As Jonathan Casillas lay on the turf near the 10-yard line at Camp Randall Saturday afternoon, the place went silent. Players hooting and hollering after the play quickly stopped and coaches ceased barking out directions and instruction.
Even as UW coach Bret Bielema moved the scrimmage from the north end of the field to the south, nearly every member of the media and players' families in attendance kept at least one eye on Casillas as the medical staff tested the stability of his right knee.
Eventually, Casillas was able to limp off the field under his own power, having sustained a strain to his medial collateral ligament that Bielema said will likely keep the Badgers' sam linebacker out one to two weeks.
Sophomore Blake Sorenson played the sam position with the first-team defense for the rest of practice.
Casillas' scare was just one of several injuries during a tough intrasquad scrimmage for the Badgers. Early on in 7-on-7 passing drill, tight end Travis Beckum pulled up injured and broke off running a route across the middle. The pass intended for him fell incomplete.
Beckum favored his right hamstring as he limped off to the far side of the field, where UW medical personnel attended to him. He did not return to practice and did crunches while the rest of the team did conditioning drills at the end of the day's work.
Bielema said Beckum re-aggravated the hamstring injury that kept him out of action for most of the past week. Bielema said he hoped Beckum would be able to get back on the field by Wednesday, in time for the team to start game preparation for the season-opener against Akron.
Also injured during Saturday's practice were cornerback Antonio Fenelus (ankle, will have X-rays done) and wide receiver Daven Jones (thigh contusion). Running back Zach Brown limped away from conditioning drills looking as if he tweaked something in his right leg. It did not appear to be overly serious.
Rollercoaster day for kickers
Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities opens with the line, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." While that sentence refers to London and Paris during the French Revolution, if Dickens had watched UW's kickers and punters work Saturday, he probably would have said the same thing. It really was the best of times — Brad Nortman drilling one punt 56 yards and landing another inside the five-yard line — and the worst of times — Nortman's efforts at directional pooch punting, including one kick which landed out of bounds two yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Best of times: a 47-yard field goal by kicker Philip Welch.
Worst of times: Welch and junior kicker Matt Fisher combining to go 4 of 10 during a mid-distance rapid-fire field goal session.
St. Jean at mike
Sophomore linebacker Culmer St. Jean took the majority of snaps with the first-team defense. St. Jean, Jaevery McFadden and Elijah Hodge, a starter a year ago, are locked in a tight battle for the right to start at middle linebacker on Aug. 30 against Akron.
After practice, defensive coordinator Dave Doeren said he determines who will play with the first unit based on how each of the three does the day before in practice.
St. Jean was in on several tackles throughout the day, including one nice goal-line stop. McFadden took snaps with the second team.
Tolzien, Sherer the battle at QB
Allan Evridge opened fall camp as the prohibitive favorite to be the opening game starter, and it appears he has done nothing to shake the coaching staff's confidence that he is the man.
With Evridge fairly secure as the No. 1 signal caller, the tightest quarterback battle is for the top backup position.
Sophomore Scott Tolzien and junior Dustin Sherer appear to be fairly even at this point, with Tolzien maybe holding a slight edge. During the scrimmage portion of Saturday's practice, Tolzien led the second-team offense onto the field for that unit's first drive. The sophomore took a little more than half of the second unit's snaps.
Sherer, however, led the second-team offense on a six-play, 65-yard scoring drive. On the drive, which included P.J. Hill runs of four and 13 yards and a Zach Brown run of four yards, Sherer completed all three passes he threw. The junior led off the drive with a seven-yard completion to tight end Jake Bryne, connected with Kyle Jefferson for a 15-yard completion on the fourth play of the drive and found Lance Kendricks in the back corner of the end zone for a six-yard touchdown to cap the drive.
Bielema is expected to announce the team's post-camp two-deep Wednesday, when the team begins to prepare for Akron.
Freshman runners look strong
Freshmen Bradie Ewing and Erik Smith each had moments of brilliance Saturday. Ewing was powerful running between the tackles and showed enough elusiveness to make some tacklers miss on one 13-yard rush. Ewing also had a nice catch and run for a first down on a flair pass.
Smith showed explosive speed, breaking a run off right guard to the sideline for a 55-yard carry to the six-yard line. Smith also had runs of eight and 10 yards.
The new 40-second play clock caused just a few problems for the Wisconsin offenses. At one point, Evridge was forced to call a timeout with three seconds left to get a play off. The third-team offense was flagged for single delay of game penalties while James Stallons and Curt Phillips ran the offense.
No need to throw
During one drive against the second-team defense, the first-team offense ran the ball on eight consecutive plays to score on a 55-yard drive. Fullback Chris Pressley ran for eight yards on one carry, Brown gained 21 yards on five attempts, fullback Bill Rentmeester rumbled for 25 yards on one carry and Hill gained four yards on his only attempt of the drive. Brown's one-yard plunge scored the touchdown.