Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring game thoughts

Made it to the spring game today, and was glad I did. It was the first one I've been to in 11 years, if memory serves, and it's always great to watch live football in April.

Hard to tell too much, because a. It's the spring game, a glorified scrimmage, and b. I had Will with me, and if you've met him, he's a handful. We had a great time.

Overall, I was pleased with how efficiently the first team offense played. Granted, playing against third- and fourth-stringers they should put up good numbers, but for some reason it seems that the first string never looks that sharp in this contest. They looked as good as could be expected today.

No defensive players really stood out, although it's tough to judge the pass rush because plays were whistled dead before sacks could be finalized. In the secondary, Chris Maragos and Devin Smith both made nice plays on the ball, and Aaron Henry seemed to be moving around well.

At quarterback, Dustin Sherer was solid. It was clear his throwing motion has been improved (photos forthcoming), but he doesn't look entirely comfortable with it. Curt Phillips got in and made some plays, and while his arm wasn't as weak as I feared, it wasn't that bad. Scott Tolzien showed some shaky mechanics, throwing off his back foot. Jon Budmayr didn't look overwhelmed, but didn't create much; both he and Tolzien were probably held back by playing with the deep reserves.

As could be expected, the tight ends got themselves open and were a big part of the offense. Lance Kendricks had a nice touchdown catch, as did Garrett Graham. Mickey Turner did a lot of motioning into a fullback spot.

John Clay ran well, shedding tacklers left and right. Zach Brown ran hard inside. But Erik Smith was the biggest revelation. He showed nice lateral movement, in particular a nice jump cut, and some separation speed. He could play some this fall.

Notables seen in passing: Keaton Nankivil, Cecil Martin, UW band tuba legend Zack Dachel, and hockey/online video guru Todd Milewski.

Today did little to alleviate my main concerns heading into the 2009 season -- pass rush, defensive tackle, linebacker depth, offensive line newcomers -- but I didn't expect it to. It's fun to see all the new guys who get a shot to make a name for themselves as Badgers, and we'll be pulling for them all this fall.

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