Making a First Impression

Finally able to get outside for the first time this spring, the Wisconsin football team spent spring practice number seven playing Wisconsin vs. Wisconsin. Badger Nation was there and looks at who made an impact during the 94-play scrimmage.

MADISON - Here's a rundown of the 94-play scrimmage at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday morning. Admittedly, yardage totals are close estimates, but just that, estimates. Names in parentheses are defensive players who either made the tackle or break-up, or were close in coverage on the play. Series #1-8 are from the 30-yard-line area; series #9-11 are in the red zone; and series #12-15 are from inside their own 20-yard-line. Finally, pass plays are italicized.

Series #1 (1s versus 1s)

John Clay 5 yard run (Aaron Henry)

Clay 4 yard run, gang tackle

Dustin Sherer scramble, play whistled dead

Clay 6 yard run (Brendan Kelly)

Clay 5 yard run (Chris Maragos, Aubrey Pleasant)

Series #2 (2s versus 2s)

Scott Tolzien incomplete, missing Clay wide left

Tolzien 6 yard pass, right side to Isaac Anderson (Tony Megna)

Tolzien incomplete, long pass to Anderson (Shane Carter)

Erik Smith 8 yard run (hard hit by Shelton  Johnson)

Smith 3 yard run (Dan Cascone)

Tolzien pass dropped by Dex Jones

Smith 2 yard run, group tackle

Tolzien 9 yard pass, rollout to David Gilreath out of bounds

Series #3 (2s versus 1s)

Curt Phillips scramble right, play whistled dead

Phillips avoids blitz, 18 yard pass to Mickey Turner (Jaevery McFadden)

Zach Brown 1 yard run (McFadden)

Brown 4 yard run (Maragos)

Phillips 5 yard pass, low to Kyle Jefferson, taking a knee to make the catch (Turner would have been called for holding O'Brien Schofield)

Brown 4 yard run (Blake Sorensen)

Series #4 (2s versus 2s)

Jon Budmayr chased by Erik Prather, who flips ball out of Budmayr's hands as he scrambled out of bounds

Budmayr incomplete, intended for Rob Korslin who's bowled over by Prather (Korslin helped off after staying down for a few minutes)

Budmayr scrambles right, play whistled dead Budmayr short pass to Lance Kendricks (Tony Megna)

Smith 2 yard run (Carter)

Budmayr 12 yard pass, right to Anderson (Otis Merrill) *great pickup block on the oncoming blitz by Smith

Clay 15 yard run, tripped up around ankles (Carter) and hobbles off, with a hurt right ankle

Series #5 (1s versus 1s)

Sherer pass right broken up at line of scrimmage (J.J. Watt)

Gilreath 3 yard reverse (McFadden)

Sherer quick right pass to Garrett Graham (Culmer St. Jean)

Sherer quick left pass to Graham (St. Jean)

Sherer hook to Graham (McFadden)

Smith 4 yard run (Prather)

Smith 2 yard run (Megna)

Series #6 (2s versus 2s)

Budmayr incomplete pass to Byrne, broken up (Carter)

Budmayr "sacked", though play whistled dead (O'Brien Schofield)

Smith 3 yard run (Carter)

Budmayr hit as he throws, intercepted (Antonio Fenelus)

Series #7 (2s versus 2s)

Brown 3 yard run, group tackle

Phillips incomplete pass, deep intended for Jefferson (Niles Brinkley)

Brown 3 yard run (St. Jean)

Phillips incomplete pass, broken up (Jeff Stehle)

Phillips incomplete pass, nearly intercepted (Henry)

Phillips incomplete pass

Series #8 (mix versus mix)

Smith 4 yard run, group tackle

Smith 6 yard run (Johnson)

Tolzien incomplete pass, overthrows Gilreath (Merrill)

Gilreath 5 yard reverse (Rouse)

Tolzien 20 yard pass to Kendricks (Pleasant)

Tolzien incomplete pass, nudged as he throws, tipped (Sorensen) and nearly picked (Merrill)

Series #9 (1s versus 1s; red zone)

Clay 6 yard run (Watt) *Clay's first action since tweaking his right ankle earlier

Clay 5 yard run, gang tackle

Clay 5 yard run (McFadden)

Sherer 5 yard TOUCHDOWN pass, right out route to Graham (Welch PAT)

Series #10 (2s versus 2s; red zone)

Smith 18 yard TOUCHDOWN run, untouched

Phillips option scramble, play whistled dead

Smith 7 yard run, right tackle (Leonard Hubbard)

Smith 7 yard TOUCHDOWN run (Pat Hughes PAT)

Tolzien incomplete pass, through hands of diving Jefferson

Brown 4 yard run (Sorensen)

Tolzien 6 yard pass, to Graham (McFadden)

Brown 1 yard run (Sorensen)

Tolzien 5 yard TOUCHDOWN pass, fade right to Nick Toon over Fenelus (Welch PAT)

Series #11 (2s versus 2s; red zone)

Budmayr 18 yard TOUCHDOWN pass, middle catch-and-run for Anderson

Smith 2 yard run, group tackle

Smith 6 yard run (Rouse)

Budmayr short pass, nice catch by diving Byrne (Schofield)

Smith 3 yard run (Hubbard)

Budmayr 4 yard scramble, play whistled dead

Smith 2 yard run (Jordan Hein) *Erik Prather carted off after injuring right knee

