August 11, 2009

Notes: Rookies, quarterbacks and Clay

MADISON, Wis. - After one day of fall camp, Wisconsin fans know the offensive line has taken a hit with injuries to both John Moffitt and Bill Nagy and that three players have left the program. Still, with that important news aside, several other topics were discussed when Bret Bielema addressed the media.

Rookies impress on first day:

When Chris Borland committed to Wisconsin after receiving interest from several division one programs, many people were excited to see what the three-star athlete out of Ohio could provide the Badgers. After day one of fall camp, that excitement level may have been raised even higher with the leadership he showed on the field.

"Chris Borland is working the mike (linebacker) so he's a player that has to speak," Bielema said following Monday's practice. "He definitely wasn't shy, even if he made the wrong call, it was very loud. So I was excited to see that."

Bielema believes Borland is a great candidate to fulfill the mike linebacker spot as his career plays out in the cardinal and white, even though that career is only one practice old at this point.

"If you ask me, I would tell he's a perfect little plug mike," Bielema said. "I know we were concerned about his size a little bit. It was kind of interesting, before practice today (Monday) in our walk-through, he was out there barking out calls. He stands right amongst those linebackers and there's not too much size difference.

"He's very thick, very well put together."

Along with Borland, Kraig Appleton, another prized recruit, showed some gusto during Monday's practice as well when he made a catch across the middle of the field.

"Kraig Appleton made a nice catch over the middle and got his shoulders north and south," Bielema said. "And then when the players react you know it's taking notice."

Finally, after a full summer of weight lifting and conditioning, several of the younger players made drastic changes to their body type. When asked who jumped out physically, Bielema was quick to point out young players such as Kevin Zeitler, Travis Frederick, Nick Toon and Aaron Henry.

"Kevin Zeitler up front, I thought his body had really changed," Bielema said. "I thought he's had some great gains in the strength department. Travis Frederick, for an incoming freshman he doesn't look like a freshmen. They donned some new practice jerseys that we worked with Adidas on and I was giving the guys a hard time, but some of those guys really looked good.

"Nick Toon has continued developing and defensively, Aaron (Henry), physically just the presence he has is nice."

Where does Budmayr fit into rotation?

Although he wasn't asked about it much, the question about the quarterback battle still mustered its way into the discussion during Bielema's presser. This time, it was a question inquiring about how high up the depth chart freshman signal caller Jon Budmayr needs to climb in order to avoid a redshirt year.

"Well we only really have four quarterbacks in the rotation," Bielema said. "I think Jon probably had the longest completion of the day today. He's a very accurate passer, he's very in tune, he's very smart and intelligent so those four quarterbacks are all getting an equal opportunity out there.

"Some of it will be predicated on giving it to those first two guys, Curt Phillips and Dustin Sherer, but the one thing Dustin and Jon both did today was I think they took advantage of the reps they had."

This position battle will likely continue until the coaching staff gives the scouting report on Northern Illinois 10 days out of the opener.

How often will the team scrimmage?

Last season, the Badgers had a couple of large scrimmages that took place of the standard practice during fall camp. Though injuries were not as much of a problem in the fall as they were in the previous spring, the coaching staff might limit the duration of the scrimmages this fall camp in favor of having a few more, shorter ones.

"We'll kind of wait and see where we're at from an injury standpoint," Bielema said. "But I think the idea of going into camp, we're going to try to have more controlled smaller scrimmages rather than have two or three big ones just to try to emphasize the importance of being on the whole time."

Clay's weigh in:

During the Big Ten meetings last month in Chicago, Bielema stated he was fine with where running back John Clay's weight was at. On Monday, much of the same sentiment was expressed, even though Bielema hadn't seen his new weight at the time of the interview.

"I haven't seen the weight chart from today yet and today was the first day of weigh ins," Bielema said. "I felt comfortable with where he was at going into that last week. He has a propensity to go home and like Racine too much, mom I think is a good cook. But on the same account John knows and understands where he's at. Where he feels comfortable is one thing but what we try to do is kind of stress upon him is looking at the season on a 12-week schedule. And then the great thing is this four weeks of camp and how well his body holds up during the day to day grind of camp."

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