Last Saturday night’s scrimmage was the last time media would be able to take in Wisconsin practices before their Aug. 31 showdown against Western Kentucky.
As noted in our many reports from inside or around Camp Randal Stadium, some Badgers flashed more consistently than others during the practices that were open to reporters.
In the coming days, B5Q will lay out my projections for a two-deep depth chart. As a disclaimer, you never know who might pop out during these last two weeks that are closed to the media. Looking at you, Jonathan Taylor, who emerged to make a significant impact during the season.
For now, here are some of the standouts from the first two-plus weeks of fall camp from our perspective.
Last year we saw Pryor making plays in the passing game and also on those end arounds for touchdowns. During the first half of fall camp, the redshirt sophomore wide receiver frequently flashed during the practice sessions we saw. That was especially true on Aug. 6 when he reeled in a few touchdowns in some red zone drills. There was also a 44-yard touchdown reception as well the next day, with other examples nearly countless in the first two-plus weeks.
Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph told reporters on Aug. 16 that Pryor had “really been pushing the bar up in some of the plays that he’s made.”
“He kind of never ceases to leave a practice without kind of one of those ‘whoa’ plays, so it’s great. It’s great competition, I think it’s driving them all to be better.”
With junior Quintez Cephus suspended indefinitely after being charged with second- and third-degree sexual assault, and sophomore Danny Davis also suspended for two games by UW after being mentioned in the same criminal complaint, both Pryor and junior A.J. Taylor will be the projected starters for the offense.
I thought both QB1 and QB2 (Jack Coan) threw the ball extremely well during the first two-plus weeks of practice.
Hornibrook showed the ability to lead his receivers well in the deep ball, with one example being that 44-yard reception to Pryor in early August. Then he also displayed some great dissection of the defense in red zone work in one of the final practices open to the media.
Rudolph summed up his thoughts about Hornibrook’s fall camp on Aug. 16 in one word: “Phenomenal.”
“I really do. I think the stuff that he’s been able to absorb and take on from the standpoint of kind of seeing the whole picture defensively and being able to help us offensively with that knowledge, I think has been immeasurable. He never ceases to find a way to keep getting better and work, and that’s what I love about him.”
Based on his performances in those open practices, Coan made significant progress this year, and he looked sharp with some great passes throughout the first two weeks of August. From my viewpoint, he looked even more comfortable this summer compared to the spring, and I thought he looked solid in March and April.
Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph told reporters on Aug. 6 that he thought Coan’s biggest leap was the tempo that the young quarterback is playing with. When asked who was an offensive player that stood out during fall camp so far, redshirt senior and team captain Michael Deiter also called out the true sophomore signal caller.
“Obviously we have Alex, and it’s not like there’s a crazy competition there,” Deiter said on Monday, “but seeing him mature to the point where barring any crazy thing happening to Alex, we have a guy who is ready to play as the second quarterback. I think it’s been fun to watch him because he’s playing confident.
“He’s having more fun. When he was younger, he was really quiet, little more tense. Now, he’s loose and he’s making great decisions. He’s killing plays at the line of scrimmage. I think he’s been the guy that’s really stood out to me as really owning his role and being ready to play quarterback if he has to, and that’s definitely encouraging.”
Unless something has changed since practices were closed to the media, Deal has kept healthy, is running well and I think he could be a great complement to Jonathan Taylor in Wisconsin’s rushing attack. Not saying fellow redshirt senior Chris James has not shown up as well this fall camp (because he has), but I feel there could be a “real Deal” on display for his final season at Wisconsin.
I really feel Penniston has taken his game up a notch, especially towards the end of the practice sessions that were open to the media. Hard to describe except that he just stood out more at the tight end position. He made some solid receptions and looks ready to contribute at a greater level. With the depth at wide receiver reduced, his development needs to transfer over to the game time situations this fall. I think Badger fans will be happy with the redshirt junior’s progression.
Well, duh? There is another level with the true sophomore back, and from the reps we saw, Taylor showed, in my opinion, enhanced speed, power and agility. If he becomes more consistent as a receiver, watch out.
Krumholz put together a solid couple of weeks and was noticeable in the receptions he reeled in. Head coach Paul Chryst mentioned the walk-on from nearby Stoughton last Saturday after Wisconsin’s nighttime scrimmage, along with fellow walk-on Jack Dunn as players, who “have given themselves opportunities.” On Wednesday, Chryst mentioned those two again when asked about the position group.
Two other in-state wide receivers, Alex Erickson and Jared Abbrederis of recent memory, emerged when opportunities presented themselves. Can Krumholz?