Madison, Wis. – Spring practices have officially wrapped up for the Wisconsin football program.
With a new coaching staff, a new offensive and defensive scheme, and plenty of new contributors in the fold, it was a loaded spring for the Badgers.
Here are four of my biggest takeaways from spring ball.
Wide receivers deliver
The wide receivers were among the most intriguing groups to watch heading into spring ball, and boy, did they deliver.
Will Pauling and CJ Williams were undoubtedly the biggest winners throughout spring. Their high-end play was rewarded by receiving first-team reps, joining senior receiver Chimere Dike.
Other receivers like Tommy McIntosh, Chris Brooks Jr., and Quincy Burroughs also made some noise. Brooks was a fast-rising pass catcher after some highlight plays early in the spring before he suffered an injury. Meanwhile, McIntosh impressed in “The Launch” when he unofficially posted 86 yards on five receptions.
The receiver corps shined in spring ball and did so without a potential top weapon in Bryson Green, who was sidelined due to injury. The Wisconsin football program has a deep room of pass catchers that should make for some excitement when the 2023 season rolls around.
Safeties are the defense’s biggest winners
The receivers were the biggest winners overall, but the safeties were the most polished group on the defensive side.
Hunter Wohler was one of the defenders who stood out the most in spring ball. The third-year player out of Muskego has transitioned into a new role under DC Mike Tressel, playing the “dollar” position. In his reps as a safety/linebacker hybrid, Wohler impressed with his athleticism and disruption. He will be a vital piece to the Wisconsin defense.
Kamo’i Latu, Travian Blaylock, and Austin Brown also had impressive spring practices. With a wealth of talent at the safety spot, the Badgers could have a dangerous secondary in 2023.
Two QBs stand above the rest
After several additions in the transfer portal, the Badgers had a revamped QB room heading into spring. Tanner Mordecai, Braedyn Locke, and Nick Evers entered the fold, while Marshall Howe, Myles Burkett, and Cole LaCrue filled out the Wisconsin football program’s depth chart. After spring ball, two QBs stood out.
Despite a shaky performance at “The Launch,” Mordecai is still Wisconsin’s QB1. The SMU transfer impressed in nearly every practice, showing promise in his mobility and decision-making. There were hiccups in the open practice, but there’s no reason to press panic on Mordecai just yet.
Although he won’t beat out Mordecai for the number one spot, Braedyn Locke’s ascension was one of spring ball’s biggest stories. Locke showed his knowledge of the offense as well as excellent ball placement and decision-making. If his number is called during the season, he can fill Mordecai’s shoes nicely.
The QB3 competition was a steady back and forth before former walk-on Marshall Howe rose to the third-team offense. His understanding of Phil Longo’s offensive scheme gave him some additional reps. Howe would beat out Nick Evers and Myles Burkett for the third spot, but the QB3 competition will still be a battle to watch as we draw closer to the season.
Cornerbacks perform well, but depth is still needed
Alexander Smith, Ricardo Hallman, and Jason Maitre made up the first-team cornerbacks in spring practice. Hallman was a bright spot for the group, hauling in multiple interceptions during “The Launch.” At the same time, Alexander Smith showcased his ability to shut down receivers as he was hardly targeted at the open practice.
Despite the corners performing well, there is an obvious need for depth. Jonas Duclona and Jace Arnold, both true freshmen, have taken most of the reps behind the starting unit. Don’t get me wrong, they performed well, but Wisconsin could use some experience in the second unit.
The Badgers have been active in the portal looking for cornerback help. They’ll also receive some reinforcements this summer with AJ Tisdell and Amare Snowden entering the fold. If a transfer is brought in or one of the young corners shows some growth, the Badgers will be in a better spot.
We are approaching the dead period for football, but the spring practices gave us a good look at what we can expect from the Wisconsin football program in 2023.
We’re just 125 days away from Wisconsin football, folks. It can’t come soon enough.
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