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April 19, 2011

'Wide open' playbook for Saturday

MADISON - There was a time when spring football games were only available to those that were willing and able enough to get down to their local stadium and catch the action live and in person.

Now, with multiple sporting networks picking up spring games at most major college programs, the entire landscape of spring football is changing. Wisconsin is really no different.

In fact, 11 of the 12 Big Ten teams have had or will have their spring game televised this spring season. Only Nebraska opted against that type of exposure.

With that type of visibility, will Bret Bielema and his staff planning on taking a different approach?

"I'm not going to pull back a great deal," Bielema told reporters during his Monday news conference. "I don't want to see it turn into a blitz fest or anything like that. I think we're going to go out and play. Everybody's got everybody's film now. Every year we change up enough offensively and defensively just by natural occurrences, whether it be coaching changes or new players or new strengths.

"So I don't think somebody's going to get an innate advantage over that, but it definitely will be pretty much our playbook wide open."

And it will be a 'pretty much wide open playbook' for a new quarterback in Jon Budmayr. The sophomore is gearing up for his first season as UW's starting quarterback as he seems to be the player most ready to take over for Scott Tolzien. His spring has had its fair share of ups and downs, but it seems as though he continues to make strides.

Especially considering he is throwing to a bevy of young receivers, without veteran Nick Toon, and considering he's missing a couple of key linemen in Peter Konz and Josh Oglesby, Saturday should be an interesting cap to what has already been an interesting spring camp.

"That and I think also he's been taking snaps from three different centers all spring with Pete, Ryan Groy and Jake Current, too," Bielema said. "So that's a little bit different. All three of those body types, every snap's a little different and kind of been erratic with that."

Through the first four weeks of camp, one of the consistent themes has been muffed center-quarterback exchanges. That should come to be expected with a guy like Groy, who really hasn't played a lot of center, learning the new position. Over the past couple of practices, though, the fumbled snaps are starting to become a bit more rare.

Another theme that's been popping up throughout camp is interceptions, not only from Budmayr, but the entire quarterback staff. In order to fairly evaluate the way Budmayr has performed, all those variables need to be considered.

"(It's) not only a young group of receivers," Bielema said. "The timing and the patters and stuff are really inconsistent, and I think that can mess with a quarterback as much as anything. And you know what? We've been going good-good, so he'd had a pretty good defensive line coming down his throat the whole time too, and I think that's had an effect."

Wisconsin will conclude it's 2011 spring season Saturday afternoon inside Camp Randall Stadium starting at 1:00 p.m. Tickets are set at $5 with all proceeds going to the UW School of Nursing.


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