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April 6, 2013

Badgers offense bounces back





MADISON - The Wisconsin Badgers practiced outside in Camp Randall Stadium for the second time this spring, but Saturday's practice saw several hundred fans attend as well. It was one of two public practices the Badgers planned for this spring, and the offense certainly put on a show for them.

Quarterback Joel Stave in particular had a nice day of work. The redshirt sophomore threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Jared Abbrederis and a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Fredrick during the scrimmage. Wide receiver Kenzel Doe scored a 30-yard touchdown on an end-around play, and James White had several long runs too.

"The offense clearly won today's practice," head coach Gary Andersen said. "It's give and take, the way it should be for a good football team in spring ball. I was really proud of the way the offense was able to bounce back and make some plays today."

The Badgers will practice again on Monday evening, and will hold another open practice next Friday, April 12. I also jotted down some notes from Saturday's practices, which are included below.

-- Running back Melvin Gordon practiced during individual drills, but sat out again during the scrimmage part of the practice. Gordon looked fine, if a little rusty, during his individual drills, but it's clear the Badgers aren't really worried about him moving forward.

-- Ryan Groy worked as the No. 1 left tackle again on Saturday, but Andersen made it sound like that's a temporary measure for now. The Badgers are really only working with eight or nine fully healthy offensive linemen right now, so it wouldn't be a surprise if he moves back to left guard sometime in the future. If that's the case, Dallas Lewallen is probably the front-runner to replace him, since he's been working as the No. 2 left tackle.

-- The Badgers are using a lot of three tight end sets so far this spring, and Andersen said they're planning on using that package more often if they can't find another wide receiver to step up and complement Abbrederis. That seems like a good idea for them, since Jacob Pedersen, Brian Wozniak and Sam Arneson have looked pretty good so far this spring. And while three tight end packages usually indicate running plays, Andersen said it doesn't have to be that way for them.

"Just because we get into that personnel group, it doesn't mean we have to pack it all in there," Andersen said. "Our tight ends are skilled, they run well, they're athletic enough to get out in space and cause some mismatches in space. There's a lot of positives to that. It can slow down an aggressive defense."

-- A.J. Jordan made a few nice catches today and worked with the first team offense for most of practice. He's catching the passes that he's supposed to catch, which is a big step up for him and gives him a little edge over some of the other receivers that are battling for playing time.

-- Dezmen Southward made a great tackle at the line of scrimmage after flying in from the secondary. It certainly looks like the Badgers will try to take advantage of Southward's athleticism, since he's been working as the nickel back against three receiver sets to take advantage of his man coverage skills.

-- Don't be surprised if Nick Hill earns some playing time at one of the outside linebacker spots this fall. It seems like he's finally healthy, and he's been all over the place during the last two practices. He'll have to compete with Brendan Kelly, Vince Biegel and others to get playing time, but he's one of the best athletes on the field.

Audio from Andersen's meeting with the media is included below. It's a little hard to hear because of the wind, but I figured it was worth including.

Andersen, 4/6/2013

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.


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