The second of two Wisconsin football scrimmages is set for Monday afternoon. Head coach Gary Andersen and his coaching staff have plenty to evaluate in the final two weeks of fall camp before playing LSU in Houston on Aug. 30.
B5Q will be there covering the scrimmage, and here are some of the things we'll be looking for:
1. Who exactly will play?
The injury bug hits football teams during this part of fall camp, and the Badgers have not been immune to it. Fox Sports Wisconsin's Jesse Temple noted at one point that he saw 17 players out of practice last week. Andersen stated Friday that the scrimmage will be reduced to 60 to 70 plays, and you can expect starting "rover" inside linebacker Derek Landisch to be out with his injured hamstring. Defensive ends Chikwe Obasih and Alec James were also both out of Saturday's practice with ankle injuries, and will we see the return of linebackers Vince Biegel and Michael Trotter from head injuries -- along with some of the receiving corp in Robert Wheelwright and Jazz Peavy?
Scrimmage No. 1
Scrimmage No. 1
Two players who might see their first scrimmage action, barring re-injury or being held out for other reasons, are senior wide receiver Kenzel Doe and true freshman Taiwan Deal. Doe's returned from a "twinge" in his ankle and practiced with the first-string offense from what was seen to the media on Saturday, and Deal was forced to sit as well with injury.
2. Joel Stave vs. Tanner McEvoy: The Final Battle (or is it?)
Put all the chips in the middle of the table. After the first scrimmage, both showed their flair but many media still thought Stave had proved he was the starting quarterback. McEvoy and Stave were trading off with the No. 1 offense from what was seen to the media Saturday afternoon, with McEvoy going out with the first-string for the two-minute drill before practice ended. Can McEvoy display his escapability with his feet but also display the arm comparable to Stave's strength and accuracy?
The progression of the unproven wide receivers has helped Stave, in my opinion. Andersen noted earlier in the camp they have multiple weapons to stretch the field more. Though the two started off the second week of camp with solid, "unofficial" stats, the defense has gotten the better of them the past couple of practices -- at least that's what 's been seen in the media-open practices. McEvoy did have a nice back-shoulder throw to Doe on Friday.
Whoever "wins" the competition, still expect a package of plays for the other quarterback at the start of the season.
Talked to @BadgerFootball OC Andy Ludwig after practice. He says he'll pick a QB soon after the team's Monday scrimmage.— Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) August 15, 2014
3. Safety competition
It appears true freshman Lubern Figaro has impressed so much he's received first-team reps with fellow safety Mike Caputo. When I spoke with safeties coach Bill Busch Saturday, he noted the progression of the group and the distribution of snaps between Figaro, fifth-year senior Peniel Jean, junior A.J. Jordan and another true freshman in Austin Hudson. He liked Jean's physicality in tackling and covering tight ends. Another factor will be sophomore Leo Musso, and if he returns to practice after being injured.
Figaro had a pick-six last Sunday -- how will he respond after getting first-team reps?
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda definitely had positive thoughts on Figaro after practice Saturday:
Looking like #Badgers will have true freshman Lubern Figaro starting at FS. "He is our best chance to win" - UW DC Dave Aranda— Jon Griffith (@JonGriffith27) August 16, 2014
4. Wide receivers: playing time up for grabs
Andersen said on Friday, and wide receivers coach Chris Beatty mentioned as well on Saturday, that the younger receivers -- true freshmen George Rushing, Natrell Jamerson and Krenwick Sanders -- would travel to Houston to play against LSU. Beatty said these final two weeks will define the extent to which the three will contribute.
Doe, and sophomores Alex Erickson and Reggie Love were with the No. 1 offense in the two-minute drill on Saturday. Love has stepped up considerably the first two weeks through camp, and Beatty noted the solid camps both Doe and sophomore Alex Erickson has had.
Beatty noted this receiving crew has had a good week-and-a-half but an "OK" last couple of practices. He's very comfortable with this group and enjoys the competition, but who steps up Monday and the rest of camp to lock in a large chunk of playing time?
5. Linebackers: who steps in to make some noise?
Injuries to Landisch, Trotter, Jesse Hayes and Biegel have allowed younger players to step in -- Leon Jacobs has moved back inside while freshman T.J. Edwards bumped back to the outside. Andersen talked about establishing that fourth inside linebacker they'd like to have, as he's comfortable with Landisch and both of the Trotter twins. Will walk-on senior Ben Ruechel make his mark on the squad, or will youth prevail in freshman D'Cota Dixon -- who's only 5'10 and 206 pounds and a converted defensive back, but can be used in certain subpackages?
The depth at linebacker is concerning due to the injuries, but if Landisch and others can get back on the field, this corp is athletic and intelligent enough to make some splashes this season.