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Wisconsin football practice no. 7: defensive recap

The defensive unit looked a little off to start, but improved in the latter half of practice.

NCAA Football: Pinstripe Bowl-Wisconsin vs Miami Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

During Thursday morning’s football practice there was music blaring and pads popping. That’s right, the team was in full pads, and there was a heavy focus on tackling reps during individual work early in the nearly two and a half hour practice. Here is what B5Q noticed on the defensive side of the ball today by position. For an offensive recap, check out Matt’s write up here.

Defensive Line

The defensive line was a topic of conversation right out of the gate today as both Isaiahh Loudermilk and Garrett Rand were limited in work. Loudermilk was limited, participating in a few drills but mostly non-contact while Rand was out for Thursday’s practice with a leg injury, but it didn’t appear to be anything too serious.

Obviously the defense is heavily relying on production from those two, but it appeared the coaching staff is trying to be careful with them. Due to the limitations from those two, guys like Matt Henningsen and David Pfaff got a lot of work on the defensive line with nose tackle Bryson Williams taking most of the first team reps in the middle. I thought the line looked good, but there were still some times where they didn’t get a ton of pressure which is obviously key to improving the defense in 2019.


It was mostly familiar faces at linebacker as Zack Baun, Chris Orr, Jack Sanborn, and Izayah Green-May got most of the first team reps on Thursday. Orr and Sanborn look strong on the inside, and the outside looks like it will have some potential across from Baun. Green-May has gotten a lot of reps this fall and appears to be a strong pass rusher on the outside. At 6’6” 220 pounds Green-May possesses the length to get after the quarterback and knock down some passes. His athletic prowess is certainly there, which Baun talked about after practice.

“He’s an athletic kid...and he did a good job getting his weight up this off-season. One of the things he had to work on is the running game, and I think he did that. He brings a lot to the pass game that we can really utilize.”


At the beginning of practice the secondary appeared a step behind and got burned for a few big plays. It seemed as though there was some coverage miscommunications resulting in gaps and breakdowns that can’t happen for them to be successful.

However, in the scrimmage portion of practice the unit appeared to figure things out and showed a lot more in the latter half of the day. Deron Harrell and Faion Hicks got most of the first team reps at corner, while Scott Nelson and Reggie Pearson got a lot of the reps at safety. The player that probably had the best day on the defense was Eric Burrell, snagging two interceptions in the scrimmage.

Overall the unit appears to be growing together, but they aren’t quite where they want to be yet which Hicks talked about briefly.

“We’re not where we need to be now, but that’s what camp is for. We are a lot further than we were at the same time last year, that’s the exciting part. We can be a whole lot better.”

Hicks then talked about how the young group in the secondary has grown from year one to year two, and how they can benefit from that in camp.

“Year one you get used to the speed of the game. Going into year two you don’t have to worry about learning the playbook. You can just worry about your technique and making allows you to play free and play faster.”

Stay tuned to Bucky’s 5th Quarter, as the football team is scheduled to practice once again tomorrow, and we will continue to provide coverage of what we see and hear throughout fall camp.