Spring practice report, April 21

John Stocco (UW Athletics file)

News and notes from the Badgers' 14th practice of the spring season

MADISON — The University of Wisconsin football practiced for about two hours Friday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium. The team wore helmets, jerseys and shorts and went through a complete, non-contact practice, followed by a walk-through for tomorrow's spring football game.

As one might imagine, the Badgers' passing game enjoyed much smoother sailing than it typically has throughout spring practice. The day of non-contact work mandated no real pass rush and no hitting in the secondary, which makes things pretty simple for the quarterbacks and receivers: Throw the ball. Catch the ball.

Wisconsin did just that Friday, over and over again.

A few highlights:

  • Starting quarterback John Stocco zipped a pass into tight coverage for a touchdown to receiver T.J. Theus early in 7-on-7 red-zone work.
  • No. 1 receiver Paul Hubbard had the play of the day, stretching and leaping in the back of the end zone for a touchdown pass from Stocco with cornerback Allen Langford running stride-for-stride in coverage. Stocco made it three straight 7-on-7 touchdown passes with a throw to fullback Bill Rentmeester.
  • Paul Hubbard had another strong day, aside from a deep pass that he dropped when he was distracted by secondary coach Kerry Cooks, who had to run out from under the path of the pass at the last second. On several occasions, Hubbard displayed a knack for gaining separation with a burst out of his cuts, creating plenty of space for seemingly easy completions 25-30 yards down field.
  • Due to the Badgers' myriad injuries at wide receiver, Jarmal Ruffin has received a great deal of playing time with the first-team offense in the past two weeks. Ruffin, a redshirt freshman who converted from safety in the middle of last season, has often been a first-team receiver with Hubbard in two-receiver sets. He has taken advantage of the opportunity, and appears to really be coming on late in spring after a really quiet beginning. He had a couple of impressive receptions late in practice Friday.
  • Marcus Randle El and T.J. Theus were frequently on the receiving end of passes Friday afternoon. During 11-on-11 work Randle El, who has displayed the best hands of the receivers this spring, did an impressive job of tight-roping the sideline on one reception. Theus' best play was on a corner route near the sideline, where he gained about 20 yards.
  • Starting will linebacker Jonathan Casillas made an athletic play to come up with an interception during 11-on-11 work.
  • Defensive end Brandon Kelly deflected a Tyler Donovan pass at the line of scrimmage. Strong safety Joe Stellmacher nearly intercepted the batted ball. It was one of two potential interceptions Stellmacher had in his grasp Friday but could not quite secure.
Walk-through notes

The first-team offense opened with wide receivers Paul Hubbard and Marcus Randle El and tight end Sean Lewis.

Tailback Jamil Walker, third on the depth currently, was the first tailback with the "world" in the Badgers' "ones versus the world" theme.

In order to do a walk-through on the point-after touchdown, the Badgers had each side score a touchdown, with the defense standing and watching. Thus, Dywon Rowan and Jerry Butler traded off 70-yard scores.

Senior Paul Joran remained at sam linebacker with the first team, in place of the injured DeAndre Levy.

On the mend

Wide receivers Jeff Holzbauer and Luke Swan again did not take part in practice, other than riding a stationary bicycle and doing some light jogging on the sideline.

Strong safety Johnny White, who missed Wednesday night's practice due to illness, also did not take part Friday, other than some light jogging. If White cannot play tomorrow, James Kamoku will fill in as the second-team strong safety.

Defensive ends Kurt Ware and Brandon Kelly, who missed Wednesday's practice, returned to the field Friday.

Defensive end Jamal Cooper took part in portions of practice this afternoon, including the spring-game walk through, but is not expected to play tomorrow.

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