Practice Report No. 8

Defensive_Line_8_16.JPGAfter taking Sunday off for Media Day, the Badger football team was back out on the field Monday morning for the first of two practices on the day. The team was in full pads as they went for 28 periods outside in Camp Randall Stadium.

The team goes for another 24 periods on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. in half-packs (shoulder pads and helmets).

Punt block emphasized
In the 2009 season, the Wisconsin football team blocked two punts, both of which were returned for touchdowns. The team is hoping for more big plays on special teams in 2010, so one of Monday's periods was spent on a punt blocking drill.

Alec Lerner, Kyle French and Ryan Wickesberg served as the punters while defending players lined up at cones, eluded a defender and tried to block the punt. Defensive backs coach Chris Ash served as the instructor during the drill, and he stressed proper technique. Some players came in with arms up to block the punt, but Ash told them to keep their arms low since the ball would be coming off the punter's foot.

In addition, some players were going for the block too soon and extending their arms before reaching the punter. Ash instructed them to run as hard as they could at the punter and then stick their arms out at the last second. Upon a successful block, players then had to be sure to scoop the ball up and take off for the end zone. Among the successful players to block punts were Dezmen Southward and Devin Smith.

Moving the ball
The later stages of practice saw a lot of work on moving the ball, or at least trying to move the ball. While the offense was tasked with gaining yardage, the defense was trying to get off the field. On Monday it was advantage defense. No first downs were gained by either offense as the No. 1 and No. 2 unit defenses combined to go seven-for-seven on the drill.

The No. 1 defense had four three-and-outs, while the No. 2 unit was three-for-three. The first unit got off the field thanks to an incomplete pass, a sack by linebacker Chris Borland, a tackle before the sticks and another incompletion.

Freshman linebacker Josh Harrison had a tackle for loss to get the second unit's first third-down stop, while cornerback Antonio Fenelus had an interception on the second series and an incompletion ended the third series.

Third down stops
After the aforementioned punt block drill, the team moved on to a third-down drill. All plays came on third-down scenarios, but the yardage was different on nearly every play.

The No. 1 offense was three-for-nine as it went up against the No. 1 defense. All the first downs came on passes from Scott Tolzien to tight end Lance Kendricks. Of the six stops for the defense, four came via sack, as J.J. Watt tallied three on his own and Jay Valai added the other.

The No. 2 defense was a perfect four-for-four on its third down plays as a pair of incompletions, coupled with a Shelton Johnson interception and a bat down by Conor O'Neill gave the squad the shutout in the drill.

Extra Work
Following was they perceived to be a sloppy practice, the offensive players stayed on the field afterward to fine-tune some things. For about 10 minutes, the No. 1 and No. 2 units ran plays against air. Tolzien and offensive linemen Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt could be overheard stressing to everyone the importance of doing the little things right on every play.