Spring game preview notebook

Wisconsin's annual intrasquad spring football game begins at 1 p.m. in Camp Randall Stadium

MADISON — Who are these guys on offense? Fans attending the University of Wisconsin's annual spring football game Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium can be excused for scratching their heads and exchanging some quizzical looks.

Only three of the offense's starters in the Capital One Bowl will be in the first-team huddle Saturday: quarterback John Stocco, fullback Chris Pressley, and right guard Kraig Urbik, who was the right tackle last year.

Entering his third year as the Badgers' starting quarterback, Stocco has had to adjust to a new batch of skill-position players, as the top two tailbacks, top three tight ends and top three wide receivers from last year are all gone.

And left tackle Joe Thomas is injured, temporarily leaving the Badgers with four new starters on the offensive line.

In addition to Stocco and Urbik, Saturday's projected first-team offense includes tailback P.J. Hill, left tackle Mike Van Someren, left guard Andy Kemp, center Marcus Coleman, right tackle Eric Vanden Heuvel, tight end Sean Lewis and wide receivers Paul Hubbard and Marcus Randle El.

The defense, on the other hand, returns eight starters, which has intensified the typical springtime advantage for defense over offense.

Format for spring game: The game will consist of four 15-minute quarters, with a running clock in the final five minutes of the second quarter and potentially throughout the fourth quarter.

In the first half, the teams will be split up as the first team versus everyone else. "I want to put (the starters) in a pressure situation," head coach Bret Bielema said. "Because we're going ones against the world, the ones should be able to execute."

"Probably this year more so than any years in the past, we want to see our guys compete in the first half… good versus the rest of the team, and see them execute and do some things," Bielema said.

All of the players and coaches will be on the same sideline. "Being the first time my staff has been around these guys in a game-like situation… coaches are going to be on the sideline coaching them the way they'll be coached during the course of a game," Bielema said.

No points will be spotted before the game, though Bielema has considered awarding the reserves double points when they score in the "ones against the world" format.

There will not be any kickoffs. Instead, the ball will be placed at the 30 at the beginning of each half and after touchdowns or field goals. Field goals and extra points will be live. The team will execute punts and "cover" the punt, but returners will be forced to fair catch all punts.

Stocco, middle linebacker Mark Zalewski, strong safety Joe Stellmacher, free safety Roderick Rogers and cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu will likely be held out of the second half. They are established players, and the coaching staff wants to take a closer look at the players behind them on the depth chart.

Several players will miss the game, though Bielema expects all injured players to be ready for summer conditioning, which begins June 12. That includes Thomas and defensive ends Jamal Cooper and Matt Shaughnessy, who are all rehabbing from torn anterior cruciate ligaments suffered last season.

Others on the mend include linebackers DeAndre Levy (groin), Ryan Flasch (knee) and Casey Hogan (leg), wide receivers Jarvis Minton (foot), Luke Swan, Jeff Holzbauer and Shane Phillips (hand), safety Aubrey Pleasant (shoulder) and defensive end Adam Purcell.

Safety Johnny White is questionable, having missed the last two practices due to illness.

Event itinerary: The Badgers will host their annual Badger Sports Kids Fair from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the McClain Center, in conjunction with the spring game, which begins at 1 p.m. Current UW student-athletes and coaches from several sports will participate in the fair, which will include autograph signings and interactive games. Admission is free for both the fair and the spring game. Free parking is available in Lots 16 and 51. A $3 fee will be charged for Lots 17 and 18.

This will be the first time that the Badgers have played the spring game at Camp Randall in three years. The last two springs the game was played at Lussier Stadium, home of Madison La Follette High School, while Camp Randall was undergoing renovations.

"I know our kids feel it," Bielema said. "This is a great place. They talk about it all the time."

Badger Nation Top Stories