MADISON — Wisconsin was on the practice field late Thursday morning and in full pads for the first time.
Here’s what we saw and heard:
* Coach Paul Chryst lit into his guys after practice, criticizing their inability to fight through a two-hour session on a very warm and humid day in Madison. The message, essentially, was to stop thinking that anything they accomplished last season will have an impact this fall, as well as the need to lock in every single practice.
“It’s a new year,” tackle David Edwards said of what he took from Chryst’s message. “You got a hot day like this [and] a long practice, you have to be mentally prepared and focused for the entire time. [There were] a lot of ups and downs [Thursday]. It’s about staying consistent and staying even keeled the whole time.”
* Alex Hornibrook is clearly throwing the ball down the field better in this camp than he has the last few years. The junior found Quintez Cephus for a big gain in team drills and later put a ball right on Kendric Pryor for what would have been a near touchdown.
Sophomore Danny Davis credited the recent success to all the snaps the receivers got with Hornibrook last season, as well as the time spent with him in the offseason.
“Our timing last year was a little rough,” Davis said. “But [getting better timing is] what happens when you come in here and throw with Alex [a lot]. You just get that connection.”
* Rafael Gaglianone was held out of a third straight practice and for the first time he appeared on the injury report with a right leg injury. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reported the kicker is dealing with some pain in his back.
The senior has actually had back surgery twice since coming to Wisconsin — once after his freshman year and then again a few weeks into the 2016 season.
Gaglianone was walking with what appeared to be slight limp, but it’s unclear how severe the leg or back injury really is. The Badgers hopes is it’s not serious considering their two backups — Zach Hintze and Colin Larsh — are a combined 0-0 in field goal attempts in college.
* Cornerbacks Faion Hicks and Deron Harrell returned to practice after missing a few days with injuries. When camp opened Hicks was one of the starting corners. When he went down on the first day, Harrell replaced him. But even with both of them back, the Badgers rolled with redshirt sophomore Caesar Williams as the man opposite Dontye Carriere-Williams with the first-team defense.
The musical chairs that defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard has had to play so far is not ideal considering the youth in the secondary. The Badgers have to be hoping that Hicks, Harrell and Williams can stay healthy the next few weeks and give them a better grasp on who the No. 2 cornerback will be.
* Injuries are becoming more of a story as camp moves along. On Thursday, tackle Jason Erdmann (leg), along with linebackers Griffin Grady (arm) and Christian Bell (dehydration), dropped out of practice.
The most serious of the three appeared to be Erdmann, who stayed down for several minutes before limping off and being taken inside for further evaluation. With redshirt sophomore Tyler Biadasz (unknown) being held out of most drills, Erdmann’s injury forced the Badgers to go to their fourth option at center with senior Micah Kapoi.
* Freshman Reggie Pearson has played well enough that he’s running with the second-team defense at safety. An early enrollee, Pearson has normally been paired with redshirt sophomore Patrick Johnson.
* Running back Jonathan Taylor is too good of player to fumble as much as he did last year. On his way to setting the FBS freshman rushing record, Taylor also put the ball on the ground eight times and lost six of them — the third-most in the country.
He said Thursday that after going back and watching each turnover, it became clear his biggest issue wasn’t technique, but rather an inability to recognize where he was on the field and protecting the ball as needed. Rectifying the issue is a top priority in camp.