Wisconsin fall camp: 5 things to watch for in Monday's scrimmage

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Monday's scrimmage sets the stage for many storylines, including key position battles at quarterback, wide receiver and safety. Who will stand out, and what should you watch for?

After one full week of practice, the Wisconsin Badgers take the field Monday afternoon. Running backs coach Thomas Hammock says it all in the tweet below:

Here are the key details of tomorrow's event:

Who: Wisconsin Badgers football team
What: First of two scrimmages open to the public
Where: Camp Randall Stadium
When: Monday, Aug. 12, 3:30-5:15 p.m. (Gate 1 opens up at 3 p.m.)
Why (you should go): It's open to the public. And it's free football.

Some of the details about the scrimmage format were disclosed by head coach Gary Andersen Friday afternoon and were detailed here. But what should fans look after only a week of practice? There are plenty of battles and storylines to become entrenched in, but here are five that stand out:

Position Battle No. 1: Quarterback

Curt Phillips. Joel Stave. Tanner McEvoy. The three-way dance for the coveted top signal caller spot has been ongoing. Both Phillips and Stave have received the majority of the snaps in practice with the first-string offense. Stave's looked better passing the ball out of all three but is not as mobile, while Phillips has shown a little more versatility and a better arm from last year. The athletic McEvoy has shown some flashes here and there, but how much time will he get with the starters?

"I think consistency's the biggest thing," Phillips said during Wisconsin's media day Aug. 2. "That's all about being the quarterback, putting your team in the best possible position to win. You can't have ups and downs throughout the camp, and the guy who's most consistent will come out on top."

Keep that in mind, and don't expect a starter to be named right after this scrimmage.

Position Battle No. 2: Safety

The secondary as a whole is unknown, largely due to the graduation of starters Marcus Cromartie, Devin Smith and Shelton Johnson. Junior Peniel Jean and sophomore Darius Hillary have played primarily with the first-string defense last week, and cornerbacks coach Ben Strickland said then that there was some separation between certain players that warranted significant playing time for those who broke out.

The safety position, though, is one that looms large. Senior Dezmen Southward paired with redshirt freshman Leo Musso this week with the starting defense, but others have been shown up in various subpackages and schemes, such as junior Michael Trotter, sophomore Mike Caputo (who's had a nice first week) and redshirt freshman Nate Hammon.

Take your eye off the ball on a few plays and see who's lined up where, and how many safeties are on the field at one time.

Position Battle No. 3: Wide receiver

Who will step up as the complement to senior Jared Abbrederis? That's the million-dollar question. Sophomore Jordan Frederick and junior Kenzel Doe are prime candidates, but be aware of junior Chase Hammond, sophomore A.J. Jordan, redshirt freshman Alex Erickson (who's caught some impressive passes last week) and true freshman Robert Wheelwright (who earned his 'W' last week) as those biting at the heels to get significant playing time. Both Erickson and Wheelwright looked good in the first days of camp, though don't necessarily buy into the hype machine surrounding Wheelwright -- yet.

Position Battle No. 4: Right guard

Yes, another position battle, but one that's a little less known but still important. Senior Zach Matthias and junior Kyle Costigan have been rotating in and out with the first-team offense. Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a nice blog up about Costigan here, while Tom Mulhern from the Wisconsin State Journal broke down the battle nicely here.

It's always nice to see a consistent front five, but judging by the way offensive line coach T.J. Woods spoke of both linemen glowingly, right guard one of the more persistent battles going on in camp right now.

Young players stepping up

Andersen and his staff have not been shy with use and praise of younger players during team sessions. Look to see how true freshmen Corey Clement (running back), Wheelwright, Sojourn Shelton (cornerback), Alec James and Leon Jacobs (outside linebackers) are used and how they respond to playing in certain situations.

You also can't forget about sophomore linebacker Joe Schobert and redshirt freshman Vince Biegel, along with Musso. Schobert took injured senior Ethan Armstrong's place at starting F-side outside linebacker and has shown flashes despite playing hurt himself. Camp is only one week in and there's always a time where the younger players could hit a wall, like Jacobs did Thursday, but this team has a nice blend of solid, playmaking veterans and young, hungry talent.

Again, this is still only the first scrimmage (the second comes Aug. 19) so do not think positions and starters will be named immediately afterwards. Just enjoy the hitting, the fact college football is less than three weeks away and let us know your thoughts on who stood out Monday.

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