MADISON — For their 11th practice of the spring, the Wisconsin Badgers held only their second outside session Thursday morning at Camp Randall Stadium.
With temperatures expected to approach 60 degrees, it was a welcomed atmosphere, though a tad chilly before the sun engulfed the stadium.
As Friday’s spring game was canceled due to the high chance of storms and next week’s fluid forecast, this may be one of the only times we see Wisconsin practice outdoors again until fall camp.
Wide receiver Aron Cruickshank seems to be putting those extra reps to good use, as the true freshman early enrollee displayed his speed and receiving ability on the field. In drills involving one-on-one sessions against defensive backs, Cruickshank blew past Eric Burrell for a would-be touchdown in the end zone, then made some nice receptions in both modified team and full team drills. The one in team drills appeared most impressive, as he caught it over a reserve defender.
After practice, wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore made his position group jog and perform up-downs from one side of the field to the other. Cruickshank, it appeared, did not have to do so and actually blew the whistle every time his fellow receivers needed to drop to the field and pop up.
Wide receivers Emmet Perry (right leg) and Cade Green (left leg) were out during Thursday’s practice, and though I did not see this, Taiwan Deal may have suffered a hamstring injury during the 100-minute-ish session.
Bad news for #Badgers TB Taiwan Deal, who was having good spring. Looked like he pulled left hammy today.— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) April 12, 2018
Today’s #Badgers injury report. Chris Clementi and Noah Burks returned, but Emmet Perry is now out. ... Taiwan Deal’s day ended early and had ice taped around his left hamstring. pic.twitter.com/L57uqQaDGX— Jason Galloway (@Jason_Galloway) April 12, 2018
Returning were outside linebackers Noah Burks (right leg) and wide receiver Chris Clementi (neck).
Running back Chris James (right leg) and Mike Maskalunas (left leg) were held out once again.
In a sign of what could be good news, outside linebacker Zack Baun (left leg) walked around practice Thursday without a protective boot on said leg after injuring it last Friday.
The wide receivers took on the defensive backs, while it also looked like the linebackers took on the running backs in passing/defending drills (I focused more on the former). Here are some notes I jotted down during those drills, along with other team-related activities:
- Faion Hicks came down with a nice interception
- Jack Dunn beat safety Scott Nelson for a deep, would-be touchdown
- Cruickshank blew past Burrell for a would-be touchdown
From 7-on-7 drills:
- Dunn caught a deep pass with Burton in coverage
- Tight end Jake Ferguson reeled in a nice pass from Karé Lyles (again, Ferguson really appears to know how to reel in the passes nicely)
- A nice pass break-up by cornerback Madison Cone against Cruickshank on a Jack Coan throw
During modified team drills:
- Cone intercepted a Danny Vanden Boom pass, and yes, there was celebrating
- Vanden Boom did come back post-interception with a nice throw to Ferguson on the next play
- Cruickshank made a nice adjustment on a pass to reel in a reception near the left sideline
During team drills:
- As noted earlier, Cruickshank again made a nice catch over a reserve defender
- I’ve been meaning to write something lately about his work in the passing game, but I’m really intrigued to see what Jonathan Taylor can do this upcoming season as a receiving threat. Each day, he and Garrett Groshek are working with head coach Paul Chryst on route running. I believe Taylor got some team or modified team work in today during some receiving drills as well. If he develops that aspect of his game, that’s a whole new dimension opposing defenses need to worry about.
- Early in practice, A.J. Taylor, Hicks, Kendric Pryor, and Cruickshank all practiced returning kickoffs
- Pryor, for that matter, appeared to work back in more on team and positional drill work, rather than just working on the special teams return game.
- After practice, defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard and safety D’Cota Dixon worked with Burrell and Nelson.
- Likewise after practice, Dunn caught some punts off the leg of Taylor Mehlhaff.