The Cardinal (defense) defeated the White (offense) 61-47 in Saturday's annual Wisconsin spring game, capitalizing on a scoring system that gave points for such things as stopped drives, sacks, tackles for loss, and 3-and-outs.
The battle on the scoreboard, however, was the least intriguing battle of the day. Saturday marked a new beginning for Wisconsin football: a new coaching staff, a radically new defense and competition raging for open spots across the depth chart.
The star of the day was unquestionably the new-look Badger defense. In its first public appearance since shifting to a 3-4 this offseason, the Cardinal team shut down the Badger offense through most of the second period. In seven second-quarter offensive series, the Wisconsin defense forced six stops (including four three-and-outs, worth 12 total points) and allowed just one touchdown. The defense continued to dominate through the abbreviated second half, keeping the offense out of the end zone and extending its lead with five stops.
The most anticipated position battle was at quarterback, where super-senior Curt Phillips took first team reps but was wholly upstaged by junior Joel Stave. Phillips finished a tepid 8-13 passing for 82 yards, while Stave connected on 15 of his 20 attempts for 161 yards and the game's only passing touchdown. The third quarterback in the mix, senior Danny O'Brien, went 0-3 in his one series of action and looked overwhelmed:
We're determined to keep evaluations tempered today, but that drive was not Danny O'Brien's finest moment.— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) April 20, 2013
Without James White, who was held out of Saturday's scrimmage as a precaution, the running game fell on the shoulders of Melvin Gordon. The junior halfback ran for 74 yards on 17 carries and a score. Top wideout Jared Abbrederis also did not play. Linebacker Chris Borland, safety Dezmen Southward, and defensive linemen Beau Allen and Ethan Hemer were held out for the defense.