August 24, 2009

Team back in full pads Monday morning

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin football team got a well deserved day off Sunday when they met with fans during Family Fun day. Monday morning, though, brought the team back to full pads for first of two practices.

Without a cloud in the sky, the team practiced for approximately two hours. Outside of a few penalties that were again punished with 100 yards worth of up downs and a terrible interception by Curt Phillips, the morning session went by rather quietly.

Watching the quarterbacks:

Head coach Bret Bielema has made it known that he will name the starting quarterback no later than Wednesday of this week. Being that that deadline is only two days away, it came as no surprise that all three of the quarterbacks received plenty of reps and plenty of chances to throw the ball.

In fact, the quarterbacks threw so much that no running back logged more than Montee Ball's seven carries throughout the 'move-the-chain' portion of practice.

Not reading into it too much, but Scott Tolzien was the first quarterback under center to start the scrimmage periods of practice. He finished 2-for-5 throwing with one very well thrown deep ball to Maurice Moore down the sideline. He failed, however, to lead the team in for a score as he couldn't connect with David Gilreath on a third and seven play.

Phillips, who threw an unacceptable pick six directly to Shelton Johnson earlier in practice, was the only quarterback that led the team downfield for a touchdown. On the drive with the No. 2 offense and No. 2 defense, Phillips went 4-for-5 for approximately 48 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target throughout the drill was freshman tight end Brian Wozniak.

Phillips found Wozniak open in the gap of the defensive zone for a 25-yard completion to start the drive. He then ended it with a 13-yard toss to the same player for an easy touchdown.

Dustin Sherer went 2-for-4 in the same drill with a costly interception by Devin Smith to end the drive inside the red zone. On the play, Sherer tried hitting Isaac Anderson across the middle but threw a bit behind him. Anderson, in an attempt to make the catch, inadvertently tipped the ball high into the air. The ball fell neatly into the hands of Smith, who promptly returned it for a touchdown.

Overall, Phillips was the only quarterback to lead a touchdown drive. However, as complete as that drive was, his interception during the skeleton drill earlier in practice was that bad.

Ball and Clay receive plenty of reps:

It was made known over the weekend that Zach Brown would be the starting running back. On Monday, though, Brown only logged one carry during the move-the-chain drill while Ball and Clay received seven and six respectively.

Ball, who stood out during Saturday's scrimmage, continued his bruising style when running the ball. He never broke a run for more than 10 yards during practice, but he consistently ripped off five-to-seven yard gains that made it easy to keep the chains moving.

Clay, however, did tally some big runs. On one play, following a big gain by Nick Toon, Clay took the handoff and looked to go off right tackle. But as the play developed, Clay hesitated, saw an opening in the middle, and took it for 15 yards. If the team were fully tackling, he probably would have took it in for a touchdown as the defender barely got a hand on him when the coaches blew the whistle.

Bits and Pieces:

-Both J.J. Watt and O'Brien Schofield recorded a sack during team drills (11-on-11) earlier in practice.

-Freshman linebacker Nick Hill made the hit of the day when he broke through the line and leveled Phillips. Though he didn't intend to take down Phillips, the sheer force he met him with dropped him quick.

-Toon had the play of the day when he out-jumped both Smith and Chris Maragos on a deep ball from Sherer. At the moment of release, both defenders had Toon blanketed, but the sophomore wide-out still managed to make a play on the ball and finish the big play.

The team will return to Camp Randall Stadium Monday night for the second of two practices on the day.

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