Spring Camp Report: Day Four

Although the Badgers are nowhere close to naming a starting quarterback for their season opener a little more than five months away, the Wisconsin coaching staff is giving their four quarterbacks equal opportunities to make an impression, something that was on display during UW's fourth spring practice of the season.

MADISON – With the sun shining outside but the cold and the wind dropping temperatures on the isthmus, Wisconsin football began the second week of spring workouts indoors, kicking off a four-week practice schedule with a 24-period, two hour, 15 minute workout Monday evening.

From the Infirmary

After missing the Badgers first three spring practices, junior safety Jay Valai returned to practice in a limited role Monday, working out only in individual drills and skele drills.

"We kept him out last week," head coach Bret Bielema said. "What we wanted to do was run him through individual today and skele. If he handles that, then we'll be able to do the same thing tomorrow and progress him in more and more."

After having groin surgery in the off season, Isaac Anderson sat out Monday for a schedule R&R day, as head coach Bret Bielema said the junior wide receiver is on a ‘limited pitch count.'

Redshirt freshmen Coddye Ring-Noonan and Mike Taylor missed practice with injuries and Maurice Moore was seen doing some light running but still isn't expected back in camp until maybe the final week. Erik Smith, after rolling his ankle slightly on Saturday, was back in action on Monday.

Kicking Off

Sophomore kicker Phil Welch and his new back up Phil Hughes got practice started off by practicing field goal attempts at the east wall. Welch went a perfect 4-for-4, including making his last one of 50 yards while Hughes struggled, shanking back-to-back 30-yard tries.

First Team Defense (written from the viewpoint of behind the secondary)

LE to RE –O'Brien Schofield, Jeff Stehle, Patrick Butrym (rotating with Dan Moore) and J.J. Watt

WLB to SLB – Jae McFadden, Culmer St. Jean, Blake Sorensen

LCB, SS, FS, RCB –Niles Brinkley, Chris Maragos, Aubrey Pleasant, Aaron Henry

Plenty of players rotated positions and units on Monday, but the one move that stood out the most was Watt moving to the end position from his normal tackle position. Because of Watt's size and athleticism, the Badgers would be willing to move Watt to the outside if they needed to get some extra burst off the end, which is dependant on what type of offense they would be facing and what type of situation the team would be in.

"He's a guy that, even going back to last fall, wherever there best defensive lineman was, we kind of put him at all four positions," Bielema said of Watt. :He probably would like to play in, I think that's what he kind of sees himself as. But what we're trying to do after that first week, it's a little bit hard to gauge, but it's put our four best personnel out there."

Second Team Defense

LE to RE – Louis Nzegwu, Dan Cascone, Butrym/Moore, Brendan Kelly

WLB to SLB –Erik Prather, Kevin Rouse, Tony Megna

LCB, FS, SS, RCB – Marcus Cromartie and Otis Merrill, Shane Carter, Shelton  Johnson, Devin Smith

Third Team Defense

LE to RE – Anthony Mains, Eriks Briedis, Jordan Kohout, David Gilbert

WLB to SLB – Matthew Groff, Leonard Hubbard, Kevin Rouse

LCB, FS, SS, RCB – Chukwuma Offor, William Hartmann, Adam Hampton, Andrew Lukasko

First Team Offense

LT to RT – Gabe Carimi, Jake Bscherer, John Moffitt, Bill Nagy, Josh Oglesby

Wide Receivers – David Gilreath, Kyle Jefferson and Nick Toon all rotated in

Tight End – Garrett Graham, Lance Kendricks and Mickey Turner all rotated in

Running Back – John Clay

Quarterback – Dustin Sherer (all quarterbacks took snaps with the first and second team)

Wisconsin started practice with an abbreviated 11-on-11 drill, giving all four of their quarterbacks a chance to work with the first and second-team offense against the first and second-team defense.

Sherer started practice with a bang, selling the run and faking out the entire defense. He had a wide open Garrett Graham in the flat. Jon Budmayr, facing blitz, didn't panic and unloaded a deep ball that David Gilreath was able to run underneath and grab, leaving the defender in his dust. The next pass, however, Budmayr sailed out of bounce. Curt Phillips looked a little shaky to start, but completed a couple passes to Lance Kendricks.

