Saturday's Scrimmage Report

Fresh off being named No.12 in the preseason AP poll, Wisconsin football goes through its final full-scale scrimmage before the season opener two weeks from today. Go inside for the full report.

MADISON – The University of Wisconsin football team spent the majority of Saturday afternoon's practice participating in full-squad scrimmages. Players continued to battle for starting spots and key reserve roles as Badgers coach Bret Bielema tries to figure out who will factor into the lineup for the team's opener Sept. 4 at UNLV.

The workout lasted about two-and-a-half hours, ending just after 5 p.m. on another sunny afternoon. Both the first and second-team offense tried to move the ball against each of the top two defenses. The offense began drives from various points on the field, chosen by Bielema.

The first-team offense failed in each of its first three attempts to produce a touchdown-scoring drive starting from its own half of the field. But the unit scored on its first drive that began in opponent territory and senior quarterback Scott Tolzien later led the top unit on a six-play, 76-yard scoring drive capped by a 24-yard touchdown run by true freshman running back James White.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Jon Budmayr led the second-team offense to one touchdown – a short pass to redshirt freshman tight end Jacob Pedersen – when the unit began fairly deep into opponent territory. The No. 2 group also failed to score a touchdown in each of its first three drives that started from its own half of the field.

Ash: cornerback battle "wide open"

Wisconsin defensive backs coach Chris Ash insists the battle for the starting cornerback positions remains a tight battle.

Senior Niles Brinkley, juniors Antonio Fenelus and Devin Smith and sophomore Marcus Cromartie continue to fight for the two spots, though Brinkley and Fenelus have received the most work with the first unit.

Still, Ash says it is a four-man race.

"It's still wide open," Ash said of the cornerback battle. "We've got four guys that have been in competition for the two spots all through training camp. They've all done a nice job. They've all got their strengths. They've all got their weaknesses. We're really trying to find the guys that can be the most consistent and that we can trust."

Fenelus recorded the lone interception for the Badgers' first-team secondary Saturday, picking off Tolzien's pass just outside the red zone during the first drive for the top offensive unit. Fenelus, who also registered a sack, nearly recorded another interception later when he almost nabbed an errant pass thrown by Budmayr when the top defensive unit ran against the second-team offense.

"Antonio, what he brings to the table is he's just tough. He competes. He's a smart kid," Ash said. "He's obviously short. He's limited in that area, but he definitely makes up for it in his style, with the way he competes and his toughness, and again, his intelligence."

Two starters nicked up

Senior right guard Bill Nagy, who missed all of last season because of injury, left Saturday's scrimmage with an undisclosed ailment suffered while he was blocking for junior running back John Clay. Redshirt freshman Zac Matthias replaced Nagy right away, but Matthias was later taken out in favor of sophomore Ricky Wagner.

Senior wide receiver Isaac Anderson sustained an apparent leg injury late Saturday after he was tackled near the left sideline, and he sat out the remainder of the scrimmage.

Valai misses another practice, return unknown

Sophomore Shelton Johnson filled in for senior safety Jay Valai, who once again sat out practice after sustaining a concussion earlier in the week.

"I really don't know much about concussions and stuff like that, so whenever they put him back out here, they put him back out here," Ash said of Valai. "But the thing I can tell you: Jay's our starting strong safety, so whenever he gets here, he's here."

White continues to impress

White turned heads once again at Saturday's scrimmage. He rattled off a pair of 26-yard runs working with the second team, and scampered to the outside for the 24-yard touchdown run while mixing in with the top group.

"It just felt good, just coming out of practice and getting to scrimmage," White said. "(It's) very game-like). You really get to see the high intensity, and it just gets you prepared for the game to see what it's going to be like."

Wide receiver duo stands out

Senior wideout Kyle Jefferson and redshirt freshman Jared Abbrederis both had excellent showings during the scrimmage.

Jefferson – he made only four catches a year ago after registering a total of 40 in his freshman and sophomore seasons – pulled in five passes from Tolzien, including two that went for 25 and 32 yards.

"He's been around this program a lot, and it was good to see him make some plays," Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said of Jefferson. "Kyle's talented, and we're going to need some depth there, and we're going to need to find guys that can play.

"It was good to see Kyle make some plays."

Abbrederis continued to dazzle with a pair of outstanding catches while working with the second team. He fought off a defender to pull down a pass from Budmayr for an eight-yard gain, and ripped down a 23-yard catch in traffic two plays later.

"The best thing about Jared is he comes out and comes to work every day," Chryst said of Abbrederis, who also received a few reps with the top offensive group. "If he has a chance to make a play, then he's flashed and made some plays and (has) the ability to do it on a consistent basis. I've been happy with the way that he's been working and progressing, and we've just got to keep going here in camp."


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