Tag Archives: Russell Wilson

Prediction Time! Wisconsin vs. Nebraska

29 Sep

As possibly the most-hyped game in Wisconsin football history, all eyes will be on Madison Saturday night. Nebraska will be bringing upwards of 20,000 fans to Madison, which will up the ante even more. The excitement surrounding this game is unmatched.

But, what’s truly important is what happens on the field.

The Huskers have had trouble stopping both the run and pass this year. You’d think they would have shored that up by now. They haven’t. And that’s bad news for a defense going up against the most-high powered offense they’ll face all year. Russell Wilson, Montee Ball and company should be able to find their groove early and scoring will be a constant theme. Look for Wilson to emerge as a legit Heisman contender following this game.

On the other side of the ball, the Huskers will score some points. Their offense is just too good to be completely contained. But it won’t be enough.

Wisconsin 40, Nebraska 23

-Sam Oleson

I, like most of Sconnie Nation, have been licking my chops since the 2011 schedule was released. Could this game be any bigger? College Game Day–coming. National spot-light–got it. Big Ten championship preview–likely. Seriously, I’m shaking just thinking about it.

Like Sam stated, it’s been well-documented that the vaunted “blackshirts” have yet to completely show up. I will counter, however, that this will be Nebraska’s first game with a completely healthy defense. And something tells me Bo Pelini’s boys won’t have much trouble getting jacked for this one. They’ll make some stops and test the Badgers, sure, but ultimately, the Badgers have too much star-power at all levels of the offense to be completely shut down. The Badgers will score, mark my words.

On the flip side, the Husker offense is none-to-shabby, themselves. Martinez and Burkhead will give the Badgers headaches. Early on, I think we’ll definitely be in store for a slug-fest as both offenses move the ball effectively. As the game draws on, though, I see the Badgers begin to pull away, forcing Martinez to go to the air. It’s here, after a Martinez mistake, that I see the Badgers putting the game on ice.

Wisconsin 38, Nebraska 28

-Mitch Larson

Advertisements

Wisconsin vs. Nebraska: Scouting the Cornhuskers

26 Sep

In case you didn’t know (I pray to God that isn’t actually the case), No. 7 Wisconsin (4-0) hosts No. 8 Nebraska (4-0) in the Cornhuskers’ first Big Ten game and one of the most-anticipated games in Badger football history. Not only is this the first Big Ten game for both schools this season, but it’s also a top 10 match-up that could have serious national title implications.

Moral of the story: this is a national championship elimination game for both teams.

So, here’s a scouting report for the high-powered Huskers.

Offense

Quarterback:

Using a spread option attack, Nebraska has one of the most prolific offenses in the country. The key to that specific attack, more so than many other offensive schemes across the country, is the quarterback. A system like this relies on the quarterback to make plays with his feet and if he can’t, the offense becomes extremely limited.

This is the case with Taylor Martinez and Nebraska. The way Martinez goes is the way Nebraska goes. And so far, it’s been going pretty well. The Huskers are averaging close to 43 points a game and Martinez has been the key.

He leads the team in rushing with 421 yards on just 63 attempts and has already scored seven touchdowns. If he gets out in space, he’s one of the most dangerous players in the country and Wisconsin will need to keep him bottled up. They did it to Chandler Harnish, there’s no reason to think they can’t limit Martinez as well.

And, if they can limit Martinez on the ground, it bodes well for Wisconsin. Martinez, only a sophomore, still hasn’t mastered the passing game, completing only around 50 percent of his passes this season with 647 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Running Backs:

Other than Martinez, Nebraska’s primary force on the ground is running back Rex Burkhead. Burkhead, like Martinez, is having a fabulous season, rushing for 420 yards already on 63 carries with seven touchdowns.

If Martinez can’t get it going, the Huskers will rely on Burkhead to power the offense. Other than Burkhead, Braylon Heard and Aaron Green have also received a number of carries this season.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:

Although they don’t get a ton of action, Nebraska does have a number of receivers capable of making some big plays. Freshman Jamal Turner leads the team with 8 catches for 139 yards with a long of 43. Quincy Enunwa also has 8 receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown.

The Huskers also use the tight end, with Kyler Reed chipping in with 5 catches for 137 yards.

Although certainly not featured, Wisconsin can’t afford to sleep on this receiving corps.

Offensive Line:

Clearly, with the Huskers having already rushed for 1,090 yards as a team, the offensive line is doing a pretty good job. When Martinez has dropped back to pass however, the line has allowed 5 sacks. If Wisconsin hopes to shut down Martinez, they’ll need to penetrate this tough line.

