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Camp Chatter: storylines from Wisconsin Football’s Opening Week

Catch up on last weeks main storylines from fall camp!

SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl - Wisconsin v Arizona State Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

You may have noticed, things at B5Q we’re a little slow last week despite Wisconsin football getting underway. Why? Well, we’ve had some changes and we’ve got some things in the works... so bear with us! That said, the #content machine does not sleep and I know our audience is hungry to hear about what has been going on as Wisconsin football camp has gotten underway. So, to give that to you (and get us caught up), I give you our first installment of Camp Chatter!

Chryst Takes the Podium

To open fall camp Head Coach Paul Chryst took to the podium for his annual opening media presser. To start, he hammered the cliches stating that he was excited for the season and appreciated what the group has done thus far.

When getting into questions, the second item Chryst was asked about was punter Andy Vujnovich which is so on brand for Big Ten football it almost hurts.

“Vuj has made improvement, even his hands have gotten better and hands lead to more consistent drops... he knows how to prepare and what to prepare for... if we’re going to be the best team we can be he’s gotta be a big part of that.”

Staying on brand, Chryst was later asked about fullback, and Jackson Acker making the transition to the position over from running back.

“I think he’s a really talented athlete, got good, size, strength, speed, and power. I think he's young right now but he’s a guy that can keep developing... he’s a good player and you try to have spots for all your good players.”

Later on, Chryst talked about what he wants to see from quarterback Graham Mertz in this installment of fall camp.

“I want Graham to play with great confidence and consistency... that's going to involve a lot of different things. There are going to be times where it's squarely on him and he's going to have to throw it and put us in the right play... I really want him to trust in himself and go play. We got a lot of trust in him, with that comes responsibility.”

If you’d like to listen in on the full 18 minute presser, feel free to check it out on youtube here.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 08 New Mexico at Wisconsin Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Shuffling and competition in the trenches

Bob Bostad took the offensive line room over this Spring and he wasted no time shuffling guys around to where he felt they fit best. The shuffle started with Jack Nelson who has moved over to left tackle after starting 13 games at right guard. With Nelson moving to left tackle, that likely knocks Senior Tyler Beach inside to hold down the left guard spot while Joe Tippman holds down the center spot.

At right guard, it appeared you may have a battle between sophomore Tanor Bortolini and Micheal Furtney. However, according to Jeff Potrykus, Bortolini started camp as the number two center as Bostad wanted multiple options he could trust.

It appears one of the hottest battles at camp will be at the right tackle position, and it’ll be a three-horse race with some pretty highly touted recruits. According to offensive line coach Bob Bostad the right tackle position will be a competition between Junior Logan Brown, redshirt freshman Nolan Rucci, and redshirt freshman Riley Mahlman.

All three players were top-ranked recruits in their respective classes. Brown was a five-star in the class of 2019, Rucci a five-star in 2021, and Mahlman a 4-star in 2021. That is a lot of talent battling for one spot, and it’ll be incredibly interesting to see which player wins out.

Playmakers Needed

There’s been a lot of talks this off-season about the lack of returning pass catchers for Wisconsin. With Jake Ferguson, Danny Davis, and Kendrick Pryor all onto the NFL the Badgers will have 110 (and hopefully more) receptions to replace on offense.

In the limited amount of clips we’ve seen from the official Wisconsin football account, it appears Dean Engram is one player who is making plays after moving over from cornerback to wideout.

At the tight end spot, there are a few names in the mix, but one that everyone is excited to see back is Junior Clay Cundiff. Cundiff suffered a gruesome injury last Fall against Iowa and has battled hard to get back in the mix this Fall. He was unavailable for Spring practice, but Cundiff is 100% for Fall and appears to be making some plays with the ones, a truly great sight.

Overall, It’s an exciting time for Wisconsin football, and the season opener will be here before we know it. Until then, we’ve got twenty practices to over-analyze as we try to piece together just what Wisconsin will look like in 2022. The team is back on the practice field today, and we’ll certainly have more to update on over the course of this week.