On Day 5 of spring ball for the Wisconsin Badgers, there was a major sense of alacrity as players seemed to be more comfortable transitioning between drills. The team finished practice within two hours after starting at 8 AM this morning, well in front of head coach Luke Fickell’s desired time of 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Offensively, we got to witness more of the athletic ability of presumed starting QB Tanner Mordecai.
In multiple cases during 11-on-11s, Mordecai was forced to scramble out of the pocket and he picked up big yardage on what seemed like plays where the defense would surely get to him. He was quick to escape and clearly looked comfortable running downfield.
Mordecai also looked downfield a bit more in this practice, and he connected with WR Chimere Dike on multiple occasions.
Dike, who was matched up against either CB Alexander Smith or CB Ricardo Hallman, had a pretty nice practice in 11-on-11s. He stood out with his ability to create space and come up with difficult catches.
Mordecai also completed multiple throws in extremely tight windows as it seemed like the receivers and quarterbacks are starting to improve on their timing as the weeks go on.
WR Will Pauling was also playing with the first team today as he started in the slot during 11-on-11s. Pauling did a great job of creating space quickly and then making multiple catches inside. He clearly has a lot of speed and has been one of the most impressive players in Spring Ball so far.
With Pauling being brought up to the first team, this meant WR Skyler Bell was playing with the seconds today. However, as Luke Fickell pointed out earlier in Spring Ball, people shouldn’t read into who is playing with the first vs second team too much at this point in the spring.
The wide receivers on the first team consisted of Dike, Pauling, and Keontez Lewis. The second team consisted of Bell, CJ Williams, and Quincy Burroughs.
Transfer WR Bryson Green dressed for practice today, however, he did not partake in 11-on-11s.
At quarterback, it was Braedyn Locke playing with the second team yet again and Myles Burkett/Nick Evers playing for reps behind him.
Locke again looked comfortable in the pocket while making accurate throws to both the outside and inside on slants.
Also, in 1v1s, TE Jack Eschenbach had a good day. On many occasions, he was able to create space for himself and came down with multiple catches throughout practice.
On defense, DC Mike Tressel definitely drew up some new ways for the defense to apply pressure in 11-on-11s. The defense brought heavy pressure and disrupted the offensive flow on multiple occasions which forced quarterbacks to scramble.
Transfer CB Jason Maitre had another good practice. He has already been a standout in Spring Ball thus far in the slot and had a great day in 1v1s. Receivers struggled to gain separation from Maitre throughout the day and it seems more likely that Maitre will start in the slot this season.
With the team getting thin at outside linebacker, Spencer Lyte was given many opportunities to play on the outside. Lyte, who typically plays at ILB, had a productive morning on defense. With multiple outside linebackers not practicing, this allowed time for some of the younger players to get more reps.
Overall, the biggest change that stands out has been the efficiency and pace of the offense. Once again, the offense played no-huddle and snapped the ball with over 25 seconds remaining on the play clock every time. This increased the number of reps being played, and it was definitely more fun to watch.
This will be a very different offense than fans are used to watching.