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Wisconsin scrimmage shows bright spots, areas of opportunity

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Highlights from Friday’s practice.

Jake Kocorowski

MADISON — Spring football is in full swing for the Wisconsin Badgers. Head coach Paul Chryst and his coaching staff conducted a scrimmage on Friday evening.

Did anyone step out in a huge fashion in the two-hour-plus practice?

“I think there are guys that flash on you,” Chryst said, “but no one stood out or separated themselves, nor should they really. There’s still so much to be done.”

That’s an accurate description, as there were some plays made on both sides of the ball but also some mistakes—some interceptions, fumbled snaps, and penalties.

“I thought guys did a good job of coming back from spring break and it’s been a good week,” Chryst said. “I thought tonight we got some stuff done. We played a lot more situational football, and ton of things to build on that were good but a lot of those controllable procedure penalties and formation penalties, those are things we just gotta clean up.

“Everytime with spring football, it’s great opportunities to learn, great opportunities to get better and I think there are a number of guys that are taken advantage of that.”

Chryst: Lots to Build On, Lots to Clean Up After 1st Spring Scrimmage (Wisconsin Badgers/YouTube)

Observations

  • Redshirt sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook had some nice throws in the first round of 7-on-7 drills. He hit wide receiver Jazz Peavy deep on defensive back Lubern Figaro (Peavy had to wait for it a bit), then hit tight end Troy Fumagalli deep down the seam in stride. Later during the scrimmage in one of the first drives, he found Fumagalli for a touchdown. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—he’s always had the accuracy, now there’s some added “zip,” “spin,” whatever you want to call it.
  • Hornibrook, however, also had a couple of interceptions—though one for sure wasn’t his fault with a pass tipped in the air from running back Chris James and into the arms of a diving Griffin Grady.
  • Speaking of James and despite the drop, he could be the real deal. His speed and agility could be second to none on the team, and the way he and redshirt sophomore Bradrick Shaw could complement each other should have Wisconsin fans excited. He caught one pass out of the backfield and burst towards the sideline for what appeared to be a touchdown. Whether Figaro would have “tackled” him five to 10 yards past the line of scrimmage is one for proper debate, but James has that extra gear.

“This has been a good week for Chris,” Chryst said. “I think he came back and Tuesday, I didn’t think he had a great day—first day in pads. Kind of let a lot of things get to him, and the pressure that he’s put on himself.

“That’s where with the players, that’s why you work. You got to trust the work you’ve done, and when you trust yourself, you can relax and then play. He’s done a good job responding Thursday and today.”

  • Cornerback Derrick Tindal had two interceptions on the evening, one in 7-on-7s and the other on Hornibrook in the scrimmage.
  • JUCO transfer outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, had a solid interception. The former South Dakota standout appeared to work mostly with the second team.
  • Good day for redshirt freshman wide receiver Kendric Pryor. Several catches and a long jet/”Jazz” sweep down the field.
  • Fellow wide receiver A.J. Taylor made some solid plays as well, hauling in catches from Hornibrook and redshirt freshman Karé Lyles.
  • The first-team offensive line from left tackle to right tackle: David Edwards, Micah Kapoi, Michael Deiter, Beau Benzschawel, and Patrick Kasl.
  • Redshirt freshman Tyler Biadasz got some first-team snap at center. Kapoi appeared to receive first and second-team reps at right guard as well.
  • Out of the scrimmage: Cornerback Nick Nelson, strong safety D’Cota Dixon, and all of the inside linebackers (Jack Cichy, Chris Orr, T.J. Edwards, Ryan Connelly) that started last season.
  • Grady and redshirt freshman walk-on Mike Maskalunas worked with the first-team defense, along with redshirt senior Joe Ferguson filling in for Dixon, it appeared.
  • Thought for 2018: Defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk stood out on Tuesday, and on Friday, he again popped. Both he and sophomore Garrett Rand, along with Billy Hirschfeld and nose tackle Olive Sagapolu back, could pick up what Chikwe Obasih, Alec James, and Conor Sheehy will leave behind this upcoming season after exhausting their eligibility.
  • Some Wisconsin class of 2017 commits were in attendance. Among them: defensive end Aaron Vopal, offensive lineman Tyler Beach, and walk-on defensive lineman Matt Henningsen.
  • 2018 recruits Quavian White and Noah Shannon were inside the McClain Center as well.
  • High-school recruits Daniel Bangura and Isaiah Mullens also visited Wisconsin on Friday, according to their Twitter profiles.