What we’ve seen from Wisconsin through one week of fall camp

MADISON — Wisconsin is a week into fall camp, and though the Badgers have yet to don full pads, we’ve seen and learned plenty during the six practices.

Here is some of what we’ve seen:

Looking good

After a bit of slow start, quarterback Alex Hornibrook has turned in several very good practices in recent days. The sophomore has added a bit of zip to some of his shorter passes, allowing him to fit the ball in tight areas, while also continuing to show a penchant for throwing with anticipation. He hasn’t completed every deep pass, but a number of Wisconsin’s most impressive plays of camp have been him hitting shots down the field. If Wisconsin gets the type of play we’ve seen from Hornibrook this week, the offense has a chance to significantly increase its production from the last two years.

Backup plan

There is very little separating the two players battling to be Hornibrook’s backup. Redshirt freshman Kare Lyles and true freshman Jack Coan have shared second-team reps, though the former seemed to take more of them on Thursday. Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said the first week was largely about installing the offense, which he made sure was the focus for both guys. Now, over the next few weeks, it’ll be just about playing and seeing which one earns the job.

More explosive

Wisconsin has lacked explosive plays out of its offense the last two years, but the Badgers have a good chance to change that in 2017. In wide receivers Jazz Peavy, Quintez Cephus, A.J. Taylor, George Rushing and Kendric Pryor, along with running backs Chris James and Bradrick Shaw, Chryst has the most talented group of skill players he’s had since returning to Madison two years ago. Several defenders have noticed a change from last season, with one saying it’s clear the coaches have loosened the reins and are giving them more freedom to make plays.

What competition?

Any thought that there would be a competition for starting jobs along the offensive line have been put to rest in the first week of camp. The team has yet to have a padded practice and injuries are certainly going to crop up, but it’s looking as if offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph has his best five guys in a group consisting of Michael Deiter at left tackle, Jon Dietzen at left guard, Tyler Biadasz at center, Beau Benzschawel at right guard and David Edwards at right tackle.

LISTEN: Michael Deiter on the challenge of moving to left tackle.

A problem off the edge

Senior Leon Jacobs is finally back at the position he was made to play — outside linebacker — and he’s been downright scary at times. He’s bullied linemen with his strength and made others look bad with a slick spin move. The California native could end up being an absolute nightmare for opposing tackles.

A job opening in the secondary

The starting secondary for Wisconsin is set and looking mighty good with Derrick Tindal and Nick Nelson at cornerback, and D’Cota Dixon and Natrell Jamerson at safety. But it doesn’t seem as though defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard has made up his mind as to who the third cornerback will be when they go to their nickel defense. Redshirt freshman Dontye Carriere-Williams has taken a lot of first-team reps, but senior Lubern Figaro continues to see time as well. It still feels like Carriere-Williams will end up there, but he hasn’t won the job yet.

LISTEN: Paul Chryst on what he’s seen from safety Natrell Jamerson

Finding the ball

Linebacker T.J. Edwards continues to be a menace for quarterbacks in the passing game. Fresh off a two interception performance in the Cotton Bowl, the junior had three interceptions in a four practice stretch this week. Fellow linebacker Chris Orr joked the quarterbacks just like throwing Edwards the ball, but went on to admit that the anticipation and instincts he shows are off the charts. Edwards has led the Badgers in tackles the last two seasons, but he could be in for an even better year in 2017.

Getting better

Kicker Rafael Gaglianone isn’t back to where he was last fall before suffering a season-ending back injury in Week 3, but he’s been solid. Of the more than 20 kicks he’s had in team situations, only one sticks out as a really bad miss. He’s got his leg strength up from where it was in the spring, and Wisconsin should feel comfortable sending him out for long kicks by the time the season rolls around.

Young guys on the field

With a such a veteran team, it won’t be easy for any of the true freshmen to see the field this fall. Of the guys that have a chance, most of it would be on special teams. That includes long snapper Adam Bay, coverage teams for cornerback Madison Cone and potentially wide receivers Cade Green and Danny Davis as punt returners.

As for redshirt freshmen, several figure to play important roles this year. In addition to Biadasz, Carriere-Williams and Pryor, the Badgers foresee defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk and tackle Patrick Kasl as key backups.

