Spring practice report No. 9

After a week off from practice for spring break, the Wisconsin football team was back in action inside the McClain Center on Tuesday afternoon. Wearing full pads, the Badgers wasted no time getting right back into the spirits of things as the Badger drill kicked off a spirited practice.

Video highlights from practice plus post-practice interviews with QB Scott Tolzien, WR David Gilreath and OL Gabe Carimi

Spring break must have made some of the players antsy because the intensity was there from the get-go. Most notably, the showdown between wide receiver Nick Toon and defensive back Aaron Henry during the Badger Drill at the beginning of practice resulted in a bit of a skirmish. As you can see from the photo though, both players were all smiles later in practice.

Practice9_10.jpgInjury update
The time off enabled some players to get healthy and resume practice. Starting MLB Culmer St. Jean was back at his linebacker spot, while RB Montee Ball was no longer wearing the green, no-contact jersey that he had donned in the team's previous week of practice.

Fellow running back John Clay was in attendance at practice but was using crutches following surgery on his right ankle on the Thursday before spring break. Clay had a protective boot on the foot as well.

Practice No. 9 Photo Gallery

Highlights galore
Tuesday's practice featured several notable plays, so let's break them down:

In 11-on-11 action, QB Scott Tolzien used a play-action fake to find TE Lance Kendricks wide open as he crossed over the top of the secondary for a would-be score.

As the rest of the team was engaged in run drills, the wide receivers went 1-on-1 with the defensive backs. CB Antonio Fenelus, who you'll discover made several nice plays on Tuesday, had the play of the drill. WR Isaac Anderson ran a fade route down the sidelines and had a step on Fenelus, but at the last moment Fenelus lunged forward and was able to break the pass up.

During the skeleton drill, redshirt freshman CB Dezmen Southward made a nice break on a comeback route and was able to disrupt the pass.

In the 3rd down drill, WR David Gilreath was open on the sidelines, the pass was hung up in the air and Fenelus was able to recover and knock it away.

Later in the same drill, CB Niles Brinkley had an interception that would've gone for a touchdown. RB Bradie Ewing was running a crossing route underneath and QB Jon Budmayr looked for him, but what Budmayr didn't see was Brinkley camping out in the zone. The pass was right to Brinkley who picked it off and ran away with it.

Move the Ball
As practice approached the 24th and final period, the team finished things up with the "move the ball" drill. The No. 1s got it for two possessions, while the No. 2s had three cracks at it.

With the No. 1 units on the field for a 2nd-and-4 situation, WR Nick Toon looked to have hauled in a 25-yard pass down the near sidelines, but CB Devin Smith stayed on him and was able to punch the ball free as Toon fell to the ground, resulting in an incomplete pass.

Toon redeemed himself later on the drive though. He caught a 15-yard slant, but it was no easy grab. The pass from Scott Tolzien was behind him, so as Toon cut to his right, he had to reach back with his right hand and haul in the pass to his shoulder pads.

The No. 1 offense came up empty on their opening drive though as Fenelus stepped in front of a pass intended for Toon in the back of the end zone and intercepted it to end the drive.
The No. 2 defense was stingy on its first go-around. Facing a 3rd-and-6, RB Kyle Zuleger caught a pass underneath, but Southward was there right to lay a hit on him and bring up a fourth down.

The second possession for the No. 2 offense was more successful thanks in part to a scrambling effort  by Budmayr. After the pocket broke down, he rolled out to his left and, on the run, found TE Jacob Pedersen open in the secondary for a 25-yard pickup. The drive stalled in the red zone though.

The No. 1 offense found redemption on its second drive, culminating in a pretty connection between Tolzien and Toon. It looked like the defense was in a zone, and as soon as Toon was released by Smith, Tolzien fit in a pass before the safety could get over the top.

Notes
Former safety Chris Maragos was at practice. He had worked out earlier in the day as he gears up for the NFL Draft on April 22-24. Maragos mentioned that he had heard he could go as high as the fourth round, but a good bet would be on him being taken somewhere in the fifth-seventh rounds. He said hearing that buzz excited him because he feels like it mean it's become more and more likely that someone will take a chance on him.

The Badgers are back in action on Thursday afternoon with practice at 3:45.
ON WISCONSIN