Saturday's UW Practice Report

Wisconsin's 85-play refereed scrimmage was supposed to be an opportunity for veterans to assert themselves and young players to step up. While Jon Budmayr and Zach Brown made great plays, the fact that Curt Phillips left the field on crutches made the end results a little worrisome.

MADISON - After experiencing 60-plus degree weather and practicing outside, a late night snowfall forced Wisconsin and its large viewing audience inside for a 24- period practice Saturday, a two-hour, 15-minute session that was highlighted by the Badgers first scrimmage of the season.

While the Badgers brought in referees to monitor the 85-play scrimmage, Wisconsin's first and second teams did not advance up and down the field.

Phillips Hurt

The scariest moment of the entire practice came midway through practice when sophomore quarterback Curt Phillips took off on his legs to gain some yardage. Looking to avoid a hit, Phillips' planted his right leg to cut, but his knee gave out, sending him to the turf.

Phillips was helped to the sidelines, unable to put weight on the leg and was looked at by a horde of athletic trainers. Phillips appeared to have mobility in the leg without too much pain when the trainers were working on it. Phillips left the field with one trainer on crutches, but was able to put some weight on it.

Head Coach Bret Bielema did not know the extent of the injury after practice and did not comment.

Mike linebacker Culmer St. Jean appeared to injured his right ankle in the scrimmage and didn't return. Tight end Brian Wozniak also left the field on crutches after getting dinged up in a pile near the end of the scrimmage. Other walking wounded included cornerback Niles Brinkley (who is recovering from a mild hamstring strain), Eriks Bredis (left leg injury) and Tyler Dippel (aggravated left shoulder). The last three players did not practice.

In Attendance

Madison East recruits Drew McAdams and Marquis Mason were again on the sidelines watching the action. D.C. Everest recruit Konrad Zagzebski was also in attendance, along with Brookfield Central's Sam Rohr, who talked at length with Bret Bielema, Bob Bostad and Chris Ash after practice, and Oregon defensive tackle Jacob Ninneman.

"They were excited that I was checking things out," Rohr told Badger Nation. "They were tell me about camp this summer and what to expect."

Line'em Up

Two-Deep Offense

QB: Scott Tolzien, Curt Phillips or Jon Budmayr

RB: Montee Ball, Zach Brown

TE: Jake Byrne, Rob Korslin

H-Back: Lance Kendricks, Brian Wozniak

RT: Josh Oglesby, Casey Dehn

RG: Kevin Zeitler, Zac Matthias

C: Travis Frederick, Jake Current

LG: Bill Nagy, Ryan Groy

LT: Ricky Wagner, Robert Burge

WR: Isaac Anderson or David Gilreath, Jeff Duckworth

WR: Nick Toon or Kyle Jefferson, Jared Abbrederis

Two-Deep Defense

DT: Jordan Kohout, Anthony Mains

DT: Patrick Butrym, Ethan Hemer

DE: Louis Nzegwu, David Gilbert

DE: J.J. Watt, Tyler Westphal

MLB: Culmer St. Jean, Ethan Armstrong

SLB: Blake Sorensen, A.J. Fenton

WLB: Kevin Rouse, Kevin Claxton

CB: Antonio Fenelus, Dezmen Southward

CB: Devin Smith, Marcus Cromartie

FS: Aaron Henry, Conor O'Neill

SS: Jay Valai, Shelton Johnson

Scott Tolzien Scrimmage Notes

After a couple solid practices, Tolzien, whether it was scrimmage jitters or an improving defense, didn't have his best practice. He looked solid in 7-on-7 work, going a perfect 3-of-3, but started the scrimmage with a miscommunication with Anderson on a route and then saw Anderson drop a pass after Devin Smith laid a big on the senior wide receiver from behind, jarring the ball out for an incompletion.

After hitting Toon over the middle, Tolzien got too much air on a sideline slant route to Kendricks. With the ball hanging up in the air, Rouse made a leaping interception.

After seeing Watt, who dropped Ball on the previously play for no gain, starting to break through the line on his next series, Tolzien underthrew Toon on a deep out route. Toon did help Tolzien rebound on the next throw, catching a pass with Smith engaging in solid, blanketing coverage. Although it was a scrimmage, Smith did walk over to the official to question offensive pass interference.

Tolzien next series ended abruptly when he was picked off by Fenelus.

Jon Budmayr Scrimmage Notes

Budmayr started hot in 7-on-7, hitting Jacob Pedersen in stride off a three-step drop timing route, finishing 4-of-5. Budmayr also showed some confidence, forgoing Brown on an open checkdown route by stepping into a throw that hit Anderson between two defenders, a play that went for an extra 10 yards.

Budmayr's scrimmage started slow, as Pedersen registered a dropped pass and got sacked one play later. On the next series, Budmayr went back to Pederson for a nice gain, avoiding a rush by linebacker Ethan Armstrong to hit the open Pedersen. Budmayr responded by a completion to Duckworth and then to Abbrederis, although Abbrederis learned to keep his head on a swivel as he was dropped quickly by redshirt freshman Kyle Zuleger with a good hit.

