Wisconsin practiced early Thursday morning, taking the field at 9:15 a.m. CT for about two hours. Again, the major storylines were the generally recurring ones we've heard so far.
The defense, largely due to its dramatic makeover into a 3-4 unit but also because the offense simply hasn't gelled yet, "won" the practice by a wide margin. That was especially clear in the practice-ending 2-minute-drill where the defense stopped the offense twice -- though Chris Borland did reportedly earn some ire for knocking Stave down during the non-tackle drill. That's amusing because while it was obviously a mistake, you'd think it would be someone other than Borland. He must just be hungry.
"Now, when we sit down and play controlled football and run the ball, we play-action the ball and do the things we do (on offense), I think the playing table is leveled quite quickly, because we match up pretty well in those scenarios. All of a sudden, you have the different blitzes and third downs, it's more complicated."
On the other side of the ball, Joel Stave continues to look like Wisconsin's starting quarterback -- at least until Gary Andersen denies it. Stave got nearly all of the work in the portion of practice open to the media, while Curt Phillips had just a small portion at the end to work with the offense. Tanner McEvoy merely got a series with the No. 2 offense at the end of practice.
Andersen won't rule out McEvoy until after Monday's scrimmage, the last of two this fall. While Stave seems to separating himself from Phillips due to his arm and ability to get the offense down the field, there might be a limit to how much these practice reps are counting.
Andersen said the fact Stave was getting almost all of the work with the starters didn't mean he had an edge on Phillips.
Andersen also noted that Thursday's performance was the worst the offense has set forth this fall, forcing the unit to run sprints while the defense hit the showers. That's also another reason the quarterback race isn't winding down as fast as people think it should be. Others also seem to see Phillips in vary lights, as he reportedly did shine despite his smaller workload.
Curt Phillips looked good in a variety of team drills. Joel Stave, IMO, had one of his worst practices of fall. CP the likely leader 4 now— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) August 15, 2013
2 say #Badgers defense dominated today doesn't begin to tell story. Offense could not move ball. GA wants more from QBs— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) August 15, 2013
News, notes and observations
Center Dan Voltz is expected back in about a week, Andersen said. In his place, left guard Dallas Lewallen has worked at center. Guard Zac Matthias has filled Lewallen's spot, and has also taken some reps at center. That's great new for an offensive line that's extraordinarily thin -- so much so that redshirt freshman walk-on Trent Denlinger is working with the second team at right guard. Apparently, too, Lewallen hasn't been great at center.
Andersen also said C Dan Voltz should be out for about a week, which is good news for the #Badgers. Lewallen has really struggled at center.— John Veldhuis (@JohnVeldhuis) August 15, 2013
The BTN crew is in Madison today on its bus tour. Some of their thoughts, which have been generally positive (both football- and non-football-related):
I know a lot of fans are conceding the Leaders to Ohio State, but Wisconsin has a great shot - particularly given favorable crossover sched— Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine) August 15, 2013
Aranda is particularly high on Brendan Kelly. Feels he's a great fit for the scheme - can move him around quite a bit.— Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine) August 15, 2013
Ethan Hemer winning a number of one on one battles in line drills. If today is any indication, he could break out this yr— Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine) August 15, 2013
Andersen very complimentary of three true freshmen - Rob Wheelwright, Corey Clement, and Leon Jacobs - sounds like all could play this yr— Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine) August 15, 2013
BTN Camp Tour 2013 #Badgers Staff built same as last two (BA/BB) - CEO HFC and two strong coordinators— Gerry DiNardo (@gerrydinardo) August 15, 2013
BTN Camp Tour 2013 #Badgers Really good team with a really good schedule especially who they miss on the crossover draw. In the hunt 4 sure— Gerry DiNardo (@gerrydinardo) August 15, 2013
Depth on the o line is iffy. Groy at LT; Havenstein at RT are good bookends. #Badgers— Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) August 15, 2013