Nothing better as a Coach than watching young men reach their goals. #OnWisconsin-- Gary Andersen (@UWCoachAndersen) August 5, 2014
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- Photos: Morning Practice | Afternoon Practice
Good day of work for our guys with a schedule that got everybody reps. Looking forward to getting the pads on!! #Badgers-- Gary Andersen (@UWCoachAndersen) August 5, 2014
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.
- Vote for Jump Around
The Badgers have reached another final four -- and, this time, the result is completely in the hands of Wisconsin fans.
"Jump Around" has advanced to the semifinal round of the SiriusXM College Sports Nation Traditions Tournament, where it is facing off against Arkansas' tradition of "Calling the Hogs" -- the contest's defending champion from 2013.
Voting for the contest is taking place on the SiriusXM College Sports Nation Facebook page and runs through 11 p.m. (CT) on Sunday.
After holding a sizable lead early, Jump Around was staring at a deficit of roughly 2,000 votes as of Thursday morning. This over this? No way. So go vote!
The Badgers were up and at it early on Wednesday, hitting the field inside the McClain Center for a practice session that got underway just before 6 a.m. in order to accommodate pre-spring break exams for a number of players. Darius Hillary and the defense spent a good portion of the session backed up against the end zone working to defend the Badgers' receivers.
- Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #5
Head coach Gary Andersen met with members of the media following the Badgers' early-morning practice session Wednesday inside the McClain Center.
Among the highlights of Andersen's update:
- Assistant coach Chris Beatty has taken over as the Badgers' recruiting coordinator, replacing Thomas Hammock, who is now the running backs coach with the Baltimore Ravens
- Leon Jacobs has moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker, with Andersen noting the play of Jesse Hayes at OLB this spring as a reason for shifting Jacobs inside
Spring football is underway, but it's hardly the first time the Badgers have been on the field since returning from the Capital One Bowl. How did they get to this point? Check out a behind-the-scenes look at winter conditioning for the Badgers, which was designed by the UW strength and conditioning staff to be a highly-competitive lead-in to spring ball.
- Wisconsin Football: First Quarter
The offensive and defensive lines battled it out in a series of one-on-one drills during Monday's practice, including this head-to-head matchup between OL Kyle Costigan and DE Konrad Zagzebski (Brian Mason photo).
Running backs Corey Clement and Melvin Gordon are expected to spend most of spring on the sideline as less experienced players get the majority of the reps, which was exactly the case Saturday as the duo looked on at drills inside the McClain Center (Brian Lucas photo).
- Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #3
In this week's issue of Varsity magazine, Mike Lucas sits down with UW head coach Gary Andersen and coordinators Dave Aranda and Andy Ludwig for an in-depth at what to watch for during spring practice:
Wisconsin offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig has a favorite phrase to describe the standard growing pains for everyone involved. "A year ago at this time, you were drinking water through a fire hose," he said. "Now, you're going about your business and getting ready for a great spring."Read the full story here: Varsity: A Time for Change
The operative word is "settled." Andersen used it, so did Ludwig. "We're so much more settled," Ludwig said. "The coaches know each other. The coaches know the players. The players know the coaches and the system is intact. The system is not changing. There's no new terminology to learn."
It's fair to say everything has settled down on both sides of the ball. That's what UW defensive coordinator Dave Aranda was saying. "In the attitude, in the expectations and in the anticipation of what's coming -- in all of those things -- I just think we're ahead (this spring)," he said.