Injured players return

Quite a few key members of the team were limited in the spring, and in some cases, held out entirely. But nearly all of have returned and looked good.

Inside linebacker Jack Cichy (shoulder/pectoral) has taken all the first-team reps, along with Edwards, who missed spring with a foot injury. Behind them, Ryan Connelly and Orr have been fixtures of the second-team and played well after not seeing time in the spring.

The same goes for Dietzen at left guard and running back Taiwan Deal. The latter has drawn plenty of praise from Chryst, and has clearly gained some speed and quickness from earlier in his career.

Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck was a Wisconsin fan growing up

Wisconsin has beaten Minnesota 13 straight times in football, and the Badgers earned another victory of sorts when the first episode of ‘Being P.J. Fleck’ aired on ESPNU this week.

The show chronicles the life of new Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck, and part of the first episode focused on his aspirations as a kid growing up in Sugar Grove, Ill. Those early life dreams included wanting to play basketball for the Badgers.

The episode even included a picture of a young Fleck decked out in a red Wisconsin shirt with the old Bucky Badger logo on the front.

pj-fleck-wisconsin-minnesota-wisconsin football-minnesota football

New Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck decked out in a Wisconsin shirt during his younger days. (Buckyville via ESPNU)

Badgers excited for a healthy Taiwan Deal at running back

MADISON — Paul Chryst doesn’t normally offer up information on his own. Ask him a question about his team or a player and you’ll usually get something from the third-year coach, but he rarely volunteers anything without prompting. That’s what made his comments a few months ago about Taiwan Deal noteworthy.

Following the spring game in April, the Wisconsin coach was asked about the battle at running back between sophomore Bradrick Shaw and junior Chris James. After talking about those two, though, he brought up Deal’s name, saying they were excited to get him back after he missed the entire spring following offseason surgery.

The answer caught a few people off guard considering Deal had all of 12 carries in the final three months of the 2016 season and finished the year with 164 yards and no touchdowns. While it was known he’d been dealing with an ankle injury, most didn’t know how bad it actually was. It happened early in the year, and he never felt right the rest of the way. But Deal had surgery on the ankle after the season, took part in summer workouts and is now ready to push for time in a backfield that needs to replace 405 carries and 1,881 yards of production from a year ago.

“He healed up in the spring, had a great summer,” running backs coach John Settle said Friday. “The strength staff is fired up about how he finished the summer. Nobody is happier than he is to take the field without the worries of his ankle popping out on him.”

LISTEN: RBs coach John Settle talks Chris James, Bradrick Shaw and Taiwan Deal

Deal has rarely been healthy in his time at Wisconsin. He suffered a broken hand as a true freshman that led him to redshirt, had 503 yards and six touchdowns in 2015 but was plagued by an ankle injury over the second half of the year, and then was barely heard from after the month of September last fall.

“That’s been the frustrating thing for us,” Settle said of Deal’s injury issues. “Talent-wise, he’s probably the most natural of a guy we’ve had on the roster. But he’s always had something that’s been nagging him and couldn’t reach his full potential, in my mind.”

At 6-foot-1, 219 pounds, Deal has show an ability to run with power and averaged 5.1 yards per carry in his limited action as a sophomore. While Shaw and James both had strong springs, the belief at this point is there won’t be one back that dominates the carries, with the Badgers willing to spread the wealth to all that deserve it and that should include Deal — if he can stay healthy.

“He now feels good about where he is,” Settle said. “He’s chomping at the bit and ready to go.”

Practice No. 1

Wisconsin hit the field for the first practice of fall camp on Saturday. Here are a few things that stood out.

— As we first reported on Friday, junior Michael Deiter did indeed line up at left tackle with the first-team offense. Splitting his time between center and guard the last two years, Deiter has started 27 straight games and is now being asked to fill the void left by All-American Ryan Ramczyk, who was taken in the first round of the NFL draft in April. But the move, at least according to Chryst, isn’t that big of a deal and may not even be permanent.

“It was permanent today,” the coach said. “But he’s still going to have to do some center stuff and guard [stuff]. As we go through camp you’ll see a lot of guys moving. I wouldn’t try to make that any [kind of] lead story for anybody.”