Defense

Defensive Line:

Despite a very talented defensive line, Nebraska has been somewhat vulnerable against the run this year. Opponents are averaging 133 yards a game on the ground and if Wisconsin likes to do one thing, it’s run.

However, after missing last week against Wyoming, the Huskers get back senior defensive tackle Jared Crick, who already has 14 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and 1 sack this year. Containing him will be huge.

Russell Wilson will also need to be on the lookout for defensive end Cameron Meredith, who already has 3 sacks on the year.

Linebackers:

The Nebraska linebacking corps is led by senior Lavonte David, who leads the team with 38 tackles, 2 TFL and an interception. Will Compton (True Blood, anyone?) has also had a solid season for the Huskers, contributing 22 tackles.

Defensive Backs:

This is where Nebraska has struggled on the year. They’re giving up over 216 yards passing a game and have already given up 8 touchdowns.

Wisconsin, under Wilson, has suddenly become quite potent through the air. If given time, the combinations of Wilson-Toon and Wilson-Abbrederis could have big days.

The fact is, as highly touted as the “Blackshirts” were coming into the season, they’ve been quite disappointing so far. They’re giving up 22 points and 350 yards a game and don’t look anything like the defense of last season.

If they play like they have so far, Wisconsin could easily put up 40 points on the Huskers.

Special Teams

Kicker:

Nebraska’s kicker, Brett Maher, has been nothing short of spectacular this season. He’s 8-of-9 on field goals with his only miss coming from over 50 yards.

Punter:

Did I mention Brett Maher was good? He’s also Nebraska’s punter and he may be even better here. He’s averaging 49 yards a punt and has already pinned 6 punts inside the 20-yard line.

Kick Returns:

For the most part, Ameer Abdullah has handled the return duties for the Huskers. And, he’s good. On the year, he’s averaging 42.5 yards a return and has a touchdown.

Punt Returns:

Again, Abdullah. He’s averaging 12 yards a return and has a long of 28. Look out for No. 8.

 

 

Prediction Time! Wisconsin vs. South Dakota

22 Sep

As Wisconsin takes on South Dakota in their final tune-up before their showdown with Nebraska next week, they’ll need to do a couple things.

First off, they need to stay sharp. Although I can’t say I’m worried the Coyotes will pull off the upset (although they did defeat Minnesota last year), the Badgers can’t afford to play sloppy. This is their last chance to get anything fixed before they embark upon the Big Ten season. And, South Dakota won’t be coming into this game just expecting to get blown out. As probably the biggest game of many of their players’ lives, the Coyotes will be pumped up and ready to play. South Dakota has a few playmakers on both sides of the ball, so Wisconsin will need to neutralize them from the start and erase any hope.

Secondly, the Badgers need to stay healthy. If they get up big, the back-ups should come in at halftime. We don’t need Russell Wilson staying in until the fourth quarter like last week. The scheduling of South Dakota was meant for the very purpose of tuning the Badgers up for Big Ten play and any injuries would completely erase the good that comes out of this matchup.

In the end, a win is a pre-drawn conclusion, but it’s how the Badgers play and how many of their players walk off the field healthy that will determine the merit of Wisconsin’s victory on Saturday.

Prediction: Wisconsin 52, South Dakota 10

-Sam Oleson

I wrote a book on what I expected out of last week’s match-up, and frankly, it was a waste of time. In that essay-of-a-prediction I was, for the most part, completely wrong. So here I will take the opposite approach and predict the game in three sentences:

The Badgers have far more talent than the Coyotes on both sides of the ball, that much is clear. They do, however, need to address the at-times sloppy play and penalties from last week. If they do this and maintain the past efficiency of their first-team units, the back-ups should have plenty of time to shine, come Saturday.

Prediction: Wisconsin 63, South Dakota 17

-Mitch Larson

Badger Offensive Report Card: Week 3

17 Sep

Admittedly, the Wisconsin Badgers did not face the greatest defense on Saturday afternoon in Chicago. Prior to their game with the Badgers, Northern Illinois had given up 26 points to Army and 45 points to Kansas. We all expected Wisconsin would have their way with the Huskies. And well, they did. Here are offensive grades.

Quarterback:

Apart from his interception in the third quarter, Russell Wilson was once again extraordinary. He finished the day 23-of-32 passing for 347 yards and three touchdowns, while also making plays with his feet, tacking on 37 yards on the ground. Working primarily from the spread during the first half, Wilson absolutely picked apart an over-matched Husky defense, as he led Wisconsin to 42 points.

