By TONY CARTAGENA
Special to ESPNWisconsin.com
MADISON - Thursday’s afternoon practice concluded with junior linebacker Chris Borland missing a 40-yard field goal attempt wide right.
Coach Bret Bielema later told a group of people watching practice that earlier this week Borland had connected from 50 yards… apparently with his left foot. This failed field goal attempt seemed to sum up yet another Badgers fall camp practice that was ‘just a little off.’
The first team offense began the two-minute drill with Danny O’Brien under center, but the quarterback poised to win the starting job failed to lead the Badgers on a scoring drive. The series started off with a well-placed ball dropped by Kenzel Doe on a crossing pattern.
Bielema expressed his displeasure with the dropped ball, yet O’Brien showed faith in his sophomore receiver by completing a pass to Doe on the very next play to get a first down. The drive stalled shortly after that completion with a second down pass that was thrown away, an incomplete toss to sophomore tight end Sam Arneson.
On fourth down and six there were no open receivers. O’Brien unofficially ended the series 2-of-5 for 15 yards.
Joel Stave didn’t get much help from his receivers early on during his drive. Freshman AJ Jordan couldn’t haul in the opening pass, although it appeared to be catchable. . Stave threw into double coverage on the next play and was picked off by defensive back Michael Caputo, marking the second straight day that Stave threw an interception to end two-minute drill. He finished the drive 0-of-2 with an interception.
Not the kind of stat line you want when vying for the starting quarterback position.
Senior Curt Phillips got off on the right foot with a screen pass to running back James White for six yards, but followed that with incompletion's to Jared Abbrederis and Jordan Fredrick.
The only other Phillips completion came on a seven-yard slant pattern to Doe. Phillips unofficially finished the drive 2-of-5 for13 yards.
Displeased with his quarterback’s performances, Bielema put the ball in O’Brien’s hand for one more drive. And it looked as if he almost dared the junior transfer to impress him. Six plays and approximately 50 yards later, Vonte Jackson crossed the goal line.
O’Brien started the drive 2-of-2 for seven yards and even moved the chains on his feet. O’Brien placed a beautiful pass to Jeff Duckworth for a 25-yard gain on second and 10. Jackson took the next snap up the middle on a delayed handoff for the score.
O’Brien finished the drive 4-of-4 with 32 yards and a touchdown.
Other Notes from Practice:
-Dropped passes continue to be a problem area for the Badgers, to the point where wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni felt the need to characterize his positional group.
“Some days we look like the Packers,” Azzanni said. “And some days we look like eighth graders.”
The receivers did put in extra work after practice — catching tennis balls out of machine barehanded, with an effort to work on the fundamentals of catching.
“Just trying to get better,” Azzanni said. “Always trying to get better.”
-Jordan Fredrick returned to the field Thursday after suffering an injury during Wednesday’s night practice. He looked healthy and seemed to participate in all drills.
-Freshman quarterback Chase Knox, who Bielema spoke highly about at the beginning of camp, took one live snap today that resulted in a fumble.
-Cody Byers left the practice field today with an undisclosed injury, he did not return.
-Jared Abbrederis and Kenzel Doe were fielding punts with first team special teams.
-Running Back Montee Ball participated in all individual drills today. He is still wearing the green jersey in practice and did not participate in any seven-on-seven or 11-on-11 drills.