The rest of the first-team line had sophomore Jon Dietzen at left guard, redshirt freshman Tyler Biadasz at center, junior Beau Benzschawel at right guard and sophomore David Edwards at right tackle.

The second line consisted of redshirt freshman Cole Van Lanen at LT, junior Micah Kapoi at LG, junior Brett Connors at C, sophomore Jason Erdmann at RG and redshirt freshman Patrick Kasl at RT.

LISTEN: OC Joe Rudolph is very high on center Tyler Biadasz

— The closest thing to a play of the day was quarterback Alex Hornibrook hooking up with wide receiver Jazz Peavy for a long touchdown in 7-on-7 drills. The senior put a double move on the cornerback and had 10 yards of separation by the time the ball found him.

— There were no surprises on the defensive depth chart with the first-team looking like this:

DL: senior Conor Sheehy, junior Olive Sagapolu, senior Alec James
OLB: seniors Garrett Dooley, Leon Jacobs
ILB: senior Jack Cichy, junior T.J. Edwards
CB: senior Derrick Tindal, junior Nick Nelson
S: senior Natrell Jamerson, junior D’Cota Dixon

— During the special teams period, Peavy, Nelson and a pair of true freshmen — WRs Danny Davis and Cade Green — were back as punt returners.

The versatile Michael Deiter, Alex Hornibrook works with Peyton Manning and a practice in Milwaukee

MADISON — What appeared to be a move out of necessity in the spring has turned into a legitimate possibility for the University of Wisconsin.

When the Badgers open fall camp on Saturday, junior Michael Deiter, who has started a total of 27 games at left guard and center the last two years, will be lining up at left tackle with the first-team offense. The Curtice, Ohio native saw time at the position near the end of spring when sophomore David Edwards went down with an ankle injury, but it was unclear if the move would be long-term. While things can certainly change before Wisconsin opens the season on Sept. 1 against Utah State, Deiter is penciled in as the replacement for All-American Ryan Ramczyk.

“I was more comfortable than I expected,” Deiter said of the move on Friday afternoon at Wisconsin’s local media day. “The transition wasn’t as intense as I thought it was going to be. It was pretty natural. I’m really excited to see what I can do at the start of camp out there.”

Edwards will open camp back at right tackle, which is where he started the final seven games of the 2016 season. He’s expected to battle redshirt freshman Patrick Kasl for that job.

LISTEN: OC Joe Rudolph on what Michael Deiter’s versatility could mean for him in the NFL

Wisconsin, especially during coach Paul Chryst’s tenure, has been focused on trying to get its best five players on the field along the line no matter the positions the guys are playing. By having Deiter at left tackle, and Edwards back on the right side, the coaching staff thinks, at least at this point, this is the best way to do it.

The move of Deiter could not be possible without the emergence of redshirt freshman Tyler Biadasz. Though he had never played center before coming to Wisconsin, the 6-foot-3, 316-pound, Biadasz took right to the position and the staff almost used him a year ago when injuries cropped up. In the spring, with several players sitting out, the Amherst, Wis., product took almost all of the first-team reps at center to put himself in the mix.

“Tyler wants it. You feel that, and the players feel that throughout the room,” offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said Friday. “He’s tough. He worked from day one. He wants the stress of making the right calls and executing. That’s why he’s got a right — and a great opportunity — to start at center.”

Practice in Milwaukee

Wisconsin will take fall camp on the road this year, with the school announcing Friday it will hold a practice in Milwaukee that will be open to the public. The team will then take in a Milwaukee Brewers game.

“I’ve always felt it would be great for Wisconsin to go to Milwaukee,” Chryst said. “You appreciate all the fans from the Milwaukee area that come here all the time.”

The practice will take place on Aug. 10 at Custer Stadium and should help to break up the monotony that takes hold during fall camp.

“I thought it’d be a good day for us,” Chryst said. “And then to be able to tie in something that would be a good experience for our players, go the Brewer game, I thought it’d be a good day.”

Alex Hornibrook with Peyton Manning

Named Wisconsin’s starting quarterback before spring practice, Alex Hornibrook continued his push to improve this offseason. The redshirt sophomore was among more than 40 college quarterbacks invited to take part in the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana in late June.

