The University of Wisconsin football team held a shortened practice Thursday inside the McClain Center, but there was plenty of time for the defensive backs to rack up seven interceptions during team drills.
Redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook threw five picks — two of which might have been the fault of the receiver — and got away with a few more throws that could have become turnovers. Fifth-year senior Bart Houston threw two interceptions, although blame for both could have been placed elsewhere.
Lubern Figaro, who began taking more reps at safety Tuesday after beginning spring practice at cornerback, led the defensive backs with three interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.
Keelon Brookins, Joe Ferguson, Sojourn Shelton and Derrick Tindal also came away with interceptions Thursday.
Although the quarterbacks have played poorly for stretches of spring ball, it was an encouraging day for a secondary that has struggled to create takeaways the past couple of years.
"We have made a lot of plays,” UW defensive backs coach Jim Leonhard said. "We’ve been very aggressive getting balls out and obviously catching them when we get a chance. Some days you’re going to get a lot, some days you aren’t. I feel like we’ve been consistent in our coverage and then we’ve flashed that play-making ability, which hopefully we can carry over."
A large portion of team drills were conducted in the red zone Thursday, leading to three passing touchdowns for Hornibrook and two for Houston.
Hornibrook threw 20-yard scoring tosses to tight ends David Edwards and Eric Steffes and completed a 5-yard touchdown to Reggie Love.
Houston threw his two touchdown passes during the red zone period to wide receiver Jazz Peavy, and the two also connected for a 53-yard score earlier in practice.
For the day, Houston completed 11 of 19 passes, while Hornirbook finished 8-for-20.
Wide receiver Krenwick Sanders sat out Thursday’s practice after suffering a left thigh injury during one-on-one drills Tuesday, while outside linebacker Garret Dooley returned to the field for the first time since injuring his left thigh last week but was limited.
Safety D’Cota Dixon (left groin), wide receivers Ricky Finco (head) and Henry Houden (right thigh), offensive lineman Ben Hemer (head), running back Mark Saari (right hand) and outside linebacker Jake Whalen (right thigh) remained out Thursday, while fullback Austin Ramesh (left thigh) remained limited.
Offensive lineman George Panos (left shoulder) was a full-go in practice after being limited all spring.
Former Badgers visit
A number of ex-UW players were at the McClain Center on Thursday, including Jared Abbrederis, now a wide receiver with the Green Bay Packers.
Jared Abbrederis watched practice before working out on the field with quarterback Joel Stave, wide receiver Alex Erickson and outside linebacker Joe Schobert.
Stave, Erickson and Schobert are preparing for the NFL Draft. All four began their UW careers as walk-ons.