Badgers close out spring with annual scrimmage

first_imgMATTHEW KUTZ/Herald photoWhen wide receiver Lee Evans was forced to miss the 2002 season due to injury, it gave then-freshman Jonathan Orr an early chance to show his skills. A rather unexpected surprise, Orr set a freshman record with 842 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Since then he has accumulated just 394 yards in the past two years combined. With a five-catch, 72-yard performance in the first half of yesterday’s Wisconsin football spring game, it appears that the senior is ready to put up big numbers again.In fact, Orr was one of the lone bright spots on the offensive side of the ball Saturday, as the Cardinal and White teams played to a 14-14 draw in front of 3,976 fans at Lussier Stadium.“I thought we got a lot of good work done today,” head coach Barry Alvarez said. “I thought some of our young guys stepped up. Our defense played particularly well. There were some mental mistakes that we made out there that, if we can learn from them, then it was a good day.”After spotting the White team 14 points to start the game, the Cardinal team, boasting most of the first-string players, managed to claw its way back.They began the game with the ball and put together a drive behind running back Brian Calhoun. The junior transfer from Colorado is expected to play a key role in the offense this fall. He ran seven times for nine yards and caught two passes for 16 yards on the drive that stalled just five yards from the end zone.“It’s obviously not a big statistics game today. I was just trying to get a feel for the running game and the passing game,” Calhoun said.From there, kicker Taylor Melhaff missed the 22-yard field goal, exploiting a key weakness in the Badgers’ depth chart.“I don’t think we have a kicker right now,” Alvarez said. “It’s wide open. We have two walk-ons coming in, and we’ll see who kicks best during two-a-days.”That would be Calhoun’s only drive as the Badgers’ played it safe from there on out, sitting all of the starters after halftime, learning from Evans’ mishap. The offense focused more on passing as quarterback John Stocco put the ball in the air 29 times.The offense would stall in the red zone again midway through the second quarter when they drove all the way to the 10-yard line, but again came up empty. Further showing a lack of confidence in the kicking game, the coaching staff decided to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 13.Stocco had an up-and-down afternoon. He showed signs of progress with quite a few throws to receivers running short routes, but was intercepted twice when trying to throw downfield. He finished the game 13-of-29 for 158 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.“I’m disappointed, but you have to look at the bright side of things,” Stocco said. “We did a lot of good things moving the ball down the field, and we’ve improved a lot in the spring.”The play of the day came late in the second quarter with Stocco leading a two-minute drill. He threw a 26-yard pass to a leaping Orr in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown that cut the score to 14-7 just 35 seconds before halftime.Second-string quarterback Tyler Donovan took snaps for the White squad in the first half and for the Cardinal team in the second, as the Cardinal played on offense for the entire second half. He, too, was rather inconsistent, completing just seven of 22 passes, but did complete a 43-yard touchdown toss to sophomore Marcus Randle El to tie the game late in the third quarter.Defensively, the Badgers played well, especially considering the loss of their entire starting defensive line. They tipped multiple passes at the line of scrimmag, and the secondary defended the passing game aggressively. The defense sacked Donovan three times and made three interceptions, including one by junior Zach Hampton, who has been very impressive this spring.“They played with a little bit of intensity which I like to see,” defensive coordinator Bret Bielema said. “You’d just like the true personality [to] come out, and I think they did that.”The Badgers may not have played as well as they hoped, but at least they know what they have to work on when two-a-days begin this summer.“We’re trying to teach some things today, it’s not like a game on Saturday,” Alvarez said. “It was a learning experience, and I think we got a lot out of it.”Wisconsin opens the season September 3rd against Bowling Green.last_img