Started by former NFL quarterback Archie Manning in 1996, the camp is described as the premier offensive football skills camp in the nation for QBs, RBs, WRs and TEs. Two of Manning’s sons that went on to star in the NFL as quarterbacks — Peyton and Eli — are a part of it, which made it special for Hornibrook.

“The coolest thing was probably just being around Peyton and Eli,” Hornibrook said. “Those are two guys I’ve looked up to my whole life. Peyton is still my all-time favorite quarterback. To be able to be there and learn from him was an awesome experience.”

LISTEN: Alex Hornibrook talks about how he came to be a Peyton Manning fan.

Scholarship players missing

The Badgers can carry 105 players on their fall camp roster, so scholarship guys rarely get left off. But that will be the case this fall for a few of them.

Four guys — right tackle Jake Maxwell, linebacker Mason Stokke, cornerback Faion Hicks and running back Sam Broadner — were not on the roster distributed to the media on Friday due to injuries. Maxwell had offseason shoulder surgery and missed spring practice. Stokke sustained a knee injury and Chryst said during Big Ten media days in Chicago that he suffered a setback this summer. Hicks, an early enrollee, underwent shoulder surgery midway through spring practice. And Broadner suffered a knee injury in the spring game.

It’s unclear when, or if, any of the four will be able to join the team at any point during fall camp.

A fifth player, junior nose guard Jeremy Patterson, was also not included on the roster. A 3-star recruit out of Georgia, the 6-foot-3, 351-pound Patterson has been unable to get on the field for any meaningful snaps in his career and had been passed by some younger players in the spring.

Quote of the day

“Center, two guards, two tackles.”

— Rudolph when asked by a reporter what his lineup along the offensive line would be if they had a game tomorrow.

Minnesota largely downplays the importance of beating Wisconsin

There was a noticeable absence of buzz around Big Ten media days this week in Chicago. Whether it was due to the conference’s top players not being there, the lack of memorable one-liners or just media day fatigue on the part of the national media, the loud noises that came from SEC and ACC media days earlier this month were generally nowhere to be found.

And that extended to what had become a staple at the event in recent years — Minnesota players promising that they’d be parading around with Paul Bunyan’s Axe after beating Wisconsin that fall. It hasn’t happened, of course, as the Badgers have won 13 straight times, but the passion of the players each year always provided a guaranteed headline that would stoke the fires of the most-played rivalry in college football.

On Tuesday, though, there were no dramatic statements from the Gophers contingent when they spoke with reporters inside a ballroom at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago. They sidestepped nearly every question about rivalry games, including this year’s matchup with the Badgers on the final day of the regular season.

LISTEN: Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck says he took the Gophers job to win a Big Ten title

“Wisconsin is something we are not focused on right now,” defensive lineman Steven Richardson said. “We’ll focus on that down the line. We’re just as hungry for that as we are for the first game [against Buffalo].”

Running back Rodney Smith came the closest to admitting the importance of games like Wisconsin and Iowa, but the senior caught himself and laid out qualifiers while answering the question.

“Every game is a big game, but that’s definitely one the state expects us to win,” Smith said. “[We’ll] take it each game at a time, but that game specifically, we’re all looking forward to it.”

Those responses are a far cry from 2014 when defensive back Cedric Thompson talked openly about how badly he wanted the Axe back in the Twin Cities, and running back David Cobb spoke confidently about chopping down the Badgers goal posts when — not if — they won their end of the season matchup.

LISTEN: P.J. Fleck doesn’t deny being a self promoter, says every coach is.

But this is a different Minnesota outfit, and the outside message has changed. Though new coach P.J. Fleck is definitely an energetic, fast talker that feels like he’s always trying to sell you something, the former Western Michigan head man has clearly made it a priority to have his guys think about the process and not what will happen four months from now.

“I’ve never talked about winning. I’ve never talked about the number of wins. We’ve talked about building our culture the way that we build it,” Fleck said on Tuesday. “Same thing when we went from 1-11 [at Western Michigan] to 13-1. We didn’t talk about winning. We talked about every day, winning the day. Being better than we were yesterday.”

