MADISON — Cleats were being tied. Jerseys were being pulled over the pads. And the smell of turf filled Camp Randall. Football is back in full swing as the Wisconsin Badgers took the field for their annual local media day and Family Fun Day.
Head coach Paul Chryst, for one, is excited and ready for himself and the team to take the field for the team’s first practices.
“I like where the groups at and I think they’re ready to maximize the opportunity that is fall camp. We were just talking about it. You have four phases to get ready for the season,” Chryst said. “I thought our winter condition, our spring football and our summer conditioning practices, they were good and I’m looking forward to this fourth and final phase.”
Chryst is not alone in his excitement as the players are getting back from their three-week break.
“I know when I went home for break for three weeks, Derrick Tindal and I we live in the same city. I remember after the first couple of days, we were just like ‘man I can’t wait to get back for camp’. We just love being here,” receiver George Rushing said.
Some highlights to this coming fall camp is a new schedule that involves longer practice times and a couple night practices. The Badgers will also be having a practice in Milwaukee on August 10 at Custer Stadium. That practice will be open to the public starting at 1:30 P.M. and after the practice the team will be headed to a Milwaukee Brewers game.
“I’ve always felt like it would be great for Wisconsin to go to Milwaukee. You appreciate all the fans that come from the Milwaukee area that come here all the time,” Chryst said.
Breaking up training camp and bringing in some energy is key in keeping focus during the grueling days of camp.
Last year’s team ran on the motto of taking things week by week and practice by practice. No where is that more important than in fall camp.
“I think that kind of mantra will be prevalent more than ever. I think just with what we want to accomplish and the guys we have returning,” linebacker Jack Cichy said. “We all know how important each day and how fleeting everything is and just how precious it is. For now, it’s about winning training camp.”
Chrsyt and the coaching staff have been preaching to their players to not get bogged down in worrying about where they stand in some “fictitious” depth chart, but rather earning their opportunities.
Sticking to the same tone, wide receiver coach Ted Gilmore believes fall camp is more about winning the battle within, rather than the battle with the player next to you.
“Obviously we talk to them all the time as far as valuing each rep, each play because at the end of the day that is what you control. I remind them that when you look in the mirror and you see that reflection, will you follow that guy,” Gilmore said.
For veteran leaders like kicker Rafael Gaglianone and receiver Jazz Peavy, fall camp is going to be a time to lead by example and bring energy when it starts to falter.
“That is something I want to take upon myself this year. When ever things are going down, I want to be someone who brings it back up,” Peavy said.
“Holding myself to a higher standard. I know what it takes to be one of the top guys in the league and just looking to be that guy for the younger players,” Gaglianone said, echoing Peavy. “I just want to be a good leader and definitely lead by example and get the work done and show the young guys the way to go about being great.”
The Badgers will have 27 practices this summer and fall before they take on their first opponent Utah State September 1 on a Friday night under the lights at Camp Randall.