Friday, April 22, 2011
Spring game preview: Wisconsin
By ESPN.com staff
Wisconsin wraps up its spring practice session Saturday with the annual spring game at Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers will put the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense and the second-string offense against the second-string D.
Let's take a quick look at what's happening in Madtown.
The vitals: 1 p.m. CT Saturday (2 p.m. ET) at Camp Randall Stadium; tickets are $5 (first year Wisconsin is charging), parking in Lots 16, 17 and 18 is $10 and free in Lots 51 and 60.
More details: Wisconsin will hold a kids sports fair in the McClain Center from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. CT and other events. Click here for more information.
Three things to watch
1. Jon Budmayr: After backing up Scott Tolzien in 2010, Budmayr has the inside track to land the starting job this fall. He has had some good moments this spring but still must cement himself as the top option or face a potential challenge from Curt Phillips in preseason camp. Wisconsin asks its quarterbacks to be efficient and limit mistakes. Budmayr has a big arm and can do some things Tolzien couldn't, but he must limit turnovers. A strong performance in the spring game should give Budmayr some confidence heading into a big summer.
2. Defensive end: Besides Tolzien, Wisconsin's biggest loss comes at defensive end as All-American J.J. Watt departs. Watt contributed in so many ways and will be impossible to replace with just one player, but Wisconsin needs to identify its primary pass rushers. Louis Nzegwu and David Gilbert both boast experience at the end spot, and Brendan Kelly is healthy and performing well this spring. Wisconsin has shuffled the line at times this spring and used 320-pound Beau Allen on the outside. Pat Muldoon and others also are in the mix. Who will step up Saturday and put pressure on the quarterbacks?
3. Leadership: No Big Ten team lost more stars than Wisconsin, which said goodbye to four All-Americans in addition to team leaders like Tolzien, linebacker Culmer St. Jean and safety Jay Valai. Fans at the spring game should watch for who is taking charge on both sides of the ball. Is Budmayr taking command of the offense? Who has stepped up along the offensive line, which loses Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt and Bill Nagy? Free safety Aaron Henry and defensive tackle Patrick Butrym seem like natural leaders on defense, but who will help them? Saturday's game should provide some clues.