It seemed clear that the players brought to Chicago had adopted a similar mindset or had at least been coached well enough to stay on message. Any attempt to get them to open up on their desire about finally beating Wisconsin and getting the Axe back was met with answers that sounded like they came out of a textbook full of cliches.

“No,” linebacker Jonathan Celestin said when asked if they talked about the Badgers at all. “Right now we’re just focused on getting better day-by-day, trying to make sure we’re ready when camp comes, then ready for Buffalo and taking it one week at a time.”

LISTEN: P.J. Fleck was amazed at what UW TE Troy Fumagalli did to his team in the Cotton Bowl.

Once Jack Cichy stopped feeling sorry for himself, he turned his season-ending injury into a positive

CHICAGO — As Jack Cichy sat on the team bus outside of Ryan Field last November, the Wisconsin linebacker couldn’t help but think how much his fortunes had changed in just three weeks time.

His team had just finished off a 21-7 win against Northwestern, but Cichy’s mind floated back to Oct. 15 when he put on a show in a 30-23 overtime loss to No. 6 Ohio State. The then-junior finished with 15 tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack. Several scouts, including the NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, raved on social media about Cichy, whose profile was on the rise. A week later his breakout season was over, done in by a torn pectoral muscle suffered against Iowa.

“In the weeks leading up to the injury, I [was gaining] more notoriety,” Cichy said Monday at Big Ten media days. “And then to have it all come crashing down, [was tough]. Having all that notoriety one day and the next day you’re kind of off in the shadows, was weird. That was definitely very trying.”

It was as if he was rolling along at 90 miles per hour and hit a brick wall, with the mental anguish on par with the physical.

“I was down in the dumps, man. It was tough,” Cichy said of the weeks after the injury. “I was not in a good place. Feeling sorry for myself. And mentally, not as strong as I would have liked. It really tested me a lot.”

LISTEN: Jack Cichy on the difficulty the coaches will have in deciding who will start at inside linebacker

It’s usually at this point in the story that someone like Cichy would have a conversation with a coach or a teammate or a family member that would all of a sudden set him on the right path mentally. But that’s not what happened. Instead, Cichy just opened up his eyes to what was around him, which resulted in what he called an epiphany.

“I saw I had teammates that were supporting me. I had a team that was winning. I had coaches that really cared about me and family that stuck by me,” Cichy said.

“As selfish as I was those first two weeks [after the injury], at the same time I got to be around football every day. I got to be around the facilities. I got to remember that I was blessed with the opportunity to [be a] part of one of the best programs in college football. Just being able to appreciate that, day in and day out, and kind of help anyway I could, that’s really what got the ball rolling as far as my mental state and the rehab itself.”

When Cichy stopped feeling sorry for himself, his rehab took off. By the time spring practice rolled around in March, he claimed to be 100 percent recovered — a month earlier than expected. The former walk-on was kept out of full contact drills but still had a huge presence throughout the 15 practices, especially vocally. That, along with what he called the most productive summer he’s had at Wisconsin, led to his teammates voting him as one of their five captains.

LISTEN: Paul Chryst says his message hasn’t changed despite outside expectations going up.

All of the work has him feeling the best he ever has and positioned him for what could potentially be a big senior year that will result in the team being successful and him moving on to the NFL — something that he was thinking about last year before the injury.

“Me and my dad…really talked about it. We were kind of on the same page (that a conversation about leaving or staying likely would have been needed),” Cichy said. “My mom, on the other hand, she was very opposed to even [having] the discussion, even though it was a real discussion.

“In hindsight, I’m really glad I never had to face that decision. Obviously, the injury sucked, but a lot of good has come out of it. And I’m really excited to showcase all that.”

Being named captains is special for former walk-ons Jack Cichy and Troy Fumagalli

CHICAGO — Wisconsin’s walk-on tradition has become a well known contributor to the Badgers success since former coach Barry Alvarez arrived in 1990. From Joe Panos early in Alvarez’s tenure to Donnell Thompson, Jim Leonhard, J.J. Watt, Jared Abbrederis and many more, the school has thrived at finding under the radar players, developing them and watching them become stars.

