On a beautiful late summer afternoon in Madison, an enthusiastic Wisconsin football team took the practice field for the first time Friday afternoon.
It was a lively, productive practice, with a lot of new faces stepping into prominent roles. Particularly on defense, the first week of practice is going to see a large number of players used in different positions, looking for some answers.
Because of the 13-game schedule, Coach Barry Alvarez said Friday he wants to use more players on both sides of the ball this season. He's looking for a lot of fresh contributors, and everyone is going to get a chance to prove themselves over the next couple of weeks.
As for brand new faces, Brandon Williams and Tony Moss were amongst the most impressive new athletes on the field Friday afternoon. Williams provided a highlight reel of catches in his first practice with the varsity players present. It was extremely impressive to watch him make several catches in traffic.
Meanwhile, Moss immediately has stepped into the two-deep at cornerback. It's evident the coaching staff is very high on his athleticism and potential, and he is expected to contribute immediately. He had one of the best plays of the afternoon, breaking up a deep pass to Byron Brown.
- Scott Campbell is now the No. 2 punter behind R.J. Morse. But don't expect Campbell to win that job. Campbell said Friday he is much better on the kicking end of things, and he doesn't expect to give Morse much of a run for his money in the punting game. However, he could give him a run for his money at training table. Campbell is up to 240 pounds, making Wisconsin's likely starting kicker/punters a combined 487 pounds. Campbell and Mike Allen began Friday's practice, rotating kicks with the No. 1 and 2 field goal units.
- Jim Leonhard is the starting punt returner right now, but the staff is also going to look at Scott Starks, Brandon Williams, Brandon White, Booker Stanley, Jerone Pettus and Jonathan Orr in return roles. When Lee Evans returns, he could assume some return duties as well.
- Evans practiced on Friday, running through routes during individual receiver drills, but during team drills, Evans worked with a manager on the upper practice field, catching balls shot from a machine.
- Dan Buenning visited Friday's practice, watching from a hill where the media watches practice. He said he's feeling much better than he was last week, and he expects to return sometime in the middle of next week. Kalvin Barrett worked with the No. 1 offense in Buenning's absence.
- Jonathan Orr looked really sharp during Friday's practice. He could be the frontrunner to start along with Darrin Charles on opening night. Ever since Travaan Hayes temporarily moved past him during spring football, there has been a major fire lit under Orr (and he's always worked extremely hard from the get go) and he looks fantastic.
- The competition at receiver is going to be fierce. There was a ton of enthusiasm amongst the unit during the first practice, and the young players seemed to be trying to out-do one another with spectacular catches. Enrique Cook made a beautiful grab on the right sideline despite blanket coverage from Ryan Aiello, sandwiched by a series of very impressive snags by Williams. Brandon White and Hayes also had impressive grabs.
- Robert Brooks made a couple of nice pass breakups during team drills and had a very solid practice.
- Mike Kleber, Andre Williams and Mark Gorman are among potential new contributors on the defensive line. There was a lot of talk around media day about the d-line, and how it could be a pleasant surprise this season.
The Badgers will practice twice on Saturday (8 a.m. and 4 p.m.) We will have a report from both practices on this site.
Friday Practice Report
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