Monday, April 20, 2009
Recapping Wisconsin's spring game
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Wisconsin put a bow on spring ball Saturday with its annual spring game at Camp Randall Stadium. Not surprisingly, the Cardinal team, made up of the starting offense and starting defense, beat the second stringers from the White team 56-20.
Badgers offensive coordinator Paul Chryst wanted to narrow the team's quarterback competition from four players to two by the end of spring ball, and he might have gotten his wish. Redshirt freshman Curt Phillips made a strong push last week and performed well in the spring game, leading the offense to touchdowns on four of six possessions.
Phillips completed 10 of 16 pass attempts for 122 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score.
"He's a lot further along right now," head coach Bret Bielema told reporters. "In one of our early practices I said how is this year different than last year. And he said, 'Coach I was saying words in the huddle I didn't even know what they meant.' So he is just that much further along understanding what we are doing offensively."
The starting quarterback spot likely will come down to Phillips, junior Scott Tolzien and frontrunner Dustin Sherer, who led two touchdown drives but also threw an interception in the spring game.
Other notes from Wisconsin's spring game:
- Despite P.J. Hill's early departure to the NFL, the Badgers should once again have one of the Big Ten's deepest rushing attacks. In addition to powerful sophomore John Clay, junior Zach Brown stood out with 110 rush yards and a touchdown on only 14 carries. Redshirt freshman Erik Smith turned in a strong spring and gives the Badgers a little different look. Smith had 66 rush yards on eight carries in the spring game.
- Nick Toon might have established himself as the team's No. 1 wide receiver this spring. Toon finished a stellar spring with four catches for 62 yards and a touchdown in the spring game. Wisconsin's tight ends also will continue to play a major role in the passing game, as both Garrett Graham and Lance Kendricks are viable pass-catching options.
- Defensive end O'Brien Schofield had to play with the second-team defense after showing up two minutes late to a meeting Friday. Accountability is a much larger theme for Wisconsin this spring, and Schofield responded with two sacks against the first-team offensive line in the spring game.
- Bielema awarded scholarships to safety Chris Maragos and defensive end J.J. Watt, both of whom transferred to Wisconsin from MAC schools (Western Michigan and Central Michigan). Maragos started several games last fall and will be in the mix at safety, while Watt has established himself as a starter at end opposite Schofield.
- After a hot start to the spring, freshman quarterback Jon Budmayr slowed down a bit. Budmayr went 0-for-5 with an interception in the spring game and could be heading for a redshirt season.
- Safety Jay Valai, a projected starter, sat out the spring game as he continues to recover from sports hernia surgery.