The Badgers were in full pads again Friday morning, one day prior to the second scrimmage of fall camp. Saturday's scrimmage is do-or-die for players on the bubble for playing time with the No. 1 and 2 units. Following the scrimmage, the staff will review the tape and make final decisions on which players will be sent down to the scout teams, and which will contribute on the top two units and special teams.
Tomorrow's scrimmage will be a little different from Wednesday's initial scrimmage. The team will take the short bus ride to Camp Randall Stadium for the first time this season, and instead of focusing on situations, Saturday will be a game-like scrimmage. The coaching staff will run the game clock and field position will be a factor.
"This is just another step in getting prepared," Coach Barry Alvarez said Friday morning. "It will be game-like, so it will be the first time we work with field position and incorporate the kicking game into a scrimmage and practice."
Alvarez said the staff has a pretty good idea of which players will make the cut, and which will land on the scout team, but Saturday provides some closure to the evaluation portion of fall camp.
Here are some notes/thoughts from Friday morning's session:
- Scott Starks was back with the No. 1 defense, with Chuckie Cowans getting reps primarily with the No. 2 unit. As Alvarez said the other day, moves such as Starks' demotion are primarily a message. As for Michael Broussard, he is still with the No. 3 defense behind Jim Leonhard and Robert Brooks. There should be considerable pressure for him to have a big scrimmage tomorrow.
- When asked if he expects to have Dan Buenning back for the Fresno State game, Alvarez said he hopes to, but didn't elaborate on his status.
- As mentioned yesterday, Brooks Bollinger is having a great camp, but Friday morning he might have had his best practice so far. Bollinger made a few unbelievable throws, threading the needle between defenders, throwing with deadly accuracy, seeing the field extremely well and finding receivers running a variety of routes. His touchdown pass to Travaan Hayes was perhaps the play of the morning, as Bollinger threw a bullet into a tiny window between two defensive backs.
- Speaking of Hayes, Alvarez was asked Friday morning why Hayes isn't part of the kick return/punt return rotation. One of the primary reasons Hayes was brought in was because of his prowess as a high school returner.
"I thought when he first came in, that was one of the things he did very well," Alvarez said. "But obviously he didn't practice that year. Obviously we haven't…we've looked at him. He's been back there. We've really taken a look at everybody."
- Byron Brown had a phenomenal practice Friday morning, making a tremendous one-handed grab downfield from Bollinger, and making a leaping touchdown catch, also from Bollinger. Nobody should overlook the experience factor Brown brings to the table, because it will probably be the thing that separates him from some of the younger wide receivers in earning playing time, particularly early in the season.
- Booker Stanley and Dwayne Smith continue to get a ton of reps with the No. 1 offense. Both of them are extremely physical and tough to bring down, even going against the No. 1 defense. The coaching staff is very pleased with both of them. The decision to keep those two at tailback and move Lamarr Watkins and Tony Moss to defense looks like a very intelligent decision at this point.
- There is a buzz around camp about the performance of John Stocco. He has looked outstanding from day one, and he reminds a lot of people of Bollinger. With Arrowhead quarterback Tyler Donovan coming in next season, there are going to be a couple of Bollinger clones in the program, which is exactly what the UW staff is looking for. Stocco has a rocket arm, and appears to be grasping the offense very quickly.
- Lamarr Watkins made two outstanding stops on goal line defense towards the end of practice. Watkins is a shoe-in to be one of the eight new players Alvarez mentioned yesterday that he expects to contribute this season.
- In another one of those broken record type statements, Ryan Aiello had another fantastic practice Friday morning. He's become a major presence in the secondary on a consistent basis. Coach Ron Cooper has made a huge difference in bringing out Aiello's ability and athleticism.
Friday Morning Camp Report
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