MADISON, Wis. - For the first time in fall camp, the Wisconsin football team was able to undergo practice in full pads. With it, the players were finally able to go full contact and show the coaching staff what they can bring to the table. Following practice, both coordinators, Dave Doeren and Paul Chryst addressed the media.
Taylor misses first day of pads:
Even though he is one of the more intriguing young linebacker prospects on the team, redshirt freshman Mike Taylor has always fallen victim to the injury bug. Friday was no different as the Ashwaubenon (Wis.) native missed the first full day of pads.
"His hammy is bothering him a little bit," Doeren said. "It's nothing severe. Mike will be back out there soon. It's the same thing he had before (in the spring)."
Taylor, who when healthy, is one of the more physical and exciting players to watch. He seemingly always finds a way through the offensive line and makes a stick in the backfield. With Taylor out, though, it opens the door for other young linebackers to get some reps.
"Right now we're rotating guys in there just because we have a lot of young kids we're trying to see what they look like," Doeren said. "But right now, Conor O'Neill took a lot of those reps today where Mike would have been. Kevin Rouse[db] and [db]Matt Groff have been working on the other side and Nick Hill pops in there every now and then.
"We haven't given A.J. Fenton quite as much, but Conor took the majority of the load today."
Anytime a true freshman comes to campus it comes to be expected that his head will be spinning. When you are still in the first week of camp, that mind overflow may be even more exaggerated. After spelling Taylor for the majority of the day, Doeren has a better sense as to how O'Neill handled the reps he was given.
"It was tough for him," Doeren said. "It's a lot. We tried to get a lot of our install in in five days because we've had five singles with a lot of walk through time. So he's swam a little bit. But you can see the competitiveness in that kid. He's extremely intelligent."
Defensive line depth:
As defensive line coach Charlie Partridge explained earlier in the week, the defensive coaches are looking for a rotation of eight guys up front on the defensive line. On Friday evening, Doeren reiterated that notion.
"Right now we're shooting for eight," Doeren said. "And, if guys stay healthy, that's where it'll be. That's kind of the goal. We definitely got four defensive ends that are rotating and playing pretty well right now. Inside, there's four or five guys getting reps and doing okay."
Though it's early in fall camp and the season opener is still a few weeks away, that rotation the coaches are looking for is starting to take form.
"Just going inside and working our way out, you'd have Jeff Stehle, Patrick Butrym and Daniel Moore as your top three guys working inside," Doeren said. "Those guys have been playing quite a bit and doing well. Then Dan Cascone has been working in there and Jordan Kohout.
"On the outside, obviously you've got J.J. Watt, O'Brien Schofield, Brendan Kelly and Louis Nzegwu as you your four ends playing the most right now.
Obviously Doeren did not mention true freshman David Gilbert in the current bunch, but that doesn't mean the Florida native can't make an impact this season, potentially with the special teams.
"Right now we're still trying to find out if we're going to play David," Doeren said. "He has a redshirt available, so we're trying to get him reps, but he's got four good players in front of him. He's a superb athlete, so he's got a role on special teams possibly as well."
Appleton, other freshmen impressing:
Offensive coordinator Paul Chryst did not hesitate when asked how Kraig Appleton looked during the first week of practice.
"He's one of those that looks good all the time," Chryst said. "We're sure glad he's here. I like the way he goes about working and I think he's fitting in well with the group. I've been pleased with the way Kraig's been working."
In addition to Appleton's early impressions, Chryst was also impressed with several other freshmen throughout the first week of camp.
"I think the group that we've got, they've done a good job really jumping in," he said. "Certainly they're going to make their mistakes, all freshmen do. But I've been impressed across the board really with some of the depth across the offensive line. We got guys jumping in. This first week, we're going to install the bulk of our offense and for them to keep to full speed like that, that's a pretty good job.
"Running back, you've got Montee Ball and I think he's done a good job. It doesn't seem like he's so swamped that he forgot his skills. And I think Kraig has done a good job as well as the young tight ends so I think they're doing a good job."
Chryst not budging on the quarterbacks:
As the position coach of the most heated competition of camp, Chryst could have done one of two things: discuss the battle and let the public know who is pulling ahead, or let the public continue to wonder. As one may expect, he chose the latter.
"We're early still with the amount of installation," Chryst said. "As you put in, you want each guy to try to touch each play or touch each new thing. I think we'll get through this week and then we kind of got to start looking at where guys are yet. So we'll kind of get through this week and take a little check on it."
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