The average energy on Monday might be enough to get through the non-conference schedule, but the Badgers still have some work to do in the energy department if they are going to run the conference table. Ash yelled at a couple of his players for walking off the field, while Head Coach Bret Bielema did the same with the second-string offense. Bielema also could be heard a few times telling the players to bring some energy to the table.
The prodding seemed to work as the Badgers completed the first practice of their last double days, as the first-team offense starting to find the end zone and the defense made one of its biggest plays of the fall.
From the Infirmary
After the off day Sunday, Wisconsin got some good news, seeing multiple injured players return to the field. Senior linebacker Blake Sorensen (knee) and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jordan Kohout (knee) returned to take reps with the first-team defense during team drills. Junior linebacker Kevin Claxton (back) and redshirt freshman Conor O'Neill (ankle) also returned and got snaps with the second-team defense.
Senior safety Jay Valai (concussion) appeared in better spirits Monday, wearing his jersey and joking with teammates, but still did not practice. Junior right guard Kevin Zeitler (ankle) is still out of action and senior right guard Bill Nagy sat out the morning session, as well. With both starting guards out, freshman Ryan Groy got snaps with the first team.
Combine Wisconsin's Saturday scrimmage with the in-depth personnel meeting the coaching staff has Sunday, Wisconsin's two-deep depth chart appears to be rounding into form. Bielema is expected to address that topic tonight but for now, here's how the Badgers lined up.
QB – Scott Tolzien
RB – John Clay
FB – Bradie Ewing
TE – Lance Kendricks
QB – Jon Budmayr
RB – Montee Ball
FB/TE – Sherard Cadogan
TE – Jake Byrne
WR – Kyle Jefferson, Jared Abbrederis or Nick Toon
Wisconsin's first team offense looked methodical against the first-team defense on the first opportunity it had to drive the field, not being stopped on its touchdown drive. Tolzien and Kendricks were the highlights of the drive.
First connecting on a 24-yard strike, when the senior tight end showed off his athleticism by hauling in a high pass, Tolzien avoided pressure in the redzone and threw a high strike that Kendricks secured, getting one foot down before hitting the end line.
The defenses picked up steam after that. On third-and-three, the second-team defense closed out the offense by stopping Montee Ball on a run up the middle. When the units picked up the drill later in practice, the first-team defense let John Clay have an eight-yard run, but sacked Tolzien on third down to make the offense punt.
The second-team offense faired better. BuDmayr hit Cadogan in the flat on third-and-three to move the chains, but Budmayr over shot an open receiver on third-and-seven.
UW's offense got another shot on the defense' 31-yard line, a drive that showed the versatility of Abbrederis. Known for his catch-making abilities off the arm of Budmayr, Abbrederis, which got bumped up to the first team due to injuries, ran a quick end around, flashing his speed during the 10-yard gain.
The defense took notice, as it bit on the playaction to Abbrederis and allowed Tolzien to find Toon on an inside slant route for the touchdown. Abbrederis' plays made Tolzien run over and congratulate him before running over to Toon.
After the second team went three-and out, thanks to Hemer charging through the line to break up a couple of plays, Tolzien and Toon connected for a 60-yard touchdown on the first play, as the junior wide receiver out ran the secondary after he seemingly gave Fenelus a little push off before the ball landed in his arms.
UW reset on the 18-yard line and Tolzien promptly connected with a wide-open Kendricks for a touchdown off of blown coverage. Given another chance, Tolzien hit Abbrederis near the right hard for a 10-yard gain. Fenelus came back strong after the Abbrederis play, breaking up a sure touchdown catch from Kendricks when the junior knocked the ball out of the senior's hands
The defense had enough after that. On what looked to be a sure touchdown pass to Toon, sophomore safety Shelton Johnson, in the starting lineup because of Valai's injury, came out of nowhere to jump the route, intercept the pass and would have returned it 90 yards with a convoy had the whistled not been blown.
Over the past week, Wisconsin's first-team offense has done a good job of ball security and limiting the sloppy turnovers. Johnson's pick was one of three turnovers during Monday morning's practice, all of which occurred because the defense made an athletic play.
In 7-on-7 drills and with his cornerbacks blanketing the receivers, Tolzien had to settle for a small window in Clay's direction. The junior running back effort was somewhat lacksidasical, which allowed Rouse to stick in hand in, knock the ball into the air and grab it over Clay's head for the pick.
The other turnover was the day's first, which happened early in team drills. Freshman linebacker Ethan Armstrong knocked the ball out of an unsuspecting Ball's hands on a sweep around the left side, allowing Devin Smith to make a diving recovery inches before the ball crossed over the sideline.
Extra Points: Curt Phillips was not in pads, but certainly worked up a sweat. The sophomore quarterback, recovering from a right ACL tear, did agility drills and other strengthening exercises during individual drills …The Big Ten Network crew was on site Monday morning, preparing to shoot its Wisconsin team breakdown set to air later this week.