Budmayr's best throw came on a roll out to his right. Spotting Duckworth open, Budmayr threw across his body to Duckworth, who dove to his left and secured the ball before hitting the turf for a 16-yard gain.

"I think Jon obviously can throw the ball around pretty good, which was evident," said Bielema of Budmayr, who is playing in his second spring. "When he came in last year, I think the wheels were spinning pretty good. Now he knows what he's actually saying, what it actually is. He's got great composure."

Curt Phillips Scrimmage Notes

Phillips started strong in 7-on-7, going 4-of-5 as only Sorensen solid defensive effort by reaching around the receiver to knock the ball away kept him from being perfect. Phillips also hit Jefferson over the middle, utilizing the senior 6-foot-4 frame, hit Toon on a sideline route and completed a pass to Anderson on a roll out.

Unfortunately for him, his scrimmage was cut short because of the injury.

Red Zone

In addition to the scrimmage, Wisconsin ran three sets of redzone drills with Budmayr going first and Tolzien getting the last two.

First-and-10: Sophomore linebacker Coddye Ring-Noonan broke through the line of scrimmage to wrap up Ball for a two-yard loss. Second-and-12: Ball along the right side for a four-yard gain. Third-and-8: Budmayr threaded a 10-yard completion to Pedersen despite heavy pressure and tight coverage. First-and- goal on the four: Ball three-yard run up the middle. Second-and-goal on the one: Illegal formation, just six players on the line of scrimmage. Second-and-goal on the six: Ball six-yard touchdown, as the sophomore cut inside and avoid arm tackles to find the end zone.

First-and-10 from the 18: Brown three-yard run. Second-and-7 from the 15: Oglesby false start. Second-and-12 from the 20: Fenelus made a diving breakup in front of a diving Toon. Third Down: Watt got the better of Wagner and got the sack.

First-and-10 from the 16: Ball four-yard run. Second-and-6 from the 12: Badgers throw a blitz, forcing Tolzien to quickly unload a low pass that Butrym bats down at the line of scrimmage Third Down: Despite drawing a pass interference penalty against Smith on a corner timing route, Toon made a sensational catch for the touchdown, turning around and catching the ball over Smith.

Defensive Scrimmage Notes

This was without question a day for the defense to shine, particularly the defensive line. The front four of Wisconsin was on Tolzien's first-team offense from the start. After Butrym, Nzegwu and Sorensen registered tackles for loss on three straight running plays, Watt registered a batted ball at the line of scrimmage.

With Brinkley on the sideline, Fenelus had a chance to work with the scout team and responded with some decent plays. On a quick screen to Toon towards Fenelus' side of the field, the junior cornerback squared to the receiver and wrapped up to make a tackle for no gain.

Watt made four TFLs during the scrimmage, including staying home on a reverse and being in the right place to wrap up Jefferson for a loss of one.

It wasn't all fun and games Saturday as offensive lineman Zac Matthias and defensive lineman Anthony Mains locked up at the line of scrimmage and continued wrestling well after the whistle blew. Both had to be ripped off each other by teammates.

Offensive Scrimmage Notes

After UW's solid defensive start to practice, Brown got the Badgers moving forward with a 12-yard run through the left side. Later in the scrimmage, Brown broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and made Claxton work feverishly to bring him down 13-yards later. Brown also showed good vision, breaking a run to the outside after defenders clogged the hole to pick up more yardage.

"If you guys remember the first two or three weeks of fall camp, he was lights out," Bielema said of Brown. "He's put on a little bit of weight and changed it around a little bit. I know it's important for him having success leaving out of here. If next year is indeed his last year, he wants to leave being as good as he possibly can."

With Phillips out, Nate Tice, with father Mike watching from the sidelines, ran 10 plays, one of which he aired out a deep pass to Abbrederis, who had a step on Chukwuma Offor. Abbrederis made the catch, and made a nifty cut back that froze Offer, allowing him to go untouched for a 50-yard touchdown. Abbrederis also showed some speed on the end around, making a nice gain along the sideline before getting drilled by redshirt freshman defensive back Darius Feaster that concluded practice.

Rising to the Ranks

Don't be surprise that when the defensive captains are announced, Watt's name is near the top of the list. Described by Bielema as a ‘people person,' Watt isn't afraid to get in somebody's face if he thinks they aren't working hard enough. Watt told reporters before camp that UW does a good job at policing themselves, which is exactly what he did when Anthony Mains apparently didn't finish a drill. Watt got in his face along with the other defensive tackles and told them that they finish what they start.

"People respond to him (at) all positions," Bielema said of Watt. "I think J.J. is a very respected guy. Every year he has been in our program, I think he leads the team in community service. He's just one of those well-rounded players."

Needless to say, the line's next drill was run with an extra amount of intensity. Additionally, the Badgers had David Gilbert, Warren Herring, Westphal, Nzegwu and Watt working at defensive end.

Up next

The Badgers will have Sunday off before returning to practice on Monday afternoon.

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