Many have gone on to be captains and leaders on a number of the more successful teams in program history. That will be the case again in 2017, as former walk-ons Jack Cichy and Troy Fumagalli were named team captains on Monday.

“It means a lot to me especially because it was voted on by our players,” Fumagalli said. “I always think about the responsibility that comes with it. It’s cool they named me that. It’s my chance to be the best player and teammate I can be.

LISTEN: Jack Cichy joins ‘The Camp’ at Big Ten media days.

Cichy and Fumagalli earned their scholarships prior to the 2015 season and have been key players in helping the Badgers win 21 games the last two years.

One of the top tight ends in the country, Fumagalli led Wisconsin with 47 catches in 2016, while Cichy burst onto the scene late in 2015, including back-to-back-to-back sacks in the Holiday Bowl. The senior was off to a big start last season before suffering a torn left pectoral muscle and missing the rest of the year.

LISTEN: Troy Fumagalli joins ‘The Camp’ to talk about his legacy at Wisconsin and more

“It means a lot,” Cichy said at Big Ten media days. “I’m super appreciative, and I know a huge responsibility comes with that. Being an instate kid, being a walk-on, to earn the respect of my peers and teammates, have them vote me into that, it’s a great honor. And I know it’s all for naught if I don’t take the responsibility and be up to the challenge.”

The pair will be joined as captains by safety D’Cota Dixon, center Michael Deiter and defensive lineman Conor Sheehy.

Expectations change but the message doesn’t, UW-ND at Lambeau, and a longer fall camp

CHICAGO — Some thought Wisconsin wouldn’t win more than six games in 2016. No way were the Badgers going to make it through an early season gauntlet that had them facing LSU, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska all within the first eight games of the season. But they did more than just make it through. They vastly exceeded expectations, going 4-2 against those teams on their way to earning a Big Ten West title and a victory in the Cotton Bowl against Western Michigan.

With 15 starters back on a team likely to start the year in the top-15 in the country, the script of questions at the start of Big Ten Media Days this week in Chicago had gone in the complete opposite direction from where they were a year ago. They were still still about the schedule, but instead of which games can the Badgers win, the questions were more focused on which games — or perhaps game — could trip them up?

There is no Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State or SEC team on this year’s slate, and that’s led oddsmakers to put their over/under win total at 9.5 games. If they don’t win north of that number with what many are calling an easy schedule, some fans may lose their minds over what would surely be a disappointment in their eyes.

“That’s just an outsiders view,” junior linebacker T.J. Edwards said Monday on ‘The Camp’. “At the end of the day, every team we play is going to be a good team. If we don’t come out ready to play, they’re going to let us know [how good they are] by beating us.”

Coach Paul Chryst seemed adamant about not allowing his guys to think like outsiders do, especially after they so often had to answer the negative questions last summer.

“It’s the same talking points. It’s just flipped,” he said. “If you were going to buy into that last year, and agree you can’t worry about what’s said, now you can’t all of a sudden start reading and saying, ‘This is right.’ They know better. We’ve got to make sure they do.”

While the Badgers are the favorites to win the Big Ten West — 31 of 38 voters in a preseason media poll picked them — they aren’t expected to end up as conference champions. Most think that’ll be Ohio State or someone else from the East Division, which is thought to be much stronger than the one Wisconsin resides in and has won twice in the last three years. But Chryst is consistent in his thoughts about that outside noise.

“[I] certainly have a ton of respect for Ohio State and Coach [Urban] Meyer and the players they have,” Chryst said. “[But] that’s what is great about this season. You have to go play it. And all the talk doesn’t really matter.”

Finally going to happen

It’s looking like Wisconsin will be playing in more professional football stadiums in the near future.

The Chicago Tribune reported Monday morning that the Badgers and Notre Dame were in talks to play a game at Soldier Field. Then, at the team’s annual shareholders meeting later in the morning, Green Bay Packers team president Mark Murphy told reporters they were getting close to a deal that would have the teams play at Lambeau Field, too.

“We’ve been working on that for a while, and I would hope very soon we’d be able to announce something soon,” Murphy said, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. “Obvious [that] a Notre Dame-Wisconsin would be pretty special.”

