There were fans and Bucky Badger in the stands on a seasonable cool late summer afternoon and with the wind blowing from the north, the faint sounds of the marching band going through cadences could be heard. Perhaps the biggest sign though was, with the season opener at UNLV 11 days away, the media were finally kicked out of practice.
Move the Ball
Drive One: Stating whatever happens, happens, Head Coach Bret Bielema turned his first-team offense against his second-team defense. John Clay licked his chops at that prospect. After a short run to start the drive, Clay ripped off a 16-yard scamper through the middle, getting the ball to the defense's 49-yard line.
After four more Clay runs, including a bulldozing run on fourth-and-one, Scott Tolzien's play-action pass worked to perfection, as senior Lance Kendricks was wide-open on a crossing route. Going 34 yards down to the three, Kendricks crashed through two defenders and over the goal line for the score.
Drive Two: With the second-team offense getting its chance against the first-team defense, Jon Budmayr took advantage of linebacker Kevin Rouse vacating his assignment, finding a wide-open Montee Ball for a 10-yard screen pass to kick start the drive. The defense recovered from there to force a three-and-out.
Drive Three: With the second offense getting another shot, junior Aaron Henry just missed a chance at an interception on first down with Budmayr's pass to Jacob Pedersen was thrown a little late. The next play was a near carbon copy, only Shelton Johnson was the safety with the chance at the pick. After a third-down sack, UW's second team had to punt.
Drive One: With the first-team offense against the second-team defense, John Clay was tripped up on a run up the middle and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the defense. UW reset with Ball in the backfield and promptly scored a 22-yard touchdown on a wide-receiver screen to Nick Toon, as the junior has three blockers in front and weaved his way untouched into the end zone.
Drive Two: Two incompletions and a third-down sack spelled doom for the second-team offense against the starters.
Drive Three: First team on the field. An end-around to Jared Abbrederis only went for two yards but more concerning was another fumble by Clay. On a handoff from Tolzien, it appeared the exchange was never fully delivered by the quarterback, sending the ball to the turf and Clay on top of it. Running a screen on third-and-long, Clay got 12 yards, but was still two yards short.
Drive Four: Getting a first down at the six-yard line, Budmayr missed Sherard Cadogan wide-open in the flat, something that is going to eat at him when he watches the film. He'll feel better after going through his progression on the next play and seeing Pedersen break free from the muddle in the middle of the field and be wide open in the end zone.
Drive Five: One play, one physical run by John Clay for a six-yard touchdown, crashing through three defenders.
Drive Six: After Clay was stifled on his first attempt, he broke free from a TFL attempt and muscled three yards for the score, the most physical run we've seen from him all week.
Drive One: Down five with 1 minute, 47 seconds to go, the first-team offense and the second-team defense got an immediate completion to Toon for 12 yards, taking only five seconds off the clock. After incompletions to Kendricks and Toon and a batted ball at the line of scrimmage forced fourth down, Tolzien bought time in the pocket long enough for Toon to cut back across the middle for a 13-yard gain and a first down.
Tolzien hit Kendricks right away for 15 yards and another first down at the 23 before throwing a bobbled incompletion to Jefferson with 50 seconds left. A screen to Kendricks got the Badgers eight yards and on third-and-two, Tolzien completed a sideline completion to Toon for three yards, getting the first down at the 11 and stopping the clock.
Tolzien completed the comeback on a fade route to Abbrederis in the front right corner of the end zone. The drive went nine plays for 72 yards with Tolzien going 6-of-9 and leaving less than 20 seconds on the clock.
Drive Two: A batted ball and a ball thrown out of bounds didn't get the drive started well, but a screen to Ball got UW 11 yards and a first down. UW wasted a lot of time after Budmayr was sacked for a seven-yard loss. Three more incompletions forced a turnover on downs.
For the first time in the media portion, the coaching staff gave the younger players time for some developmental 11-on-11 work. With the opportunity, several players stood out.
After freshman Jeff Lewis looked good on a run to the left, turning his legs for extra yards, the freshman coughed up his second carry, as Warren Herring picked up the ball and ran it in for a 20-yard score.
Jameson Wright made another nice defensive play on a screen pass to Isaiah Williams. As Williams made his cut, Wright put his hand on the ball, knocking it free. The ball bounced back to Williams, but slowed him down enough for help defense to arrive.
Brennan looked good on his throws, showing some good poise and patience in the pocket, allowing the play to develop. He has a good release point and throws the ball with authority. He had good touch on passes to the sideline intended for Williams and Manasseh Garner, as the timing of the throw and the route was where it needed to be.
Marquis Mason didn't perform as admirably as he would have like. Mason had hands of a blacksmith on one pass, having the pass hit him square, but deflect off him into the arms of safety Jerry Ponio. On another completion, Mason was carrying the ball like Deion Sanders, and got it stripped as he made a move and was lucky to fall on it.
The offensive line was (from left to right) freshman Riki Kodanko (6-9, 313), freshman Dallas Lewallen (6-6, 325), sophomore Travis Frederick (subbing for Jake Current), redshirt freshman Zac Matthias and freshman Rob Havenstein (6-8, 350) until Havenstein went down with an apparent right knee injury, needing to be slowly helped off the field and attended to by the training staff.
From the Infirmary
The usual suspects – seniors Isaac Anderson (turf toe), David Gilreath (concussion) and Culmer St. Jean (ankle) – were still out and it was no surprise to see strong safety Jay Valai back on the field. Since suffering a concussion a week ago Friday and a hyperextended right knee, Valai had been begging to get back on the field. He was back in full pads, but wore a green no-contact jersey.
Offensive linemen Bill Nagy (concussion) and Kevin Zeitler (ankle) were in pads and Zeitler even got some light work in during some drills. Bielema said a night earlier that the junior would be out another three or four days.
Extra Points: In addition to the fumble, Tolzien didn't put up spectacular numbers Tuesday. In 7-on-7 skelle drills, Tolzien finished 7-of-12 with two interceptions, the first coming when Valai jumped on curl route intended for Toon. On the next play, Tolzien tried forced a pass to Kendricks into traffic, allowing senior Blake Sorensen to make the pick … U.S. Open champ, ESPN analyst and huge Wisconsin fan Andy North addressed the team following practice … Open media practices are done, but continue logging on to Badger Nation all week for more feature stories.