Thursday, April 10, 2014
Spring game preview: Wisconsin
By Adam Rittenberg
Ten league squads wrap up spring practice this weekend, and we're taking a look at each spring game or scrimmage. Up next: the Wisconsin Badgers.
When: 4 p.m. ET Saturday
Where: Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.
Admission: Tickets are $5 and will benefit Wisconsin's School of Education. Children under 2 admitted free.
TV: Big Ten Network (live)
Weather forecast: Cloudy with a chance of showers, high of 62 degrees, winds at 10-15 mph
What to watch for: Coach Gary Andersen said the Badgers will use thud tackling for the first half of the scrimmage with the first-team offense against the first-team defense, the second-team offense against the second-team defense and so on. Top running backs Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement, who have had very limited contact most of the spring, will participate in this section. After a halftime break, the Badgers will have a full-tackle scrimmage with a scoring system, putting the first-team offense against the second-team defense and the first-string defense against the second-team offense.
Gordon and Clement will sit out the second half, and right tackle Rob Havenstein won't play much. "But everybody else is going to go," Andersen said. "They need to play."
Quarterback Joel Stave will not play because of a lingering shoulder injury, so Tanner McEvoy has a chance to end the spring on a positive note before the competition with Stave really heats up this summer. Signal callers Bart Houston and D.J. Gillins also should get some work. Wisconsin is very thin at wide receiver because of injuries and the pass game struggled in last week's scrimmage, so it will be interesting to see if anyone can get anything going. Senior Kenzel Doe has stepped forward this spring at the slot position.
The spring game also gives fans a chance to see a new-look defense that has featured plenty of position changes this spring. Coordinator Dave Aranda wants more speed on the field and has been impressed with young players like ends Chikwe Obasih and Alec James. Freshman Austin Hudson also has seen plenty of work at safety, and junior cornerback Devin Gaulden is making the most of his opportunity after a long road back from knee injuries.
Several projected offensive line starters are sidelined but fans can check out freshman Michael Deiter, a mid-year enrollee who has been working as the first-string center.
Unlike last year's senior-laden team, Wisconsin is very much a work in progress, and the spring game offers some good subplots.