Training Camp: Day One

It was warm, muggy and overcast on Monday afternoon. In other words, it was a perfect day in Madison, because Bret Bielema and the Wisconsin football team conducted its first practice of the season.

MADISON – Starting at 3:47 CDT, head coach Bret Bielema blew his whistle and Wisconsin's 2007 football season officially had begun. With hoots and hollers from the players as they began stretching and doing light jogging during warm ups, Wisconsin and its players were ready to make a run for the national championship in 2008.

For practices, Badger Nation will provide a breakdown on overall performance of each position and analysis of any drills completed during practice.

Monday's practice

Start – 3:47 p.m. End – 6:13 p.m. Attire – Helmets and shorts (no pads)


Both senior Tyler Donovan and junior Allan Evridge took snaps with the first team throughout the day, with Donovan running 60 percent of the snaps from under center on day one. Sophomore Dustin Sherer and freshman Scott Tolzien worked primarily with the second team during split session work, 6-on-6 and 11-on-11 drills.

Running Backs

In an announcement that came earlier this morning, sophomore Lance Smith was reinstated to the football team after publicly apologizing to his teammates, coaches, fans and, most importantly, his girlfriend. Understandably, Smith looked rusty in his first appearance, dropping multiple pass attempts out of the back field.

Sophomore P.J. Hill worked sparingly with the first team offense, but appeared in tremendous physical shape, saying he was about 15 pounds lighter and felt as good as he's felt since last October.

Returning from injury, fullbacks Bill Rentmeester (neck) and Chris Pressley (ankle) returned to practice and performed well, not dropping any passes and nailing their blocking assignments as they compete for the starting fullback job.

Incoming freshman recruit John Clay was nowhere to be seen on Monday and Bielema gave no indication when Clay would join the team.

Wide Receivers

Wide receivers were a mixed bag on Monday. Senior Luke Swan and Paul Hubbard looked in midseason form, catches all of their passes running post and out routes that could be caught.

"I'm feeling good," Swan said as he exited the field.

The same couldn't be said for sophomore Xavier Harris and freshman Daven Jones, as both players struggled to catch the ball during drills and 11-on-11.

Harris dropped three easy passes that hit him right in the hands during post and out drills. Visibly upset with himself, Harris made two nice catches during 6-on-6 time.

Jones struggled all day long after arriving by bus from Cleveland a couple days ago. Jones dropped three passes in warm-ups, two in 6-on-6 and two more in 12-on-12.


With defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz unit finishing 50th nationally in sacks (2.3 per game) and tied 46th in turnovers (25), Hankwitz stated that he wanted to see more aggressiveness from his secondary. On day one, the emphasis was on the interception.

With the Badger coaching staff throwing to different areas on the field and making the secondary react to the throw, the Badgers intercepted 49 of 50 passes with Prince Moody be the only victim, albeit on an overthrow. The highlight of the 49 catches was a juggling-jumping catch by freshman Mario Goins – receiving high fives from his teammates and coaches.

Special Teams

In an abbreviated day for the special teams, senior Taylor Mehlhaff went 3-for-4 on field goals, making a 25, 30 and 35-yard field goal. His 45-yard attempt, however, was severely pushed to the right. Sophomore kicked Matt Fischer made his only attempt from 25 yards.

Senior Ken DeBauche seemed ready to bounce back from what he called a disappointing junior campaign. DeBauche connected on several solid spiral and end-over-end kicks during special team drills. DeBauche averaged 55 yards with a long of 66 and an average four second hang time.

Looking to replace Zach Hampton returning punts, the Badgers had Swan, junior Marcus Randle El and freshmen Adam Hampton (Zach's younger brother), Daven Jones and David Gilreath field punts. Going along with his rough day, Jones muffed his first punt.

Six-on-Six (Third Down Conversions)

When it came time for offense versus defense in 6-on-6, the Wisconsin defense came to play. The Badger secondary forced two consecutive turnovers by stripping the ball from the wide receivers. When not forcing turnovers, the defense forced the offense to go 1-for-5 on third down.

It wasn't all disaster for the offense, as sophomore tight end Garrett Graham was a pass-catching machine. Starting with a one-handed grab thrown behind him by Allan Evridge, Graham caught four passes in congestion for the Wisconsin offense.


During the final drill on Monday, Donovan and Evridge had their opportunity to shine. Unfortunately, it was the Wisconsin defense, and Shane Carter, that grabbed the headlines.

After missing most of last season with an injury, Carter intercepted two passes and had an open field in front of him on each pick. His first interception off Donovan came as he jumped in from of Harris on an out route while his second was picked off when Donovan threw the ball into traffic. Junior Ryan Flasch also registered an interception during the scrimmage.

Donovan was the victim of poor pocket protection, which forced him to rush his passes. Evridge seemingly couldn't find a rhythm with his receivers or his center, as the Evridge botched two snaps with freshman Brad Thorson. With the struggles of both quarterbacks, the offense failed to complete a pass on their first five attempts.

In addition to quarterback, the most-watched position battle would be at left tackle. During 11-on-11, Bielema gave sophomore Jake Bscherer, freshman Gabe Carimi and fifth-year senior Danny Kays reps at left tackle. According to Bielema, all three have a legitimate shot at earning the starting job.

Most impressive player – Shane Carter

Tomorrow's schedule – 3:50 start time. Helmets and shorts.

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