April 16, 2009

Spring camp report: Day 14

MADISON, Wis. - The 2009 spring football season is rapidly coming to an end. With four practices per week spanning a three-week period, all the Wisconsin football team has left remaining is its annual spring game Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall.

For the second straight time, the Badgers were able to take advantage of the beautiful weather and take practice outdoors. In a move different from past seasons, UW wore full pads the practice before the spring game.

"We've always had this practice be a helmets only, but it just hasn't been as productive in the past couple years," head coach Bret Bielema said. "So we moved that practice to Tuesday and I really like the work we got Tuesday and Thursday of this week."

In attendance:

-Jon Budmayr and Curt Phillips practiced with each of their father's in attendance.


Throughout spring ball, the UW coaching staff would end practice with scripted plays of 11-on-11. But today, in preparation for Saturday, each quarterback had an opportunity to start on their own 30 yard line and take the offense as far as they could before running out of downs or turning the ball over.

"(We) ended with a modified scrimmage," Bielema said. "We didn't want to tackle, but we wanted to have a little movement of the ball. The defense always has the upper hand and did some good things today.

"So it is going to be interesting to see how the offense responds and comes into Saturday."

The following is a quick recap of each of the four drives.

-With Dustin Sherer at quarterback against the first team defense:

Plays: 5
Yards gained: 34
Result: Aaron Henry interception for touchdown

Key play: On 2nd and 6 from the opponents 34 yard line, Sherer dropped back and tried to hit Kyle Jefferson on a quick hitch route. However, Henry read Sherer and jumped the route for the easy interception.

-With Scott Tolzien at quarterback against the second team defense:

Plays: 6
Yards gained: 59
Result: Turnover on downs

Key play: Nick Toon had receptions of 21 yards and 36 yards during the drive. The latter came off a tipped ball from Shelton Johnson on a ball Johnson would say should have been intercepted. But Toon hauled in the ball off the deflection and rumbled for a 36-yard gain.

However, Devin Smith would later end the drive by breaking up a potential first down throw in the end zone.

-With Budmayr at quarterback against the second team defense:

Plays: 9
Yards gained: 30
Result: Shane Carter interception

Key play: After several Erik Smith runs kept moving the chains, the offense was hit with an interception stemming from a ball that should have been caught. Elijah Theus was open in the middle of the field on third and six, but when Budmayr threw it, it went through his hands, popped into the air and fell into Carter's hands for an easy interception.

-With Phillips at quarterback against the first team defense:

Plays: 4
Yards gained: 7
Result: Turnover on downs

Key play: On third and three, Phillips tried to throw to his check down read that would have given UW the first down, but J.J. Watt batted the pass down. On the ensuing play, Phillips overthrew his intended target thus turning the ball over on downs.

Philip Welch continues making progress

Throughout the course of spring practice, the UW coaching staff did not spend much time running field goal drills. However, that doesn't mean Welch, heading into his second season as starter, hasn't been practicing his craft.

"If you'd ask him, he'd tell you 65 (yards)," Bielema said when asked how far Welch can realistically hit field goals this spring. "I think comfortably, if he's stroking or hitting the ball well-he hit a 38-yard field goal that went out the back of the end zone-so with the wind behind him in the right condition and he's stroking it, he can make 55, 60 probably."

Standout players throughout spring ball

Though the spring game will showcase the progress many of the players have had to the general public on Saturday, there were several players throughout the course of spring that have impressed the UW coaching staff on a regular basis.

"I think on the offensive side there's been some spurts," Bielema said. "Both Isaac Anderson and Nick Toon have shown that they have made some strides but then they do things that they regress from that. At the tailback position, I really felt John Clay made some strides just knowing what to do. But the guy that is exciting and jumps out at you is Erik Smith.

On the defensive side, up front, I really like the play and it's kind of subtle and you haven't really noticed it as much as everyone else, but J.J. (Watt). If you watch him every play….the way he plays certain techniques, he jumps. Culmer St. Jean is playing really good at the mike. So, I think that's one guy that has really been playing well."

Up next:

The 2009 spring season will come to a close when the Badgers showcase their talent during the annual spring game at Camp Randall at 2:00 p.m. Saturday.

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