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Observations from Wisconsin’s spring game

Another spring Badgers football session is in the books.

Wisconsin Spring Game Highlights (Wisconsin Badgers/YouTube)

MADISON — The Wisconsin Badgers’ annual Cardinal vs. White spring game took place Friday night at Camp Randall Stadium and while it was pleasant to see the Badgers on the field again, much of the scrimmage resembled other Friday-night football games on high school fields across the country.

Spring game recipe: Take some sloppy offense, add in some starters sitting out the scrimmage, throw in a limited playbook, and stir for six minutes.

The offense—missing Alex Hornibrook, Jazz Peavy, Troy Fumagalli, Michael Deiter, and Beau Benzschawel—was pretty vanilla and lacked playmaking. Bradrick Shaw and Chris James both received minimal carries and coach Paul Chryst was pretty content to get some reps in for the young kids, and hopefully get out of the game without too much attrition.

The White (defense) won the game by a score of 20-17 with a scoring system I don’t want to burden you with explaining. In what was (I’m sure) big-time ratings for the Big Ten Network, the Badgers played their last football game until September.

Chryst recaps spring

“I thought it was a really good for this spring,” Chryst said. “Each individual can get better, and I think we had a lot of guys do that.”

The Wisconsin head coach joked about his spring-game record at the beginning of the press conference, but it was overly obvious that Chryst was just fine with how Friday night turned out. He spoke about the improvements of several players, including Tyler Biadasz, Jack Coan, and Karé Lyles.

He also had nothing but good things to say about Leon Jacobs, who he rewarded with the night off in the second part of the event.

“Leon’s a guy who I’m excited for and about,” Chryst said. “He’s a guy who will do anything to help this team, and he has.”

Chryst added that he believes Jacobs has proven that he’s in the mix to possibly start at one of the outside linebacker positions.

Depth abounds on defense

While Wisconsin’s offense looked far from crisp, the defense showed it has depth at a multitude of positions. Jack Cichy, Jacobs, Alec James, and Conor Sheehy were some of the more notable defenders to sit out of the scrimmage portion of the event. That allowed younger players the opportunity to gain some valuable reps. Linebacker Griffin Grady capped off his impressive spring with a productive night. He had a near sack on freshman quarterback Jack Coan that resulted in an interception, and was wreaking havoc in the run game all night.

On the defensive line, redshirt freshman Isaiahh Loudermilk and sophomore Garrett Rand flashed multiple times, each recording tackles for loss, and Rand a sack. Kraig Howe and Billy Hirschfeld also had productive nights.

In the secondary, early enrollee Madison Cone had an interception, and redshirt freshman Eric Burrell was impressive with a couple nice hits. While the game lacked flash and glitz, there were positives to be had.

Quarterback is a thin position

Alex Hornibrook’s health will be at a premium this fall, as neither of the younger signal callers at the position look ready to contribute behind him. Lyles is playing in his first spring after enrolling early last season and enduring a hip injury, and Coan showed he’s college-ready but has a long way to go.

Hornibrook will be Wisconsin’s quarterback come September, and his backups have until then to improve.

Gaglianone is back

A welcomed sight in Camp Randall, Rafael Gaglianone was making field goals again. Gaglianone was injured during Week 3 of 2016, and former walk-on kickoff specialist Andrew Endicott was forced into duty.

Gaglianone looks back to normal, as he was 2-of-3 on the night. He made the first two, while the third sailed wide left. While I’m sure he’s not happy about the miss, it’s a a sight for sore eyes in the kicking game, as Endicott performed admirably, but I’m sure if you asked either of them, Gaglianone is the man for the job when healthy.