March 31, 2009

Spring camp report: Day 5

MADISON, Wis. - And just like that, the Wisconsin football team is one-third of the way through its spring season. After two consecutive practices in full pads, the Badgers went in shoulder pads and shorts during its third practice in four days Tuesday night inside the McClain Center.

In attendance:

-Tobi Okuyemi: Defensive end prospect from Wayzata (MN) high school.
-Grant Olson: Linebacker prospect from Wayzata (MN) high school.
-Chris Kroeten: Offensive prospect from Wayzata (MN) high school.
-Former Badger Mike Newkirk also watched a good chunk of practice.

Injury Report:

-Center Jake Current sat out of practice after swelling appeared in his recently surgically repaired knee. The swelling was not deemed serious by the coaching staff, but they held him out of Tuesday's practice for precautionary reasons, similar to how they treated Isaac Anderson Monday.

11-on-11 inside drills:

During this brief session all four quarterbacks saw a similar amount of reps, most of which were handoffs to the backs. John Clay saw three carries and looked to hit the hole with his usual power and vengeance.

Zach Brown and Erik Smith saw minimal reps during this portion of practice, but got more later in the day.

Scott Tolzien had the most passing reps during the drill and finished by completing two of his three passing attempts.

Red-zone skele:

Again, all four quarterbacks saw similar reps in this drill. Sherer stepped in first and after a shaky start where he led David Gilreath to far and forced a ball into Kyle Jefferson that eventually fell incomplete, Sherer rebounded with a tight throw to Gilreath for a touchdown and a perfect slant to Garrett Graham.

Tolzien threw the ball well in this drill as he completed 3-of-4 passes, including a spot on throw to Lance Kendricks for a touchdown.

Curt Phillips and Jon Budmayr each had five reps during this drill. Phillips completed three passes all of which were check down options or short hitches. Meanwhile, Budmayr finished 2-for-5 with a horrible interception to Kevin Rouse.

Spread practice:

For the first time this spring, the first team defense went up against a spread offense. With Phillips manning the quarterback spot for the majority of the reps, the defense seemed to have performed fairly well against it.

There were only a couple of instances where Phillips broke into the secondary for a sizeable gain, otherwise the defense contained him fairly well.

Smith and wide receiver T.J. Williams both saw time in the backfield during the spread portion of practice, and both seemed to struggle to break any sizeable gains. On a couple of occasions, pressure in the backfield forced a bad pitch that resulted in a fumble, too.

"We got a little bit of spread work with our defense so it was important to get that on film," Bret Bielema said. "Just because our offense doesn't give that avenue from a defensive point of view. Then what we were able to do was go down on the far end and our offense was able to work some of our end around series with David (Gilreath)."

Last spring, the defense was introduced to a similar setup in regards to facing the spread. But this season, a more comfortable Phillips, who has run the spread system before during high school, seems to have a better grasp on the system. Still, the other quarterbacks will see time in the spread offense too, just to balance out the competition.

"It's a guy that is going to have to rotate through there," Bielema said. "We don't want to penalize Curt because he is in full competition down at the other end. It might be Jon (Budmayr) down there tomorrow, Tolzien has done a little bit of it. Dustin (Sherer) doesn't bring much to that avenue that we've been looking for but what we got to do is rotate guys through there.

"But Curt, definitely is good at it."

Play of the day:

On what turned out to be the final play of practice, Budmayr hit a streaking Nate Emanuel in stride for a big play down the middle of the field. It was one of the few, if not the only, completed passes down field of longer than 25 yards during all of practice.

Next practice:

-UW will have Wednesday off before returning for the sixth of 15 practices on Thursday afternoon.

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