GREEN BAY — Inside the Don Hutson Center in Green Bay — just across the street from where the University of Wisconsin football team will face LSU on Sept. 3 — the Badgers scrimmaged Saturday morning for the first time since beginning preparations for the 2016 season.
The 76-rep, full contact portion of practice lasted roughly an hour and gave the coaching staff and media a closer look at the players who are either unproven or recently changed positions.
“I thought guys competed,” said UW coach Paul Chryst, whose team toured Lambeau Field and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame after practice. “We’ve got a long ways to go, but I appreciate and like the work that they’re doing. If we can correct and build on the things that we’re starting to do well, then it’ll be a good spring.
“It was a really good day, and it’s been a good trip. I truly appreciate all the Packer organization has done to make this happen. I know our kids are excited about it, and I thought we got a lot of really good work done this morning."
Quarterbacks Bart Houston and Alex Hornibrook, who continue to split first-team reps, had another inconsistent day, but the two played well in the scrimmage after a 7-on-7 period that included plenty of mistakes.
Houston completed 7-of-10 passes for 61 yards and was sacked once. Hornibrook finished 6 of 10 for 68 yards with three touchdowns and was sacked twice.
Hornibrook also threw three touchdowns — two to Krenwick Sanders and one to Reggie Love — while Houston led a 14-play, 98-yard touchdown drive against the first-team defense.
“With both Alex and Bart, they’ve got so far to go that (we want them to) just focus on improvement,” Chryst said. "They’re getting a ton of reps, and that’s really good. What do you do with those reps? You learn from the mistakes. You learn from what you did well."
With running backs Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale sitting out — along with some other veterans — Taiwan Deal saw more action than anyone. He carried the ball 22 times for 117 yards and a touchdown.
The Badgers also wanted to get a good look at Leon Jacobs’ ability to carry the ball. The former linebacker moved to fullback before spring practice began and showed good power during Saturday’s scrimmage, running the ball eight times for 31 yards.
“That’s not easy,” Chryst said of Jacobs’ position change. “We talked last year about a switch, and I’ve appreciated him not just jumping in but jumping all in. The amount of time he’s spent with (running backs) coach (John Settle) trying to learn it. You can understand a playbook, but there’s so many reactionary things playing the game, so I’ve appreciated what he’s done, and he can add value to this team, certainly.
"There’s a guy that I think can take bigger strides (during spring practice) than most older players. He’s done enough things to give him confidence."
Jacobs, however, is still competing with sophomore Alec Ingold for a spot behind UW’s most likely No. 1 fullback, Austin Ramesh, who remained limited in practice and did not scrimmage.
Redshirt freshman Bradrick Shaw finished with 29 rushing yards on 10 carries, while Love led all receivers with four catches for 50 yards and the 16-yard touchdown from Hornibrook.
Defensively, redshirt sophomore Ryan Connelly and true freshman Dallas Jeanty each recorded a sack, while junior defensive lineman Conor Sheehy had two tackles for loss.
Cornerback Natrell Jamerson and safety Keelon Brookins both dropped potential interceptions thrown by Hornibrook.
Hornibrook completed 5-of-16 passes with an interception during 7-on-7 drills. Houston completed 10-of-14 passes with an interception. … Jazz Peavy caught three touchdowns during redzone 7-on-7 drills. … Linebacker Garret Dooley missed practice with a left hamstring injury.
Alex Hornibrook: 6-10, 68 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 2 sacks
Bart Houston: 7-10, 61 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 1 sack
Taiwan Deal: 22 carries, 117 yards, 1 TD
Leon Jacobs: 8 carries, 31 yards
Bradrick Shaw: 10 carries, 29 yards
Alec Ingold: 3 carries, 9 yards
Reggie Love: 4 receptions, 50 yards, 1 TD
Krenwick Sanders: 2 receptions, 26 yards, 2 TDs, 1 drop
George Rushing: 3 receptions, 20 yards
Eric Steffes: 1 reception, 17 yards
Kyle Penniston: 2 receptions, 11 yards
Jazz Peavy: 1 reception, 7 yards
NOTABLE DEFENSIVE STATS
Ryan Connelly: 1 sack
Dallas Jeanty: 1 sack
Conor Sheehy: 2 TFL
Jeremy Patterson: 1 FR
Rafael Gaglianone: 1-for-1, 40 yards