April 4, 2009

Spring camp report: Day 7

MADISON, Wis. - As the midway point of spring practice draws nearer, the Wisconsin football team finally held its first scrimmage. UW also practiced in Camp Randall and tackled during the two hour and 15 minute practice Saturday afternoon.

In attendance:
-Tyler Loos: Offensive tackle prospect from Sterling (IL) high school.
-Joshua Blakeslee: Quarterback prospect from Royal Oak (MI) high school.
-Nate Tice: Edina (MN) high school. Potential transfer quarterback from Central Florida.
-Jason Cunningham: Columbus (OH) Worthington Kilbourne high school.
-Connor Moutvic: Lake Forest (IL) high school.
-Jarod Olson: Hartford (WI) Arrowhead high school.

Injury report:
-Sophomore running back John Clay was tackled as he entered the open field and seemed to suffer a minor ankle injury. He came out of practice for a short period but returned as the day went on and seemed to be unbothered by the injury.

"He actually took an ankle, it was just a contusion and there wasn't anything done structurally," Bielema said. "I think he responded and showed a little toughness.

"He's a big body so everybody's going to tackle him low. He's aware of that, he has to be guarded for it but bottom line is its just part of being the size that he is."

-Linebacker Eric Prather was also injured during the latter portion of the scrimmage and was fitted with a knee brace and carted off the field.

"I don't know what happened exactly with Eric Prather," Bielema said. "He got caught in a pile up over there."

Depth chart movement:

After losing his spot on the first team offensive line Thursday, Josh Oglesby was back with the starters to begin the scrimmage portion of Saturday's practice. Peter Konz, who had replaced Oglesby at right tackle earlier this week, was back on the second team offense.

"He responded," Bielema said of Oglesby. "I thought he had his best practice on Thursday that he's had as a player here, but he's nowhere close to as good as he can be. I think he understands that, but some of the things we're asking, just the simple things. Being right, being onside and trying to play with intensity. He was able to do that Thursday and hopefully carried forward today."

The rest of the offensive line stayed consistent to what is has been all spring with Gabe Carimi at left tackle, Jake Bscherer at left guard and John Moffitt at center, Bill Nagy at right guard.

On the defensive side of the ball, the line was comprised of J.J. Watt, Dan Moore, Jeff Stehle and Brendan Kelly at the start of the scrimmage. Niles Brinkley and Aaron Henry manned the corners with Chris Maragos and Aubrey Pleasant at the safety positions. Finally, the linebackers stayed consistent with Blake Sorensen, Culmer St. Jean and Jaevery McFadden.

Standout performer:

Freshman running back Erik Smith had arguably his best practice of the spring as he received more carries than any other back.

"We just didn't want to put John (Clay) and Zach Brown out there," Bielema said. "Really, he's our next best option because Bradie Ewing isn't out there. We wanted to get him some reps."

During red zone drills, Smith was able to turn in some big plays for touchdowns. On the first play from scrimmage with Curt Phillips under center, Smith took the handoff and broke it out wide. He got past the defensive line and turned on the jets to speed into the end zone.

Then, three plays later, Smith took the handoff from Phillips, broke up field, quickly displayed a nasty spin move and walked in for the score.

"Erik did a good job with the ball in his hands," Bielema said. "There was a couple big time busts in protection that cost us plays."

Defensive tackled well…at times:

For the past couple of seasons, the UW defense has not particularly tackled well on a consistent basis. During Saturday's scrimmage, at least, the defensive units excelled at bringing guys down.

"I thought Shane Carter was one of the guys that popped out to me," Bielema said. "I was interested to see how Shane responded and he had a couple nice hits and he had a couple short-yardage hits as well."

But, a return to what plagued UW last season was evident in red zone drills. Once the offense was in the red zone, the defense gave up big plays that resulted in offensive scores.

"We were one of the worst teams in the league in red zone defense," Bielema said. "We talked about it a lot and the time came today to have action and no one was able to step up."

Up next:

The Badgers will have Sunday off before retuning for the eight of 15 practices Monday evening.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!