Practice Report No. 19

Tuesday's afternoon 30-period practice featured a scrimmage, which marked the final time the team will have live tackling before the season-opener against UNLV on Sept. 4.

Wednesday's practice marks a transition as the team begins to focus in on UNLV. The Badgers will go 30 periods in full pads beginning at 2:30 p.m.

IMG_1255.jpgScrimmage highlights
The No. 1 offense used a heavy dose of John Clay to begin Tuesday's scrimmage. Starting at its own 28-yard line and going against the No. 2 defense, the offense ran it with Clay on the first six plays of the drive. Clay tallied 35 yards on the six carries, including an 18-yarder on his second handoff. Owning a first-and-10 at the defense's 37, Lance Kendricks caught a crossing pass over the middle and, with no coverage on the left side of the field, was able to outrace a pair of defenders and reach the end zone.

The No. 1 defense then took the field against the No. 2 offense and held it to just seven plays over two drives. The offense's only first down came on the first play as Jon Budmayr found Sherard Cadogan for 11 yards. After a three-yard pass to Kyle Jefferson on first-and-10, J.J. Watt tackled Montee Ball for no gain and a tipped pass at the line ended the drive.

As the next drive started, Budmayr tried to hook up with Jacob Pedersen but the first attempt was broken up by Aaron Henry, while Shelton Johnson broke up the next pass. On third-and-10, Kevin Rouse was able to reach Budmayr for the sack.

The units moved on to red zone work next, but things got off to a rocky start for the No. 1 offense as Clay fumbled a ball that was recovered by safety Conor O'Neill. It was just a momentary setback though as Scott Tolzien connected with Nick Toon on a 22-yard score to start the next drive on a wide receiver screen.

The No. 1 defense continued with its strong performance as the No. 2 offense took over in the red zone at the 19-yard line. An incomplete pass was followed by a one-yard run by Bradie Ewing. The drive ended on the third play as multiple players got in to the backfield to sack Budmayr.

Each unit then got a chance to work the two-minute drill, and the No. 1 offense came through with a touchdown.

Trailing by five and starting at its own 29-yard line with 1:47 showing on the clock, Tolzien found Toon for 13 yards to start. Two incompletions were followed by a bat down to make it fourth-and-10 at the 42. Pressure forced Tolzien to scramble and buy time in the pocket, while Toon broke off his route and improvised before making a 20-yard sliding grab to keep the drive alive. A 15-yard pass to Kendricks moved the ball to the defense's 38-yard line with 1:03 on the clock.

Following an incompletion, Kendricks caught a pass but it was for only eight yards in the middle of the field, which kept the clock moving. Tolzien was able to hit Toon on a four-yard out route to stop the clock and get a first down with 22 seconds remaining. The offense needed just one more play as Tolzien threw a nice fade pass that Jared Abbrederis went up high to snare for the score.

The No. 1 defense again flexed its muscles, getting a bat down and an incompletion to force a third-and-10 at the No. 2 offense's 29-yard line. A 10-yard shovel pass from Budmayr to Ball set up a first down, but that would be all the defense would surrender on the drive. Chris Borland got a seven-yard sack before Louis Nzegwu broke up a pass in coverage. Incomplete passes followed on third-and-17 and fourth-and-17 to end the scoring threat.

Role reversal
The team began practice by changing things up and having the offensive players work with the defensive coaches and vice versa. The idea was to get the two sides ready in case of a turnover, which would mean a running back might have to tackle someone and a defensive lineman may turn in to a running back.

The offensive coaches spent time hitting the defensive players with pads as they carried the ball to ensure ball security, while the offensive players worked on tackling technique.

Guest Speaker
Last week, the Badgers got a special visit from former Badger Adam Burish and the Stanley Cup. On Tuesday, two-time U.S. Open champion and Badger supporter Andy North was on hand to deliver a brief pep talk to the team. He spoke about the importance of doing the little things to better the individual, because when everyone then comes together, the team will get improve.

Valai returns
Senior safety Jay Valai participated in practice for the first time since suffering a concussion on Aug. 13. Donning a green, no-contact jersey, he took part in non-contact drills but did make a couple of interceptions in passing drills.

ON WISCONSIN