MADISON — The Wisconsin Badgers returned to the field on Thursday for the first full camp day of pads.
Cornerbacks Deron Harrell and Faion Hicks returned to the field on Thursday, with running back Garrett Groshek (right arm) being allowed to practice without the yellow non-contact jersey he donned the first week of practice.
A new name on the injury list, however, was placekicker Rafael Gaglianone (right leg).
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jeff Potrykus reported on Thursday that Gagalianone also was dealing with a back issue and is “out indefinitely,” though the veteran reporter noted “the issue is not believed to be as serious” as the one the redshirt senior suffered during the 2016 season.
B5Q noted Gaglianone did not perform kicking responsibilities on Monday, with no medical update provided at that time outside of really just having the day off. He also did not perform duties on Tuesday, as redshirt junior Zach Hintze and redshirt freshman Collin Larsh have practiced the field goal/point after touchdown (PAT) reps this week.
During practice, the following injuries occurred:
- Cornerback Madison Cone (left leg)
- Offensive lineman Jason Erdmann (right leg)
- Safety Patrick Johnson (illness)
- Inside linebacker Griffin Grady (right arm)
- Outside linebacker Christian Bell (dehydration)
Erdmann suffered the injury during team work with the starters as the center early on, though it appeared he walked off the field so it will be worth watching his status when the injury report comes out before Thursday’s practice.
Center Tyler Biadasz suited up but did not appear to receive reps on Thursday, though a UW official noted there was not a medical reason when asked to clarify why the redshirt sophomore did not perform much. That left redshirt senior Micah Kapoi to take the reps with the starters at center.
Defensive lineman Kayden Lyles was not at practice, but that was due to the redshirt freshman taking a test.
With Emmet Perry’s injury, UW replaced him on the 110-man roster with running back Mark Saari.
- With Lyles out, Aaron Vopal and Matt Henningsen took over first-team reps at defensive end, with Olive Sagapolu again at nose tackle. Redshirt juniors David Pfaff and Kraig Howe worked at ends and true freshman Bryson Williams at nose tackle with the second unit.
- Looking at the defensive backfield, Dontye Carriere-Williams and Caesar Williams received work as the presumed first-team, with Hicks and Harrell the apparent second-team.
- Hicks, for that matter, looked energized after being held out the past few practices. He made a nice pass break-up during skelley drills and seemed to find his way to the ball.
- With nickel looks and Cone out, true freshman Donte Burton received some work in the slot with DCW and Williams on the outside in one grouping, then fellow true freshmen Rachad Wildgoose and Alex Smith.
- Safety work I continue to see a bunch of different combinations of players being thrown in there early on, with D’Cota Dixon/Scott Nelson looking like the first-team, but then also seeing Dixon paired with Patrick Johnson at times; plus also saw Johnson/Pat Burrell, Reggie Pearson/Travian Blaylock, Evan Bondoc/Seth Currens, Johnson/Blaylock, Pearson/John Torchio
- Burrell came on the field as the third safety in what looked like larger offensive personnel.
- During team drills, quarterback Alex Hornibrook found wide receiver Quintez Cephus for a large gain against coverage from Carriere-Williams. Hornibrook would have had another deep completion but wide receiver Kendric Pryor dropped a would-be “touchdown.”
- I really like how Danny Davis catches the football. Had at least a couple of receptions based off my notes/memory.
- Quarterback Jack Coan found running back Taiwan Deal on a wheel route where no defender was around him for what looked like 20 yards.
- Speaking of Deal, I liked how the redshirt senior has been running the ball. With Bradrick Shaw still limited (was not suited up) due to returning from injury, Deal has the power and the speed to be a factor in the running gameplan, if he stays healthy.
- Deal and true freshman running back Nakia Watson showcased some nice footwork and agility in a couple of reps.
- I’m calling it an interception, as safety Seth Currens picked a pass in midst of getting the ball away from tight end Jake Ferguson near the sideline.
Post practice speech from Paul Chryst
After practice, the Wisconsin head coach spoke with the team in an “impassioned” sense, to say the least. Though those on the sideline could not hear the entirety of the conversation between Chryst and his players, the tone and particular words used during the talk were heard loud and clear.
The Wisconsin State Journal’s Jason Galloway summed it up on Thursday:
The message? Outside chatter surrounding the Badgers’ program doesn’t matter, and it’s up to those on the team to take advantage of opportunities the upcoming season presents.
When asked what a talk like that can translate to and help focus players for the next day of practice, wide receiver A.J. Taylor told B5Q on Thursday afternoon that he can help “you get locked in.”
“We don’t have a lot of time, we don’t have the time we used to have,” Taylor said. “It’s just at this point now we got to lock it in and we got to get it going. It’s not going to come easy. Nothing’s going to come easy this season so it’s really just about we just got to ignore the hype and everything people say about us and just play football.”