Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Wisconsin Badgers Spring Football Column


April 16, 2014

By Lucas Wimmer

Four things I learned from the Badgers’ spring game

The University of Wisconsin Badgers held their spring game on Saturday, and a lot of storylines took some interesting twists.

The game was held in a bit of a different format from other spring games. The first half was counted as a controlled scrimmage, and the second half was broken into two-15 minute quarters, with the cardinal team squaring off against the white team.

My first thought was how thankful I am that this was not a regular, true scrimmage type spring game. With a lot of young, raw players on the field, sportswriters would have had a field day and recorded record-high level smarm about this Badgers squad that was on display.

I was interested to see the wide receiver group, but a few did not participate, mainly Rob Wheelwright, who is expected to be a contributor come September.

But other than that, I noticed a few interesting things during the game.

1.     DJ Gillins looks raw, but promising

DJ GIllins, a freshman and early enrollee from Jacksonville, Florida, had a big role with the second team offense with incumbent starter Joel Stave sidelined with a shoulder injury. He appeared to hold on to the ball a little too long, and had some technique issues, but that is to be expected from a player straight out of high school. Beside his slight issues, he is a big body with room to put on muscle, looked quick and agile in the pocket, and had downfield speed that head coach Gary Andersen has to be excited about. With a limited receiver group, it was tough to see his arm potential, and Gillins may benefit from a redshirt season if that is the direction Andersen decides to go. It is exciting for Badgers fans to see this type of playmaking quarterback enter the system, though.

2.     Tanner McEvoy looks posed to give Stave competition

It’s very tough to determine this early who will win out the starting quarterback position battle for the beginning of the year. Stave had some accuracy issues last season, and sitting out the final portion of Spring practices with an injury likely does not help his case to retain his starting position. McEvoy, after converting to safety last season, seems to have all the tools to compete with Stave for the starting position. He was pretty decisive in the pocket, and put his speed on display with a 35-yard scramble, and another run for 7 yards and a touchdown. He had a lot of zip behind the passes that he did throw, and appeared to be accurate on a beautiful throw to wide receiver Kenzel Doe in the first half. Look for the quarterback position battle to be very interesting come Fall.

3.     Security in the trenches

Even with some early injuries for the Badgers offensive line (Dallas Lewallen, Dan Voltz, and Jaden Gault), both the offensive and defensive lines looked pretty solid during the spring game. Freshman and early enrollee Michael Dieter had to take the reins at center, and looked to hold down the position pretty well during the scrimmage. The Badgers backs had room to run and, as usual, exposed that room very well. As an entire unit, the defensive line had an impressive scrimmage as well. After graduating basically their entire starting defensive line, some fresh faces stepped up, including Chikwe Obasih, who was slotted into the starting lineup after an impressive camp. Badgers fans should be keeping their hopes up for an effective starting lineup on the defensive line.

4.     Secondary still a question

It’s not necessarily that the secondary lacks talent, because they don’t. Sophomore Sojourn Shelton is coming off a huge rookie campaign, and looked impressive in the spring game. Michael Caputo will hold down the strong safety position with ease and excel after a breakout season last year. But the other positions in the secondary are still somewhat up for grabs, and a lack of production from wide receivers in the spring game didn’t really help that. It was hard to judge how these players looked because of the lack of throws from the offensive side of the ball. Devin Gaulden’s name has been tossed into the ring after a solid spring session and coming off of some injuries, but it was hard to judge anyone’s production from the spring game. It will be interesting to see how these positions get filled come August and September.

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Founded 1901
Wisconsin Badgers Spring Football Column