Spring Game back at Camp Randall following hiatus

first_imgYANA PASKOVA/Herald PhotoSaturday will be a day of firsts for the UW football team.Bret Bielema will get his first look at his team in a truly competitive setting as head coach of the Badgers, in his inaugural Spring Game at the UW helm.Moreover, this game will be featured at Camp Randall Stadium for the first time since 2002 — the venue was undergoing renovation in the spring during the past two years — meaning this will be the first Spring Game on that field for many Badger starters.Instead of playing at high school stadiums, Wisconsin will get to show off what it has practiced through the past five weeks at Camp Randall Stadium at the 2006 UW Spring Game at 1 p.m. Saturday.”I’ve definitely been trying to sell it,” Bielema said of the spring’s return to the 80,000-plus seat stadium. “I know there won’t be the same crowd as there is in Camp Randall next year [in the fall], but we’ve tried to get as many people in the stands as possible, make it a game day environment.”That very environment, and the atmosphere created from it, plays a huge role in what the players look forward to when it comes to the Spring Game, according to Bielema.”I know our kids feel it, this is a great place, they talk about it all the time,” he said. “Our student section in particular is something that our guys feed off of.”The format for the spring game, as Bielema mentioned over the course of the past week, will be more relaxed than that of a Big Ten Conference matchup, but the Badgers still intend on taking the day seriously.The game will run four 15-minute quarters, with running clock at the end of the second quarter and tentatively — dependent on the coaches’ decisions — the entire fourth frame.As for teams, the first-string players will be taking on the rest of the team to start. Players like quarterback John Stocco, linebacker Mark Zalewski and safety Joe Stellmacher, among others, will be featured in the early stages of the game, but once the game heads into the second half, more second- and third-teamers that will likely end up at the end of the depth chart or on the scout team will see more field time.Bielema spoke of his anxiety to see just how his starters will match up with the reserves to begin the game, in what he’s calling a “ones against the world” system.”It’s not so much of just them being so good, we want to really see some guys play behind them,” Bielema said of sitting down his premier players early. “Probably this year, more so than any years in the past, I want to see our guys compete in the first half, [first-string] versus the rest of the team, and see them execute and do some things.”Instead of using quirky points systems like Oklahoma did in their nationally-televised Spring Game Apr. 8, Bielema said that the scoring should look basically normal on Saturday.”I haven’t been in a game yet where you get nine points for doing something,” the coach joked. “I want our guys to understand that if we score a touchdown, we get six points, and a PAT, we get another point.”However, Bielema did add that he’s currently toying with the idea of awarding double points to the second-string team for scoring touchdowns.Bielema also announced that he will release a limited depth chart, detailing each position two players deep, after the Spring Game, saying that while there are still decisions to be made based upon on-field efforts, he’d like to get several of his players solidified within their own personal roles on the squad.”The thing that, as coaches, we want to do is roll some people through,” Bielema said. “Even midway through spring drills, we kind of switched some guys to different sides of the football. What I wanted everybody to [have an] understanding of is we want to have open competition.”Bielema even went so far to challenge his top players in admitting that if his reserves find success against the first-string team that the Badgers will face more concerns than they otherwise would.”I want to put them in a pressure situation,” Bielema said. “Because we’re going ones against the world, the ones should be able to execute and do certain things; if they haven’t, then they haven’t taken that step forward, but I think we’ll see that on Saturday.”The Badgers plan to work out for about an hour this afternoon, followed by an informal rehearsal in which the players will familiarize themselves with the Spring Game format.last_img