Wisconsin's 10th fall practice of the 2009 season was off to a solid start - seeing better play from the quarterbacks being the big boost - until the final minutes when left tackle Gabe Carimi's name became added to the injured list.
By the look and sound of it, the injury was the most severe of the 09 camp to date.
In the final minutes of practice as Wisconsin's offense worked on its two-minute drill, starting left tackle Gabe Carimi, engaged in a block, was injured and went down in plenty of pain. You could tell he was hurt, as the stadium was so quiet you could hear a pin drop and his screams. He was helped off the field by two trainers and then carted to the locker room.
Bielema mentioned later on his Twitter account that Carimi has a mild knee injury that will keep him out for less than two weeks.
Walk-on redshirt freshman Ricky Wagner, a converted tight end prospect, replaced him on the offensive line.
True freshman wide receiver Kraig Appleton was in full pads Tuesday, doing some light jogging as he recruits from a tender hamstring. Same with Mike Taylor, who is slowly working with way back from what has been an injury-plagued career thus far.
Dan Cascone shed the arm sling he was sporting Monday and was doing some light jogging with the group, which was also comprised of Sam Spitz and Brendan Kelly. The injuries of these three players is unknown.
Bradie Ewing was dressed in full pads and participating by doing the short shuttle, still trying to recover from his groin injury.
Junior center John Moffitt looks to be close to returning, as he worked extensively in full pads with strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert on recovering from blocks, snapping the football, upper body strength and shirting quickly from side to side. Moffitt suffered a strained pectoral muscle lifting weights before camp opened.
Line ‘em Up
Before the injury to Carimi, UW's first-string offense looked exactly the same as it did yesterday. Seniors tight ends Mickey Turner and Garrett Graham along with junior Lance Kendricks rotated in at tight end and usually were in motion. Turner occasionally would line up at fullback in front of Clay or Brown while Kendricks would split out wide like a wide receiver.
After a dreary day yesterday, all the quarterbacks looked much better today.
Redshirt freshman Curt Phillips worked first in 7-on-7, imitated Brett Favre by mastering the art of hitting a slant underneath the defense. Phillips worked well from the shotgun, throwing only one bad pass when he overthrew his tight end target. His best throw came in split-team work, when he hit Lance Kendricks in traffic, throwing a quick, tight spiral for a solid gain.
Junior Scott Tolzien has vastly improved his throwing motion, throwing a number of smooth passes to his receivers, including a 20-yard strike to the middle of the field to Graham, hitting him between the defense, and showed his quick release from a three-step drop, hitting Isaac Anderson in stride. Tolzien delivered a couple high passes that sailed over his attended targets, but his release and motion has improved.
Sherer hit Gilreath on a 10-yard curl route between coverage and needled a pass to Turner that was just of the outstretch hands of freshman linebacker Chris Borland. He wasn't immune to the vision of Aaron Henry, who jumped in front of a slant for the interception.
During the two-minute drill, however, Sherer shined, looking solid running the offense at the end of practice, taking signals from Scott Tolzien from the sideline. He twice hit Graham for a five-yard gain, showed good touch on a first-down pass to Nick Toon, converted for a 14-yard gain on third-and-three to Kendricks, who was tip-toeing the sideline, and showed moxie when the pocket collapsed, tucking the ball and running for a modest gain.
During the drill, Sherer had only two incompletions, one was when him and Anderson weren't on the same page and the other when a rifle pass bounced high off Graham's hands and into the arms of Chris Maragos for the interception.
Phillips set didn't go, as well. He was under constant pressure from UW's second-string defensive line, got a pass broken up by Blake Sorensen (which he threw after getting sacked by Aaron Henry) and underthrew a pass in the face of pressure that was picked off by Kevin Claxton.
Don't look now, but Tolzien is going to be a factor in the quarterback race. He connected on his first four passes, and bailed out a couple UW procedure penalties with some solid passes down the middle. He also had some guys come back from drops. After Anderson dropped an easy pass over the middle, the junior came back strong to haul in a low pass from his knees for a 26-yard gain.
A couple plays later, Anderson showed solid hand-eye coordinator as he hugged the back of the end zone. On a rifle pass from Tolzien, Niles Brinkley provided solid coverage and got his hand in to deflect the initial pass, only to see the ball briefly go skyward. Anderson was Johnny-on-the-spot, hauling in the touchdown grab.
Overall, Wisconsin's top three quarterbacks looked much better Tuesday than Monday, putting Badger Nation at ease for at least one night.
Staying in the Playbook
Last season, David Gilreath made headlines with his offensive outburst against Indiana. While the wide receiver did catch many passes that day, it was his ability on the end-around that was impressive, as he carried the ball eight times for 168 yards.
This season, you can expect that play to be a factor once again. During individual drills, the Wisconsin quarterbacks and wide receivers worked extensively on the play with no defense against them.
Gilreath did show he can catch, reaching above his head to pull in a high Curt Phillips' pass later in practice, turning on the jets for a decent gain.
Play of the Day
On a fly route, Curt Phillips threw a perfect pass down the left sideline where only Toon, who was blanketed in coverage, could catch it. That proved to be just a detail for Toon, who went horizontal to reel in a beautiful catch. Toon was pretty pumped, too, clapping his hands all the way back to the huddle.
Wide Receivers Showing Talents
Even during individual drills, Nick Toon has shown he is already a more complete receiver than he was at the end of last season. With the unit during 10-yard curl routes, Toon slipped and fell to the turf, but had the presence of mind to pick himself up and made the catch from his knees as he fell to the right.
It also seems Toon has gone to great lengths to improve his blocking. During 11-on-11 drills early in practice, Toon locked up Antonio Fenelus one-on-one, allowing Erik Smith to break free to a hefty gain down the left side.
Worth consideration for play of the day was a catch by Maurice Moore over Fenelus in one-on-one drills. An underthrown pass caused Fenelus to run into Moore, but didn't stop the junior wide receiver from making the catch. As he was falling back to the turf, Moore hauled in the pass and secured it before he hit the ground, resulting in a lot of cheers from his fellow receivers.
"We'll stay out here to 8 o'clock! Don't beat yourself before the snap, or we'll be here all day!" – Bielema reaction after Culmer St. Jean jumped offside on a hard count. St. Jean stayed still the rest of the day.
Wisconsin returns to the practice field tomorrow for practice 11 in the morning and practice 12 in the afternoon. The morning practice begins at 9:30 a.m.