It wasn't all offense, as Tony Megna battled down a Phillips pass with his right hand and O'Brien Schofield overpowered second-team tackle Peter Konz to get into the backfield to break up a play and follow that up by coming from the far side of the field to make a stop on a sweep.

7-on-6 Notes

All eyes were on the quarterbacks today, as offensive coordinator Paul Chryst continues to give his four quarterbacks equal opportunities to make plays. Although the defense was superb, forcing a lot of quarterbacks to look to their third or fourth option, each QB made some plays happen.

Scott Tolzien went 3-for-5 during his set, completing one check down pass, a wobbly pass to Toon, who was able to get a step on Aubrey Pleasant to make the catch and a low pass to Jefferson, which turned out to be a good thing because Aaron Henry was itching to make an interception. Both of Tolzien's incompletions were on crossing routes over the middle, firing both pass attempts high over the head of his intended target.

Dustin Sherer was the second man up and finished his set going 4-for-6, completing his first three passes. Although two of them were on check downs, Sherer nailed Gilreath instep over the middle, getting the ball in a very short window thanks to excellent coverage by Devin Smith. Sherer only forced one pass during his drill, an incomplete attempt to Toon that was nearly intercepted by Antonio Fenelus, and was victimized by a great defensive play by Chris Maragos, as he and the ball arrived in Garrett Graham's chest at the same time.

Curt Phillips was next and went a shaky 3-for-5, as his three completed passes were all under seven yards and rarely went straight into the chest. Phillips had a chance for a home run pass when he had Mickey Turner wide open along the right sideline, but the redshirt freshman overthrew his intended target.

Jon Budmayr finished the drill and went 5-for-6 in his set with his only miss being an overthrow that sailed way over the head of Toon. Budmayr came back from the overthrow and ran the same exact play, this time hitting Richard Kirtley in stride and he turned on the jets all the way to the end zone. After a pair of check down passes, Budmayr completed a sideline pass to Turner, the same exact play Phillips' misfired on, and connected with Toon on a slightly underthrown pass, but Toon had enough separation on Cromartie to make the adjustment.

For the third day in a row, Budmayr hasn't looked rattled and next to Sherer, has been the best quarterback on the field for Wisconsin.

11-on-11 Notes

Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren and Chryst obvious goal today was to see how the defense reacted to some blitz packages and how the offensive line and QBs responded to pressure, as the UW defense seemed to throw a different kind of blitz every-other play.

Erik Prather got the drill started off batting down a Phillips pass at the line of scrimmage, only to see the QB respond by executing a solid crossing route on the next play.

Tolzien wasn't as fortunate to survive a collapsing pocked, getting sacked by a combo of Schofield and Watt.

Budmayr again looked the most poised in the pocket, delivering a couple nice passes to Gilreath that the receiver wasn't able to haul in. The first one was a deep ball that Budmayr had to throw out of the reach of cornerback Marcus Cromartie, but was just out of the hands of Gilreath and the second was a rollout to the right, escaping the pressure, His pass, however, bounced off Gilreath's fingertips.

Sherer had some exciting moments as well, throwing one pass right to Maragos which the senior proceeded to drop and running screaming up the field.

Tolzien received solid pocket protection in delivering an out route to Toon and slinging a pass to Zach Brown in the flat, but his unit was victim of a couple mistakes. Tolzien mishandled a snap and was forced to fall on the ball for a loss and a couple false starts throughout the practice, including two by tight end Jake Byrne.

Anytime an offensive player commits a false start, they are immediately pulled from the play, do up downs as a punishment and are substituted by the backup at the position.

"Anybody in the front that causes a problem or an issue before the snap we want to be corrected immediately," Bielema said.

Backup safety Will Hartman recorded the only interception during the drill. When Budmayr rolled out of the pocket and tried to force a pass at Mickey Turner, Hartman stepped in front for the easy pick.

Aaron Henry was all over the field Monday, playing both cornerback positions and delivered some solid coverage on Kyle Jefferson, giving the junior wide receiver headaches all evening. Even when Henry wasn't on Jefferson, the junior wide out struggled, falling to hall in a deep pass after he got half a step separation from Otis Merrill.

Up Next

The Badgers have the night to rest and will hit the field tomorrow in half pads, practicing at 4:45 Tuesday afternoon.

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