Badgers prepare for Spring Game

first_imgIn the middle of a tight battle with Curt Phillips for the starting quarterback job, Joel Stave will enter Saturday\’s Spring Game looking to separate himself with a strong performance.[/media-credit]After six weeks of hard practice, the Wisconsin football team will be lifting the curtain Saturday when it opens up the final practice of the season for fans to come and watch an intrasquad scrimmage.Saturday marks the first Spring Game for Wisconsin since the arrival of new head coach Gary Andersen in the offseason, and things are already beginning to look different as the game approaches.Andersen announced weeks ago that the Spring Game would not take the same format that is has in years past – choosing to change the game into a scrimmage that will mirror game-like scenarios.“It’s offense versus defense,” Andersen said in his Monday press conference. “But it is a game. It will feel much like a game. It’s true scoring. If I at times need to maybe skew the score to keep it close, then I might have to do that. We’ll make it fun and entertaining for everybody that’s out there.”Unlike last year’s Spring Game, which pitted the No. 1 defense against the No. 2 offense and the No. 2 defense against the No. 1 offense, this year’s Spring Game will consist of two 15-minute periods of play between the offense, wearing white uniforms and the defense, wearing cardinal uniforms. Then, after a five-minute halftime, the team will take the field for two more ten-minute periods to end the scrimmage.While both teams can score in all of the traditional ways – scoring a touchdown or a field goal – the coaching staff also added several more interesting point-scoring methods to get both the players and fans excited about the scrimmage.The offense will be able to score by earning a 15-yard run, 20-yard pass or first down, and the defense can get on the scoreboard by earning a turnover or a three-and-out, among other nontraditional scoring options.Still, while the scoring will certainly add a new element to Wisconsin’s final practice, redshirt sophomore quarterback Joel Stave said the emphasis of the Spring Game is still on getting better above all else.“Nobody really looks at it as a real game, since you are playing your own guys,” Stave said. “So it’s just an opportunity for us to get in some good work for one more day … a chance to practice, tackle and play live.”During the last few practices, Stave and redshirt senior Curt Phillips have begun to take the majority of the reps at quarterback during practice.While a strong performance from either one could have an impact on the starting job next fall, Stave said the weight put on the quarterbacks in the Spring Game is no different than any other practice.“There were 14 practices before this, and there was a lot of growth in there,” Stave said. “So this is just another practice to try and compete and get better.”One of the reasons given by the coaching staff for the more scrimmage-like approach to the Spring Game this year was the lack of depth on the offensive line.After injuries to a number of players, the offensive line dwindled to eight eligible linemen at its lowest point this spring. With many of the remaining players having to sit out some practices for various injuries, a full-on Spring Game might have put them at risk for further injury.In addition, a number of key players for Wisconsin on both offense and defense will sit out Saturday, including redshirt senior offensive lineman Ryan Groy, redshirt senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, senior running back James White and redshirt senior linebacker Chris Borland.With a number of key upperclassmen sitting out Saturday, many of the younger players will get their first experience in front of the Badger faithful in the Spring Game – an event that garnered more than 10,000 fans last year. The game will also be televised on Big Ten network.For redshirt freshman offensive lineman Dan Voltz, the opportunity to play in the Spring Game in front of so many fans is the highlight of the spring – especially having never played in a regular season game for the Badgers this past fall.“Last year, my first Spring Game, I know I was pretty excited,” Voltz said. “So for the younger guys who have never played on TV or in front of a large crowd, it will be pretty cool.”last_img

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