MADISON – It was a typical first day practice for Wisconsin and head coach Gary Andersen. There was some good along with some bad, plenty of energy amongst the kids as they prepare for the season opener less than four weeks away and some young players jumping out from the pack.
It’ll be interesting to see if that continues over the next two weeks.
Wisconsin’s fall camp schedule can be labeled as a mental grind, as the Badgers won’t get an off day until Sunday, August 17. Some practices, like the ones held Monday, were only 16 periods, which allow for maximum recovery time, but Andersen did note that Wisconsin will have two practices next Monday after scrimmaging Sunday.
“We talked about that last night in our first meeting that it is a grind,” Andersen said Monday afternoon. “I want to see them handle that…I want to see how they can really react to a grinding mental camp. I’m not going to say physically we’re going to be them up, but it’ll be challenging.”
Wisconsin’s morning session went from 6:20 to 8 a.m. and was comprised mostly of the team’s veterans. UW’s afternoon session went from 1 to 2:40 p.m. with a lot of the underclassmen. The rosters will remain the same for the most part, but Wisconsin will be switching junior quarterbacks Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy between practices in order for both players to work with the projected first-team offense.
“I think it’s very difficult,” Andersen said of McEvoy working with young players learning the ropes. “We’ll get things mixed and mingled as we go through, but that’s what I just like that they have to fight through in those practices. Tanner didn't have the ideal environment today, and quite frankly neither did Joel at the end of the day. But they've got to deal with what they've got to deal with and keep fighting, get the scheme in there and we'll keep on going. So it'll even out as we go.”
Nice Kick Start
Before Rafael Gaglianone stepped up and drilled his five field goals in the morning session Monday, the true freshman told Andersen he was going to make them all.
“I challenged him today and he said, ‘Don’t worry, coach, I’ll make them all,’” said Andersen. “It’s good. It’s better than saying, ‘Coach, I plan on missing three today.’”
The kicking position has been a glaring weakness for Wisconsin the last two seasons, finishing 10th and 12th the last two seasons in field goal accuracy (66.7 percent in 2013, 55.6 percent in 2012). Gaglianone made 10 of his 14 field goal attempts with a long of 57 yards and showed off his power leg by registering touchbacks on 42 of 44 kickoffs.
“He hit them all and was very confident,” said Andersen. “The ball came off his leg like we thought it would like when we recruited him and what we saw on film. It’s very encouraging, and it’s going to be fun to watch that develop.”
Trezy’s Status in Question
With the second safety spot next to Michael Caputo a wide-open competition, Andersen and his staff were hoping junior college safety Serge Trezy would be able to step right into the mix at fall camp. Now there’s a chance he might not be available at all this season.
Signing with Wisconsin after playing two seasons at Eastern Arizona College, Trezy is still waiting to be cleared academically.
“The agreement from the very beginning when we recruited him was if he was going to be here he was going to get here very early in camp,” said Andersen. “If not, he would use this as his redshirt year and join us in January. That was the plan all the way through but we’re still hoping it will be this year.
”Whether he plays or redshirts we’d like to have him here going to school this semester.”
Having already seen wide receiver Chris Jones fail to meet the University of Wisconsin’s admission standards and sign at Toledo, the 6-1, 200-pound safety, who is listed on UW’s fall camp roster, will likely know his fate within the next week.
“We should know for sure in the next couple days,” said Andersen. “He has got himself in position. From what we understand at this point he has everything done we’ve asked him to do academically. Now it’s just got to go through the process of seeing where it all sits.
“We’ve got to get final transcripts. What you see for sure and hear for sure, we’ve got to make sure it’s validated.”
Andersen on true freshman Taiwan Deal (pictured) and his performance in the afternoon
“Taiwan the last three periods stepped it up. That’s what I like to see him do when we get pads on. I thought he was much more physical, much more comfortable. We’re looking for Taiwan to be the third back. It’s no secret. How he handles it mentally will be his biggest challenge because he’s big enough. He does a lot of things very well. Can he adapt and move into that position at this level? We’ll see if his mind will allow himself to. My bet is that it will.”
Extra Points: Andersen said players who practice in another session are welcome to attend the other session, but it’s not mandatory … Andersen said he’s enjoying the chance to coach the boundary linebackers, which allows him to better understand the scheme… Catching 49 passes for 670 yards and 18 touchdowns, George Rushing caught some contested passes and stayed consistent throughout practice, two things Andersen was pleased by.