August 14, 2007

Reserves utilizing precious time

As the majority of the students on the University of Wisconsin campus scurried to move from one house to another as leases expired Tuesday afternoon, the Badger football team spent their time at the Camp Randall facilities, preparing for their first game of the 2007 season that is now just over two weeks away.

Returning to full pads after Monday's two-a-day, here is Badgerblitz.com's look at Day 8 of fall camp, Tuesday, April 14.

Injury report

Starters Travis Beckum, DeAndre Levy, Kurt Ware and Jack Ikegwuonu all missed practice. The good news is that none of these injuries appear to be serious according to head coach Bret Bielema, and that Matt Shaughnessy played a couple snaps with the No. 2 defense at defensive end. The junior has been out since last week with an injury.

Ware was also in full pads, but did not participate in team drills.

Bielema talked Monday about resting players with minor injuries, guys who have "done special things for this team," to not only bring them to full strength, but open up more reps for the youngsters.

Garrett Graham apparently overheard the conversation.

The sophomore tight end made the most of his time on the field Tuesday in Beckum's absence, catching multiple passes Tuesday night from all angles of the field while showing a burst of speed after the catch. Cleary now the No. 3 tight end behind Beckum and senior Andy Crooks, Graham appears to be able to step in and not only hold his own, but stretch the field for the Badgers if needed.

If it wasn't for Graham's performance, the story of Tuesday's practice would have been the play of Paul Hubbard. The senior wide receiver is on a tear over the past two days, shining once again just a day after Bielema said he had his most complete practice of fall camp.

Slowly evolving into a preferred target of both Tyler Donovan and Allan Evridge, Hubbard's size and speed have never been doubted, but his fluid catching ability that has developed since camp opened has made him a dangerous weapon in offensive coordinator Paul Chryst[db]'s playbook.

Position battle update

Senior [db]Danny Kaye saw the majority of the snaps with the No. 1 offense, with freshman Gabe Carimi slotted behind him. It now appears that sophomore Jake Bscherer will spend the remainder of camp at right tackle.

Though the quarterback job still appears to be wavering in Donovan's direction, Evridge is finally beginning to make his case to be the Badgers signal caller. The lefty was very effective for the second day in a row, and when given time, he delivers with slightly more touch than the fifth-year senior.

Evridge saw a lot of time late in practice playing with the No. 1 offense and responded by utilizing the top weapons at his disposal. At this point in the season, both quarterbacks are playing their best football since the opening of spring camp.

Finally, a battle that most did not foresee was not as hot as in days past. Junior Andy Kemp, who started 13 games a year ago at guard, has been pushed by freshmen John Moffitt to the point where this will be a legitimate fight for the remainder of camp. Kemp spent the majority of the practice working with the No. 1's, but Moffitt is still closely behind, as he continues to improve with every rep he takes.

Play of the day

Nick Toon[db]'s one handed grab across the middle of the field has now been moved to the second best offensive play of fall camp after fellow freshmen [db]David Gilreath through his best attempt into contention Tuesday.

Sprinting full speed down the far sideline, Gilreath laid out and made an acrobatic one-handed catch on a ball thrown by Evridge. Even more impressive, he managed to control his body enough to stay inbounds, even causing the Badger defensive sideline to award him the catch.

Double the fun

Defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz let his unit know before 11-on-11 team drills that they only forced two turnovers Monday. They responded a day later by doubling that total, with interceptions by Kim Royston and Shane Carter, as well as fumble recoveries by Aubrey Pleasant and Brandon Kelly. Evridge and Donovan delivered the two picks, respectively.

Notes

Offensive guard Kraig Urbik was not feeling quite right,, according to Bielema, and left midway through practice.

Marcus Randle El, Gilreath, Luke Swan and Maurice Moore fielded punts from Ken DeBauche during special teams drills.

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