Jacob Schwoerer/The Badger HeraldThere are typically more than 100 players on a college football team, and they all have two things in common.(1) They all have a craving for playing time.(2) They have five years of eligibility to satisfy it.That means college football teams are rife with competition, and no player’s hold on a starting spot is immune to it.Wisconsin senior cornerback Devin Smith learned that the hard way last season.Starting all 13 games in the 2009-10 season as a sophomore, Smith led the team in passes defended (11) and pass breakups (nine) while finishing fourth in tackles (55). He also snagged two interceptions.Heading into his junior season, many expected Smith to become one of the Big Ten’s top defensive backs. Instead, he lost his starting spot and spent more time on the sidelines than on the field.At this time one year ago, as the football team gathered for its spring and summer camps, Smith fell victim to that competition. Teammates Antonio Fenelus and Niles Brinkley outplayed him for the two starring roles at corner.“I guess there was just good competition all the way around,” he said. “We were just constantly competing, and I started fighting injuries towards the end of summer as well. I just had to take the role I had and just do anything I could to make our team better.”Fenelus and Brinkley proceeded to earn honorable mention All-Big Ten designations, as voted on by the coaches (Fenelus also earned First Team by the media), while Smith was forced to fill in as a nickelback. He appeared in all 13 games, amassing 30 tackles and one interception.According to defensive backs coach and co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash – who now enters his second year at UW – last year’s reduced role humbled Smith but also taught him how to return to the starting lineup.“It’s difficult for anybody to go through that when they’ve been the guy on the field on game day, and then all of a sudden you’re standing there watching,” Ash said. “That’s a tough deal to go through, but he accepted it. Eventually he understood what he needed to do, and he’s gone and done it.”But with every year comes new opportunities. Brinkley has since gone on to graduate, leaving a clear shot for Smith to regain the role he enjoyed two years ago.Now, Smith is responding to any and all competition.“Before, things came easy for Devin, and then when other guys started to step up, he didn’t step up and now he’s learned to compete, and he’s competing right now to make himself the best he can be,” Ash said.After two weeks of spring camp, Smith has earned playing time with the first-team defense and appears to be the No. 1 candidate to start opposite Fenelus at cornerback this season.Throughout camp, Smith has dealt with a sprained AC joint – a joint in the top of the shoulder – although he has said it’s a “really minor” injury. The UW staff has given him a green jersey like quarterbacks wear for practice to make other players aware.However, that green jersey hasn’t prevented him from at least some kinds of drills involving contact. Thursday, he participated in bump and run drills with wide receivers and, despite his maimed shoulder, did not allow a single receiver to get past him without first disrupting the route too much. Saturday, he again practiced with the first team defense in a scrimmage.“I definitely think he’s embracing the role as the starting corner,” redshirt senior safety Aaron Henry said. “He’s definitely upped his level of play. He really hasn’t been doing anything that he wasn’t doing initially, but I think it’s just the confidence level. Last year he wasn’t as confident. I’m sure he’d tell you that, but going into spring ball, he’s a whole lot more confident. He knows he can play with anybody in the country.”When asked where the Smith’s strengths lie, Ash mentioned that although he does have a lot of talent, it’s the football IQ and technique that allow Smith to succeed.That’s lucky for Ash, because Smith still hopes to improve in those areas – as well as others – in the leadup to his senior year.“I’m really just focusing on my technique as a whole,” Smith said. “Also, I’m just trying to make sure I become a smarter player, just recognizing certain situations, being able to play a lot faster and just becoming a lock-down corner on my side where the rest of my team can count on me.”Now that’s competing.
The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (3-3) took care of business at home against in-state opponent UW-Milwaukee (4-2) last Friday in a blowout 71-49 victory.The game was relative close for much of the first half, tied 21-21 with five minutes remaining in the period. But in the second half, the Badgers ran up the score quickly to widen the lead in what was ultimately a 22-point victory for Wisconsin.Big Ten Freshman of the week Brad Davison starred in the matchup as the new starter led the team with a career high 19 points in just 22 minutes. Davison’s efficiency was phenomenal on the night, as the guard shot 7-8 from the field and 5-6 from 3 points.Men’s Basketball: Wisconsin walks away empty handed from Hall of Fame ClassicThe University of Wisconsin men’s basketball (2-4) fell in both the first round and consolation game of the 2017 Hall Read…The freshman has become an integral part of Wisconsin’s lineup ever since his strong introduction against Xavier two weeks ago. While in their first few games names like Khalil Iverson and Andy Van Vliet were seen at the top of the box score, Davison is cementing himself as the clear second scoring option to Ethan Happ.On that note, Happ carried the offensive load once again for the Badgers on 7-12 shooting for 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists. But this performance did not come without struggles as Happ had four turnovers and could not convert on his limited jump shot attempts.Happ and the rest of the Badgers have been working on starting each half with solid play. Happ believes that one of the team’s biggest weaknesses is that they allow opponents to pull ahead early on in the half, forcing Wisconsin to continually try and play catch-up.“It is big every game to start each half well to set the tone,” Happ said. “We try to get stops all in a row. We didn’t do it in Kansas City. When teams get momentum coming out of halftime they are hard to stop.”Men’s Basketball: Iverson steals show in Badgers win against YaleThe University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team, 2-0, secured a comfortable victory Sunday against last year’s bracket busting Yale Bulldogs, Read…While perimeter shooting is clearly not yet a tool in Happ’s arsenal, he has already shot outside four times this year, which is four more times than he has in any previous season. Happ has also struggled from the line; while he only shot once from the charity spot in this game his free throw percentage is an abysmal 56 percent on the year. If Happ wants to legitimately compete for national player of the year during his tenure with the Badgers, these are areas of the game that he will need to improve.Wisconsin will look to use this win as a stepping stone for defeating more challenging foes like their next opponent, the No.18 ranked Virginia Cavaliers. The Badgers need this contest to rally back and create positive momentum for the remainder of the season, especially if they don’t want to constantly be playing catch-up with other teams.
Raymond O’Meara was at the match for Tipp FM Sport.Elsewhere, Cashel were up against City of Derry in Spafield and managed to secure a four try bonus point. It finished Cashel 25 City of Derry 3.Cashel stay in fifth place in the overall league standings but are level on points with fourth place Banbridge. Peter Silk was at the game for Tipp FM Sport. Munster’s aspirations of retaining top spot in the Guinness Pro12 took a hit today as they fell to defeat against Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.The final score was 26 points to 12 in favour of the Welsh outfit and Munster captain Denis Hurley said that discipline killed his side’s chances. Nenagh Ormond have secured a bonus point win over Skerries this afternoon. The full-time score was Nenagh Ormond 33 Skerries 5.The North Tipp club move up to tenth in the overall league standings after today’s emphatic win.