MADISON - Watching the kickers and punters progress throughout spring camp draws resemblances to the 1966 Clint Eastwood movie The Good, the Bad and the Ugly .
With junior Matt Fischer and freshman Phil Welch the primary candidates to fill the kicking duties in 2008, both were under the microscope early and, kicking inside in the Dave McClain Center, answered the challenge.
Fischer consistently made field goals between the 25- and 35-yard lines from either hash and his long was approximately 39 yards. While Welch wasn't as consistent, he boasted the stronger leg, making field goals between 35 and 40 yards, with his long being approximately 45 yards.
Practicing only twice outside before the spring game, Wisconsin was the victim of cold, wet weather throughout camp. But on a beautiful sunny day at the beginning of April, the kickers could not adjust. From the left hash, 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. Fischer, from the right hash, went 3-for-4 from roughly the same distances, missing a 35-yard kick.
After punting inside, freshman punter Brad DeBauche looked pretty solid on his pooch punts. Of his three kicks from the 45-yard line, one landed at the 20, one at the 15 and one at the two-yard line.
With DeBauche being the only punter in camp, Welch also saw time punting the football, rotating between solid 58-yard boots and ugly 35-yard shanks.
Kicking from distances ranging from extra points to 40-plus yards in a rapid-fire drill to give both kickers the chance to kick in front of people in Camp Randall, Fischer went 5-for-9 kicking field goals and Welch went 6-for-10, making a long of 48 yards.
Kicking from the each hash and the center of the field, Fischer made two kicks from 25 yards and one each from 19 and 35 yards while Welch made kicks from 22, 25, 35 and 48 yards. Fischer missed a 35-yard try and made a 26-yard chip shot during the game.
"I have a pretty good idea what I did wrong," Fischer said. "I misplaced my plant foot and was doing something with my steps that was messing me up a little big. I am making a few changes with my mechanics and now it's about repetitions."
Welch made a 22- and 40-yard field goal during game action but during the second set of rapid-fire field goals, Welch badly missed his last three field goals attempts wide left, with one of his attempts landing in the first row of students.
But as much of a struggle it was for the kickers, it was even worse for DeBauche, who averaged 35.4 yards on five punts with a long of 55 yards and a short of 23.
"Obviously the punting game, if we had to punt out there today, it's something that wouldn't be very positive for us right now," Bret Bielema said. "Brad for us at times as turned the ball very well and executed for us over the course of the spring. If you drop the ball the way he was today, you're not going to have much production."
Baring a solid performance in summer workouts, DeBauche looks to have played himself out of the punting position. Regardless, the punting role will belong to a freshman, as Wisconsin is bringing in punter Brad Nortman, a signee from Brookfield Central (WI), who is one of the top punters in the nation.
Player of Camp: None
Projected Starters: Phil Welch (kicker and kickoff) and Brad Nortman (punter)