The Wisconsin Badgers conducted their tenth practice of the spring on a very warm Saturday, one week ahead of “The Launch” at Camp Randall Stadium.
On a scrimmage-heavy day, both sides saw a ton of action, with a number of touchdowns from skill-position plays and interceptions from defensive backs.
The Badgers mixed up their starting unit for the first time in a while as Joe Huber took what seemed like all of the first-team snaps at left guard in place of Trey Wedig.
Huber, who has seen time at right guard and center, got his first action with the top offense, and at a new position as well.
Here were the top three offensive line units.
1st Team: LT Jack Nelson/LG Joe Huber/C Tanor Bortolini/RG Michael Furtney/RT Riley Mahlman
2nd Team: LT Nolan Rucci/LG Joe Brunner/C Joe Huber/RG JP Benzschawel/RT Trey Wedig
3rd Team: LT Max Rader/LG Kerry Kodanko/C Dylan Barrett/RG John Clifford/RT Barrett Nelson
It’s important to note that Barrett and Huber split the second-team reps at center, but both saw extensive action on a day with a lot of movement.
With the changes, Trey Wedig saw action at right tackle, where he initially began spring ball, which bumped Barrett Nelson to the third-team offense.
C.J. Williams saw a brief rep with the first-team offense, but for the most part, the skill position players remained the same on the outside for the first-team offense in Chimere Dike and Keontez Lewis.
Skyler Bell, who had a good day, did split some first-team reps with Will Pauling on the day.
Tanner Mordecai had an up-and-down day during a practice where he looked to target downfield more than regular, which resulted in some spectacular plays made by cornerback Alexander Smith, who had his best practice of the year.
Mordecai did throw two interceptions, one to Ricardo Hallman on a ball where he stared Keontez Lewis down the field before underthrowing the deep shot, and another to Jason Maitre on a ball where Hallman made a nice deflection for the opportunity.
Still, the quarterback had several nice throws on the day, including a dime to Skyler Bell on a corner route where Mordecai layered the pass over Maitre in close coverage for a good amount of yards.
In move-the-ball periods, Mordecai was able to get the ball out quick, but wasn't able to execute in a 30-yard set, where the quarterback was sacked on three consecutive plays.
The veteran signal-caller did utilize his legs a lot on Saturday, which included a nice move on a run to evade a defensive end before turning upfield.
When working in the short area of the field, Mordecai has proven to be effective in getting the ball out, which helps move the offense down the field, but there are times when he holds onto the ball too long focusing on a read, which can lead to busted plays.
After an early interception to T.J. Bollers on a pass thrown too far inside, Braedyn Locke settled in and was able to connect well with C.J. Williams, as has been the case many times this spring.
Locke had a couple of nice throws on day, including a sweet touch pass on the run to Quincy Burroughs over Amaun Williams on a crosser after evading pressure, which resulted in a good gain.
Locke threw another interception later on during a miscommunication with Williams where the receiver wasn't looking until midway through his route and the ball was placed behind him into the hands of Jace Arnold.
Overall, it was a fairly solid day for Locke, whose connections with Skyler Bell and C.J. Williams were the highlights of the day.
Marshall Howe got a majority of the QB3 reps, with his best throw coming over the middle to Vinny Anthony, who outran everyone for a 45-yard touchdown.
Myles Burkett and Nick Evers shared one series, with the latter quarterback making a nice throw in the redzone to Angel Toombs for a touchdown on his lone pass attempt.
Wideouts continue to shine
The wide receiver depth continues to be seen, as C.J. Williams and Skyler Bell stacked up another impressive practice with a variety of plays.
Williams’s second catch came on a free play where he caught a pass from Locke between the second and third levels of the defense, and held on after taking a hit from Austin Brown near the sideline.
The USC transfer was then found wide open on his next catch cover the middle, where he shook Owen Arnett after the catch on his way for a nice touchdown.
However, his final catch was the most impressive, as Locke found Williams in the endzone on a pass a little too far, but the receiver corraled the ball with one hand and absorbed another hit while keeping control of the ball for a touchdown.
Skyler Bell started his day off with a nice deep catch from Braedyn Locke where it looked the safety was late in rotation before making the play on the corner route from Mordecai shared above.
Bell went on to catch three more passes, splitting time with the first and second-team defenses on a productive day.
The offensive line and defensive line had 1-on-1s Saturday. Here were the results.
#Badgers OL/DL 1-on-1s from Saturday:— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) April 15, 2023
Tanor Bortolini > Gio Paez
C.J. Goetz > Riley Mahlman(via speed).
Marty Strey > Riley Mahlman. Swin move inside.
Michael Furtney > James Thompson
Ben Barten > Tanor Bortolini. Good initial block before letting up.
#Badgers OL/DL 1-on-1s from Sat(cont)— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) April 15, 2023
Jeff Pietrowski > Jack Nelson
Jack Nelson > T.J. Bollers
Cade McDonald > Joe Brunner
Dylan Barrett > Manny Mullens
Isaiah Mullens = JP Benzschawel. Bull-rush, but fairly equal rep.
Dylan Barrett = Ben Barten. Good move/held up for few
#Badgers OL/DL 1-on-1s from Sat(cont.)— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) April 15, 2023
Darryl Peterson > Nolan Rucci
T.J. Bollers > Max Rader
C.J. Goetz > John Clifford
Jeff Pietrowski > John Clifford
Spencer Lytle > Barrett Nelson
John Clifford > (Didn't see)
Gio Paez > Tanor Bortolini
Kerry Kodanko > Cade McDonald
Max Rader > Gabe Kirksche— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) April 15, 2023
Over this spring, Tanor Bortolini has been fairly consistent with his 1-on-1 reps, which are usually favored toward defensive linemen.
Additionally, left tackle Jack Nelson has been fairly solid, albeit primary against outside linebackers, but it’s still important to note.
A quieter name to keep an eye on has been Max Rader, who has showcased flashes as the third-team left tackle since he transferred from North Dakota State.