Spring Practice Report: Day Nine

DeAndre Levy shows he's fully healed, Wisconsin breaks out the red zone offense, the kickers show what they can do and Curt Phillips runs the offense all on a beautiful Saturday spring afternoon during Wisconsin football spring workouts.

MADISON - With temperatures topping off in the low 60s Saturday afternoon and nothing but blue skies above, the Wisconsin football team took its spring practice out on the Camp Randall turf for the first time. In attendance was a large contingent of high school coaches from around the state in town for a coaching clinic.

Former Badgers Ken DeBauche, Nick Hayden, Paul Hubbard, Taylor Mehlhaff and Jamil Walker also watched practice.

Wisconsin recruit Brendan Kelly and was in attendance and spent plenty of time talking with position coach Bob Bostad and talked briefly with head coach Bret Bielema.

On the injury front:

Patrick Butrym (shoulder), DeAndre Levy (back) and Nick Toon (hamstring) all practiced Saturday after being slowed by injuries last week.

DE Ricky Garner is still being slowed by a hamstring injury and it is unclear when he will see the field.

Tight ends Travis Beckum and Garrett Graham both got into the route running action Saturday, receiving passes from quarterbacks without any pads on. Both hope to be cleared by June summer workouts.

Wishing to be Back Inside

Although most of the players enjoyed being outside, the pair of freshmen kickers, Phil Welch and Matt Fischer, probably miss the calm conditions of the McClain Center. Kicking outside for the first time at the start of practice, Welch unofficially went 2-for-4, making a 33 and 35-yard try and missing a 20-yard boot wide left and a 40-yard kick wide right while Fischer went 3-for-4 from roughly the same distances, missing a 35-yard kick. Welch kicked from the left hash while Fischer attempted from the right hash.

Not catching on

Receiving passes from position coach DelVaughn Alexander, countless wide receivers dropped passes as they ran skilled routes around stationary cones. Ironically as soon as the quarterbacks started throwing the passes, there were only a couple of drops out of the 100 or so passes thrown.

Lance Smith

Although listed as the No.2 tailback with John Clay, running back Lance Smith continues to spend time running routes and catching passes with the wide receivers during individual drills. Smith has been used by the coaching staff as a wide receiver in multiple formations and, according to Bielema, are looking at a way to utilize Smith's natural agility.

Smith spent half the time catching passes with the wide receivers and then returned to individual work with the running backs.

7-on-7 Notes

Wide receiver David Gilreath made the best two catches of the day during any part of the practice during 7-on-7. With Mario Goins face guarding him, Gilreath went up and over Goins to grab the pass along the sidelines. But what drew a loud ovation from the coaches in attendance was with Allan Evridge at quarterback and Gilreath running a go route. Gilreath got behind the coverage and laid out horizontally to haul in the 55-yard bomb from the left arm Evridge.

Josh Nettles jumped in front of an out route thrown by Dustin Sherer and took the ball the distance. After touching the goal line, Nettles turned around only to get clobbered by linebacker coach Randal McCray.

Kyle Jefferson was punished with up downs after failing to hang onto an easy pass over the middle. Jefferson had the past in the grasp but dropped it after free safety Shane Carter nailed him from behind.

With Gilreath running the wide receiver screen, sophomore left tackle Gabe Carimi laid out an unsuspecting Niles Brinkley, who met the left tackle head on and lost the battle.

Jay Valai continued his impressive spring camp with the easiest interception he might ever get in practice, as sophomore Scott Tolzien basically threw the ball right to him in double coverage.

Special Teams

Freshman Brad DeBauche finally got to show off his leg somewhat in special teams work. After the first punt was a lame duck, DeBauche somewhat found his groove, roughly averaging 45 yards through the course of his punts with the wind at his back.

Punting only a couple times, Welch unleashed a 55-yard punt but had little hang time.

Gilreath, Otis Merrill and Maurice Moore were all back returning punts.

Scrimmage

Though still four months from fall camp, the quarterback rotation has developed into Allan Evridge, Dustin Sherer, Scott Tolzien, James Stallons and Curt Phillips generally taking reps in that rotation. Evridge started the practice with the first-team offense against the first-team defense. Sherer started the scrimmage, followed by Evridge, Tolzien), Evridge again, back to Sherer, Tolzien again and ending with Stallons.

