The defense was triumphant in Wisconsin’s 2017 spring game, winning 20-17 in a battle of the deeper parts of the Badgers’ depth chart. A late interception from Caesar Williams put the game away.
There wasn’t much to be gleaned from an offense vs. defense spring game that saw most of the starters, including quarterback Alex Hornibrook, sit out, but here are the lessons we can take away.
Bradrick Shaw is looking good, but might not be the top back
Bradrick Shaw only got four rushing attempts, but he made the most of them with a team-high 34 rushing yards. Pitt transfer Chris James, who has been receiving plenty of hype since arriving in Madison, didn’t see a snap. Given how many starters were out, James’ absence could indicate he’s the top back. That likely won’t make much of a difference as the two seem poised to split most of the carries.
TBs Bradrick Shaw & Chris James have different but complementary running styles. Return to health of Taiwan Deal would round out rotation
— Mike Lucas (@LucasAtLarge) April 22, 2017
Jack Coan seems to be ahead of Kare Lyles for QB2
With Hornibrook manning the headset, Kare Lyles and Jack Coan alternated series at quarterback ,and Coan clearly had the better day. The early enrolling freshman was 10 of 17 for 121 yards and a touchdown while Lyles finished with just 16 yards on 2-of-6 passing. However, Coan also had the biggest misfire of the day, as a ball he was trying to throw out of bounds somehow ended up in the hands of Williams for the game-deciding interception.
The defensive line is going to have some solid depth
The most impressive unit of the game was the defensive line, which frequently won in the trenches and saw a pair of loud performances from ends Garrett Rand and Isaiahh Loudermilk, who combined for 7 tackles and 2 sacks. Rand, a former nose guard, has been undergoing the transition to end this spring and should see plenty of time in the rotation up front this season.
"It's been fun to see new leaders emerge."
— Wisconsin On BTN (@WisconsinOnBTN) April 22, 2017
At least 3 transfers are likely to be major contributors next season
James (from Pittsburgh), cornerback Nick Nelson (Hawaii) and outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (Iowa Western Community College) didn’t see much action Friday, but that doesn’t mean much as all of them seem either poised to start or see regular snaps in a rotation.
The receiver group still has some things to figure out
Jazz Peavy is a clear starter heading into next season and Quintez Cephus, a star of the spring, is likely to be right behind them. After that? Who knows. No receiver logged more than 2 receptions in the action on Friday. Of course, shallow wide receiver groups are nothing new in Wisconsin, but 2017 could see even more targets for tight ends.