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Wisconsin’s coordinators provide updates after Thursday’s practice

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Good stuff from Leonhard and Rudolph.

Tight end Kyle Penniston and outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel.
Tight end Kyle Penniston and outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel.
Jake Kocorowski

MADISON — On another warm and humid afternoon inside Camp Randall Stadium, the Wisconsin Badgers completed their 13th fall camp practice on Thursday.

One position that many have kept close tabs on has been the cornerback spot. With Nick Nelson and Derrick Tindal departing, the lone player with extensive game-time experience is redshirt sophomore Dontye Carriere-Williams.

However, redshirt freshman Faion Hicks and redshirt sophomore Caesar Williams once again worked as the apparent first-team corners on Thursday.

“I think they’ve been the more consistent as of right now,” Jim Leonhard said when asked about the cornerback pairing of Hicks and Williams. “I hit with them a lot. It’s... unless you’re a guy that’s just proven time and time again that we can’t keep you off the field because you’re so productive and you’re making so many plays, it’s going to come down to consistency. That’s what I’m hitting with that whole group, and I think at this moment those guys are playing the most consistent.”

Leonhard further elaborated during his answer about the position group as a whole.

“I love what they’re doing as a whole as far as competition goes. They’ve all been banged up. The entire group has either missed time or been nicked up and kind of limited for certain practices, so [I’m] just trying to be smart and rotate and find out who complements who, and within the structure of our defense and what I’m going to ask of that position—whether it’s to the boundary, in the slot, to the field, in our base package—just trying to find out who I think can handle those roles. It might be a situation where we get into the season where we’re still looking to figure that out. Not many of those guys have done it in front of 80,000 people, so [I] don’t exactly know how they’re going to respond. I think I know how they’re going to respond, but until that happens, I think that question is still going to be there.”

Carriere-Williams played in all 14 games last season (five starts) and recorded seven pass break-ups. At least in what has been seen in the last couple of practices, the redshirt sophomore has been practicing with the second-team or reserves.

When asked about the St. Thomas Aquinas alum, Leonhard mentioned that word again: consistency.

“The highs are high, and they’ve been high, and it’s just consistency and effort in practice and just continuing to push that,” Leonhard said. “I like some of the things he’s done, but I just want to see more, and that’s the entire group really.”

I was not there for this quote from Leonhard, but the Wisconsin State Journal’s Jason Galloway tweeted this:

Injury updates

Below is Thursday’s injury report. True freshman inside linebacker Jack Sanborn (right leg) was the only true addition to the report. Inside linebacker T.J. Edwards (right leg) was moved to “out” from “limited” but from what a UW official told me, there is nothing really to read into as the redshirt senior is working his way back from injury.

Observations

  • I saw a lot of Cole Van Lanen at left tackle on Thursday afternoon with the first team, with Michael Deiter, Tyler Biadasz, Micah Kapoi/Josh Seltzner, and Logan Bruss rounding out the “starting” offensive line with Beau Benzschawel and Edwards limited.
  • Regarding that left tackle spot, Van Lanen and redshirt junior Jon Dietzen are still competing, even with the former getting a lot of reps at that position on Thursday. Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph told reporters on Thursday that they want to keep Dietzen fresh. “I wouldn’t read too much into that, except that right now I feel like both are starters at that left tackle position, and that’s the way they got to go through the year,” Rudolph said. “With the ability, I think, as a three-man, I think Cole would be the guy that would be able to flip also to right [tackle], but in my mind, if we’re going to stay healthy especially early, we’re going to need all three of those tackles to get going.”
  • I had to leave Rudolph’s availability early to speak with special teams coach Chris Haering, but it appears he has his “top eight” linemen:
  • Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Kendric Pryor entered and left another practice with some highlight-worthy notes. During one-on-one drills, he started on a nice inside move then busted outside on Williams. Then during team drills, he made a great catch for a would-be touchdown against Carriere-Williams. For the latter reception, he looked like he tipped the pass in the air to himself with what appeared to be solid coverage.
  • For a nickel look on Thursday, I saw the group of Williams, Hicks, and Deron Harrell, with Hicks going into the slot.
  • I thought Aron Cruickshank might have experienced a somewhat rough practice on Wednesday, despite winning the backflip competition with BTN in town. On Thursday, however, it looked like he rebounded with some nice receptions, including showcasing his speed in running across the field and reeling in a Jack Coan pass.