MADISON—The sun shined on the bleachers of Camp Randall Stadium, and the pads rattled with each jarring blow as the Wisconsin Badgers conducted its 12th of 15 spring practices on Friday afternoon.
Out of these practices that have been open to the media, I thought junior Jack Coan threw some of his best passes of the spring on Friday. During separate drives in a team period, he found A.J. Taylor and Kendric Pryor on a couple of nice throws. Taylor was running across the field when Coan laid it out perfectly to run under, and Pryor came down with a pass near the sideline.
Injuries and returns
- Cornerback Faion Hicks (right leg) suited up and returned to practice after being out for Tuesday’s practice. It appeared he worked during team drills with Deron Harrell as the first corner duo, but my notes don’t show him working in what could be described as the “scrimmage” portion.
- Defensive back Madison Cone did not suit up for practice, and I’m following up with UW to confirm the reason why. Did not see fullback Mason Stokke practice.
- Tight end Jake Ferguson (right leg) again was out of practice on Friday; Wisconsin really only had three tight ends—Gabe Lloyd, Jack Eschenbach and Nate Carter—in full pads.
- Wide receiver Danny Davis suited up in half-pack and performed some individual position work, but did not participate in team drills.
- Defensive end Garrett Rand also participated in individual position work but did not participate in team drills.
- Offensive lineman Logan Bruss (left thumb) returned to practice in individual position work but did not particulate in team drills. He also wore this huge cast over his left hand. For those old-school WWE and video gaming fans, think Cowboy Bob Orton’s casts meets Mega Man’s cannon. B5Q will tweet a photo of it on Saturday.
- Though the tight ends were limited in numbers, Lloyd and Eschenbach came down with a couple of nice receptions during the day. Lloyd hauled in a nice Coan pass, while Eschenbach grabbed a Wolf bullet of a throw.
- In what could be described as the “scrimmage” portion of practice, the only offensive touchdown came on a Graham Mertz strike to running back Garrett Groshek. The true freshman quarterback showed off his strength there. During modified team drills prior to the scrimmage, he also found Jack Dunn for a deep “would-be” touchdown pass down the seam.
- The only touchdown of the scrimmage you ask? That’s because the defense held the offense on two separate goal line stands. Coan led the offense down the field, and on a fullback dive, sophomore John Chenal reached the ball across the goal line, or so it seemed. Redshirt sophomore safety Scott Nelson, who also picked off Coan in one of the “scrimmage” series prior, snatched the ball from Chenal’s grasp and ran the other way. Now, there were no replays to confirm if the walk-on fullback went over the line, but refs did not signal a touchdown. Take that for what it’s worth and savvy move by the now-veteran defensive back.
- The second stand happened with Danny Vanden Boom at quarterback with the reserves and moving the offense down the field. Redshirt freshman wide out A.J. Abbott reeled in a couple of nice receptions to help the cause. Inside the five-yard line, however, the offense stalled, and the defense succeeded in not allowing a score.
- Back to my Tuesday recap in stating Mertz receiving a rep or two with the presumed “first-team” before transitioning to the reserves during team periods (before scrimmage). It looked like Vanden Boom also saw that type of action as well on Friday for one series. Mertz seemed to have that for one series, too, but in that one rep with the “starters,” he threw a pass that wound up in the hands of sophomore cornerback Rachad Wildgoose for an interception.
- Redshirt freshman running back Nakia Watson maybe had the best run during the spring so far (again, in practices open to the media), taking a Mertz handoff and taking it 40-plus yards (astutely noted by the Wisconsin State Journal’s Jason Galloway) on the drive during the scrimmage that ended with the Groshek touchdown catch.
- I thought a couple of reserve outside linebackers performed well. Izayah Green-May batted a pass and also recorded a sack, while true freshman Spencer Lytle recorded two sacks (one each on Wolf and Vanden Boom) in the last two drives of the scrimmage portion. Green-May has been receiving reps with Zack Baun as first-team outside linebackers in nickel packages. Should be interesting to see if he continues earning more reps, especially if he continues the performance he had on Friday.
- For cornerbacks, Harrell and Hicks received “first-team” reps during the team periods prior to the scrimmage. During the scrimmage itself, I saw other combinations. Harrell and Caesar Williams worked as the duo first-up at corner, but then later on I also saw Wildgoose and Williams receiving what could be deemed “first-team” reps.
- In nickel packages with the “first-team,” I saw Harrell/Williams/Wildgoose with Williams appearing to receive work in the slot at times. Also saw Harrell, Williams and Donte Burton as a unit, along with Williams, Wildgoose and Burton.
- For a lot of positions, I’m starting to see a potential two-deep form in my opinion. Immediately after spring ball, I’ll project a depth chart of the offense and defense heading into fall camp.
B5Q will have an article up this weekend about the quarterbacks, along with videos of all four of them on our Facebook, YouTube and potentially Instagram. I will also at some point this weekend write what stood out to me the past week as well.
Practice resumes on Tuesday, and B5Q will be there.