Until it is announced, we won’t know the exactly details, but it seems likely that it will look similar to the series the Badgers had with LSU, playing at NRG Stadium in Houston in 2014 and then at Lambeau Field in 2016.

Wisconsin and Notre Dame have long been mentioned as potential opponents, especially with former coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez’s time there as an assistant before he came to the Badgers in 1990. Former coach Bret Bielema had also been pushing for a game with the Irish.

“It means we’d play Notre Dame,” Chryst said with a laugh when asked what it would mean to play Notre Dame. “It was neat for our players to play in Lambeau. That was a good experience.

“I don’t know where all those [conversations] are at, but I think it could be pretty cool.”

The two teams haven’t played each other since 1964, and Notre Dame leads the series 8-6-2 all-time.

No two-a-days

Wisconsin will report to fall camp on Friday, with their first practice coming on Saturday, which more than a week earlier than they started last year. Why? Well, a new rule put in place by the NCAA has made it so you can no longer hold two-a-days — a name for when there are two practices in a single day.

The Badgers started camp in 2016 on Aug. 8, 26 days before they opened the season. With things getting underway on Saturday, they will have 34 days before they play Utah State on Sept. 1.

“You try to come up with a good plan and be ready to adjust it if you need to,” Chryst said of tackling a more drawn out preseason. “In my mind, how do you take what used to be fall camp, which was kind of fun — it was a grind — and now make it more fall practice? How do you space it out?”

The idea behind the change was made with player safety in mind, though no one has anyway of knowing whether limiting the number of practices per day will also limit injuries, especially because there will be an additional week of practice thrown in. It was also thought that most players would be in favor of it, and maybe they are. But one Wisconsin player says he’s not a fan.

“I think if you can have camp shorter, but get the same amount of practices in, I think it benefits the team,” Edwards said Monday on ‘The Camp.’ “Once you get camp over you can really stretch out the time and get guys rest.”

Still, Edwards admitted he wasn’t sure what would really change.

“It’s not a huge deal. It’s still going to be camp,” said Edwards, who has missed much of the last two summers due to injury. “It is what it is. You’ve got to attack it no matter what.”

Wisconsin picked to win the B1G West

Writers that cover the Big Ten either really like Wisconsin or really have a low opinion of the Big Ten West. Either way, the Badgers are the overwhelming favorite to win their division for a third time in four years.

Cleveland.com polled 38 media members that cover the conference, and 31 picked Wisconsin to repeat in the West, while five had Northwestern and two chose Nebraska. In the East, Ohio State was also the pick of most, garnering 34 first-place votes, with defending Big Ten champion Penn State getting seven votes and Michigan getting one.

As for the title game, just four of the 31 writers that picked Wisconsin to make it there actually had them winning in Indianapolis. Three had the Badgers beating Ohio State and another had them over Penn State.

Overall, Ohio State was picked to win the Big Ten championship by 29 of the writers.

The poll also asked which teams would make the College Football Playoff, and Wisconsin got four votes as the only Big Ten team to make it, while one voter had Wisconsin and Ohio State both making it.

The writers also voted on offensive and defensive players of the year, with a first-place vote counting for three points, a second-place vote counting for two points and a third-place vote counting for one point.

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley was the runaway winner on offense, garnering 103 points and 30 first-place votes. Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook received two points and tight end Troy Fumagalli got one.

On defense, Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis managed just beat out Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell – 61 points to 59 points. Wisconsin linebackers Jack Cichy (10 points, 1 first-place vote) and T.J. Edwards (7 points, 1 first-place vote) finished seventh and 10th respectively in the voting.

Full results via Cleveland.com:


1. Ohio State, 260 points (34 first-place votes)
2. Penn State, 231.5 (7)
3. Michigan, 192 (1)
4. Michigan State, 128
5. Indiana, 114
6. Maryland, 100.5
7. Rutgers, 38
(first-place votes equal more than 38 because of some ties for first)


1. Wisconsin, 259 points (31 first-place votes)
2. Northwestern, 219 (5)
3. Nebraska, 176.5 (2)
4. Iowa, 164.5
5. Minnesota, 131
6. Purdue, 57
6. Illinois, 57

Here were the predictions for the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis on Dec. 2.

