MADISON - The Badgers practiced outside in Camp Randall Stadium for the first time this spring on Wednesday afternoon, using full pads for the first time after their spring break. Reporters were allowed to take in the final 30 minutes of practice today, so I jotted down some notes as the Badgers moved into their team drills.
-- The defense really dominated towards the end of the practice, especially on third downs. I counted one tackle for loss by Nick Hill, two by Derek Landisch and Chris Borland, and Jesse Hayes got in on the action with a great tackle for loss in pursuit. The defense was very boisterous this afternoon, and it was clear they were playing with a lot of confidence.
-- As far as the quarterbacks go, it's still pretty clear that Joel Stave beats Curt Phillips in the arm strength department. Phillips looked pretty accurate today, but Stave's passes always have an extra level of zip to them. The two of them are still splitting first team reps, and I don't expect that to change as we get close to the spring game. The quarterback battle won't be decided until this fall, so expect Stave and Phillips to keep splitting the first team reps.
-- The Badgers still gave Ryan Groy the most reps at left tackle on the first team offense. Groy looked pretty good there too. That line had Dallas Lewallen at left guard along with Dan Voltz, Zac Matthias and Rob Havenstein. Lewallen took the majority of his reps on the second team at left tackle, and Tyler Marz got in with the first team for a rep or two at left tackle.
Seeing Lewallen out in practice is good news for the Badgers, since he was limping pretty heavily at the end of Monday's practice. I also saw Kyle Costigan out on the field today, but he didn't take any team reps. Costigan was giving Trent Denlinger a few pointers on the sideline, which makes sense since both players are former defensive linemen, and Denlinger has is taking reps with the second team at right guard.
Walker Williams was also not wearing a full leg brace anymore or using a crutch, but he didn't do any team drills either. The Badgers could use the extra depth on the offensive line, but there's no reason to rush either Costigan or Williams back into action during the spring.
-- Wide receiver A.J. Jordan made a nice catch over the middle on a dart from Stave, and it looked like he also had a long catch that I lost track of while watching the defensive line. It's just one day of practice, but I would say it's a positive sign for Jordan, since he has struggled at times to catch the ball consistently this spring.
Jordan was working with Jordan Fredrick and Kenzel Doe on the first team today, with Jared Abbrederis sitting out during the team drills. He had a helmet and didn't seem to be nursing any injuries, so it's likely the Badgers just had him sit out as a precaution.
-- The Badgers are off Thursday and Friday, but will practice again this Saturday in Camp Randall Stadium if the weather cooperates. The Badgers are opening up that practice to the public, and it's scheduled to start at 10:45 a.m. and run until 12:45 p.m. Fans can enter the stadium through Gate 1 beginning at 10:30 a.m.
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