Missed FG attempt by Hughes, wide left

Series #12 (1s versus 1s; inside own red zone)

Sherer incomplete pass, dropped by Clay

Clay 3 yard run, group tackle

Sherer 7 yard pass, checkdown to Clay (McFadden)

Series #13 (1s versus 1s; inside own red zone)

Smith 6 yard run, group tackle

Gilreath reverse, no gain (Schofield)

Tolzien 10 yard pass, left to Toon (Rouse)

Series #14 (2s versus 2s; inside own red zone)

Phillips option scramble

Phillips option scramble

Phillips incomplete pass, deep throw is overthrown for Toon (Henry) *Toon shoves Henry trying to get the pick, would have drawn pass interference

Phillips option scramble

Phillips short pass to Lance Kendricks, no tackle

Phillips incomplete pass, looking deep to T.J. Theus *Theus hurts left leg, helped off

Phillips flushed out of pocket, runs out of bounds

Series #15 (2s versus 2s; inside own red zone)

Budmayr 8 yard pass, to Richard Kirtley, no tackle

Smith 4 yard run, group tackle

Smith 8 yard run (Hein)

Budmayr incomplete pass, broken up intended for Eric Kossoris (Chukwuma Offor)

Budmayr pass complete to Michael Brunner

Smith 4 yard run, group tackle

Budmayr 8 yard pass to Nate Emanuel, out of bounds

Budmayr incomplete pass

Budmayr incomplete pass, wide of Kossoris

Budmayr incomplete pass, overthrows Kossoris deep

Clay 3 yard run, no tackle

Smith 3 yard run (Hubbard)

Scrimmage stats, analysis

You might have noticed Erik Smith's name came up a few times. Just a few.

The 5-foot-11, 192-pound freshman from Chicago ran the ball 21 times, getting the call on just under a quarter of the offensive plays called on Saturday. If estimates were accurate (or close to it), then Smith also surpassed the century mark, with the count here being 104 rushing yards this morning including two touchdowns.

Smith's most impressive run was inside the red zone, on his first play in that situation. With the ball placed on the 18-yard-line, Smith took a handoff from Curt Phillips, found a hole and burst through the linebacking corps, before twisting through and avoiding the secondary for an untouched 18-yard touchdown. Oh, and that was against the No. 1 unit.

The Chicago native has had a fairly impressive spring, and even though Thursday's session was a bit of a step back, he rebounded tremendously when the proverbial bullets were more live than they'll be at any time in spring except for Apr. 18.

So Smith has made strides as a ball-carrier, but don't expect him to steal too much time from John Clay or Zach Brown, at least not until he become a more complete back.

"We just didn't want to put John and Zach out there, and he's our next best option because Bradie (Ewing) isn't out there," Bielema said. "Erik did a good job with the ball in his hands, but there's a couple of big-time busts in protection where he cost us plays."

Clay was solid again on yards per gain, rushing 10 times for 57 yards despite suffering a tweaked right ankle halfway through practice. Brown had seven carries for 20 yards.

Dustin Sherer was quiet but effective at the quarterback position, completing five of seven passes. There's no question he'll be depending heavily on tight end Garrett Graham should he hold on to the starting gig; at one point, he connected with the talented senior on three plays in a row for catches, and went to Graham for a 5-yard touchdown in red zone practice.

To that note, Wisconsin has taken steps forward in one of its biggest problem areas from last season; completing red zone drives for touchdowns. The offense scored five touchdowns on its first 14 plays once they moved inside the 20, although two of them were one-shot deals on 18-yard scores (a Smith run and a Jon Budmayr pass to Isaac Anderson).

Elsewhere with the quarterbacks, Curt Phillips started well, completing his first two passes for 23 yards; but his next drive produced four incomplete passes. He finished 3-for-9, and also spent most of his time running the scout team for option plays to the defense's benefit.

Scott Tolzien and Budmayr were just OK. Tolzien was 6-for-12 with a nice five-yard fade throw to Nick Toon in the end zone and a 20-yard completion to Lance Kendricks. Budmayr led the QBs in completions and attempts, but was 7-of-14 with a touchdown and an interception.

Overall, the quarterbacks were 21-of-42. Talk about mediocre; but it would have been worse if Sherer hadn't connected on nearly all his seven throws.

Nick Toon was fairly quiet during scrimmage, although he did outrun the secondary for a 65-yard touchdown during the skeleton drill. David Gilreath continues to look like the most consistent wide receiver, catching balls from several different passers and remaining a weapon on reverse running plays. Of course, Graham will be effective, particularly if Sherer is the man throwing to him.

And on defense, the tackling is improving; there weren't many eyepopping plays behind the line of scrimmage, but the big play was lacking on Saturday … lots of three- and four-yard gains. Shane Carter (four tackles and a pass break-up) was more active looking to bring the man down than he has in years past; and it's clear that Jae McFadden (seven tackles) is going to have a big year on the tackle sheet, as could Culmer St. Jean. It's a solid second unit as well, with Erik Prather, Kevin Rouse and Tony Megna all showing promise. The defensive line will be a work in progress though, as there aren't consistent playmakers not named O'Brien Schofield lining up opposite the big uglies.

Up Next

With seven practices in the books and seven more to come before the Apr. 18 spring game, the Badgers will get the rest of the weekend off before returning on back-to-back days next Monday and Tuesday, probably back inside the McClain Center with snow expected to be on its way in the next couple of days.

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