Notes with Dustin Sherer at Quarterback

DeAndre Levy bolted through the line of scrimmage and registered the ‘sack.' On the very next play, Valai found a seam in the line and ran through untouched for another ‘sack.' Two plays later, Levy got his second ‘sack' of practice.

Sherer appeared to connect with new-found tight end Lance Kendricks on a 15-yard out, but the sophomore had trouble hanging on to the pass.

During his second stint at quarterback, Sherer hit Isaac Anderson with a solid pass over the middle on a crossing route, was able to avoid taking a ‘sack' on an all-out blitz by quickly throwing the ball out of the way, hit Gilreath on a cross over the middle and fell victim to another drop by Jefferson.

Sherer did have trouble throwing the screen pass, holding the ball too long ans allowing defensive tackle Jeff Stehle to get into his face and pull up short and allow the play to develop instead of taking the ‘sack.'

Louis Nzegwu continued to take Josh Oglesby to school, pulling off a swim move and was able to get to Sherer.

Notes with Allan Evridge at Quarterback

Evridge went 1-for-3 passing, connecting with Lance Kendricks in the flat, but also fell victim to the sack, as O'Brien Schofield was able to get him coming through the middle of the line on a stunt.

Notes with Scott Tolzien at Quarterback

Although struggling with his timing during his first set during the scrimmage, consistently being inconsistent, Tolzien faired better passing during his second set, but couldn't figure out Levy. Levy broke a double team in the middle to bat down a pass and went unblocked around the end for a sack.

Notes with James Stallons at Quarterback

Stallons successfully ran the screen during his session, twice setting up P.J. Hill for a nice seven-yard gain along the left side. Like his predecessors, Stallons fell victim to a veteran linebacker unit. Running a stunt with Levy, Levy drew Oglesby to the middle, allowing Schofield to come off the end and get a ‘sack.'

Red Zone

Evridge from the 20-yard line against No.1 Defense

First and 10: Completed pass to Gilreath on a crossing route over the middle down to the four yard line.

First and Goal: P.J. Hill touchdown through the middle (Fischer Kick)

Sherer from the 18-yard line against No.2 Defense

First and 10: Sherer sacked under a collapsing pocket

Second and 10: Handoff to Lance Smith goes for three yards up the middle

Third and 7: Inside slant to Jefferson goes for seven yards and the first down

First and 10: Bootleg right turns out empty for Sherer when there is nowhere to throw. He took off running and appeared to make it into the end zone but as he cut up field, he stepped out of bounce at the three-yard line.

Second and 3: Lance Smith took the handoff to the right side, put on a juke and crossed the goal line for the touchdown (Welch Kick)

Evridge from the 18-yard line against No.1 Defense

First and 10: Evridge found Lance Smith, who has split double coverage, wide open in the end zone. Smith caught the ball in mid air but the football jarred loose when the junior landed on the turf. Incomplete.

Second and 10: Rolling out to the right, Evridge did a side-arm sling pass to Gilreath, who took the ball down to the three-yard line.

First and Goal: LB Elijah Hodge, who had his best practice of the spring, got penetration into the line and wrapped up Smith's legs for no gain.

Second and Goal: Senior end Matt Shaughnessy sniffed out the bootleg and caught the quick-footed quarterback for a nine-yard loss.

Third and Goal from the 12: Shaughnessy again blew through the line and wrapped up Evridge to stop the play.

Fourth and Goal from the 15: Fischer kicked a 32-yard field goal into the wind from the left hash.

Notes on Curt Phillips at Quarterback

Starting at roughly the 35-yard line against the No.2 defense, Phillips got his first major work of the practice. Phillips showed off his improvisational abilities, being forced to scramble out of the pocket on his first play when all receivers were covered, and showed his youth, forcing a pass into traffic that should have been intercepted by Otis Merrill.

Phillips did settle down, however, completing a nice 10-yard pass down the middle to Maurice Moore and hit John Clay a handful of times in the flat for a six and seven yard gain, respectively.

His best pass play came on a three-step drop where Phillips dropped back and used a quick release to fire a 13-yard bullet to Elijah Theus.


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