MADISON -- A crowd of 8,204 saw some flashes by quarterback Tanner McEvoy among other possible starters in the "controlled scrimmage" portion of Saturday's Wisconsin spring football game. Within the "live" game-like portion in the second half, however, a couple of stalled drives led to two Jack Russell field goals as team Cardinal defeated team White 6-0.
Head coach Gary Andersen was pleased with the spring practices and the consistency the team displayed during the duration of Saturday's sessions. Though many young players saw extended playing time due to injuries at several positions, Andersen thought the first and second teams played well and maintained a good game pace. Coupled with a relatively injury-free game, he was content with the reps he saw Saturday afternoon.
"Execution overall was pretty clean from an offensive and defensive standpoint, and we'll go back and make the corrections that we need," Andersen said.
The first half saw what was known as the "controlled scrimmage," essentially 40 plays without live tackling, though that rule was violated a couple of times. The first team offense -- led by McEvoy -- scored three times unofficially: once on a Corey Clement touchdown, then a 27-yard strike from McEvoy to wide receiver Kenzel Doe and finally McEvoy showing his dual-threat nature with a 7-yard scramble into the end zone.
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Andersen thought McEvoy had a nice day both through the air and with his feet, and has proven to continually get better throughout the spring. The head coach noted how McEvoy has become more comfortable in the huddle and in understanding the system in terms of checking down for runs as well as the play-action game. Andersen also hinted there will be more plays for an athletic quarterback, but the Badgers didn't want to show their hand so early in the spring.
"There was a lot of the offense that you have with an athletic quarterback that we'll have with an athletic quarterback that did not show itself today," Andersen said.
"That's by design. And there's a lot of things that you can do to open it up if that's the direction, but we haven't spent that time in spring football on that stuff except for the last, you know, four or five practices. No need to work with that today."
McEvoy ended the day 4-for-10 through the air in the second half for 55 yards, while also running for 9 yards on three carries ("first-half" stats for the controlled portion of the scrimmage were not officially kept). He said he feels like the No. 2 quarterback behind incumbent starter Joel Stave, but he wanted to finish strong heading into summer conditioning and fall camp.
"I think I played alright," McEvoy said. "I ran the ball a little bit more than I wanted to. I could have stepped up and thrown the ball a couple times, but other than that, I think the offense had a pretty well around day, and I think I played alright."
Andersen did confirm both McEvoy and a currently sidelined Joel Stave have distanced themselves from the other quarterbacks, including sophomore Bart Houston, and will compete for the starting quarterback job come fall camp.
"[Joel's] got a great attitude, so does Tanner, and it will be a fight," Andersen said.
Fullback Austin Ramesh, filling in the second half for Melvin Gordon and Clement -- who both didn't participate -- ended the day for the Cardinal squad with 71 yards on 12 carries, leading all running backs in the live portion of the game. He consistently ran well and plowed ahead through tackles, often falling forward for yardage.
"Coach says 'know who you are,' and obviously I'm not too much of a speed guy," Ramesh said. "So just try to get vertical, so I like the plays between the tackles and just try to show a little power."
During the first half, the linebackers played well with unofficial sacks by Joe Schobert and Marcus Trotter, among others. Trotter admitted the first-team defense played well the first couple of series, but said there were some mental breakdowns when facing Gordon and Clement, the former having a 33-yard run in the unofficial portion of the game. With many players changing positions, the defense has worked to grasp concepts and are starting to catch on and make plays.
"That's the beauty of spring ball," Trotter said. "We're not exactly we're at, but if you look at where we were when we first put the pads on until now, we've changed so much.
"The transition's been smooth. We've worked really hard in a lot of young guys stepping into bigger roles and we're finding our identity, so we're going to be ready for LSU. We're going to be ready for everyone, and this is just one small component of that."
Jeff Lewis transferring
One surprising bit of information came out of Saturday's game when running back Jeff Lewis wasn't found on UW's spring roster. After the game, Andersen announced Lewis is looking to transfer. The redshirt senior plans on graduating, and Andersen has allowed Lewis to work out while he gets himself in position to move to a different university.
"He wants to play tailback, and I think he's a tremendous kid," Andersen said. "I need to give him that opportunity to go play tailback somewhere his senior year."
Houston staying put
After the announcement of Stave and McEvoy primarily fighting for the starting quarterback position, Houston appears to be the odd man out heading into summer conditioning. After a discussion with Fox Sports Wisconsin's Jesse Temple, though, Houston stated he's staying put:
I asked Bart Houston about transferring: "No, I'm not doing any of that. I love this place. I came here for the school, for the experience."— Jesse Temple (@jessetemple) April 12, 2014