Offensive Line: A+
Pancaking blocks, gaping running lanes, hours of protection, quick and athletic pulling guards. Those are just a few things the Moffit and Carimi-less Badger O-Line contributed to Thursday night’s game. Konz looked solid, the left side looked strong, and multiple lineman found themselves leading Badger ball-carriers to the edge. The Badger offensive line unit could really have done nothing better. Their grade was an easy choice.
Quarterback : A+
The B1G Year of the Quarterback got off to an exciting start in Madison on Thursday night. Russell Wilson could have easily been 12 for 13 with 300 yards and three TDs, but alas, we’ll have to live with a paltry 10-13 for 255 yards and two measly TD tosses. And yes, I’m being facetious. Wilson lived up to the hype and then some in his first start as a Badger as he sent the Badger faithful into a craze with his 46 yard Touchdown scamper. He did everything anyone could have asked of him; he controlled the offense, went through his progressions, and created when the Badgers needed him to create. “I don’t think I was touched once, today,” Wilson said in respect to his team’s blocking for him. Well guess what Russell…get used to it.
Toon came up big, Pederson was solid, and on multiple occasions, Badger receivers found themselves wide-open behind UNLV coverage. The only reason I’m not ready to give the receiver corps an A+ is just because their catching opportunities were limited. Between a dominant running game and the success of Wisconsin’s dump-pass game, there was rarely any reason for Chryst to try to stretch the defense and target his receivers. One thing I was very impressed with, however, was the Badger receivers willingness to help in the running game. Between sealing corners to the outside or punishing would-be-tacklers down-field, the Badgers showed a propensity for being physical and demonstrated a knack for being nasty. And in the offense that the Badgers will run, you can’t ask more out of your receivers.
News flash: these guys are good. I was extremely impressed with all four of the Badger backs who saw action. Montee Ball’s looks night-and-day different compared to his last year’s playing weight. His shiftiness is off the charts and he still looks to have the punishing mentality. Ball was good out of the backfield, averaging 6.3 per carry and electric catching the ball. White was very much the same. If these two can continue the performances they had on Thursday, the Badger running game should be in good shape moving forward through the year.
Overall Offense: A
When your team racks up 51 points by half way through the 3rd quarter and scores on every possession, there’s really not much to say. The Badgers were clicking in every aspect and, granted they were playing UNLV, looked very very impressive. The way they racked up yardage and moved the ball (and moved it quickly) the Badgers look to have the opportunity to be more explosive than last year’s version of the Badgers. Ball and White looked as good as advertised and Russell Wilson appears to be the real deal. Based off their inaugural performance, I’m expecting big numbers and a lot of push-ups for Bucky this year.