MADISON — Shortly after Wisconsin wrapped up its 11th of 16 scheduled camp workouts, Paul Chryst was asked to assess passing game and quarterback development.
Chryst had just watched Graham Mertz and Chase Wolf make several impressive throws Monday on the grass field north of Camp Randall Stadium.
Yet Chryst also saw both quarterbacks mix in too many missed chances, either errant throws or forced-to-cover balls that resulted in deflections or interceptions.
“I think there are times when you feel like we’re making progress,” Chryst said. “And there are times when we have to take advantage of this camp because it’s not where we want to be.”
Mertz’s best shot was a touchdown pass to receiver Markus Allen on a drill in the red zone. Mertz kicked the ball with a touch and the ball settled into Allen’s arms in the back of the end zone.
Wolf’s best throw was a deep pass off the sideline to wide receiver Keontez Lewis, who was covered by a defender. Lewis caught up despite the tight coverage, just across the goal line.
However, Mertz and Wolf forced passes that should have been directed elsewhere. A pitch from Wolf resulted in an interception in the end zone in the red zone segment.
“There are times,” Chryst reiterated, “but we’re not where we want to be yet.”
After:In the spring, there was no clear option for Wisconsin at tackle behind Keeanu Benton. Now one player has stood out.
After:‘Every day I’m grateful that he’s my coach’: Loyalty Jim Leonhard has shown to UW defense is mutual
Tanor Bortolini and Logan Brown leave practice early
Tanor Bortolini, who worked as a No. 2 center and No. 2 right guard, appeared to be suffering from a right leg injury and had to be helped off the field. His injury is being assessed.
Offensive line coach Bob Bostad, who seeks to develop depth in the center, has worked with Joe Tippmann, Bortolini and Dylan Barrett in this critical position.
Losing Bortolini for an extended period would be significant.
“Bort is a very good football player,” Chryst said.
Trey Wedig, who got work at right guard and right tackle, worked briefly after Monday’s practice to slam the quarters.
UW’s No. 1 line on Monday, left to right: Jack Nelson, Tyler Beach, Tippmann, Michael Furtney and Riley Mahlman.
Logan Brown was at right tackle on the No. 2 line before leaving with two members of the coaching staff. It’s unclear if Brown has been hurt or struggling due to his ongoing battle with diabetes.
At Mellusi, Isaac Guerendo seems in good health
With Braelon Allen held out of practice on Monday with an apparent leg injury, Chez Mellusi and Isaac Guerendo were the two best tailback options.
Mellusi, who is coming off a torn ACL suffered last season at Rutgers, continued to run well. He burst into the open field against the No. 2 defense for what would have been a touchdown run of about 50 yards.
“Credit to him and really everyone (involved) in these return processes,” Chryst said. “A lot of people are involved in this.
“It seems like a good schedule for him at the moment and when he goes, he goes (hard). … I love his approach and it’s been – knock on wood – so far, it’s gone well.
After:Healthy and happy: Chez Mellusi and Isaac Guerendo have recovered from their injuries to strengthen the depth of the UW traffic jam
After:Can the Badgers crush their enemies in 2022? Wisconsin has the potential – if Chez Mellusi and Isaac Guerendo stay healthy
Guerendo was a more effective runner between tackles last season than he had been. However, his season ended when he suffered a Lisfranc injury to his left foot during warm-ups in Illinois. Like Mellusi, Guerendo seems fully recovered.
“Isaac is more than just a speed guy,” Chryst said. “Last year he really felt and understood the position. It looks like it went well for him to come back.