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Post-Practice Roundup, Aug. 15: Wisconsin's defense continues to thrive

Whether it's an inherent advantage presented by a new 3-4 scheme or the lack of continuity on offense, the Badgers' defense continues to impress as the fall rolls on.


Wisconsin practiced early Thursday morning, taking the field at 9:15 a.m. CT for about two hours. Again, the major storylines were the generally recurring ones we've heard so far.

The defense, largely due to its dramatic makeover into a 3-4 unit but also because the offense simply hasn't gelled yet, "won" the practice by a wide margin. That was especially clear in the practice-ending 2-minute-drill where the defense stopped the offense twice -- though Chris Borland did reportedly earn some ire for knocking Stave down during the non-tackle drill. That's amusing because while it was obviously a mistake, you'd think it would be someone other than Borland. He must just be hungry.

"Now, when we sit down and play controlled football and run the ball, we play-action the ball and do the things we do (on offense), I think the playing table is leveled quite quickly, because we match up pretty well in those scenarios. All of a sudden, you have the different blitzes and third downs, it's more complicated."

On the other side of the ball, Joel Stave continues to look like Wisconsin's starting quarterback -- at least until Gary Andersen denies it. Stave got nearly all of the work in the portion of practice open to the media, while Curt Phillips had just a small portion at the end to work with the offense. Tanner McEvoy merely got a series with the No. 2 offense at the end of practice.

Andersen won't rule out McEvoy until after Monday's scrimmage, the last of two this fall. While Stave seems to separating himself from Phillips due to his arm and ability to get the offense down the field, there might be a limit to how much these practice reps are counting.

Andersen said the fact Stave was getting almost all of the work with the starters didn't mean he had an edge on Phillips.

Andersen also noted that Thursday's performance was the worst the offense has set forth this fall, forcing the unit to run sprints while the defense hit the showers. That's also another reason the quarterback race isn't winding down as fast as people think it should be. Others also seem to see Phillips in vary lights, as he reportedly did shine despite his smaller workload.

News, notes and observations

Center Dan Voltz is expected back in about a week, Andersen said. In his place, left guard Dallas Lewallen has worked at center. Guard Zac Matthias has filled Lewallen's spot, and has also taken some reps at center. That's great new for an offensive line that's extraordinarily thin -- so much so that redshirt freshman walk-on Trent Denlinger is working with the second team at right guard. Apparently, too, Lewallen hasn't been great at center.

The BTN crew is in Madison today on its bus tour. Some of their thoughts, which have been generally positive (both football- and non-football-related):