August 21, 2010

UW wraps up week two with lengthy scrimamge

MADISON - As far as crucial practices go during fall camp, they don't get much bigger than Saturday's 134-play scrimmage in the scorching and humid Wisconsin weather.

Places in the two-deep were on the line throughout the practice as well as a potential for some walk-ons to prove they are worthy of a scholarship. It was an opportunity to not only fine-tunes the product on the field, but a chance for several players to gain valuable experience in a game setting.

Starting with the injury front, Saturday's scrimmage went pretty well. Of players that are poised to contribute this year it seemed only Bill Nagy, who looked dazed following a hard hit on a John Clay run, was the only injury.

On that specific play, Nagy was pulling on the Clay sweep before he got clustered into a large swath of players. Clay, utilizing his patience, waited for the hole to open and when it did Nagy took quite the blow.

After laying on the ground for a brief period of time, Nagy was escorted off the field by the UW trainers and did not return to practice. While no official word regarding his injury was released, it seemed a concussion or something along those lines was in order.

All numbers used in this report are approximate

Breaking it down:

-As expected, Scott Tolzien received more reps than any other quarterback on the roster. While he threw the ball well, most of the reps were focused on getting the ball to the running backs Clay, Zach Brown, Montee Ball and James White.

He only threw one interception on the day and that was more a good play on Antonio Fenelus' part than it was a bad throw.

-Jon Budmayr received 47 reps during Saturdays scrimmage and much like Tolzien, he spent a lot of his time handing the ball off to his running back core of White and Brown. Budmayr saw a couple of his passes batted down though, and never threw a touchdown pass.

-Joe Brennan, who members of the media saw for the first time this week in extended action, received approximately 30 reps with the third stringers. When they were on the field, every down was first down and each play was reset following the result of the prior one.

So, it was difficult to see how Brennan would have performed had he been granted to lead a drive during move the ball drills. However, it was obvious to see that he had a strong arm and was confident in his abilities when it comes to throwing the football. He is still young and will likely need more time to learn the playbook before he becomes a realistic factor in the quarterback rotation.

Defensive line playing well:

Even without Jordan Kohout practicing Saturday afternoon, the No. 1 defensive line played pretty well. With J.J. Watt and Louis Nzegwu flanking the edges and Patrick Butrym and Ethan Hemer working the inside, the line seemed to generate tremendous push more than it had all week.

Watt set the tone on the very first play of live tackling when he burst into the backfield and dropped Ball as soon as he received the handoff from Tolzien. Nzegwu also had a couple of sticks in the backfield as the scrimmage progressed.

Overall, the push seen from the interior guys up front on the defensive line was encouraging as the team prepares for its final week of camp before game week takes center stage.

When the second team unit came out, Eriks Briedis continued to play at the high level he's been working at throughout the week. On one particular play, with Ball running off left tackle, Briedis maintained leverage, forced Ball outside and eventually completed the play with a nice tackle.

Should he continue to progress, he could very well find himself in Charlie Partridge's ideal rotation of five guys at the interior line position.

Play of the day:

There are two plays that stood out to me during the long scrimmage. The first came early on when Chris Borland torpedoed through the offensive line and delivered a crushing blow to Clay. The hit literally knocked Clay off both his feet and into the ground. Usually the big tailback is the one delivering that kind of blow, but not this time.

The second happened later in practice when freshman Marquis Mason juked and jived his way to a nifty 12-yard gain. After catching a quick pass from Brennan, Mason juked the initial defender, ripped off a quick spin move, pulled a hesitation and plowed forward for four extra yards. The play got the attention of his teammates as there was plenty of hooting and hollering following during and after the play.

Quick hits:

-White continues to impress as a change of pace back. If anybody had a run or runs classified as electric during Saturday's scrimmage, it would have to be White. Late in the day he reeled off an impressive 22-yard touchdown scramble that featured a couple of nice cutbacks and jukes. He also had a run of 30-plus yards where he made the initial defender miss and broke it up the sideline for the big gain. He is fun to watch.

-During the red zone portion of practice, the No. 1 offense led by Tolzien did a number on the No. 2 defense. On the first play from the opponent's 18 yard line, Tolzien hit Isaac Anderson on a quick hitch. Anderson spun to his left and nearly took it to the house before Dezmen Southward was able to trip him up.

It didn't matter, though, because Ball capped off the drive two plays later with a two-yard touchdown romp.

Budmayr also led a touchdown drive during red zone drills after White broke off a 14 yard run on the first play. Two plays later the redshirt freshman connected with Jake Byrne on a misdirection pass for an easy touchdown score.

-I'm not sure if the coaching staff was just filling a void, but Gabe Carimi, Louis Nzegwu, Josh Oglesby, J.J. Watt and Ethan Hemer were all lined up on the defensive side of the ball when Philip Welch was practicing field goals early in practice. Oglesby even misdirected one of Welch's kicks.

-Jeff Lewis, who played with the third string offense, ripped off some impressive runs late in practice. On one play, the freshman felt contact about two yards past the line of scrimmage, but eventually pressed forward for a nine yard gain with about five defenders on his back.

The Badgers have Sunday off before returning Monday for the final two-a-day practice of fall camp.

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