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Grades: Running backs, D line get top marks in Spring Game

first_imgQuarterback Scott Tolzien was effective, but failed to impress Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.[/media-credit]Although the Spring Game isn’t necessarily the most accurate way to track the progress of the Wisconsin football team, it does provide a good opportunity to get a preview of the team before summer and fall camp.Here’s how Herald Sports graded the Badgers in the Cardinal and White scrimmage Saturday.Quarterbacks – 3 of 5Perhaps it was the absence of No. 1 receiver Nick Toon, but the first-team offense was content to give the White team a healthy dose of running back Montee Ball. Starter Scott Tolzien was efficient enough, completing 12-of-22 passes for 138 yards and no touchdowns. Tolzien was 6-for-10 on third-down, but had zero completions in the red zone. The Cardinal passing game looked effective, but not dangerous.Backup Jon Budmayr struggled again with interceptions, throwing two picks in the first half. Budmayr finished 12-for-25 on the day, passing for 84 yards and no touchdowns, looking very much like a work in progress.Running backs – 4 of 5With reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year John Clay on the sidelines after ankle surgeries this spring, Ball was given the majority of the Cardinal’s carries, with senior Zach Brown acting as the primary back for the White team.Ball had 24 carries for 74 yards and scored the only two touchdowns of the game. Ball wasn’t flashy, and his longest rush was just nine yards, but he was effective and hit holes well.His highlight may have been a tough run where he initiated contact with linebacker Conor O’Neill and dragged him several yards for a first down. Brown had 13 total carries for 50 yards, with 11 coming on one run while on the White team.Wide Receivers – 2 of 5With Toon out due to a concussion, the first-team receivers combined for just six receptions and 59 yards. Isaac Anderson had a nice 22-yard catch-and-run at the end of the first quarter, but had just seven yards on his other two receptions for the Cardinal. The receivers looked unable to get open in the end zone, with all three of Tolzien’s passes from within the 10-yard line falling incomplete.Tight Ends – 3.5 of 5The transition from Travis Beckum to Garrett Graham was relatively seamless, and the transition from Graham to Lance Kendricks should be just as smooth. Kendricks was Tolzien’s favorite target, and the fifth-year senior led all receivers with 63 yards on six receptions.Rob Korslin chipped in two catches for 15 yards for the White team.Offensive line – 3.5 of 5The O-linemen were rotated pretty consistently, with senior John Moffitt just returning to practices within the last two weeks. The run blocking was solid, giving Ball several large holes to run through, including a sizable one for his second touchdown run.Tolzien tended to have the time he needed to throw and wasn’t sacked in the game, as the Cardinal line dealt with the White pass rush effectively.Defensive line – 4 of 5The Cardinal’s rotation on the defensive line looked solid, and should only be bolstered in the fall by the arrival of four-star recruit Beau Allen. Defensive end J.J. Watt attracted a lot of attention, which freed up Louis Nzegwu to register three sacks. Watt chipped in a sack of his own, as did D-tackle Patrick Butrym.Redshirt freshman Jordan Kohout looked like he could be an asset in the fall as part of the interior rotation. However, the line could have done a slightly better job of stopping the run.Linebackers – 3.5 of 5The Cardinal linebackers weren’t tested much during the game, in stark contrast to the White’s Ethan Armstrong and O’Neill. The two combined for 26 tackles and each had a pass breakup in the game. Culmer St. Jean had an easy pick to end the White’s first drive of the game.Secondary – 3.5 of 5Safety Jay Valai had a nice effort to get the other interception in the game, but didn’t make any tackles. The corners for both teams were solid at times, and Dezmen Southward had two pass breakups.There was good coverage on receivers by both teams, especially on shots to the end zone. The White’s one deep threat, redshirt freshman receiver Jared Abbrederis, wasn’t allowed to get behind the Cardinal corners as the speedy freshman was held to just one catch for four yards. Aaron Henry wasn’t a liability in his transition from cornerback to safety.Specialists – 3.5 of 5Phillip Welch hit all three of his field goals and was effective in the rapid-fire kicking drills between quarters. Backup kicker Alec Lerner looked good most of the game, kicking a field goal for the White’s only points.Punter Brad Nortman had three punts for an average of 40.7 yards, while backup punter Ryan Wickesberg embarrassed himself with a shanked punt for two yards on his first attempt.last_img

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