MADISON — The University of Wisconsin football team’s blowout win over Temple here Saturday afforded the Badgers the opportunity to see a number of younger players in action.
“I like when you have the opportunity to clear your bench and let guys who practice all year round and rarely have the opportunity to get into a game, that they are rewarded by playing,” head coach Barry Alvarez said.
The Badgers’ depth was far from tested in a 65-0 trouncing of a horrendously overmatched Owl team, but several Badgers who may be needed in more trying roles this season had the chance to compete in game action, rather than simply showing their wares in practice.
Kemp, Vanden Heuvel make history
Two years ago Joe Thomas became the only true freshman offensive lineman to ever play during the Alvarez era. Those ranks grew by two Saturday.
True freshman left guard Andy Kemp, a 6-foot-6, 316-pound Menasha native, entered the game on UW’s final drive before halftime, as the Badgers took a 51-0 lead. True freshman Eric Vanden Heuvel, a 6-7, 325-pound Hudson product, stepped in early in the second half, replacing Thomas at left tackle.
“I’m really anxious to watch the tape to watch the two big true freshman linemen, see how they did,” Alvarez said.
UW had seriously considered redshirting both Kemp and Vanden Heuvel but each player said Saturday that they were told to be ready each of the past two weeks.
In the second half sophomore Mike Van Someren played extensively at right tackle in his first career action.
When Kemp first entered the game starting right guard Jason Palermo slid to center and Marcus Coleman entered the game at right guard.
Starting right tackle Kraig Urbik played two series in the second half, but for the most part the second-half line consisted of tackles Vanden Heuvel and Van Someren, guards Kemp and Andrew Weininger, and center Coleman.
Sophomore center Luke Knauf also saw his first career action and tackle Danny Kaye entered the game.
Donovan, receivers enjoy firsts
Saturday was a day filled with firsts for UW, including the most extensive action of sophomore backup quarterback Tyler Donovan’s career. He replaced starter John Stocco with 4:06 left in the second quarter and played the rest of the game.
Donovan was 3 of 6 passing for 49 yards, including the first touchdown pass of his career, a 29-yard toss down the left sideline to Marcus Randle El with 14 seconds left in the first half. Donovan was 2 of 3 for seven yards passing in a bit role last season.
For Randle El, the reception was his first career touchdown catch.
Donovan also scored the first rushing touchdown of his career, a 10-yard, third-quarter run.
Donovan was 2-for-5 in the second half; each completion was the first catch of a sophomore receiver’s career: Jarvis Minton (16 yards) and Paul Hubbard (4).
Minton also returned punts for the first time: two for 19 yards. Randle El returned three punts for 47 yards, also in a reserve role.
Third-team quarterback Bryan Savage played one play — as a blocker on the punt return team — his first career game action.
UW handed off to seven running backs Saturday, who combined for 213 yards rushing.
Starting tailback Brian Calhoun’s day (11 carries, 42 yards) was complete after the first quarter and backup Booker Stanley (4-23) did not play after halftime.
Sophomore Jamil Walker ran 13 times for 79 yards and the first touchdown of his career. Junior Dywon Rowan carried the ball for the first time in his career, picked up 34 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
Fullbacks Matt Bernstein and Chris Pressley ran once each and third-team freshman fullback Bill Rentmeester doubled as the fifth-string tailback, running six times for 27 yards.
Defensive tackle Gino Cruse played just a handful of snaps last week, but entered the game late in the second quarter and played much of the second half Saturday. The 6-5, 312-pound redshirt freshman defensive tackle made the most of the opportunity, with a sack and a tackle on successive plays in his first series.
Sophomore Kurt Ware had an excellent game, playing often in the nickel defense and rotating in as both a defensive end and a tackle. He had two sacks, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
Ware, UW’s top reserve linemen, played little in the second half. The post-halftime line was typically Brandon Kelly and Matt Shaughnessy at end and Mike Newkirk and Cruse at tackle. Newkirk led the team with five tackles.
Sophomore defensive tackle Derek Yentz played late in the fourth quarter—his first career game action.
Freshman linebackers involved
Two true freshman linebackers — DeAndre Levy and Travis Beckum — burned their redshirts Saturday. Levy played extensively on the weakside, beginning in the second quarter, while Beckum filled in on the strongside in the second half.
The Badgers rolled in five middle linebackers behind starter Mark Zalewski: Josh Neal, Paul Joran, Andy Crooks, Victor Meckstroth and Elliot Goode. Conspicuously absent from that mix was Elijah Hodge, a highly considered true freshman. Defensive coordinator Bret Bielema said that Hodge has been nursing a groin injury and the team will probably make a decision on whether or not to redshirt him this week.
Crooks, a starter last year, did not enter until late in the first quarter. He is still working back from an injury, according to Bielema.
Sophomore Casey Hogan played strongside linebacker late in the game and had three tackles. Redshirt freshman weakside linebacker Ben Landgraf played for the first time in his career Saturday and assisted on one tackle.
After getting blistered for more than 450 yards last week, UW allowed just 56 yards passing against Temple. Of note, strong safety Joe Stellmacher and cornerback Allen Langford replaced Johnny White and Levonne Rowan in the starting lineup. Rowan played in the nickel and dime defenses. True freshman Shane Carter saw his first action, playing free safety in the dime.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Antonio Freeman played for the first time. Sophomore Ben Strickland also played corner late Saturday. True freshman Aubrey Pleasant, who played on special teams in each of the first two games, played strong safety late Saturday.