Even Wilson’s back-up, Joe Brennan, played well, scoring a rushing touchdown late in the game.

Not a whole lot to complain about here.

Grade: A-

Running Backs:

As expected, Wisconsin ran all over an undersized Husky defensive line. On the day, the Badgers rushed for 266 yards as team, with Montee Ball and James White each running for 91 yards apiece. Ball scored two touchdowns, while White notched his first of the year. Melvin Gordon and Jeffrey Lewis also got in the game, running for 28 and 21 yards, respectively. Just another solid day for the Wisconsin rushing attack.

Grade: A

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:

As good as the running backs looked, Wisconsin’s receivers may have been even better. They seemed completely in sync with Wilson and tore up the Husky secondary. Jared Abbrederis led the team with six receptions for 83 yards, while Nick Toon had another good game, hauling in five passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns.

Jacob Pederson had only two catches, but he made them count. One went for 55 yards and the other was for a touchdown. He’s quietly emerging as one of the best tight ends in the country. Fullback Brady Ewing also caught four passes out of the backfield for 35 yards, while White and Ball also added a few receptions apiece.

Grade: A

Offensive Line:

It was pure domination. Plain and simple. The running lanes were huge, the pass protection was unyielding.

Grade: A

Overall: A

-Sam Oleson

 

Prediction Time! Wisconsin vs. Northern Illinois

15 Sep

The Badgers will have their hands full with Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish on Saturday.

As the Wisconsin Badgers take on their neighbors to the south at Soldier Field (italics for added effect), they’ll face a very unique challenge. Former UW defensive coordinator Dave Doeren is Northern Illinois’ head coach. And he knows this team intimately. Like ‘first-name basis’ intimate. He knows the team’s strengths and weaknesses like the back of his hand. Yes, Bret Bielema changed the defensive and offensive signals, but Doeren still knows this team.

But, all that being said, the Badgers are still a much better team than the Huskies. Northern Illinois has struggled immensely on defense this year, giving up 45 points to projected Big 12 cellar-dweller Kansas last Saturday, and will be Continue reading

Wisconsin vs. Northern Illinois: Scouting the Huskies

13 Sep

The No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers (2-0) take on the perennial MAC powerhouse Northern Illinois Huskies (1-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Chicago at Soldier Field. Here is a quick scouting report of Northern Illinois.

Side note: If you’re looking for this game on TV, don’t bother. For the first time in five years, Wisconsin football will not be on live television. Log on to ESPN3.com to stream the game online. Hopefully you have an internet provider that has free access to this feature.

Offense

Quarterback:

As senior quarterback Chandler Harnish goes, the NIU offense goes. And so far this season, it’s been going pretty well. Already this year, Harnish is 39-of-52 passing for 510 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception. Oh, he’s Continue reading

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

The Russell Wilson Effect

5 Jul

Paul Chryst got a new toy this year. And Big Ten defenses beware: somewhere, right now, he’s salivating as he figures out how to use it.

Arguably Bret Bielema’s biggest win in the offseason was keeping Chryst, the Badgers’ offensive coordinator, out of Austin, Texas and in Madison. And after a quick glance at the Longhorn’s depth chart compared to Wisconsin’s returning offensive talent, I think Chryst may have a little more fun in the Badger State, this year.

And that brings us to Bielema offseason win #2: Russell Wilson.

Wilson comes to Madtown with a decorated ACC resume. And despite the fact that most Big Ten fans like to look down on “basketball conferences” like the ACC, Wilson’s gaudy stats speak for themselves. This kid can play. Just check out this video and see for yourself.

I hope the thought of that, but with a Motion W on the helmet, gave you chills.

Now, it remains to be seen IF Russell Wilson can bring that level of play to Camp Randall and it’ll be very interesting to see how quickly Wilson can adjust to smash-mouth Big Ten football.  What’s obvious, though, is that Wilson possesses a skill-set that hasn’t been seen under center in Madison for a long, long time.

If Wilson adjusts to and thrives under Wisconsin’s offense, Chryst continues to schematically create nightmares for opposing defenses, White and Ball shred defenses, Nick Toon plays like we all know he can, and Borland sparks a very good Badger defense, we could be looking at another special year in the Badger Nation. I know those are a lot of ifs, but the truth is, those things are far from being unrealistic.

