Badgers football: Gary Andersen calls first day of fall camp a 'positive' one
By Jim Polzin
Gary Andersen isn't one to jump to conclusions, and the University of Wisconsin football coach certainly wasn't about to go that route following the Badgers' opening day of training camp Monday.
Andersen called it "a positive day. Some good, some bad, everything in between. But I liked the kids' mindset, which is probably the most important thing."
At one point during his 10-minute recap of the day's events -- the 105-player camp roster was split into two groups, one of which practiced in the morning and the other in the afternoon -- Andersen referred to it as "kind of pretend football" because the players are not allowed to wear pads until later in the week.
Still, Andersen and the players were thrilled to finally officially begin preparations for a season that will begin Aug. 30 against
LSU in Houston.
Monday's practice was the start of a 13-day stretch in which UW will practice every day. The Badgers will scrimmage on Sunday and again on Aug. 18.
"We talked about that (Sunday) night in our first meeting, the fact that it is a grind and I want to see ... how we handle that," Andersen said. "There's a lot of recovery time these first four days. It's not a traditional 25-period practice. It's more reps, it's tiring, but it's in a shorter period of time. So they should be pretty good after four days when we move them into that first scrimmage.
"But I want to see how they react to a grinding, mental camp. I'm not going to say physically we're going to beat them up, but we'll be challenging. I want to see how we handle that."
Andersen's only real gripe Monday came late in the afternoon session when he noticed some sluggish play. He brought the players together in the middle of the field, pointed out what he saw and encouraged them to finish practice strong.
"I was disappointed with some of the veterans we had in that afternoon group," Andersen said. "They can sense it just as much as I. Now when we challenged them a little bit, they answered, and I thought they finished well.
"But we've got to sense that. We've got to sense that when we see ourselves fading and challenge ourselves a little bit, and we pride ourselves on that here ... finishing games in the fourth quarter. So we can't talk about it and not practice it the right way. That first group had a little edginess to them, and some kids in the second group did, but not enough."
There were some interested observers joining the media in the stands at Camp Randall Stadium throughout the day.
When practice began at 6:20 a.m., a handful of players from the afternoon session sat down to watch their teammates. The group kept growing as the practice went on.
The same thing played out in the afternoon, when members of the morning group stopped by to watch.
Andersen was asked if the players were encouraged to watch practices in which they were not participating.
"No, it's something that if they think they can gain something out of practice, then they can come in and watch it," he said. "They've got to obviously stay in the stands and follow the rules, but they can come in and sit and watch the practice. If I was fighting for a spot, pretty good chance I'd be sitting in those stands."
Just for kicks
On a day with no tackling, perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that a kicker stole the show.
Freshman Rafael Gaglianone went 5-for-5 on field goal attempts during the morning session, converting from 21, 21, 39, 44 and 49 yards. The attempt from 49 cleared with plenty of room to spare.
Gaglianone is competing with junior Jack Russell of Waunakee and Andrew Endicott for place-kicking duties. Russell and Endicott each went 3-for-3 on field goals in the afternoon session.
"He hit them all and he was very confident," Andersen said of Gaglianone, a 5-foot-11, 231-pounder who is originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and attended Baylor High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as an exchange student.
"The ball came off his leg like we thought it would, like when we recruited him, what we saw on film, which is very encouraging. It's going to be fun to watch that continue to develop."
Andersen had an interesting conversation with Gaglianone before his attempts.
"I challenged him today," Andersen said. "He said, 'Don't worry, Coach, I'll make them all.' I like it."
Another freshman who made a good first impression on Andersen was wide receiver George Rushing, who was a standout in the morning session.
The 6-1, 190-pound Rushing is one of three true freshman wide receivers -- Krenwick Sanders and Natrell Jamerson are the others -- who will be pushed in camp to contribute at a position lacking in depth and star power.
"George made some nice catches, did some nice things, caught some contested balls, which was nice to see," Andersen said. "And he ground through the whole practice and didn't show any signs of fading at all, which was good to see some mental toughness out of him, too."
Junior college transfer Serge Trezy has yet to join the team.
Trezy, who is listed as a safety but may be better suited for cornerback because of his speed, has yet to be cleared academically.
"Still in the process," Andersen said of Trezy, who played two seasons at Eastern Arizona College and attended classes there this summer. "We should know for sure in the next couple of days. He's got himself in position, from what we understand at this point, to have everything done (that) we've asked him to do academically. Now, it's just got to get through the process of seeing where it all sits."
Andersen said he wasn't sure when Trezy would arrive. It's possible he could redshirt this season.
"If he's going to be here, the agreement was at the very beginning when we recruited him, if he was going to be here, he was going to get here very early in camp, if not he would use this as his redshirt year and join us in January," Andersen said. "That was the plan all the way through, but we're still hoping it'll be this year. Because obviously we'd like to have him here whether he plays or redshirts, we would like to have him here going to school for the semester."
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