That's why Coach Bret Bielema finished practice with the first-team defense against the first-team offense to get both squads some live repetitions against a good opponent; themselves.
"We wanted to have a good scrimmage at the end and move the football," Bielema said. "We haven't done that as a unit; go good versus good. That's the best thing we've got going for us right now is the competition."
Both units made some strong advancement and some skilled plays. Tyler Donovan and Allan Evridge each saw snaps with the first team and each uncorked some excellent passes. Donovan threw a couple excellent out routes to Luke Swan while Evridge made some solid passes on the run.
"I definitely like our attitude," Bielema said. "I haven't had to yell at anyone yet for not hustling. I think guys efforts are there. The thing I like to see is guys like Daven Jones from where he was a week ago until now. It's night and day. Those young guys tend to make huge strides in a certain amount of time. That's what I get excited about."
Defensively, Wisconsin was just as tough. Competing safeties Shane Carter and Aubrey Pleasant each made solid defensive stops, breaking up sure receptions and causing the quarterbacks to go to their second or third reads.
"I don't think that there are any two guys that are more committed to playing football in a positive fashion than Aubrey and Shane," Bielema said.
Even fifth-year senior James Kamoku made a couple nice plays that got the attention of Bielema.
"James Kamoku has been the X-factor," Bielema said. "The last couple days, he doesn't always know what he's doing, but he's always around the football. He plays extremely hard and he's always yelling. You can't get enough of that stuff."
Overall, Bielema got what he was looking for, a group of players that want to start and be winners.
"I want to come in on Monday and have two weeks of preparation for Washington State with guys I know we can win with," Bielema said.
A Quincy Change
After coming in a semester early to start working out with the team in spring practices, freshman Quincy Landingham is seeing his position of strong safety from a new angle.
The 6-foot, 209 pound Landingham was switched by Bielema and his coaching staff to running back Wednesday night. With UW having four capable safeties – Carter, Pleasant, Roysyon and Valai – cementing the position and only three scholarship running backs on the roster, Bielema and company decided to make the switch.
"When we saw in on film in the spring, we saw running back film, but we wanted as a safety," Bielema said. "We sited him as a third-string strong safety. Basically, we wanted to get him over there and see what he can do."
Landingham was a standout safety and tailback at Lahser High School in Michigan. As a senior, he rushed for 1,276 yards and 21 touchdowns. Now, it looks like he'll be backing up National Freshman of the Year P.J. Hill.
"He's probably going to redshirt at the safety position," Bielema said. "But if he can give us something at the tailback position, we can play him."
Although Wisconsin looks set with Jonathan Casillas, Elijah Hodge and DeAndre Levy at linebackers, Jaevery McFadden and Blake Sorensen are making a big impression for the Wisconsin defense. In full pads the past two days, the duo have been a physical presence the middle linebacker position – causing disruption in the middle, putting pressure on the quarterback and, simply put, making plays.
"The guy I am getting excited about is Blake Sorensen, who in another two weeks will be even better than he is right now. Blake, along with Jamie McFadden, have really come along and put them in position to be a starter at Sam or Will if we ever did have an issue.
"If you could sign two players like [them] every year, you'd feel pretty good."
New Name in the Return Game
With Paul Hubbard and Luke Swan locking up the Z and X wide receiving roles, respectively, players like Maurice Moore and Marcus Randle El need to take advantage of every opportunity they get. Both Moore and Randle El have showed a lot of promise the last couple days at the wide receiver position, with both playing well with the second team during 11-on-11.
"When you have a cubby of guys in competition, you have to take advantage of every snap," Bielema said. "Marcus Randle is probably playing as good as I have seen him play in the last two years. He certainly has a little moxie to him. He's really catching the ball in his hands."
The kick and punt return position look to be down to three players – Randle El, Moore and Gilreath.
Next Wednesday, Coach Bielema and has staff look to solidify as many of the starters on offense and defense as possible in order to start to prepare for Washington State.
The coaching staff expects DeAndre Levy and Kurt Ware to be back at full go on Monday.
According to Bielema, still no word on John Clay and his status with the NCAA Clearinghouse or the Wisconsin football team.
"I am not going to make anything until I have the proper documents in my hand and then we can move forward. It's not in my hands," Bielema said.