When the No. 1 offense faces the No. 1 defense, what is No. 11 — wide receiver Jazz Peavy — thinking when he looks across the line of scrimmage and sees No. 11 — cornerback Nick Nelson?
"I've got to beat him," Peavy said. "I've got to show him that I'm the better 11."
What is Nelson thinking about his corresponding No. 11?
"I've got to lock in," he said, "because he's pretty good."
It's a game within the game within a practice for Peavy and Nelson.
"We joke about it all the time," said Peavy, a senior from Kenosha. "He says I should switch my number. I told him he should switch his because I'm the proven 11, things like that.
"Nick is a great player and I know he's going to give me great competition with whatever route I run or even if I have to block him. When I see him (across the line), I know I've got to put it out there."
Both 11s are arguably 1s — No. 1s — or among Wisconsin's best players on offense and defense heading into the 2017 season opener Friday against Utah State at Camp Randall Stadium.
COACHES CORNER: Ted Gilmore
"Coming into training camp, I was excited because I thought we had a chance to have as much depth as we have had in some time," said Gilmore, the third-year wide receivers assistant.
"With a couple of injuries (George Rushing and Kendric Pryor) that forced a couple of younger guys to get more reps, one of them took advantage of it and put himself in position to help us."
That would be Danny Davis III, a 6-foot, 186-pound freshman out of Springfield, Ohio. Davis doubled as a running back/receiver as a prep and rushed for 1,195 yards during his senior year.
"Trust me, he still has some learning to do and we have to be smart with him that way," Gilmore said. "But if the ball is around him, he has as good of a chance as anybody coming down with it.
"You watch him and he's like a kid on the playground just playing. He's fearless. See ball, get ball. He has made some plays that guys haven't made since I've been here as far as catching the ball in traffic."
DON'T SLEEP ON VAN GINKEL
With the season-ending injury to sophomore Zack Baun, who played in 12 games and had 15 tackles as a backup outside linebacker, the Badgers will be leaning even more on Andrew Van Ginkel, a transfer from Iowa Western Community College (Council Bluffs).
Van Ginkel, who's from Rock Valley, Iowa, started his college career at the University of South Dakota. After redshirting as a true freshman, he started all 11 games at defensive end and was named first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference after registering 18.5 TFLs and nine quarterback sacks.
Against defending national champ North Dakota State, Van Ginkel had his best game: a season-high eight tackles and a sack as South Dakota snapped the Bison's 26-game home winning streak.
"It was a good experience. I learned a lot, I learned what college football is all about," he said of his two-year stay in Vermillion. "As a scout team player and freshman, you just learn that you have to be tough and physical and you can't back down. I still have friends there I can call to this day."
GETTING TO KNOW NO. 23 JONATHAN TAYLOR
"Before camp started, my main goal was being ready when my number was called," said Taylor, a 5-11, 214-pound freshman tailback from Salem, New Jersey. "I didn't know when it would be called or how I would be used. I just knew that whenever they called 23, I'd be ready to contribute to the team."
As a senior, Taylor rushed for 2,510 yards, breaking the South Jersey single-season record held by former UW tailback Corey Clement. "I stayed true to my running style in camp and I didn't try to change too much," Taylor said. "But I took the coaching points from Coach Set (John Settle) and enhanced it."
How would Taylor describe himself as a runner? "I'm a downhill kind of guy," he said. "I love to get north and south. But I will change directions if necessary. That's one of my biggest things. Gain as many yards as you can — stay in a linear path — until something takes you off that track."
Taylor has been sharing practice reps with Bradrick Shaw, Chris James and Rachid Ibrahim. The competition has been intense. On how the carries may be divided, Taylor said, "We're making it real tough on Coach Set, which is good. That shows that we're all competing at a high level."
NOTE TO QUOTE
Utah State is 0-21 vs. Associated Press top-10 teams and 1-13 vs. Big Ten opponents, with the only victory coming over Wisconsin, 20-0, in 1968 at Camp Randall. The Badgers were skunked in three straight (outscored 100-0) and went 0-10 that season as part of a 23-game winless streak.
Photo: Wisconsin Badgers
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