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Takeaways from Badgers spring practice No. 14: Offense

The Badgers are nearing an end to their spring football program.

The Wisconsin Badgers conducted their 14th practice of the spring, including Saturday’s “The Launch”, nearing an end to their spring practice schedule.

After a shaky performance on Saturday, the offense had a better showing, especially from top quarterback Tanner Mordecai, against Wisconsin’s evolving defense.

Offense Rotations

C.J. Williams has settled into a first-team role alongside Chimere Dike and Will Pauling in a majority of sets, while Joe Huber seems to be the go-to at left guard to finish off spring practice.

The most noteworthy sighting was Tommy McIntosh, who continues to earn a significant amount of reps with the second-team offense, taking over Quincy Burroughs’s spot alongside Keontez Lewis.

McIntosh compiled a strong practice on Tuesday, catching five passes, including two touchdowns from backup quarterback Braedyn Locke, utilizing his noticeable 6’5 frame to secure a catch near the sideline of the endzone on one of his scoring plays.

Fresh off a good performance at “The Launch”, where McIntosh was one of the bright spots of a shaky offense, the wideout continues to flash at receiver.

Quarterback play

Tanner Mordecai had his worst week of practices last week, capped by a poor performance at “The Launch”, where he threw for four interceptions on a day of inconsistencies.

That was exactly the opposite on Tuesday, as Mordecai looked like the quarterback that was seen over the first stretch of spring practices, even completing his first 13 passes in 11-on-11 action.

While the Badgers incorporated primarily shorter passing concepts on Tuesday, Mordecai looked to attack both the short and intermediate ranges of the field, consistently displaying his accuracy and poise with reads.

Mordecai did still miss deep on a near interception to Kamo’i Latu, overthrowing his receiver, which has been an issue at times, but it was a clean practice for the projected starter, waving away worries from Saturday’s performance.

Braedyn Locke had more of an up-and-down day, displaying some inaccuracies, which involved an interception near the line of scrimmage to Jake Chaney, but it was promising to see the relationship between Locke and McIntosh continue to develop, as the duo connected on several downfield passes.

Nick Evers didn't have the best day accuracy-wise, throwing an errant incompletion and an interception in his lone set of plays in 7-on-7s.

However, the majority of third-team reps on Tuesday went to Myles Burkett, who primarily targeted running backs in the flat on his passing attempts.

Outside Zone?

Without full pads on, it’s generally tough to gauge many conclusions from the Badgers’ run game, which should still be a significant element of the offensive attack with Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi serving as the one-two punch.

However, one trend has been prevalent with the Badgers' run game: their outside-zone packages seem to be consistently generating a good amount of yards.

With Allen and Melusi, Wisconsin has operated with a multitude of concepts, but the Air-Raid offense has spread the defense out vertically more often, providing more space for the backs.

Outside-zone concepts don’t seem to be the primary emphasis of Wisconsin’s run game, but the tackles have done well in blocking those plays when called, as seen in “The Launch” and on Tuesday.

Braelon Allen enjoyed a nice touchdown on the right side in the redzone, utilizing a hole carved up by Riley Mahlman to work his way into the endzone.

Allen has a bigger frame this season, adding five pounds in the offseason, but still continues to move well for his size, making the outside zone a dangerous threat for the Badgers’ rushing offense when called upon.

Offensive Line

The Badgers have continued to experiment with Joe Huber at left guard over the past few practices, with Trey Wedig serving as the second-team right tackle.

One thing that’s common among Wisconsin’s rotational offensive linemen? Versatility.

Huber has seen action at center and both guard spots this spring, while Wedig has versatility all across the offensive line.

Meanwhile, Tanor Bortolini has served as Wisconsin’s starting center with Jake Renfro out, although he struggled with snaps a little again on Tuesday, furthering the idea that he likely suits best at guard for the Badgers, where his pass protection skills against bigger defensive linemen will come in handy.

With snapping concerns evident amongst Wisconsin’s current center options, it appears that Renfro, the initially projected starter, should resume his role as the top center upon his return from injury.

That leaves a logjam at guard for the Badgers, where Huber, Bortolini, Wedig, and Michael Furtney have all seen first-team reps this offseason.

Not to mention, the Badgers have four-star Joe Brunner, who has impressed early on, with the second-team offense at left guard, while former five-star Nolan Rucci has served as the second-team left tackle.

The Badgers have a good problem, as they possess a deep group at offensive line, which raises questions as to who eventually can carve a starting role on the team, come Week 1.