Post-Practice Roundup, Day 1: Wisconsin opens fall camp to positive reviews

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

The Badgers opened fall camp on Monday, providing the first glimpses of several high-profile newcomers -- including Gary Andersen and much of his coaching staff.

Practice One: Monday, Aug. 5

Football, y'all. It's back.

Wisconsin opened its fall camp with a practice this afternoon that lasted just under two hours. As much as the first action of the "fall" can provide, the reviews were generally positive. Just ask Gary Andersen himself -- "even the old guys were crisp."

Great stuff. If you're feeling the multimedia vibe, check out this photo gallery from day one over on UWBadgers.com.

The highlights:

-- The quarterbacks were good in pass "skelly" (individual drills), but they "threw the ball very average" in 11-on-11 scrimmages. The run game, as you'd expect, was hard to evaluate without pads. Tanner McEvoy took some extra reps at the end with some younger players, though Andersen wouldn't offer individual evaluations as he was watching alignments of the whole offense, etc.

-- On the safeties: In what's really a surprise, considering he's flown largely under the radar, redshirt freshman Leo Musso started as the second safety opposite Dezmen Southward. Andersen came away impressed:

"Athletically, that's No. 1. He runs, he's instinctive, he's a well-rounded athlete in the weight room and what he does. His quickness and his speed shows. He has the smarts to get back there and align, and I think he's a tough, physical kid. Those are all things that a safety has to be able to do. As you know, we're going to look at four or five kids in that spot. But [Musso] seemed to do a good job this summer of what were looking for, of improving himself mentally. That was encouraging from day one."

-- Freshman lineman Matt Miller wasn't on the 105-man roster. Without specifying why (presumably injury), Andersen said, "He's out for an extended period of time. We'll see where it all goes. I think he's going to be fine." Another notable absence from the 105 was junior defensive back Devin Gaulden, who continues to work his way back from knee surgery. Gaulden remains "a ways away," per Andersen.

"My philosophy on the 105 is if you're not ready and 100 percent healthy to come into camp, then we're going bring another young man in to let him compete, and then we'll see how it goes as camp goes on."

-- Freshman defensive back Keelon Brookins is fully healthy and took part in practice. Andersen said "he seems to be 100 percent."

-- One interesting idea Andersen's implemented: new players (freshmen and transfers) begin camp without a 'W' on their helmets or red stripes on their helmets. That's something Andersen's done before at Utah State, and the idea there is that as part of the "Big Brother" mentoring program that's paired veteran players with the young guns, the vets will decide when their little brother is ready to get decorated. This stuff always sounds cutesy, but this seems like a solid idea for actually bolstering accountability, leadership and chemistry.

-- Fifth-year senior linebacker Nick Hill was awarded a scholarship on Sunday. Andersen said he loves his athleticism at outside linebacker, but Hill's issue has just been staying on the field.

"Nick has put in all kinds of time," Andersen said. "He's almost graduated, and he's gone through some ups and downs in this program. But those are the best days, when you have an opportunity to give a young man an opportunity to get a scholarship when he's worked so hard. He's battled like crazy and done everything we've asked him to do."

-- Derek Watt did get some tailback reps, though Andersen did say the other day that he hopes to keep Watt at fullback.

"He'll get the ball in his hands. He's a very good fullback, he can catch very well. We just don't want a fullback who's just going to block every time. We like to give him a little sugar every once in a little while, give him a chance to run the ball. It's good for him."

Quote of the Day:

On Chris Borland returning kicks:

"Yeah, anything's possible [chuckles]. We'll see where it all goes. Chris wants to get back in those drills and be involved. He has fun with it. We'll see, we might see him in some short-yardage offense, too. I think that'd be an interesting place to see him get the ball in his hands, at about the 1-yard-line, with his will. It could get real interesting for the defense pretty fast."

No, I don't think Borland will be Wisconsin's featured short-yardage back. But I also don't think Andersen was entirely kidding. Judge for yourself at about the 8:01 mark.

Notes and observations:

More from Bucky's 5th Quarter:

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