The Cardinal team (UW's starters) throttled the White squad (backups) 56-20 Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium, in the Badgers' 15th and final practice of spring football.
The final statistics are great for believing in Wisconsin's starters, but ugly if you're looking for depth among the twos and threes. The Cardinal team outgained the White 563-21, scored seven touchdowns without allowing an offensive score and controlled possession for nearly three-quarters of the game.
Of course, spring games are far less about final scores and stats, and more about seeing which players have improved their stock in trying to get on the field for the 2009 season. The Badger who may have helped his cause the most is quarterback Curt Phillips, who orchestrated three touchdown drives of at least 70 yards and accounted for three scores (two passing, one rushing).
"I'm confident with where I'm putting the ball and where the receivers are going to be," Phillips said. "You always want to finish strong, and I get to think about this one for a long time before we put the pads back on."
Dustin Sherer, whom Phillips is pursuing for the starting quarterback job, was decent, throwing one touchdown and running for another. But in between his two scoring drives, he made a critical mistake, getting intercepted in his own red zone by linebacker Tony Megna.
Megna brought the pick in for an easy touchdown, which accounted for all 12 of the White team's non-kicking points (the backups' touchdowns counted as double).
"It's a big play," UW coach Bret Bielema said. "We cannot beat ourselves, before the snap or by unforced errors. That throw came out late ... you cannot have those types of situations, especially out of a fifth-year player."
Phillips was 10-of-16 for 122 yards, and Sherer went 6-of-9 for 101 yards. Bielema said he won't name a starter and won't confer with his coaching staff about it until they return from spring recruiting in two weeks.
"Dustin has done a lot of good things," Bielema said. "When you look at where Dustin is today from where he was a year ago at this time, he's significantly better.
"But on the same account, I saw a guy in Curt Phillips go out there and do some things," Bielema continued. "I know he can do some things with his feet, but to see what he did today in the passing game made a big statement to me."
Wisconsion's other two signal callers, Scott Tolzien and Jon Budmayr, weren't quite as impressive as Sherer and Phillips. Tolzien, who for now is the No. 2 quarterback, was 5-of-14 with 52 yards for the White team, but added 70 yards a passing touchdown on 4-of-8 passing during two stints with the Cardinal squad.
Budmayr, who nearly didn't participate due to a groin injury, misfired on all five pass attempts, including one interception.
Nick Toon led the receivers with four catches, 62 yards and a touchdown. Kendricks totaled 56 yards and two touchdown receptions.
OB taught a lesson
It was puzzling during the game to see defensive end O'Brien Schofield, a fifth-year senior and just one of two returning starters in the front seven, wearing a White jersey and playing alongside the twos. In his postgame press conference, Bielema explained why.
"O'Brien did that to himself, he was two minutes late to the team meeting yesterday afternoon, so he was moved down to the twos (for the spring game)," Bielema said. "One of our things that we really talked about was being on time, and he wasn't able to do that for yesterday's meeting.
"O'Brien's made huge strides, I don't want that to be a negative," Bielema added. "He's one of our better players, better leaders, and we have to set the example at the top. He understands that now."
Schofield accepted the decision and was repentant, speaking to reporters after a game in which he performed well (three tackles, two sacks on back-to-back snaps and a quarterback hit).
"Me being a team leader, he expected more of me," Schofield said. "He just wanted to see how I was going to respond, if I was still able to play ball and focus."
The punishment goes to show that nobody is immune from the coaching staff's initiative of forcing accountability upon everybody within the program.
"We've got to be more dependable," fifth-year linebacker Jae McFadden said. "Not just the coaches, but all us players have to be accountable. We all know from last year that you can't get away with mistakes, and Coach is trying to get that word out this year."
Keeping in line with most of spring practice, the Badgers stayed fairly healthy during the spring game, losing only receiver Isaac Anderson to an apparent leg injury, something Bielema didn't deem serious.
"We came out of it pretty injury-free," Bielema said. "I don't have a final report on Isaac, but I don't think it was anything significant. I know they just wanted to sit him after he kind of got rolled up over there, but he was moving around halfway-decent on the sideline."
Safety Jay Valai, despite participating in drills throughout spring ball, did not play in the game as he recovers from back surgery.
Running back Bradie Ewing, wide receivers Daven Jones and Maurice Moore, linebacker Michael Taylor and defensive lineman Louis Nzegwu are a few of the Badgers that missed spring ball and hope to be back at 100 percent for summer conditioning.
The "estimated" attendance was 23,500, though there appeared to be far less fans than that. The day started pleasantly in the mid-60s, but sprinkling rain at halftime sent many headed for the exits or at least the covered section of the bleachers.
That didn't deter Bielema from praising the Wisconsin fans that did turn out Saturday.
"I was excited to see that crowd out there," "The weather report looked good, it didn't end up very good ... so that was good to see."