As far as spring games go, the Badgers’ exhibition Friday night was less than memorable. Key starters Alex Hornibrook, Jazz Peavy, Troy Fumagalli, and Derrick Tindal didn’t suit up, and running backs Bradrick Shaw and Chris James touched the ball a combined six times.
Although the action was dominated by second string players, the exhibition did give fans an opportunity to see young, developing players take reps.
Snaps at QB were split between freshmen Jack Coan and Karé Lyles. Coan impressed, going 10/17 for 121-yards, a TD, and an interception. During one drive, Coan completed four passes in a row across midfield, showing flares of confidence early. Lyles struggled, only throwing 2/6 for 16 total yards. Under pressure, both young QBs were flummoxed and erratic, which may be because of their lack of experience.
Picking up most of the carries at RB was Garret Groshek, a freshman out of Amherst Junction, WI. He rushed for 29-yards on 12 carries, showing off his head-down-and-grind running style.
The defensive side was more impressive, constantly putting pressure on the QB and making quick first contact with the RB, including three sacks and four tackles for loss respectively. Freshman defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk dazzled, totaling three tackles, one for loss, and a wicked sack. Loudermilk emphasized how spring ball has made the game slow down a bit for him, saying “… throughout spring ball, I started to get more comfortable with the different blocks, I’m able to see more of what’s coming at me, I was able to react a little better to it.” There’s a lot of youth on the defensive line, but no shortage of talent, and their progression will be something to watch this season.
The defense would prevail 20-17 after forcing a few three and outs, recording an interception, and causing enough hubbub to make Gaglianone miss a field goal.
Coach Chryst had encouraging words for his young spring game starters, asserting that he was happy with their progression thus far and that spring practices had done them good.
Although the spring game didn’t feature the star power many fans were hoping for, tactically, the younger players got a taste of competition level football under the Friday night lights which can only help them excel moving forward.