MADISON -- Thursday's practice didn't offer the weather variety seen on Tuesday. The sun-struck field provided perfect playing conditions for practice. Wisconsin's offense focused mostly on running and the defense showcased more of its 3-3-5 look as the team prepares for Saturday's spring game.
Saturday will feature two "halves". The first will consist of limited contact, but function as a game and the second half will feature two full-contact quarters with no punting.
"We need to compete," head coach Gary Andersen said. "We need to play football. So I want to see a productive offense, a productive defense. It's like I always say, during practice or during games you have to earn your way, and that needs to happen.
"I am looking for a team that we can walk off the field and say, ‘they are moving in the right direction.' Are we ready to play LSU tomorrow? No. But are we moving in the right direction? We are moving in the right direction from day 1 to day 15."
Andersen is looking for multiple position groups to showcase what they can do on the field. He mentioned the athleticism on the defensive side of the ball, and keyed in on Chikwe Obasih, who B5Q profiled Wednesday.
"Chikwe has really made great strides," Andersen said. "He's got himself into a spot right now that if we were going to play tomorrow he would be the starter. He still has a lot of work to do."
Andersen alluded to safety Mike Caputo being the anchor in the secondary. Andersen also mentioned that Leo Musso and Peniel Jean are battling for the other safety position, and Sojourn Shelton and Darius Hillary are starting at corner with Devin Gaulden playing nickel back.
Recently the defense has shown a 3-3-5 formation. Andersen said the Badgers will still be a 3-4 defense, but that there will be some 3-3-5 packages this year. He did mention on occasion that Wisconsin will install a 2-4-5 package as well, showcasing two down defensive ends.
Andersen mentioned that Joel Stave has started the rehabilitation process. Andersen said that it was his choice to start Stave's rehab this early. He does not believe he will need surgery, for now.
"I am confident that he is going to be fine. I am confident that he is going to be ready as early as June, when the kids return for their summer workouts.
"There is no comments or talk about surgery to me," Andersen continued. "It is just an aggravation. Other position groups like linebacker, d-lineman or o-line would play all day with that, but not when you've got to throw that ball with the accuracy the way a quarterback needs to play."
Andersen said that because of the youth on the team, the Badgers have had more contact and game-like drills this spring. He is looking forward to the players not having a coach in their ear telling them what to do. Being out on the field by themselves should be a learning experience for the players and give the coaches an opportunity to evaluate their skills and understanding of the schemes.
Tickets to the spring game are $5, and kickoff is 3 p.m. CT at Camp Randall Stadium. Proceeds will benefit UW's School of Education. The game will also air live on BTN.
- Quarterback D.J. Gillins talked about his adjustment to the cold weather in a recent B5Q interview. He wore long sleeves in practice Thursday. Gillins took 9 reps, going 2-for-3 with a 39-yard completion to Reggie Love. He was sacked once by linebacker Jake Rademacher.
- Safety Vonte Jackson worked on footwork during practice.
- Running back Corey Clement saw some carries. He continued to show quickness and agility.
- Wide receivers Reggie Love and Rob Wheelwright practiced in full.
- Quarterback Bart Houston took 11 reps. He fumbled a snap and was 1 for 3. One incompletion was dropped, while the other was underthrown.
- Quarterback Connor Senger took 15 reps, 11 of which were quarterback reads. He fumbled one snap from the shotgun and was 1-for-2 with a 25-yard completion.
- Quarterback Tanner McEvoy took 20 reps, running one option and two quarterback reads. He was sacked twice, once by linebacker Jesse Hayes and the other by defensive end Konrad Zagzebski. McEvoy was 3-for-6 passing.