April 2, 2009

Spring camp report: Day 6

MADISON, Wis. - Spring practice six of 15 ended with a relative bang Thursday evening as an injury to one of the up and coming defensive line prospects will keep Louis Nzegwu out for the remainder of the spring season.

In attendance:

It was a relatively quiet practice in regards to visitors as only Russell Finco, a wide receiver prospect from Hartland (WI) Arrowhead high school, was in attendance.

Injury report:

It was simply the biggest news of the day, and arguably the spring to this point, as Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema announced that sophomore defensive end will miss the remainder of spring practice.

"Louis Nzegwu hurt his leg at the end of practice on Tuesday," Bielema said. "One of the things they thought right away was that they could feel the ACL. So it was a good knee injury from the standpoint that he tore his MCL but he should be back full go in about six-to-eight weeks."

Nzegwu, who was seen on crutches and a sizeable knee brace Thursday, was off to a solid start the spring season. On a defensive line with many question marks, it seemed Nzegwu was making a strong push to be considered within the rotation as spring turns to summer and fall.

"He had been doing great," Bielema said. "I actually joked with him today when I saw him and he ended his best practice of his career with that injury because he was really just stepping, listening and understanding where he needs to go. I was really encouraged through practice the way he was going about things.

Throughout the course of winter conditioning, Bielema had noted that Nzegwu had added approximately 20 pounds of good weight to his frame. And that weight really translated into the young players performance on the field during the early stages of spring ball.

Other than the Nzegwu injury, the Badgers have been relatively healthy through the first third of the spring, a far cry from what ensued last year at this point.

"We've been pretty lucky," Bielema said. "I think we've been pretty smart about what we've been doing and limited certain guys...other than that, we've been pretty fortunate."

Depth chart movement?

To this point in spring practice, right tackle Josh Oglesby has ridden a roller coaster. Today, in his case, he may have hit the ultimate low. Freshman lineman Peter Konz replaced Oglesby on the No. 1 line for the entirety of practice.

Spread struggles:

For the second practice in a row, the No. 1 defense went up against the spread offense run by both Curt Phillips and Dustin Sherer. It is safe to say that Phillips outperforms Sherer in this regard as the senior had a difficult time making pitches throughout the drill.

Still, though, the defensive pressure in the backfield may have had something to do with that.

Plays of the day:

Scott Tolzien easily had his best throwing day of spring practice and two of his throws help him into the highlights of practice.

Early on during skele drills, Tolzien fired a tight spiral to Elijah Theus in traffic that only the receiver had a chance at receiving.

Then, a couple of plays later, he lobbed a beautiful spiral down the sideline that may have been a tad under-thrown, but David Gilreath leaped to its highest point and hauled in the throw for the big gain.

Scrimmage on Saturday:

For the first time this spring, UW will play an extended scrimmage format during its next practice. It will mark an opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate the players in game-like situations.

"First and foremost, see how guys react in difficult situations," Bielema said. "Put guys in stressors. Just in the locker room with the coaches, we're looking for guys like Marcus Cromartie, who's kind of been showing up here out at practice, see if he can kind of carry it over to the field.

"Those young quarterbacks, how they handle the fire. We know how Dustin reacts, but see those young quarterbacks. For us, we're really stressing ball security. We got a little sloppy with the ball at times. When you've got live bodies flying around and you're tackling and you've got to hang onto that football, it's a little bit different."

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