Players to Watch: Wisconsin vs Northern Illinois

15 Sep

All right, I bought a new Ethernet cord for Saturday afternoon. Here’s to hoping my computer doesn’t crash before then.

Ok, back to business. Here are your Badger players to keep a close eye on this Saturday:

Offensive Player to Watch: James White, RB

James White, simply put, is too good to stay under the radar for three weeks in a row, especially when his next opponent has as hard a time stopping the run as Northern Illinois does. Now you may be saying, “whoa, whoa, Larson, James White has not been ‘under-the-radar,’ Montee has just been that dominant.” I get that, but I also get that Nebraska comes a-knockin’ in two weeks. I doubt Bielema is going to want to lean too heavily on his TD machine, Montee Ball. I also know that, with a flashy, quick scoring offense like the Huskies have, part of Chryst’s game plan will feature a lot of time-eating, run-heavy drives. Now, it’s not rocket appliance that Wisconsin leaning on the run + Bielema using Ball more sparingly = (to the dismay of the Huskies) James getting plenty of touches come Saturday. And I expect James to fully take advantage of the opportunity. Expect big things from number 20 come Saturday.

Defensive Player to Watch: Marcus Cromartie, DB

Ummmm, could it have been anyone else? It’s been well-documented (initially through the awesome-ness of Twitter) that senior corner back Devin Smith has been forced to miss the remainder of the playing season. Here’s where the importance of a quality depth chart plays a huge role. It’s no secret that no team would chose to have a senior starter miss the majority of the season, but the reality of it is, it happens. It’s now that the Badgers must move on and rally around their new starter. I’m very interested to see how Chris Ash disguises his defensive packages to keep Cromartie off islands. Bielema has sung Cromartie’s praises, even before the apparent need for him to step in, but now it’s time to see the red-shirt junior under the magnifying glass. With the passing ability of Chandler Harnish and the Northern Illinois Huskies, look for Huskies coach Dave Doerin to turn his attention to the unproven corner back early and often on Saturday. For the Badgers to consistently stop the Huskies and  play solid defense, Cromartie will have to shine. Here’s to hoping he channels his inner Antonio Cromartie and steps up to the task. Personally, I think he is.

On Wisconsin.

-Mitch Larson

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