Spring practice report No. 8

In its last practice before spring break, the Wisconsin football team was inside the McClain Center for 24 periods in front of a large contingent of Wisconsin high school football coaches from across the state.

They were in attendance as part of the 34th annual Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Football Clinic. All coaches were extended an open invitation to attend practice. Among the speakers of note at the clinic will be NFL head coaches Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings and John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens and Bronco Mendenhall, head coach of Brigham Young University, former Purdue head coach Joe Tiller, and more.

"That was hump day, practice No. 8 so we are officially over halfway through," head coach Bret Bielema said after practice. "I thought for the most part the guys have really competed well, good energy, good excitement."

Watch highlights from practice and Coach Bielema's complete post-practice media session

Defense on top
Early enrollee and DL Warren Herring made his presence known as the second units squared off against one another. A fake handoff up the middle led to an end-around for WR Jared Abberderis, but Herring was there to greet him and snuff out the play for a loss.

With the No. 1 offense going against the No. 2 defense, LB Coddye Ring-Noonan blitzed up the middle and batted down a pass on his way to the quarterback. Not long after, DE David Gilbert was able to penetrate off the end and bring down RB Zach Brown in the backfield on a sweep left.

Practice No. 8 Photo Gallery

Later in practice, WR Jeff Duckworth caught a pass underneath and turned up field. He didn't tuck the ball away enough though as linebacker Kevin Claxton was able to punch it out, resulting in a turnover for the defense.

The "move the ball drill" didn't really live up to its name as the defenses limited what the offenses were able to accomplish. The first unit achieved only one first down, while neither the No. 1 or No. 2 offenses were able to move the ball past their own 30-yard line.

One bright spot for the offense came during the red zone period. The Noi. 2 offense produced two TDs, one on an 18-yard TD pass from QB Jon Budmayr to WR Jeff Duckworth and the other on a nice run by newly converted RB Kyle Zuleger.

Getting better
After practice, Coach Bielema singled out FS Aaron Henry and CB Antonio Fenelus as two players who have made big jumps during the first two weeks of spring ball. On offense, Bielema noted offensive linemen Jake Current, Travis Frederick, Ricky Wagner and Josh Oglesby for their performance thus far.

poles.jpgWhat's with the poles?
One of the curiosities of the spring has been the use of poles (pictured right) during the Badgers' special teams work, specifically the punt team. The poles are used as spacers in UW's spread punt formation, ensuring everyone lines up the correct distance from the man inside of them.

Back in the fold and ready to roll
LT Gabe Carimi participated in his first full practice of the spring and wasted no time mixing it up. He was involved in a couple of small dustups, one with CB Marcus Cromartie and the other with DE J.J. Watt. You could tell he was ready to start hitting people. After practice Coach Bielema joked that he was down in the locker room and Watt and Carimi "kissed and made up." He also referenced a flare up between Joe Thomas and Joe Monty during his first year as a head coach. When he asked Thomas what the deal was, Joe responded, "It had to happen."

Be smart

That was the message coach Bielema had for his team as practice ended. With spring break approaching he told the players to enjoy their time off but to be safe and smart. He told them not to do anything that would take away from all the hard work they've put in through winter conditioning and the first half of spring practice. Bielema also emphasized making sure those that were going home spent time with their families, not just their friends.

The team will reconvene on for a meeting on Monday, April 5, while practice resumes on Tuesday, April 6 at 3:45 p.m.

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