MADISON -- A crowd of 5,000 Badgers fans spent their Sunday at Camp Randall Stadium, watching the first public Wisconsin scrimmage of fall camp.
Everyone's main focus was on the starting quarterback position, as has been the case since the start of spring practices. Tanner McEvoy continues to to push incumbent starter Joel Stave, and both had their moments Sunday. Several others did as well.
Quarterback competition still going strong
Stave and McEvoy both mixed it up with the first and second-team offenses. The first series of the day was McEvoy with the second team, then Stave started the next series with the first team, and vice versa. Both threw the ball relatively well, with Stave receiving more opportunities to air it out. Per Fox Sports Wisconsin's Jesse Temple and BadgerBlitz.com's John Veldhuis's unofficial tallies, Stave was 9-for-17 for 115 yards and two touchdowns, while McEvoy was 4-for-7 for 40 yards and two touchdowns.
With the first-team offense starting on the opponent's 25-yard line. Stave hit sophomore wide receiver Reggie Love on a beautiful 24-yard touchdown reception off the left sideline with junior safety Mike Caputo in coverage (more on Love later). McEvoy, in the next drive he commanded and in a similar situation, hit true freshman George Rushing for a 21-yard strike.
Both of their second touchdown passes came in a red zone-like drill. Stave hit junior tight end Austin Traylor on a nice crossing route left for a 4-yard score on his last pass of the day. McEvoy then found Traylor uncovered the next "drive" after for a 12-yard touchdown.
Andersen referenced after the scrimmage that both Stave and McEvoy are competing and battling for the spot. From the sounds of his press conference, both may find time on the field this season.
"As we continue to move forward, if we played the game today, we would have some scenarios where we'd want to be a very multiple offense," Andersen said.
"If that means another guy has to get under center once in a while to make us be more multiple for people having to prepare, then so be it. I'm proud of these two kids. They're fighting right now,and they deserve to have some playing time, and we'll see where it goes."
Wide receivers, tight ends showing up
The young Wisconsin receivers showcased their abilities in front of a live college crowd for the first time this fall. With senior Kenzel Doe out with a "twinge" in his ankle, Love had a strong practice. Per Temple, Love unofficially had three receptions for 39 yards and the touchdown.
"Reggie's made some plays week end and week out," Andersen said. "It is about time to talk about Reggie because he was impressive today.
"I'm proud of Reggie. Again, he's a young guy who's battled, he's fought. I think he's just made football more important to him, and it's exciting."
Another true freshman receiver, Natrell Jamerson, had a nice 38-yard reception from Bart Houston. Rushing also had his touchdown reception. Sophomores Alex Erickson and Robert Wheelwright unofficially had a catch apiece, in my books.
"We have more threats going down the field. You can't just get up on one guy and double-cover them," Andersen said. "I think the scheme has changed to help us get the ball down the field, and the quarterbacks are throwing the ball better."
The tight ends were impressive, as well. The combination of senior Sam Arneson, Traylor and redshirt freshman Troy Fumagalli seem to be a solid set of tight ends. All really worked well within the first-team offense.
Rafael Gaglianone impressive
The true freshman kicker from Sao Paulo, Brazil, wowed the 5,000 fans in attendance. He missed only one field goal out of five attempts, and hit from 50 and 55 yards fairly easily. If he keeps up the accuracy, Gaglianone could wrap up the kicking competition fairly quickly. Andersen noted how Gagliagone has handled the razzing from teammates last week and missing one of his attempts Sunday morning, as well as mentioning how he hit a 62-yarder in practice last week.
"He's impressed me mostly, and trust me, it's great the kicks are going through and it's awesome, but he handles it," Andersen said.
Quick thoughts, impressions
Nothing out of the ordinary for the Badgers' offense. Think of what you saw from the 2013 team, and similar personnel ("12," "22" and "11" personnel, from what I could tell). Andersen noted how they kept it pretty plain, and he joked about emails that LSU had spy satellites watching.
GA joked about showing LSU anything: "Didn't show pace offense & 4 wides & triple option stuff we plan on doing most through whole season."— Jesse Temple (@jessetemple) August 10, 2014
Andersen felt very pleased about the response of the back-up nose guards to his comments last week. He said sophomore Arthur Goldberg has stepped up and had a couple of nice practices, and true freshman Jeremy Patterson has shown progress in the three-deep and expects him to be with the team against LSU on Aug. 30. "Proud of Goldberg," Andersen said. "He's stepped it up. He's had some good days."
The defensive touchdown of the day came from true freshman Lubern Figaro on a pick-six against fellow frosh D.J. Gillins. Gillins didn't have the greatest day passing, but did get some "Oohs" from the fans with some of his dual-threat escapability.
Bart Houston got some reps in with the third-team. He completed more passes than Gillins, including that nice 38-yard reception to Jamerson.
Those that didn't play included T.J. Watt, Doe, Michael Trotter and Vonte Jackson. Jordan Fredrick appeared to do some pre-scrimmage drills, but I did not see him on the field during the scrimmage itself.
Speaking of Jackson, Andersen said he's still battling through the knee right now. "He's trying like crazy," Andersen said, and called it a "mild" setback. For now, Jackson's both a safety and tailback. Andersen said Jackson wasn't in the position to compete for the No. 1 safety position. They want to get him healthy, and then the coaching staff will evaluate.
True freshman linebacker T.J. Edwards made a couple of nice plays with two tackles for losses. Andersen mentioned the Badgers are still looking for that fourth inside linebacker.
Sophomore Leo Musso opened the scrimmage alongside Caputo with the No. 1 defense, junior A.J. Jordan, senior Peniel Jean and true freshman Austin Hudson and Figaro saw some time there as well.
Last note: it's still just a week into practice, folks. A lot can change, but position battles seem to be intriguing at the absolute least heading into the second week of camp.