The Wisconsin Badgers have just two more spring practices remaining following “The Launch” on Saturday afternoon.
On a cold and snow-filled afternoon, the Wisconsin defense terrorized the offense and put on a show for the 10,000 fans in attendance.
The defense finished with 5 interceptions and at least 10 sacks, outscoring the offense 33-24. It wasn’t the typical football scoring for the defense, instead, it was something along the lines of 3 points for every defensive turnover plus 3 points every 5 minutes.
CB Ricardo Hallman, the junior from Miami, FL, was the star of the afternoon. He had an impressive game with 3 interceptions, all off QB Tanner Mordecai.
It was an uninspiring performance from Mordecai, finishing with 4 interceptions and multiple missed throws.
However, Hallman can’t be discredited for his strong performance.
Hallman had a nice interception on a deep ball intended for WR C.J. Williams, where the ball deflected off Williams’ hands and Hallman was there to snatch the ball and return it for a good chunk of yards.
Hallman and CB Alexander Smith are likely going to start at CB for the Badgers this season.
With DC Mike Tressel coming from Cincinnati after coaching up one of the best passing defenses in the country for consecutive seasons, it will be interesting to see how he can make an impact in the Big Ten.
But after just this practice alone, the secondary looks strong and can likely make a lot of noise this season.
Hallman now has 6 interceptions in his last 2 practices as he put together one of the best individual weeks on the team.
Other noticeable players on defense were LBs Jordan Turner and Maema Njongmeta. Both players had strong performances and came up with numerous tackles and sacks.
Njongmeta, the leading tackler for the Badgers last season, looks to continue his strong play this season.
He was one of the highest-graded LBs in the Big Ten last season according to PFF, and he should continue this dominance.
The defensive line did a nice job of putting pressure on the quarterbacks throughout the scrimmage, but the first-team defense struggled to stop the run at times.
RBs Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi had good performances running the ball, however, plays were cut short as coaches didn’t want either of the running backs to be tackled.
S Kamo’i Latu had an interception today as well, picking off Mordecai on just the third play of the scrimmage. Mordecai overthrew Lewis and the ball went straight to Latu.
Freshman CB Jonas Duclona also had an interception, picking off QB Nick Evers in an ugly throw from Evers.
Overall, the secondary looked strong, and DC Mike Tressel did a nice job of drawing up new ways to pressure the quarterbacks. This led to rough performances from Tanner Mordecai and Nick Evers, but a solid performance from the backup, Braedyn Locke.
If someone was to watch today’s game without prior knowledge of the quarterback depth chart, they likely would have assumed Locke to be the starter. He looked composed in the pocket and didn’t turn the ball over.
Also, the weather likely played an impact today on the quarterbacks’ numerous missed throws and turnovers.
However, fans shouldn’t be concerned as it’s only April and the team is months away from the season opener.