Worse yet, they couldn't even hit each other, as only helmets was the dress code, That changes today when the Wisconsin returns to the field Tuesday evening in full pads.
LT: Ricky Wagner, Robert Burge
MLB: Culmer St. Jean, Ethan Armstrong
Tolzien Making Strides
It might be a little premature to close the quarterback competition, but senior Scott Tolzien looks to have a firm grasp on the position, especially with the way his accuracy, experience and the new zip on his fast ball looks early in spring ball.
Tolzien went 5-of-6 in the first and second sessions of 7-on-7 Monday, including a nice touchdown pass to senior tight end Lance Kendricks. On the play, Tolzien went through his keys and found Kendricks wide open, as junior safety Aaron Henry fell down in pursuit.
Tolzien continuously threaded the needed to his wide receivers, hitting Nick Toon and Kyle Jefferson over the middle for lengthy gains. Tolzien's only incompletion was a heads up play when Ethan Armstrong broke up a pass intended for Brian Wozniak.
"Scott has looked OK," said a reserved Head Coach Bret Bielema. "You can tell that … as good as he was before talking and communicating, he's correctly young players, especially at the tight end position with those guys. I think that's the part we're going to see more and more. Plus, he's got a little more zip on the ball now."
Sophomore Curt Phillips took repetitions with the second offensive unit, and generally looked OK. Phillips had a number of good completions but threw a couple high passes that Jefferson had to reach out and get and a couple balls underthrown. Still Phillips missed on only one pass in the early session and looked decent in the second set, including using his main weapon.
With the defense collapsing the pocket, Phillips' used his speed to roll out to the right and still find the open receiver, hitting Wozniak for a 20-yard gain on a nicely thrown pass.
During the three team drills, the defense came up with only one interception. Wozniak, who had roughly six catches team drills, couldn't hang on to a pass over the middle, causing linebacker A.J. Fenton and safety Conor O'Neill to swarm to the ball, with O'Neill getting the pick.
A few plays after junior Devin Smith was late getting to Toon on an out route, causing a one-on-one talk from new secondary coach Chris Ash, Smith was right in Kyle Jefferson's face after the senior reached up and grabbed a high Phillips pass. By the time Jefferson came down, Smith was there and knocked the ball out of his hands for an incompletion.
After Jefferson missed that completion, he came back a few plays later to use his length to haul in a touchdown pass on a go route.
Getting the Chance
With Chris Borland (shoulder) and Mike Taylor (knee) missing spring, linebacker Kevin Rouse (who is finally healthy after battling injuries) and secondary-turn-linebacker Kevin Claxton getting a shot with the No. 1 and No.2 defense, respectively.
"Both got hands on balls today," Bielema said. "I think Kevin Rouse from yesterday to today, to me just watching it here live, made big improvements on breaks on the ball and where he needs to be. That's encouraging."
While Tolzien and Toon continue to build their quarterback-wide receiver connection, it's easy to see that redshirt freshman Jon Budmayr has already found success throwing the deep all to redshirt freshman Jared Abbrederis.
The former standout track athlete at Wautoma (Wis.) continues to make standout plays during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Early in practice, Budmayr uncorked a deep ball on an inside slant-go route that hit Abbrederis, who had shaken cornerback Antonio Fenelus, right between the numbers.
Later in 11-on-11, the duo connected again on the exact same play with the same results. The duo tried for the hat trick when Budmayr avoided a collapsing pocket by stepping up and throwing a 45-yard spiral missile that a streaking Abbrederis secured in his grasp, but lost control when he hit the ground.
"He's a great worker and he's fast," Bielema said. "He ran great track times in high school. It's apparent that knee is feeling pretty good. I think some of the kids maybe aren't respecting him. I think after day two maybe they will."
-Former Badger offensive lineman Eric Vanden Heuvel, enrolled in graduate school in Madison, has taken up a role as a weight room assistant for the Badgers. After passing on a chance at the NFL, Vanden Heuvel, according to Bielema, has been a big help with players, and has lost a ton of weight, almost to the unrecognizable proportions.
-The coaching staff is limiting the reps of Bill Nagy as he continues to work his way back from a scooter accident from last summer that limited him throughout the 2009 season. The Badgers are also taking it slow with running back Bradie Ewing, who suffered through lower body injuries last season.
- UW's starting wide receivers (Anderson and Toon) already look to building on breakout seasons. Anderson caught a number of passes along the sideline, showing good footwork to get his feet in bounds, and Toon caught a number of passes either in traffic or a defender right on his hip.
- Just because players didn't have pads on didn't mean there wasn't a good hit or two. Senior linebacker Culmer St. Jean, who has bulked up to 232 pounds, put a good smack on senior David Gilreath when the wide receiver wasn't paying attention going for a pass over the middle.
- Secondary Coach Chris Ash certainly is a young-looking guy, which one can see why he was such a great fit with this Badgers' staff. He certainly is a vocal one, consistently speaking to his secondary members about their pre-snap keys right up until the ball is snapped. Ash also spent time with Fenelus, who struggled in coverage all day.