MADISON -- On a beautiful Saturday morning, the Wisconsin Badgers took to the Camp Randall Stadium field for their last practice before Monday's scrimmage and Family Fun Day later this afternoon.
Good day for the defense
In the 40-45 minutes open to the media, the defense had a better day than the offense. That included a nice stop of the Badgers' No. 1 offense with junior quarterback Tanner McEvoy under center in a two-minute drill late in practice. Starting at the 30-yard line, McEvoy led the offense to the defense's 48, which included a nice strike to sophomore receiver Alex Erickson for a 12-to-14-yard gain, but was stopped on four downs after McEvoy threw an incomplete pass to senior wide receiver Kenzel Doe. True freshman safety Lubern Figaro made a nice stop on a fly sweep to Reggie Love on the third-down attempt.
The Badgers' defense also stopped the No. 2 offense led by Joel Stave, as well, to end the practice. Stave didn't complete a pass with the No. 2s during that drill. The two dueling quarterbacks didn't have the greatest of days, as both worked interchangeably with the No. 1 offense.
When speaking with defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a this afternoon, he noted how reserve nose tackle Arthur Goldberg has come along and was pleased with his work. "We're considering him to be a solid back-up who will play a lot for this year," said Kauha'aha'a. Senior Warren Herring is firmly entrenched at the starting nose tackle position.
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda feels the same way about Goldberg.
Aranda said that Goldberg has improved enough where they could move Herring around @ times. Said AG has as much pop as anyone. #Badgers— John Veldhuis (@JohnVeldhuis) August 16, 2014
Among those not seeing the field on Saturday were linebackers Derek Landisch (hamstring), Vince Biegel (head), along with defensive ends Chikwe Obasih and Alec James. Obasih and James were stretching and performing some light exercises on the sidelines.
Guards Ray Ball and Trent Delinger saw time with the No. 1 offense as senior guards Dallas Lewallen and Kyle Costigan also didn't see much of the field during practice that was open to the media.
Wide receivers Robert Wheelwright, Jazz Peavy, Jake Stengel and Connor Cummins also were held out and working on the jugs machine on the sidelines.
Talking with the coaches
Kauha'aha'a noted how true freshman defensive linemen Conor Sheehy has made strides and is working with the No. 2 and No. 3 defenses. He noted how Jeremy Patterson is making the progress needed, but they're hoping for Sheehy to adjust quickly to pick up the defense to be that No. 3 nose guard. "I think Conor did a great job before he got here to be in the position he's in, and it's carried over with the conditioning and even the strength work that he came in with. It's helped him a lot," said Kauha'aha'a.
Safeties coach Bill Busch likes the progression of his position group and is giving a lot of players reps. He noted how he's liked starter Michael Caputo's performance during camp, but has also worked in Figaro, senior Peniel Jean, junior A.J. Jordan and another true freshman in Austin Hudson for the other safety spot. He likes Jean's physicality in tackling and covering tight ends.
Wide receivers coach Chris Beatty has liked what he's seen out of his group the first two weeks, with a really good first week-and-a-half but an average couple of days of work. He's comfortable with the group, and noted the younger wide receivers will travel to Houston, but the next two weeks will determine how much time they get on the field. He said that while the younger players have shined, the older receivers -- like Doe and Erickson -- aren't folding over but are continually challenging each other. "That's the great thing, there is competition at every spot, and that's something we didn't have last year," Beatty said.