MADISON—“Part of the journey is the end.” —Tony Stark, talking about spring ball and not hovering in the destitute of space after losing to Thanos and seeing half the living population of the universe wiped out, probably.
The Wisconsin Badgers concluded their final spring practice on Friday on the grass field just north of Camp Randall Stadium—a sunny afternoon that was perfect football weather, which will be a stark contrast to Saturday’s snowfall in the Madison area.
Let’s get to the injury report, observations, highlights and more from Friday, all before I bust my tail to Point Cinema to catch my showing of probably the single greatest theater experience of my lifetime.
I thought rising senior wide receiver A.J. Taylor had his best spring practice on Friday. He hauled in several passes—including at least three deep receptions. Two of those long catches came from junior Jack Coan, the other on a Graham Mertz throw.
Coan showed the ability to drive the ball downfield via aerial attack with those passes, and he himself led three touchdowns drives. Two series ended with touchdown passes to Garrett Groshek, but Taylor’s catches help set up those scores. Between those two drives, Coan found Taylor on a fourth down reception in the end zone with Faion Hicks in coverage.
Overall, I thought the offense had a good day moving the ball downfield. Danny Vanden Boom and Chase Wolf also led a touchdown drive each, with Vanden Boom making some nice throws and connecting well with wide receiver Aron Cruickshank on a series.
Why yes, the Hausers arrived in Madison on Friday. As first tweeted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jeff Potrykus, Marquette transfers Joe and Sam Hauser caught the very early portion of practice. With them included head coach Greg Gard and assistant coaches Howard Moore and Joe Krabbenhoeft.
I also saw 2019 running back signee Julius Davis there, and quite a few other observers.
- Saw one good return each from Cruickshank (kickoff) and Jack Dunn (punt).
- Danny Davis (right leg) participated in some team work, and fullback Mason Stokke suited up—though I did not see him practice in team periods. Sophomore John Chenal took the reps at fullback on Friday once again.
- Predominant first-team offensive line, from left tackle to right tackle: Tyler Beach, Jason Erdmann, Kayden Lyles, Josh Seltzner, Logan Bruss
- Two interceptions during the latter portion of the practice today. Safety Scott Nelson picked off a Mertz pass, and the final snap of spring ball saw true freshman outside linebacker Spencer Lytle snag a Vanden Boom pass after a crazy sequence of scrambling and trying to get the ball to a receiving target.
- At one point with the reserves, At one point with the reserves, I saw Seltzner at left guard and Moorman at center. Moorman also worked at left guard in one part of practice for a couple of series with the reserve line.
- Walk-on Jacob Heyroth received a bunch of carries with Brady Schipper out (guessing the head injury from Tuesday, as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal’s Jason Galloway) and Isaac Guerendo apparently not participating. For what it’s worth, Heyroth looked decent as a tailback after being at inside linebacker the majority of spring. He scored a touchdown on one Chase Wolf-led drive.
- Cruickshank ended the spring on a high note in the receiving category, hauling in a few passes. He made one leaping grab to pull down a Vanden Boom pass. Then Vanden Boom, the Kimberly native, rewarded him with another throw that he reeled in and extended across the pylon for the score.
- Saw Faion Hicks and Caesar Williams as the first duo up at cornerback on Friday when the team started its team period/”scrimmage.” Looked like redshirt freshman Donte Burton initially worked in as the third cornerback in the nickel package. Again, a lot of mixing and matching in the secondary. Thought I also saw Burton and Hicks get some action as a tandem.
- Former Wisconsin running back Chris James observed practice.
- Along with those two touchdown catches, Groshek also had a nice run, breaking tackles from Jack Sanborn and Eric Burrell before giving Nelson a good shot in rushing for a first down.
- Reserve walk-on nose tackle Gunnar Roberge recorded sacks on back-to-back plays in one series.
Starting Sunday, I will break down what we have normally done at B5Q after spring ball. That includes a projected fall camp two-deep and who stood out on both sides of the ball. By the end of next week, expect me to digest what I saw out of the quarterbacks into a piece, along with articles about Leo Chenal and Collin Wilder.