Wisconsin practice report: 8/5

MADISON — For the first time since Wisconsin got fall camp underway Aug. 1, the media was allowed in to get an extended look late Monday morning.

It was the fifth practice and it was expected to be the last one of the installation phase. Coaches have said once the phase was over, they’d just let the guys go play and fight for jobs over the next two weeks. We’ll get to see what that looks like on Wednesday. Until then, here’s what we saw late Monday in Madison.

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The quarterback battle

Jack Coan was first up in every drill, 7-on-7 work and when the team went 11-on-11. Save for one overthrow that was intercepted, the junior looked pretty good. His day included hitting junior Kendric Pryor for a 40-yard touchdown on a quick slant, going deep to sophomore Aron Cruickshank for a 40-yard score and hooking up with junior Danny Davis on a perfect touch throw to the side of the end zone for another touchdown. Coan did much of his damage out of the shotgun, which is where he shined at times last year.

Redshirt freshman Chase Wolf and true freshman Graham Mertz took turns splitting the second-team reps and it was a mixed bag. Each threw an interception and didn’t have a ton of success. Wolf did have a couple big time throws on crossing routes to Davis and junior running back Jonathan Taylor.

It was a small sample size, but at this point it feels as if Coan is several yards out in front in the race for the starting job.

Wide receivers making plays

A couple days after former quarterback Alex Hornibrook took some apparent shots at their work ethic and overall talent, the wide receivers made plays all over the field.

Cruickshank had the catch of the day, going up with one hand and grabbing the ball for a 20-yard touchdown with cornerback Caesar Williams in tight coverage. Davis, Pryor, senior AJ Taylor and junior Jack Dunn also added touchdowns in team or 7-on-7 drills.

Lots of bodies along the OL

Wisconsin’s offensive line is a work in progress and we saw a ton of movement among the guys battling for spots.

The starting unit looked like this:

LT Cole Van Lanen
LG Jason Erdmann
C Tyler Biadasz
RG Josh Seltzner
RT Logan Bruss

There was constant rotating, though, with redshirt sophomore Kayden Lyles seeing time at left guard and right guard, while Erdmann also played a little center. Redshirt sophomore Tyler Beach filled in at both tackle spots, with senior David Moorman getting work at both guard spots and center.

Forcing turnovers

After finishing second nationally in interceptions in 2016 and 2017, the Badgers dropped to 24th last year. There was a big focus in the spring about getting their hands on more passes and it continued here early in camp.

Sophomore Rachad Wildgoose picked off a pass from Coan early on, then a tipped Wolf pass fell into the hands of John Torchio. The most impressive pick of the day came courtesy of Caesar Williams, who read Mertz’s eyes perfectly and jumped an out route for a pick-6.

Just keeps showing up

Leo Chenal was all over the field in the spring and he looked good again Monday. The true freshman, who is 250 pounds and built like a bull, came on a blitz near the end of practice and ran right through running back Nakia Watson on his way to what would have been a sack and a safety.

His brother, John, is in the battle for the starting fullback job. The sophomore made a big play, too, catching a swing pass and rumbling for what would have been a 40-yard gain.

Complete starting units (based on Monday’s reps)

Offense:

QB Jack Coan
RB Jonathan Taylor
WR AJ Taylor
WR Kendric Pryor
WR Danny Davis
TE Jake Ferguson
LT Cole Van Lanen
LG Jason Erdmann
C Tyler Biadasz
RG Josh Seltzner
RT Logan Bruss

Defense:
DE Matt Henningsen
NT Bryson Williams
DE Garrett Rand
OLB Zack Baun
ILB Chris Orr
ILB Jack Sanborn
OLB Izayah Green-May
CB Deron Harrell
S Scott Nelson
S Reggie Pearson
CB Rachad Wildgoose

Special teams

Colin Larsh and Zach Hintze are in the competition to replace Rafael Gaglianone. Both hit the ball well Monday, with only one missed kick (Larsh) between them.

Among those getting punt return work were Dunn, Davis and Cruickshank, while Pryor, cornerback Faion Hicks and Cruickshank were back on kick return.

Injuries

OUT

WR Dean Engram (leg)
OL Michael Furtney (leg)
WR Cade Green (leg)
DL Isaiahh Loudermilk (arm)
OLB Spencer Lytle (leg)
WR Cam Phillips (leg)
RB Brady Schipper (leg)
OL Blake Smithback (leg)

OUT FOR SEASON

TE Gabe Lloyd (leg)

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