With the buzz created from the 2010 campaign, and more recently, with the addition of Russell Wilson, Wisco has been getting a lot of love from the so-called “experts.” But I’m going to go a little bit farther. I’m going to say that the hype that has been generated this offseason is part of something bigger, something on a broader scale. I think the nation is ready to see Wisconsin replace OSU as the Big Ten’s top player in the college football landscape.

Uff-da. That can’t settle well with tOSU faithful. But with Wisco’s recent success and the widely publicized happenings in Columbus, it’s hard to argue against.

Who has the most prime-time televised games in the Big Ten this year? Wisconsin.

Who are most pundits picking to win the Leaders Division? Wisconsin.

Who are a lot of people predicting to take the Big Ten’s first championship game? Wisconsin.

Who beat out the defending national champion and, dare I say it, an SEC team, for Russell Wilson? Again, Wisconsin.

I’m not saying that the Badgers will waltz into the Big Ten Championship game unscathed and leave with their tickets punched for Pasadena, but I am saying that the retention of Paul Chryst, the signing of Russell Wilson, and the growing perception of Wisconsin football definitely has the Badgers moving in the right direction as a Big Ten powerhouse.

The stage has been set, Wisconsin. Now don’t squander the chance.

-Mitch Larson

From Red to…Red: Russell Wilson Officially a Badger

27 Jun

Well Badger fans, it’s official. After months of speculation following dismal quarterback performances at April’s annual spring game and the announcement that North Carolina State quarterback Russell Wilson was transferring, the Wisconsin Badgers have a quarterback for the 2011 season. And, as many news outlets had been predicting, it is indeed the former signal-caller for the Wolfpack.

Wilson, who for the last three years was under center in the ACC, will be heading to Madison and the Big Ten in the hopes of leading the Badgers to consecutive Rose Bowl appearances.

After being replaced as the NCSU starting quarterback because of his commitment to his professional baseball career, it appears as though Wilson will again put that part of his life on hold. Following a two-day visit to the UW campus, Wilson will be trading in his N.C. State red for Wisconsin cardinal.

So, it’s real. Russell Wilson will be a Badger for the 2011 season.

But, what will he actually do for Wisconsin? Can he replace the departed Scott Tolzien and match or improve on the 11-2 season Wisconsin posted last year?

Let’s take a quick glance at Wilson.

Standing 5-11, Wilson does not have the ideal size for a Big Ten quarterback. Big Ten offensive lineman (especially in Wisconsin’s case) are huge and it’s essential for a quarterback to be able to see down the field. Wilson will be shorter than every single one of his lineman.

But, unlike Tolzien (who stood an impressive 6-3), Wilson has scrambling ability and is more than comfortable moving out of the pocket. Then, it doesn’t really matter how tall you are. If you can dodge defenders while still looking downfield, size matters little.

In three years at N.C. State, Wilson tossed 76 touchdowns and just 26 interceptions. In fact, in statistically his worst year, Wilson threw 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season while still leading the Wolfpack to a bowl win. On the other hand, Tolzien, considered by many to be one of Wisconsin’s best quarterbacks, threw 32 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in two years as a starter. Not exactly Heisman-esque.

Now, of course, the Badgers ran the ball much, much more than N.C. State. And, unless coach Bret Bielema completely alters Wisconsin’s game plan to match Wilson’s skills, there is no way Wilson will throw as much as he did the previous three years. That said, it’s pretty obvious Wilson has passing skills not seen by Wisconsin fans in years.

With the signing of Wilson, Wisconsin becomes the odds-on favorite to win the Leaders Division in the Big Ten. As Terrelle Pryor is no longer a Buckeye, Ohio State will, for the first time in a decade, play second fiddle to Wisconsin to begin a season.

Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Wilson will bring the talent and experience that Wisconsin hasn’t had at the quarterback position in maybe…ever. But, he’s not a savior.

The rushing attack, led by James White and Montee Ball, will still be key to Wisconsin taking the Big Ten. Wilson, if he can be as efficient and protective of the ball as Tolzien, will be vital to any success the Badgers have. Yes, he’ll bring a passing option that Wisconsin hasn’t seen in years. But to think that he’ll be airing it out all year would be foolish.

In the end, for one year at least, Wilson could be one of the best quarterbacks in school history. He’s certainly a better option that Jon Budmayr, who, as the spring game indicated, needs another year learning the system before he’ll be capable of taking over the Wisconsin offense. But, he won’t put up the ridiculous numbers be put up in the ACC, not only because the Big Ten features much better defenses, but simply because the Badgers run a much more ground-oriented attack.

If he can match the production of Scott Tolzien in 2010, he’ll be worth all the buzz he’s currently receiving.