Fall Camp Report: Aug. 19

Get all the information on what could be the Badgers' most extensive full-contact scrimmage leading up to their opener against Bowling Green.

The Wisconsin Badgers were back outside early Saturday morning for the first of their two Saturday practices. The players were also back in full pads at Camp Randall and they finished up with what is scheduled to be their most extensive full-contact scrimmage session before facing Bowling Green Sept. 2.

  • The more experienced defensive squads really excelled in the scrimmage, allowing just one touchdown during the entire session.

    The first team offense squared off against the second team defense and vice versa, with drives starting at all parts of the field.

    "We wanted to see some continuity and flow," first-year head coach Bret Bielema said after practice. "I wanted to get over 40 reps for the [first-string] on both sides of the ball."

  • Most noticeable on the defensive side of the ball was the variety of defensive linemen finding there way into the backfield, whether it be stuffing the run game or chasing down a quarterback.

    Bielema said he continues to be impressed by Jamal Cooper. He and Matt Shaughnessy do not seem to have lost a step despite their knee injuries which ended their 2005 season's early.

  • The linebacking corps also continues to showcase its speed.

    Elijah Hodge is quick to cut off the path of travel for running backs and Jaevery McFadden, while he is still learning the ins and outs of the position, definitely has shown he has a high motor.

    Joshua Neal and O'Brien Schofield looked good as a tandem again. Neal was back with the second team and Hodge with the first as senior mike linebacker Mark Zalewski sat out the scrimmage.

  • After sitting out the last two practices, first-team defensive tackle Nick Hayden returned and made a statement early in the scrimmage. He pitched in to help stuff a run and then a few plays later stormed into the backfield to drag down a running back.

    Fellow first-team tackle Jason Chapman also had one particularly good series during the scrimmage, garnering himself what would have been 1.5 sacks in a matter of two plays.

  • Tackle Mike Newkirk, who had stepped up to the first team in Hayden's absence, was back with the second team Saturday morning and stood out more than he had at any other practice thus far.

    He got to the quarterback on at least three occasions, earning some praise from his defensive cohorts on the sidelines.

    "Mike, especially early on, he's at a different body size … [and] if your body undergoes a dramatic change in a sort amount of time, you've got to get used to playing with that strength," Bielema said.

  • Tailback P.J. Hill and wide receiver Paul Hubbard continue to be the most consistent performers on the offensive side of the ball. Consistency has been the key word from Bielema all through the fall.

    "I really like what P.J.'s doing," Bielema said. "If you practice well, you play well and he's practiced well all along and Paul Hubbard made a few plays."

    Hill had the scrimmage's lone touchdown when he capped off a drive in which he showed what he could do both between and outside of the tackles.

  • The first-team offensive line is also getting stronger and Bielema singled out senior tackle Joe Thomas.

    "I like everything [on the offensive line], in particular at left tackle, I thought Joe really made some steps forward as far as his physical play," he said.

  • Adversely, Bielema said he is looking to get something more out of his fullbacks. They have the size and strength that they need and will benefit from continual reps leading into the season.

    "[Chris] Pressley has done some things, but [he] needs to get ready as well," Bielema said. "I think Billy Rentmeester has shown that he's more than on the same level as Press. I do like the availability of two fullbacks."

  • At the tight end position, Andy Crooks continued to sit out, Sean Lewis was back in pads but did not take part in the scrimmage and Bielema said that Beckum was dinged up so his play was limited.

    Mickey Turner and Garrett Graham continued to get more reps, something that cannot hurt for them, though they will most likely be pushed back when everyone is healthy again.

  • Bielema also noted that, of the players on the 105-man roster to start camp, all but one of them was still in camp.

    He said that true freshman defensive back Jamathan Lyle had returned home and it his status, at least for the near future, is uncertain.

While fall camp continues Saturday afternoon and beyond, the morning session was the last one that will be open for the media.

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