewski and will Jonathan Casillas. DeAndre Levy, the regular starting sam, is out with a groin injury, but will be ready for summer conditioning workouts, Bielema said.

Casillas had a strong practice. He read a run play very well during the 11-on-11 work and came up to fill the hole and stop tailback P.J. Hill at the line of scrimmage. In the 11-on-11 blitz period, Casillas broke into the backfield with enough speed to disrupt a screen pass.

Zalewski had a tackle for loss on Jerry Butler during 9-on-9 work.

A few plays later Schofield stuffed Dion Foster at the line of scrimmage. Schofield had a stop for loss on tailback Jamil Walker during the 11-on-11 blitz period.

Late in the blitz period Schofield lined up as a rush end and thrived, putting considerable pressure on the quarterbacks.

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

Crane had a pass breakup versus the scout offense.

Secondary

Second-team strong safety Johnny White missed practice due to illness, so James Kamoku filled in for him.

Second-team free safety Shane Carter had a pass breakup in 11-on-11.

Special teams

Marcus Randle El, Zach Hampton and Ben Strickland took turns catching punts, with Randle El receiving the most work.

Quarterbacks

Donovan's 13-yard scramble was quite a play to behold. Carter looked to have the scrambling quarterback thoroughly contained, but Donovan juked and cut to this left, leaving Carter in the dust.

Offensive line

Mike Van Someren continued his ironman routine at left tackle, playing the position with both the first- and second- offense. For a series Wednesday, Danny Kaye played left tackle with the second offense. But Van Someren did not take that series off. Rather, he moved over to left guard.

Running backs

The tailback depth remained the same as it was last week: P.J. Hill followed by Dywon Rowan, Jamil Walker, Jerry Butler and Dion Foster.

Walker gained about 25 yards up the middle during the 11-on-11 blitz period.

Wide receivers

It was not a particularly good day for the receivers overall — far too many dropped passes — but Paul Hubbard had a good day, making several impressive receptions.

During 7-on-7 work Hubbard made a catch for about a 15-yard gain despite a hit from corner Jack Ikegwuonu.

A couple plays later Hubbard gained about 20 yards with a strong catch in traffic.

Late in the 7-on-7 segment Hubbard held on to a reception even after he was roughly dumped to the turf by cornerback Allen Langford.

Hubbard, Marcus Randle El, walk-on Richard Kirtley and Jarmal Ruffin were the top receivers in the depth Wednesday. Luke Swan and Jeff Holzbauer continue to nurse injuries.

Randle El made an excellent play to scoop out a Tyler Donovan pass, diving near the sideline to come up with a 15-yard gain. Cornerback Ben Strickland had excellent coverage on the play, nearly getting a hand on the pass with his own dive for it, but he could not keep Randle El from making the reception.

Walk-on Matt Gifford caught an intermediate pass along the right sideline against the Badgers' first defense.

Tight ends

During the 9-on-9 middle drill, Andy Crooks made a nice block on Mike Newkirk to seal him away from the play.


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