Photos: Morning Practice | Afternoon Practice
The month-long march to a much-anticipated season opener began Monday for the Wisconsin football team, which took the field at Camp Randall Stadium in shifts for the first practices of the 2014 season.
The 14th-ranked Badgers opened fall camp -- and, in essence, their preparation for No. 13 LSU -- with a pair of split-squad sessions aimed at maximizing the number of reps for each player. The divided approach will continue Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before the Badgers strap on full pads for the first time on Friday.
The morning session's 6:20 a.m. start time meant football under the lights for the first group of players, who drilled for 16 periods with a number of their teammates who were slotted into the afternoon session on hand as spectators. "If they think that they can gain something out of a practice, then they can come in and watch it," UW head coach Gary Andersen said of the non-participating players. "If I was fighting for a spot, pretty good chance I'd be sitting in those stands."
"I like the schedule," he added. "I think it's great. The reps were fantastic."
One highlight came from freshman kicker Rafael Gaglianone, who went 5-for-5 on field goal tries to open the practice, including an on-the-money boot from 49 yards that had plenty of yardage to spare. "You're going to make me comment on a kicker after one day?" Andersen quipped when he was asked about Gaglianone's performance after the day's second practice.
"He hit them all and he was very confident," Andersen said. "He said, 'Don't worry, coach, I'll make them all.' It was good. I like it. It's better than saying, 'Coach, I plan on missing three today.'"
Also drawing strong reviews was freshman wide receiver George Rushing, whose exploits in the morning session included a one-handed catch he made despite losing a shoe while running his route, and afternoon participant Taiwan Deal, who Andersen is hopeful can take the role of No. 3 tailback behind junior Melvin Gordon and sophomore Corey Clement.