MADISON, Wis. - Travis Frederick should be the poster child of the way early enrollment and progression through spring practice can have an impact during a true freshman campaign. Since the day he stepped foot on campus, the Wisconsin coaching staff has had nothing but glowing remarks about the Big Foot (Wis.) high school product.
Though he was not necessarily recruited as a center prospect, that is where Frederick is making the most headwind during the first week of camp. With last year's starter John Moffitt recovering from a strained pectoral muscle, Frederick is exclusively working as the quarterback of the offensive line.
And, as the leader of the offensive line, the most important thing Frederick should be concerned with is making sure the transfer from center to quarterback is made without fault. To this point, that exchange has been nearly perfect.
"You know what, today was the first center, quarterback (missed) exchange that I saw with Travis and the other quarterback," Bielema said. "I can't even tell you what quarterback was in there, but that was the first one I saw on the ground.
"So that's a positive to go through five days with a true freshman in there. (And) as far as making calls, he's been pretty good."
Other that Frederick, other young players have also stepped up on the offensive line front, particularly at center, including such players as Jake Current and Peter Konz.
"Those guys have been getting all the reps," Bielema said. "The one thing is we don't have a lot of depth so the two deep is really experiencing great reps which his great teaching, great learning and I think they are taking positive steps forward."
Anderson taking healthy approach:
Over his career, particularly early on, junior wide receiver Isaac Anderson became familiar with the injury bug. Whether it was a hamstring or some other ailment hampering his progress, he never seemed to consistently find a way to stay healthy.
This year, even dating back to spring camp, Anderson has taken a bit of a different approach to staying off the injury list.
"Isaac has done a good job of proactively being healthy," Bielema said. "He's a guy you see in the cool tub. He does anything he can to try to get his body right to get back out there. Today, he really, really competed out there as he did a year ago. The last six games last year, I thought (he) took a huge step as far as mental and physical toughness."
In Saturday's morning practice, it was evident Anderson was feeling great as he performed at a high level. One that was high enough for him to stand out to his head coach.
"There was a couple of guys that jumped out," Bielema said. "Isaac Anderson had a really, really good practice. I believe he caught three straight passes in a row in the No. one offense."
Ending with a scrimmage:
With the season opener only three weeks away, it should come as no surprised that the coaching staff wants to see players in as much of a game format as possible. So, to conclude Saturday's morning practice, the coaches held an approximately 40-play scrimmage.
During it, the team focused mainly on first and 10 series, but by the conclusion, they moved into the red zone.
"We had the refs and officials out there," Bielema said. "We had a first and 10 series and then because of where we finished statistically, we did a red zone scrimmage at the end. I really liked the intensity the guys had and what they brought to the table."
Along with Anderson (mentioned above), several other players stood out during the practice and scrimmage.
"Nick Toon had a very, very good practice in the practice segment," Bielema said. "His number wasn't really called much in the scrimmage. Zach Brown, Montee Ball and Erik Smith continue to impress pretty good. Actually Montee had a really nice couple of runs and Erik scored on a touchdown.
"Erik is not really our third down back, but he got a first down on a third and one that impressed me a lot."
With the departure of Daven Jones and Dex Jones, the coaching staff now has two more scholarships to use on in-house players. After the filing process with those two individuals, Bielema hopes to potentially distribute scholarships to players before the end of camp.
"One of our goals in this program is to reward walk-ons," Bielema said. "I went ahead and awarded a couple in the spring. Because of the count that we're at, I'll be able to hopefully do something here before fall.
"But kind of letting it pan out to see who steps up to the plate."
Walk-on freshman linebacker Ethan Armstrong suffered an injury to his shoulder early on in Saturday's practice and did not return.
"I just haven't gotten the report," Bielema said. "He hurt it early on."
Other than that, both Bill Nagy and John Moffitt remained sidelined as expected. Joining them was Bradie Ewing (sore groin) and David Gilbert, although neither injury was deemed serious. Both players are expected back for this evening's practice.
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