It was considered a reminder that the heat of the desert, and the 2010 season opener, was just a little over two weeks away.
"It's nice for the guys to work in the heat," Running Back Coach John Settle said after practice. "They say it's dry heat (in Vegas), but 100 degrees is 100 degrees. Guys came out and had a lot of energy. More importantly, I think they are focused on getting better each and every day … and coming out with a purpose."
With members of the Badger Fund wining and dining, senior Scott Tolzien put on a pretty good show. He opened with back-to-back short pass completions for minimal gain but took advantage of a collision in the secondary on third-and-four, which left an open seam and an alley way to Lance Kendricks.
Tolzien finished the drill flawless, completing a deep slant to Kyle Jefferson and a 40-yard deep ball to Nick Toon in coverage with Antonio Fenelus. Fenelus appeared to lose the ball, as he didn't put his hands up to try and deflect the pass.
Curt Phillips took some reps as well, firing a near-perfect spiral on time to Kendricks. Phillips also got help from his receivers. On a pass that Culmer St. Jean had eyed up in the middle, Jeff Duckworth cut in, made the grab and turned up field, leaving St. Jean disgusted on the turf.
Fenelus did respond from the earlier Toon flub by making the defensive play of the set, breaking up a crossing route over the middle that was intended for the big junior.
"The (top four corner spots) are still wide open," Secondary Coach Chris Ash said. "The thing I am trying to stress to these guys is that we've got to compete. We're having the mentality that we have to practice better than any defensive back field in the Big Ten.
"Antonio is a guy that is going out there and competing. He's not the best athlete of the group, the biggest strongest or fastest, but he competes and I know I can trust him to do that in every day we practice."
Move the Ball
The catch of the day came early in the drill and it came courtesy of the UW wide receiver aiming for a big season. Tolzien aired the ball out for Toon on a go route. Well covered by Fenelus, the pass was just far enough for Toon to make a play on it. What he did was secure the ball half bent over, grabbing it just before it hit the turf, for a lengthy gain.
That catch set the tone for the entire drive. Tolzien continued to drive the Badgers down the field, using a mix of short passes and James White runs to get Wisconsin inside the 10. After an inside slant route to Toon went incomplete, Tolzien ran the exact same route, this time it went to Kyle Jefferson, who caught the touchdown toss.
Jon Budmayr looked smooth with the second-team offense, firing a pass to Manasseh Garner near the first-down marker and then hitting Jacob Pedersen for a first down. Budmayr kept the chains moving, hitting a wide-open Rob Korslin over the middle to get the ball down to the 36-yard line, but saw the drive stall.
Starting from its own two-yard line, the first-team offense was given the opportunity to embarrass the first-team defense. James White was given the chance to compete and move the sticks by himself on the first three plays, gaining 10 yards to give the offense some breathing room.
"I trust James White," Settle said. "He's been a soldier. He's taken every rep we've asked him to take and then some … James White is a football player. He understands the game. He studies the game and that's the one thing I like about him as a freshman. He's kind of like Montee Ball last year, come in and compete to put himself on the field."
Tolzien got a break when Fenelus dropped an easy interception, probably the result of miscommunication. There was nobody near Fenelus, but the junior had to dive and bobbled the ball. Things didn't getter on third down, as a sack ended the first team's drive.
Budmayr got a little riskier on his first play, doing a play-action pass and dropping eight-yards deep in the end zone, eventually finding Montee Ball in the middle to the field for a first down. After an incompletion and failed run attempt, Budmayr's third-and-eight attempt was deflected at the line by Warren Herring, forcing UW to punt from its 12.
Move the Ball/Red Zone
Toon continued his good practice with another solid catch, running an sideline post route and sneaking past Niles Brinkley and just in front of Shelton Johnson for a 33-yard gain. On the next play, a little swing pass to Kendricks got the job done, as the senior tiptoed down the sideline for the score.
Resetting at the 12-yard line, Ball would have had a sure touchdown on a pass in the flat, but the sophomore took his eyes off the ball and dropped it at the two-yard line. On third and eight from the nine, Fenelus broke up a sure touchdown pass to David Gilreath by flinging his right arm into the passing lane.
When Budmayr had his chance, the redshirt freshman wasted no time in connecting with his favorite target. After Marcus Cromartie stumbled in coverage, Abbrederis was wide open for the score. After resetting, Cromartie slipped on the next play, too, allowing Manasseh Garner to get a first down with an inside slant route.
Cromartie's problems continued, as Jeff Duckworth beat him on an inside route for a practice-ending touchdown.
From the Infirmary
Defensive tackle Jordan Kohout (knee) was in full uniform and did individual work with the defensive line. When it came to team drills, however, Kohout took minimal reps.
Linebacker Kevin Claxton (back), tight end Zac Davison (shoulder), wide receiver Chase Hammond (undiscloded), wide receiver Marquis Mason (knee), safety Conor O'Neill (ankle), linebacker Blake Sorensen (knee), safety Jay Valai (concussion) and right guard Kevin Zeitler (ankle) remain out, although Zeitler, as promised ditched the walking boot.