Spring Notebook: Offense tops 2005 performance

first_imgLast Thursday afternoon, UW head coach Bret Bielema took a stroll down to the office of his former head coach and current Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez to speak about the 2005 spring football game.They weren’t the only ones talking.Quietly, those who have followed the football program and the team’s progress this spring feared the worst from the annual UW spring football game. Following the nigh unwatchable UW Cardinal-White contest from a year ago that ended in a 14-14 tie, this contest looked like it possibly could be even more dreadful, at least from an offensive perspective, as the seasoned Wisconsin defense had consistently outplayed the offense through the course of spring drills. “We knew coming in that we had the upper hand, having played all spring pretty well,” said senior linebacker Mark Zalewski. “We didn’t want to give up any points. We didn’t really state it, but we wanted to keep them off the board, just like you would in any game.”After the first two drives for the starters of the Cardinal squad, it appeared as if the nightmares were being realized. After a very quick three-and-out on the first drive, the next Cardinal possession got underway with P.J. Hill suffering a stinger on a dive to the right. On second down, junior defensive lineman Kurt Ware broke into the backfield and “sacked” quarterback John Stocco. And on the next play Stocco was picked off by Zach Hampton, who returned the pick 59 yards for a touchdown.Things weren’t looking good.In the end, however, the 2006 spring game was hardly a disaster at all and, unlike in 2005, lent optimism toward the upcoming season. The game was hardly a shootout, with only three touchdowns and a field goal, and it was sloppy at times, but most players and coaches left satisfied with the offensive performance.After its initial struggles, the first-team cardinal offense moved the ball well, and senior quarterback Stocco looked as in-tune with his receivers as he has at any point all spring, his pick-six to cornerback Zach Hampton not-withstanding.”Obviously, we still have some things to work on, but overall, I thought we did some good things today,” Stocco said. “It’s really just another practice for us, and we improved ourselves.”The Cardinal squad piled up 417 yards of offense, with Stocco netting 154 of those through the air. His throws were on target, and his reads were accurate. “I felt pretty good at making our throws, making plays, and I made my reads today, so it was a good day for me,” Stocco said.Hampton continues spring success: Hampton is making a name for himself as being an annual spring game star. In last season’s game, Hampton jumped in front of Jarvis Minton to pick off a John Stocco pass, solidifying what had been a fantastic spring for the aspiring safety.This year, after being moved to cornerback, Hampton repeated the feat and took it a step further, making it all the way to paydirt.On third-and-12, Stocco dropped back and attempted to hit wide receiver Paul Hubbard cutting across the field on a square route. The pass was behind Hubbard, who managed to get at least a hand on it, and was snatched by the opportunistic Hampton. He was then off to the races from there.”I was pretty much just trying to knock it down and it stuck,” Hampton said. “[Then] I saw the whole field, and I didn’t think anybody was going to catch me.”Nice reward: Offensive lineman Mike Van Someren tends to stick out in a crowd at 6-foot-7 and 320 pounds. However, the junior was even more noticeable than usual on Saturday, as he could be seen wearing a black jersey, symbolizing he was playing for both the cardinal and white, functioning as both the first- and second-string left tackle.Van Someren has become an iron man this spring, sometimes seeing 95 percent of the offensive line snaps. He has been one of the more impressive players during spring drills, if only for his endurance.His reward for the effort was somewhat dubious, having to play for both teams while wearing a black jersey on a very sunny day.”It was an opportunity, and I hope I took advantage of it,” Van Someren said. “I think, from an endurance standpoint, I think I showed them something. … With the sun beating down, it got pretty warm in there.”Infirmary report: Besides Hill, Hubbard appeared to be shaken up and said he rolled up his ankle in the first quarter but that he would be fine.Backup outside linebacker Jammar Crane also appeared to suffer an ankle injury in the fourth quarter.last_img read more