Ohio State over Wisconsin (22)
Ohio State over Northwestern (5)
Ohio State over Nebraska (2)
Wisconsin over Ohio State (3)
Wisconsin over Penn State (1)
Penn State over Wisconsin (4)
Michigan over Wisconsin (1)


1. Saquon Barkley, Penn State RB, 103 points (30 first-place votes)
2. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State QB, 59 points (5)
3. Trace McSorley, Penn State QB, 30 points (2)
4. Justin Jackson, Northwestern RB, 25 points (1)
5. Mike Weber, Ohio State RB, 2 points
5. L.J. Scott, Michigan State RB, 2 points
5. Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin QB, 2 points
5. Rodney Smith, Minnesota RB, 2 points
9. Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin TE, 1 point
9. Simmie Cobbs, Indiana WR, 1 point
9. Jamarco Jones, Ohio State LT, 1 point


1. Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State DE, 61 points (11 first-place votes)
2. Josey Jewell, Iowa LB, 59 points (12)
3. Rashan Gary, Michigan DE, 23 points (3)
4. Tegray Scales, Indiana LB, 19 points (4)
5. Jerome Baker, Ohio State LB, 12 points (2)
6. Sam Hubbard, Ohio State DE, 11 points (2)
7. Jack Cichy, Wisconsin LB, 10 points (1)
8. Maurice Hurst, Michigan DT, 9 points (1)
9. Marcus Allen, Penn State S, 9 points
10. T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin LB, 7 points (1)
11. Nick Bosa, Ohio State, DE 4 points (1)
12. Godwin Igwebuike, Northwestern S, 2 points
13. Steven Richardson, Minnesota DT, 1 point
13. Blessuan Austin, Rutgers CB, 1 point

New faces, numbers added to Wisconsin’s 2017 roster

MADISON — Wisconsin has released an updated football roster for the 2017 season.

Here are some of the more notables changes:

New numbers

S Patrick Johnson — No. 2 (22)
WR Kendric Pryor — No. 3 (27)
WR A.J. Taylor — No. 4 (84)
S Joe Ferguson — No. 8 (36)
OLB Christian Bell — No. 55 (49)

New freshmen numbers

WR Danny Davis III — No. 6
QB Jack Coan — No. 10
QB Danny Vanden Boom — No. 15
CB Faion Hicks — No. 20
WR Cade Green — No. 22
RB Jonathan Taylor — No. 23
CB Madison Cone — No. 24
S Scott Nelson — No. 25
LB Izayah Green-May — No. 50
LS Adam Bay — No. 51
OL Logan Bruss — No. 60
OL Tyler Beach — No. 65
DE Aaron Vopal — No. 69
OL Alex Fenton — No. 73
OL Kayden Lyles — No. 76
WR Emmet Perry — No. 82
TE Jake Ferguson — No. 84
WR Deron Harrell — No. 89

Bulking up

Wisconsin is all about the big guys and several have added a significant amount of weight from what they were listed at prior to last season.

LT David Edwards — +30 to 315 lbs
RT Patrick Kasl — +34 to 325 lbs
C Tyler Biadasz — +25 to 316 lbs
LT Cole Van Lanen — +20 to 307 lbs
DE Isaiahh Loudermilk — +29 to 306 lbs
DE Billy Hirschfeld — +15 to 305 lbs
ILB Arrington Farrar — +17 to 237 lbs
ILB Griffin Grady — +14 to 225 lbs
RB Bradrick Shaw — +9 to 220 lbs
RB Chris James — +11 to 219 lbs
WR Quintez Cephus — +10 to 205 lbs
WR A.J. Taylor — +8 to 202 lbs
WR George Rushing — +8 to 200 lbs
S Natrell Jamerson — +10 to 198 lbs

No longer around

Offseason attrition is normal in college football, and Wisconsin had its share before and after spring practice.

(* indicates a walk-on)

* TE Mitchell Herl
DE Jake Hescock (transfer)
* LB Max Praschak (transfer to UW-River Falls)
* RB Troy Laufenberg
* S Bret Verstegen
* WR Jack Popp
LB Dallas Jeanty (transfer)
* OL Kelly Thomas
OL Kevin Estes (medical non-counter waiver being pursued)
* Ian Dretzka