Both Tyler Donovan and Allan Evridge started practice hot, throwing tight spirals to receivers during warm-ups. Each potential starting quarterback threw eight passes to various level receivers. Evridge was a perfect 8-for-8 while Donovan was 7-for-8, but was the victim of a drop pass by a freshman receiver.
Evridge took 60 percent of the snaps during Tuesday's 11-on-11 (Donovan took 60 percent in Monday's 11-on-11) and took the most of his opportunity. Evridge went 8-for-13, throwing tight spirals and threading the ball into traffic with only a couple overthrows. Donovan finished the drill completing 4-of-9 passes.
Evridge mastered the bootleg Tuesday after struggling with his control on the play Monday. Evridge ran two convincing play-action bootlegs with the second connecting with Travis Beckum in the flat for seven yards.
Third-string quarterback Dustin Sherer also saw some limited action during 11-on-11, going 2-for-4. Sherer threw a perfect spiral down the right sideline, hitting Paul Hubbard in stride to beat the entire secondary for a touchdown.
A day after being reinstated and showing some rust, sophomore Lance Smith showed that familiar burst of speed working with the offensive linemen. Being the designated back to run the screen along with Chris Pressley, consistently hit the hole hard and continued that burst 10 to 15 yards down field.
New receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander seems to have found his comfort level with his new receiving corps. The group worked individually for twenty-plus minutes at the start of practice working on tight cuts, making speed bursts and routes.
"You've got to play big in a small amount of space," Alexander preached to his new group. "If you go slow, [the defense] will eat you up."
After drill work, the receiving corps worked on quick slants, hitches, stop & go and comeback routes during the remainder of the period. Other than a handful of overthrown balls, the wide receivers dropped few passes on the afternoon – a marked improvement over yesterday.
There's virtually no competition for the starting tight end job, as Travis Beckum has all but sewn up that starting position. However, the way things have gone for Garrett Graham the first two days of camp, the race for the backup job may already be out of reach.
The sophomore from Brick, New Jersey caught everything that came his way in 6-on-7 and 11-on-11. Graham made a catch from Donovan in between four defenders, elevated for a 15-yard catch and run and showed off his speed as well – racing past the secondary for a 55-yard catch on a bootleg from Sherer.
"He's what our program [wants in a] player," Bielema said. "He's really bought into what we're trying to do. He's made some really athletic plays and he's given us a second option."
Special Teams Notes
Senior Ken DeBauche continued his strong fall camp during Cover Five punt coverage. Kicking from his own 35-yard line, DeBauche registered punts of 65, 65, 47, 49, 62, 70, 57 and 61.
Senior Taylor Mehlhaff didn't kick any field goals today.
After individual work (around 4:25 p.m.), the Badgers split into individual groups – offense, defense and offensive linemen - for approximately 30 minutes. The offense (with Donovan and Evridge at quarterback) ran three-wide sets with a tight end and running back. Running the set against no defense or with offensive linemen, the Badger quarterbacks were seemingly in-sync with their receivers – completing about 70 percent of the passes.
At the same time, the first-team defense was going against different looks from the scout team, working on red zone pass protection and run defense.
At the far end of the field near the student section, offensive line coach Bob Palcic worked with his 11 offensive lineman on blocking patterns, roll outs and screens. Freshman Josh Oglesby worked primarily holding the dummy while juniors Andy Kemp and Kraig Urbik and fifth-year senior Marcus Coleman worked on the running back screen. Their work paid off, as the screen was highly effective during 11-on-11.
Senior Paul Hubbard made a beautiful 20-yard catch, on a tight spiral from Donovan, in between three defenders.
Freshman Kyle Jefferson fully extended to haul in a pass thrown over his head by Evridge. Jefferson hauled in the ball on the slant route for a 17-yard gain.
Starting in the backfield when the play began, sophomore P.J. Hill caught a pass down the middle of the field. What made the play note worthy was as soon as he caught the ball, Hill shifted into a new gear and out raced the entire Wisconsin secondary.
The only interception of 6-on-7 came when freshman Mario Goins was the lucky recipient of a Donovan overthrow and caught the ball with relative ease.
Third Down Conversions - 11-on-11 Notes
While it wasn't designed to be a defensive showcase, the Badger hard-nosed defense stole the show in 11-on-11.
Allen Langford came alive during 11-on-11. Langford jumped in front the ball to bat it away from Swan. As an encore, Langford jumped in front of an Evridge pass intended for Xavier Harris. Langford out muscled Harris for the ball and left the sophomore in his dust as the junior cornerback sprinted to the end zone.
Sophomore O'Brien Schofield ran the delayed blitz to perfection, running in untouched to sack Sherer.
Junior Matt Shaughnessy beat Andy Kemp around the outside for an easy sack on Evridge.
Former wide receiver converted cornerback Niles Brinkley registered his first interception of camp, jumping in front of an Evridge-to-Hubbard pass and returned it for a touchdown.
Otis Merrill was the only injury of the day. Nothing serious though, as it appeared Merrill just got the wind knocked out of him and was able to leave the field under his own power.
Play of the Day
Freshman Nick Toon showed his potential, and that wide receiver hand-eye coordination runs in the family, when he got the biggest ooooooo of the day, hauling in a true one-handed catch in traffic from quarterback James Stallons.
Runner up was sophomore Terrance Jamison coming untouched from around the blind side to bearhug Scott Tolzien for the sack.
Player(s) of the Day – Allan Evridge and Garrett Graham
Tomorrow's Schedule – The football team will hold its annual media day from 2:30 to 4:00 with a tenative practice to follow.