Tag Archives: Nebraska Corn Huskers

Grading the Defense: Week 4

26 Sep

Just another day in the life for the nation’s third-best scoring defense.

The Badgers played well enough up front and essentially made the Coyotes one-dimensional. The secondary was stellar, the linebackers made plays, the front four brought pressure, and the collective defensive unit finally began recording take-aways. Here are the individual grades:

Defensive Line: A-

I’m a bit torn about the line’s performance. While they did bring constant pressure and recorded three sacks, they seemed unable to stop the run game, at times. Granted the Coyotes were very one-dimensional in their play-calling and ran the ball 37 times, it still hurts to see 124 rushing yards under the Coyotes’ stat line. Call me a perfectionist, but while it only averages out to 3.4 yards per rush, I think the Badgers front four can improve. And they’ll need to next weekend against the dynamic rushing attack of Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead.

Linebackers: A-

This would be a straight A, but I pass part of the blame for South Dakota’s 124 rushing yards to the linebacking corps. But besides that, the linebackers were effective. Borland continues to demonstrate his knack for making big plays while recording his first interception of the year. The unit also featured the Badgers’ top three tacklers of the day in Mike Taylor, Borland, and Kevin Claxton.

Secondary: A+

Any team who can hold their opposition, no matter how bad, to less than 50 yards through the air deserves mad props. When Nick Toon can out-gain the Coyotes in one play, you know the secondary was on top of their game. Cromartie seems to be fitting in well with the unit and they collectively appear confident to move on to their next challenge.

It’s awfully hard to complain about a defense that has given up 8.5 ppg through the first four match-ups, but the Badgers must continue to improve before their anticipated match-up with the Huskers. Can’t wait.

On Wisconsin.

-Mitch Larson

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Wisconsin’s Ten Biggest Storylines for 2011

29 Aug

Ready…Set…Football!

Well sports fans, it’s finally upon us. And after what seemed like an endless off-season of college football embarrassment, scandal, and overall craziness, the dawn of Wisconsin’s first kickoff is a welcomed sight. As a chorus of camera flashes signal the start of Wisconsin’s 2011 campaign, we as college football fans can finally put a tumultuous off-season behind us. And as Bucky begins its journey in the newest edition of the BIG TEN, let’s take a look at UW’s ten biggest upcoming story lines for the 2011 season:

10) Nick Toon’s Health

Nick Toon's health will be a key for Wisconsin's offensive clout. Toon will be tasked with keeping defenses honest and being Russell Wilson's go-to man.

We all know the 2010 Bullies of the Big Ten’s made their money through the running game–but let’s not forget the importance of the UW passing attack. The 2010 Badgers featured on of the most balanced offenses in the nation last year. Despite the parting of David Gilreath, Kyle Jefferson, and Lance Kendricks, I doubt Paul Chryst will deviate much from last year’s offensive blue print. Especially with the addition of an exceptional passer in Russell Wilson, Bucky needs a go-to target to keep defenses honest: enter Nick Toon. Toon is an NFL-caliber receiver with great size and athleticism but struggled with nagging injuries in 2010.  For the 2011 Badgers to continue their balanced offense, Toon will have to stay healthy and emerge into one of the leagues top-tier targets.

9) Beat Sparty

I don’t know about you, but Michigan State whining over being passed up for the 2010 Rose Bowl still weighs heavy in my memory. My dad taught me one thing: if you don’t like the cards you were dealt, go out and prove the haters wrong. Apparently daddy Dantonio’s version of that advice included getting curb-stomped 49-7 by Alabama in their bowl game. That surely doesn’t sound like a BCS team to me. Yet still, the Spartans claim they’re in the hunt for the Big Ten title. Bucky gets a shot to go back to East Lansing and end those dreams. Last year Sparty was lucky (numerous times) this year, they’ll get a heavy dose of reality. And it’s up to Wisconsin to make sure that reality hurts.

8 ) The Russell Wilson Project

This subject was much more intriguing and questionable before the start of camp. I know Coach Beilema always has preached about the character of Russell Wilson, but I was still reluctant to see how he gelled with the team. After listening to many interviews, player reactions to Wilson’s work ethic, and the sheer fact that his team-mates voted him as a captain tells me that he will be just fine wearing the Cardinal and White. The only thing that remains to be seen is how he adapts to a Big Ten style of football. While I’m optimistic, I (as well as many Badger fans out there) am extremely excited to see the energy and play-making ability Wilson brings to an already loaded Badger backfield.

7) Nebraska vs Wisconsin

We all remember the electricity of OSU last year. Now imagine it was OSU’s inaugural Big Ten game… The Badgers and Huskers will be in America’s spotlight; I get chills thinking about it already. If you’re not already jacked for this game, check your pulse because you might be dead–or a Gophers fan.

6) Paving the Way

Last year’s Wisconsin rushing attack was a beast. It’s that simple. While a lot of the credit falls on James White, Montee

Ball, and John Clay, college football pundits were quick to point out the hand that Wisconsin’s O-Line had in that rushing dominance. But even for a program known for producing NFL quality lineman, replacing the thrashing performances of two All-Americans in Gabe Carimi (Outland Trophy Winner) and John Moffit is a tall task to handle. I’m going to go out on a limb and say UW is one of the only football programs that can do just that. The Badgers move an experienced Ricky Wagner to left tackle, and bring back center Peter Konz and right guard Kevin Zeitler. They also return experienced players like Josh Oglesby and dark-horse players like Ryan Groy and Ray Ball. These Badgers may lack the star-power that last year’s squad had, but the certainly have the clout to punish Big Ten defenses and pave the way for another version of Wisconsin’s rushing attack.

So there you have it, Wisconsin’s 10 through six biggest story lines heading into the 2011 season. Tomorrow we will count down Bucky’s final five biggest storylines. So sleep tight; kickoff is just a few nights away!

-Mitch Larson