MADISON — The Wisconsin football team practiced under the lights Tuesday night for the first time this year, and the roughly two-hour session provided plenty of highlights.
* Wide receiver Aron Cruickshank has picked up where he left off in the spring, showing once again what a weapon he could be. In a night full of strong plays, the one that stood out came in 1-on-1 drills in the red zone. The true freshman ran a slant and put a move on the defensive back that left him on the ground. Cruickshank then hauled in the pass and celebrated with a backflip in the end zone.
* Redshirt sophomore Kendric Pryor continued his strong camp, teaming up with quarterback Alex Hornibrook for a 44-yard touchdown. Pryor had almost five yards of separation from the defender when he caught the ball. The wide receiver proceeded to dunk the ball over the goal post, drawing flags from multiple officials.
* We got our first extended look at Wisconsin’s nickel package, with senior Olive Sagapolu and redshirt freshman Matt Henningsen occupying the two defensive linemen spots, along with sophomore Madison Cone serving as the third cornerback and lining up in the slot.
Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said Monday that they plan to rotate guys through that inside role, but acknowledged that Cone had the upper hand to grab the job.
“He didn’t necessarily get many reps in games, but he really worked there throughout the course of [last] season,” Leonhard said of Cone before telling reporters what he liked about him in that spot. “The way he moves is suited really well for the slot. [The] physicality he has, the twitch that he has [and] he’s willing to tackle. He showed that last year throughout the season. He’s willing to throw his body in there.
“The game looks a little different when you start getting closer to the ball. I think he’s got a good feel for that.”
* Jon Dietzen once again was with the first-team offense at left tackle, but the junior also saw time at right tackle. It’s part of a plan by the coaching staff to cross-train guys at multiple spots. For instance, junior Jason Erdmann has seen time at both guard spots and at center in camp. It’s really just mixing and matching to find the five best guys and then their backups.
* Outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel was up to his old tricks Tuesday. The senior, whose heroics kept Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game and helped jump start the team against Miami in the Orange Bowl, once again baited a quarterback into throwing a ball he probably shouldn’t have. Instead of a potential touchdown to Quintez Cephus in the back of the end zone, Van Ginkel jumped up and nearly pulled in the interception one handed.
* Opportunities are a bit scarce for wide receivers farther down the depth chart, but Taj Mustapha made the most of his. During a team portion of practice, the true freshman caught a fastball from quarterback Jack Coan over the middle and was immediately drilled by the safety. But Mustapha held on in impressive fashion.
WR Jack Dunn (leg)
RB Garrett Groshek (leg)
OUT FOR THE SEASON
OL Blake Smithback (leg)
Garrett Rand (achilles)
Chryst speaks after practice: