Football tour notebook: Tom Dienhart's fun takes from Wisconsin


Football tour notebook: Tom Dienhart's fun takes from Wisconsin

The BTN bus just left Wisconsin practice, and now it’s time to share some nuggets I gathered while I watched the Badgers practice Saturday morning.

[ MORE: 5 things Tom Dienhart learned | View our tour schedule ]

I talked to new strength and conditioning coach Ross Kolodziej, who has altered the lifting program. He has the team executing more Olympic lifts like cleans, jerks, etc. It’s about moving more weight and becoming more explosive. “We changed expectations,” said Kolodziej, a former Badger. “They are much higher. At first the players were like, ‘Whoa!’”

There are more than 10 former Badgers who are part of the football operations for Paul Chryst, including Kolodziej, DC Joe Rudolph, strength assistant Bradie Ewing, GA Bill Nagy and quality control Taylor Mehlhaff, among others.

This is my fourth tour. And it’s the first time the Badgers practiced on an adjacent grass field by Camp Randall. A reason why? Heat. During practice, strength and conditioning coach Ross Kolodziej pointed a temperature gun at the grass field. It read between 78-80 degrees. He said the turf inside Camp Randall would be about 120 degrees on a day that hit 90 degrees in Madison.

RB Corey Clement told me he expects to be used often as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

The tight end spot long has been a strong suit in Madison. And this year’s squad has some nice options in sophomore Troy Fumagalli and senior Austin Traylor, who typically has been an in-line guy. But he has improved his hands.

What a difference a year makes for senior QB Joel Stave. Last August, he lost the starting job to Tanner McEvoy and then developed a vexing case of the yips. He got the job back about midseason. Now, Stave is the unquestioned starter.

The secondary may really need Tanner McEvoy at safety, as there is a big drop off after him and Michael Caputo. Lubern Figaro isn’t ready. The secondary also is looking for a nickel back. Derrick Tindal may be the guy.

I asked S Michael Caputo what young guys on defense have caught his eye. He mentioned freshman S Arrington Farrar, freshman ILB Alec Ingold and sophomore S D’Cota Dixon.

Depth behind RB Corey Clement is … interesting. Junior Dare Ogunbowale is second team. He’s a former defensive back who arrived as a walk-on. Redshirt freshman Taiwan Deal is No. 3. He isn’t a “wow” guy. Top recruit Jordan Stevenson figured to impact but was denied admission and landed at Nebraska. True freshman Bradrick Shaw is a year away.

Redshirt freshman T.J. Edwards and junior Leon Jacobs are penciled in to be the new starters at inside linebacker, followed by sophomore Keelon Brookins and true freshman Nick Thomas. Edwards and Jacobs each got hurt in the first padded practice on Wednesday and missed today’s workout. Each is expected back but could miss the opener vs. Alabama.

The d line—which isn’t physically imposing–has been shuffled. Arthur Goldberg has moved from nose guard to end with the emergence of Conor Sheehy. Chikwe Obasih is the other end in the 3-4 scheme of coordinator Dave Aranda. The Badgers use a lot of pre-snap movement to compensate for a lack of size.


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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