MADISON—The lights were on in Camp Randall Stadium for Wisconsin’s first nighttime practice of 2017 fall camp.
The weather may have been as close to perfect as one could hope watching football on an August evening, adding to an atmosphere inside the hallowed landmark that has ached for football to return to its field since the spring game back on April 21.
“I think just having the nighttime feel is just, it kind of kicks into people’s minds that this is kind of similar to the game,” redshirt senior outside linebacker Garret Dooley said when asked if there is added energy in this type of setting. “Obviously without the fans, but because we’re going to have some night games this year and just Camp Randall under the lights is obviously something special, it’s just something that everyone should cherish—and coming out here and practicing under the lights is just one of those good feelings that we should all have.”
I really have liked how sophomore wide receiver A.J. Taylor has played overall in fall camp, but especially the past couple of practices. With redshirt senior wide receiver Jazz Peavy out of practice on Tuesday (left leg), he continued a solid start by reeling in a few passes on Tuesday night. That included some during red-zone action (there was at least one touchdown). The converted prep running back could definitely be a threat this season in the passing game in multiple areas. I like his ability on crossing routes the most right now.
Speaking of team 11-on-11 red zone sessions, the first-team offense under redshirt sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook looked pretty good in those situations, scoring two touchdowns with a field goals wrapping up the other drive towards the end of practice. For those drills, I had the southpaw 5-of-7 with a touchdown pass to fullback Austin Ramesh (unofficially, and yes, #FULLBACKFALLCAMPTOUCHDOWN).
If you combine those numbers with the red-zone skeleton, or modified team drills that don’t have all 11 players on each side of the ball, 11-of-19 altogether. Again, this is unofficial, and Hornibrook only completed 50 percent of his throws during the red-zone skeleton portion. Decent performance, but the defense also held its own throughout practice as well.
More notes here:
- It looked like redshirt sophomore Jon Dietzen found work back at left guard with the first-team offense early on during the practice, but I saw more of redshirt sophomore Micah Kapoi with the presumed starters as the practice went on.
- Cornerback Nick Nelson may be a pass break-up machine in 2017.
- Fans will enjoy the Hornibrook-to-Troy Fumagalli connection this season.
- Like all good walk-ons, redshirt freshman running back Garrett Groshek makes the most of his opportunities. Working with the reserves, he ran the ball hard. With a loaded backfield including Chris James, Bradrick Shaw, Taiwan Deal, and Rachid Ibrahim in front of him, he has made his carries count.
- Sophomore safety Patrick Johnson picked off a Karé Lyles pass in the middle of the field during modified team drills.
Peavy, who appeared to be on the stationary bike at times, joined the following players as out of practice:
- Outside linebacker Christian Bell (left leg) (I didn’t see a boot on him this time)
- Inside linebacker Ryan Connelly (left leg)
- Wide receivers Cade Green (left leg) and Emmet Perry (seriously, left leg)
- Fullback Aaron Maternowski (head)
- Safety Scott Nelson (left leg)
- Tight end Zander Neuville (right leg)
I didn’t notice this tonight, but both the Wisconsin State Journal’s Jason Galloway and BadgerBlitz.com’s John Veldhuis ($) reported that there was an injury scare with inside linebacker Jack Cichy, but he returned to practice.