Wisconsin Spring Football Game: 5 Things That Matter
What do you need to know about what happened in the Wisconsin spring football game?
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1. What Mattered From The Spring Game?
Not too much. Almost all of the key defensive players sat out or saw limited action, none of the key receivers saw much action, projected starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook didn’t play, and neither did star TE Troy Fumagalli. So, basically, it was a moment for Badger fans to check out the backups.
However, PK Rafael Gaglianone returned after missing almost all of last year with a back problem, and he hit 2-of-3 field goals, connecting on a 42-yarder. Potential backup QB Jack Can hit 10-of-17 throws for 121 yards with a touchdown and a pick, and Bradrick Shaw ran for for 34 yards on four carries – tearing off a big early run.
2. This Spring Jim Leonhard’s Defense Looked …
Outstanding. It’s way early in the process, and the Badgers didn’t go full force blasting away in the spring practice, but the new defensive coordinator should keep the fun going. Many of the key starters at linebacker were out to stay/get healthy, but the corps is loaded.
Forget any concerns about losing T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel – the Badgers have more than enough options both inside and out. Leonhard is going to be able to tinker with this group for the rest of the offseason to find the right starting foursome.
As good as the linebackers should be, the front three might be better. The depth is there, the size is in place, and there should be a good rotation. The upside of the front seven is a must considering the concerns in the secondary that should be fine in time.
3. The Running Game
Losing Corey Clement stinks, and Dare Ogunbowale was a terrific third down option, but the Badgers could turn out to be every bit as deep, even if there isn’t quite as much talent now. There isn’t a Clement-like star, but the ground attack will keep rumbling.
Bradrick Shaw is a big back who should be an occasional workhorse, Pitt transfer Chris James got plenty of work this spring – and ran two times for five yards in the spring game – and Taiwan Deal will be a factor after sitting out most of the offseason.
4. Do The Badgers Actually Have A Dangerous Wide Receiver?
If there is, the spring game didn’t show one off with Jazz Peavy not playing. A.J. Taylor should grow into a factor – he caught one pass for 28 yards. Quintez Cephis and Kendric Pryor combined for three catches for 23 yards, but they’ll be playmakers – at least that’s the hope. With Hornibrook not playing, it was hard to see what the passing game might become on Friday night – call this a work in progress for an attack that needs to be better.
5. The One Under-The-Radar Thing Big Ten Fans Should Probably Care About
Nick Nelson was a huge get for the secondary that needs as many new playmakers as it can find. The Badger defensive backfield has to replace two great starters in CB Sojourn Shelton and S Leo Musso, but the transfer of Nelson from Hawaii should be a key fill-in at one corner gig. A great tackler and a broken-up pass machine, the 6-0, 200-pound Nelson should fit in just fine. With him, a potential weakness shouldn’t be an issue.