One week of fall camp is in the books for the Wisconsin Badgers. Some injuries to potential starters at inside linebacker and offensive line have allowed certain players to gain some valuable experience with the first-team offense.
Others are pure position battles, with coaches noting those that play the best will get the nod with the starters.
The first six practices that were open to the media. From what was seen by B5Q's Curt Hogg and myself, along with other reporters' accounts, here's B5Q's projected and highly unofficial depth chart for the Badgers:
|WR||Tanner McEvoy/Robert Wheelwright|
|RT||Hayden Biegel/Beau Benzschawel|
|S||Tanner McEvoy/Lubern Figaro|
On offense, there are three positions really up for grabs -- No. 2 wide receiver next to senior Alex Erickson, left guard, and right tackle. Senior and jack-of-all-trades Tanner McEvoy impressed in his first week primarily working with the offense. A 6'6 target for senior quarterback Joel Stave seems to have paid dividends during drills, with McEvoy catching deep balls and also hauling in passes over the middle.
Along with McEvoy, juniors Rob Wheelwright and Reggie Love, senior Jordan Fredrick, and sophomores Jazz Peavy and George Rushing have all worked with the first team offense at some point. If Wheelwright can stay consistent, he and McEvoy could provide those big second and targets at wide receiver the Badgers so desperately need. For now, we're keeping McEvoy and Wheelwright as No. 2 and No.2a, ideally. With 247Sports' Evan Flood tweeting out rumblings that McEvoy's offensive exploration possibly being a tad more permanent, he's obviously showing potential at the position with the depth seen at safety.
Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said Friday that the Badgers have players competing at left guard -- between fifth-year senior Ray Ball, junior Walker Williams, and freshman Jon Dietzen -- and right tackle between sophomore Hayden Biegel and Beau Benzschawel. Ball's played primarily with the first-team line during the first week, but Williams received most of the starting reps on Saturday.
With Biegel suffering a head injury during the first part of practice Friday, Benzschawel could have gained valuable reps and perhaps supplanted Biegel, until a knee injury over the weekend forced him out of practice Monday. If and when those two come back, expect them to compete for right tackle again. If injuries persist, look for Williams or even Jacob Maxwell to receive more reps.
On defense, the injuries to junior Leon Jacobs and redshirt freshman T.J. Edwards has opened up reps for the inside linebackers. Combinations of senior Kellen Jones, redshirt freshman Ryan Connelly, sophomore Keelon Brookins, and true freshman Nick Thomas, Chris Orr and Alec Ingold have been inserted into the first team defense at times. Still look for Jacobs and Edwards to take the reigns of the starting reps on defense, but Jones should be able to see the field, along with one of the other contenders. Ingold in particular flashed on Friday and Saturday's practices that were open to the public, though we'll see if the Green Bay, Wis., native can continue the momentum after beefing up to 237 pounds since his quarterback playing days at Bay Port High School.
McEvoy returns as a starter at safety, along with sophomore Lubern Figaro, to provide great options alongside senior Michael Caputo. If McEvoy swings more to the offense, Figaro, junior Leo Musso, and sophomore D'Cota Dixon provide some depth at safety. Musso gained some first-team reps at safety after making plays at the end of last week, so this position competition is far from over.
Though Stave was announced the starter in the spring, still expect redshirt junior Bart Houston to hold the back-up quarterback spot over D.J. Gillins, for now.
Behind Corey Clement, it appears redshirt junior Dare Ogunbowale has taken hold of the back-up running back spot, in front of redshirt freshman Taiwan Deal. It's still early in camp, as per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus, the Badgers are looking for a fourth tailback to possibly contribute.
The cornerback positions on the second-team is interesting to note, as sophomores Derrick Tindal and Natrell Jamerson -- the latter a converted wide receiver -- appear to hold down the two-deep. Can true freshman Titus Booker continue to progress?