MADISON - After enjoying a week of nice weather that allowed the Wisconsin football team an opportunity to practice outside, the unsteady Dairy State weather forced the Badgers back inside the McClain Center for practice No. 5 of spring camp.
The players involved didn't seem to mind heading back indoors as the team participated in a lengthy 85-play scrimmage.
The following is a full report from Saturday's practice.
Unfortunately, sophomore quarterback Curt Phillips suffered an apparent knee injury when he rolled out of the pocket and began to scramble. As he made a cut, it appeared that his right knee gave out and Phillips fell awkwardly to the ground. No other player made contact with the young quarterback before he fell to the ground.
"I don't know what it is," UW head coach Bret Bielema said following practice. "I'm not going to comment until I know."
Phillips was being examined by the UW training staff on the sideline and eventually left the field on crutches.
Freshman tight end Brian Wozniak also suffered an apparent injury to his right knee. Bielema also didn't know the severity of that injury at the conclusion of practice.
The 85-play scrimmage, mostly of situational down and distances, provided the team the first opportunity to tackle all spring. In full pads, there was some hard hitting, plenty of broken tackles and a few interceptions and highlight reel plays.
For the most part, it seemed like the players were pumped up for a chance to hit one another after being limited throughout the first four practices of the spring.
Scott Tolzien, as expected, got the bulk of the work as the starting quarterback. The senior quarterback was under center for 35 of the 85 snaps during the scrimmage.
Overall, Saturday's practice was not one of Tolzien's better performances. He was ailed with two interceptions, one of which was a lofted throw in the direction of Nick Toon that Kevin Rouse easily intercepted.
The other was late in the scrimmage when Antonio Fenelus stepped in front of a ball thrown towards Isaac Anderson picked it off.
Tolzien did throw a beautiful ball to Nick Toon on a fade route in the corner of the end zone that Toon reeled in even though Devin Smith was all over him.
With the injury to Phillips occurring early in the scrimmage, Jon Budmayr had an opportunity to step in and receive more reps than he otherwise would have. In the end, the freshman signal caller logged 36 plays, one more than Tolzien.
He performed pretty well and continued to show his arm is back to full strength will plenty of power behind his throws.
"Jon can obviously throw the ball around pretty good," Bielema said. "That was evident."
On multiple occasions the freshman quarterback whipped the ball through some tight windows and connected with his receivers. He continued to find receivers on a consistent basis while proving he can throw the ball with accuracy on the run.
His connection with freshman wide receiver Jared Abbrederis also continued to develop as he found his off-season training partner several times.
"If you've been watching practices," Bielema said. "(Abbrederis) has really come along well at the wide receiver spot."
Finally, Nate Tice received the final 10 reps of Saturday's practice. On his second throw, Tice wound up and delivered a deep ball to Abbrederis. Though the ball was a bit wobbly and under thrown, Abbrederis made a play on it, reeled it in, shook a defender and outraced everyone to the goal line for the touchdown.
Mains at defensive tackle:
Over the past week, Anthony Mains has been working at the defensive tackle position. The move is not permanent and serves more as a holdover while Eriks Briedis recovers from a bout with knee bursitis.
At 6-foot-6 and 239 pounds, Mains does not project as a defensive tackle for the long haul.
"Briedis is out for a couple of weeks," Bielema said. "Anthony, at least he knows the position and can get in there and get line up."
Zach Brown running with a purpose:
Entering his final spring camp, Brown may have found himself as the No. 3 running back on the depth chart behind John Clay and Montee Ball. Now, with Clay missing all of spring camp, Brown and Ball have been getting plenty of reps.
While Ball has been pretty solid throughout the first week of camp, Brown has been equally as impressive.
"If you guys remember the first two or three weeks of fall camp," Bielema said. "He was lights out. He's put on a little bit of weight and changed it around a little bit. I know it's important for him having success leaving out of here.
"If next year is indeed his last year, he wants to leave being as good as he possibly can."
Play of the day:
As mentioned earlier, Nick Toon reeled in an impressive touchdown grab near the end of the scrimmage. On the play, Tolzien threw a fade to the deep corner of the end zone. As the ball was in the air, Toon tried to position himself for the catch, but junior cornerback Devin Smith got in his way.
Still, even with Smith all over him, Toon leapt high into the air and pulled in the ball for the score. The referee's in attendance threw the flag on the play, but it didn't matter when Toon hauled it in. The play was somewhat reminiscent of Toon's catch against Michigan last fall.
When the pads on are and tackling is allowed for the first time in the spring, there is a good chance of seeing some big hits. Unfortunately for Abbrederis, he was the unlucky recipient of those blows a couple of times.
The first time happened when Budmayr tried to lob a pass in to him as he was running a fly route up the seam. Just as the ball was coming down, and with Abbrederis reaching up for the catch, Kyle Zulegar came down and laid the lumber.
Then, on the last play of practice, Abbrederis took a reverse from Tice and ran towards the near sideline. Once there, reserve defensive back Darius Feaster plastered him and forced him out of bounds.
"It was nice to see some hits on defense," Bielema said.
Several recruits were in attendance to take in Saturday's practice. The following is a list BadgerBlitz.com was able to compile.
The Badgers will have Sunday off before returning to practice on Monday afternoon.
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