Badgers look for leadership

first_imgBeyond the repetition and constant reminders of what was missed on the previous play, the University of Wisconsin football team is searching to define its identity this spring. It isn’t quite there, but like in many of the individual battles for starting spots, progress has been made.”I think they’re building [an identity],” defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz said. “Part of that is with expectations. They want to be good, they’re trying to develop an identity and personality, and part of it is guys are trying to be leaders, so we’ve got to have new leaders step up.”To date, Hankwitz says no one has emerged as a clear-cut leader. “It’s an ongoing process,” he said. “Just because some guys have done it a few times this spring, leadership is by example. It’s on and off the field. It’s in the weight room, in meetings. So that thing is building, and I’d say we’re pleased where we’re at right now.”More than anything, building an identity is about finding consistency. For some, the path can be as difficult as a quest to find the Holy Grail. Once it’s found, once people learn to play within their personalities, the concept of a team really starts to click.”You talk about a guy like Luke Swan, you know what you’re going to get from him and that’s what it has to be,” offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said. “And I think across the board, that’s what you’re working on — is being consistent — and then you’re accountable to your teammates.”Two steps forward, one step back — that’s really how spring ball has been thus far. Saturday’s scrimmage exemplified this notion. The quarterbacks aired out passes into double coverage for easy picks, and receivers slowed out of their routes and weren’t where they needed to be to catch the pass. Runningback Lance Smith missed some open lanes, and linemen missed some blocks. Even the defense, beneath all its hard hits, tipped balls and picks, has much to learn. As long as something can be taken from these hiccups, Chryst isn’t too concerned. “We had two negative plays today that I thought were tremendous for the growth of Travis (Beckum), and they were down in the red zone,” Chryst said. “If he can learn from those, those plays are worth it. And yet nothing positive on the outside came of it — two incompletions. “If we can learn from those two things — that’s why I don’t get hung up — those are better than having a bad look. And I think that’s what spring provides you with.”With the spring game less than a week away, a lot can be labeled as good or bad, positive or negative. While it certainly is a good gauge as to where the football team is at in terms of progress, it’s nothing more than a marker to where the team will be at in the fall. The real work is still coming. Over the summer and in fall camp is where Wisconsin’s identity will likely cement itself. The seeds have been planted. Now it’s just time for them to grow. Practice Notes: Tight end Mickey Turner was the recipient of a half a dozen or so balls thrown by quarterback Dustin Sherer, even catching one of the offense’s two touchdowns. While Sherer was for the most part on the mark, Tyler Donovan was anything but; he threw a handful of picks on several forced throws. … Free safety Shane Carter lit up several receivers, including Beckum on what could have been a touchdown, and made several shoestring tackles in the open field. “He really plays with the right attitude,” Hankwitz said. “He’s really focused, he’s working hard to get better and I’ve been impressed with the way he’s come up and tackled. We knew he had great ball skills and he can cover people back there, cover ground, but I’ve been just as impressed with his tackling. So we’re excited about what he’s done.” … The defensive line got nicked up a bit, losing Mike Newkirk early on in practice to a left foot injury and Matt Shaughnessy for a stretch with right arm pain. Newkirk had his foot booted and left the field on crutches. His status remains unknown.last_img

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