Connect with us

Badgers football

Badgers Hangover: Good secondary play overshadowed by bitter loss

Published

on

As we all wake up on Sunday following the Badgers 38-13 loss to the Michigan Wolverines, there are plenty of questions left unanswered. 

How did this happen? Is it time to move on from Alex Hornibrook at quarterback? What was up with Paul Chryst’s play calling? Can the Badgers stop missing tackles on the edge anytime soon? 

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point – we are all left searching for answers to a game that felt like it could’ve easily been the other way around.

We aren’t alone, as the coaching staff is likely to have many of the same questions and self-reflection going on today before moving forward to a matchup with Illinois next Saturday. 

But, despite the loss and the hard feelings about how it went down, there was a sliver of good to be had. 

That good came in the form of the play of a young, inexperienced secondary for the Badgers. 

UW’s secondary was tested not just by the Wolverines passing game, but also by its own issues. First was the fact that starting safety D’Cota Dixon was a surprise scratch from the game due to his leg not holding up in pre-game warmups. That meant UW would not only start one, but two first-time starters at safety with true freshman Reggie Pearson Jr. teaming up with redshirt sophomore Eric Burrell. 

Caesar Williams and Faion Hicks were at least somewhat experienced starters at cornerback. It was a good thing considering all the players out with injury behind them. 

However, Hicks and Williams each had just one tackle on the night and Hicks would go down early in the game with a leg injury (likely a hamstring issue) and that meant throwing in young Rachad Wildgoose in to the mix. 

Wildgoose had five total tackles and a pass break up. However, he also had a key holding penalty on a third down pass that went way over the head of both himself and the Wolverines wide receiver. Instead of getting off the field, Wisconsin had three more downs to defend against. 

UW’s defense held up once again, only to have a controversial roughing the snapper penalty wipe out a punt and change of possession. With the game sitting at 13-7 it would’ve been a huge opportunity for the Badgers. Instead, Michigan took advantage of the penalty and after a Karan Higdon 25-yard run it was Shea Patterson punching it in with a 7-yard run off the right side of the line for a 21-7 lead that would prove too much to overcome. 

But, for Wildgoose himself, the holding penalty didn’t lead to disastrous play or a let down in attitude. It was just move on to the next play and do what he could to help his team win a game. 

Let’s also not forget that Wildgoose is the one that was able to chase down Patterson as he broke loose on what seemed like a touchdown scamper early in the second quarter. Instead, Wildgoose gave chase and caught him at the 5-yard line to prevent the touchdown. 

Yes, Michigan scored a few plays later, but Wildgoose did his job well considering where he was in coverage at the time that Patterson got going on the outside. 

As for the safeties, well, Reggie Pearson also went down with injury and that forced little-used senior safety Evan Bondoc in to the game before Scott Nelson could come back in after serving the first half suspension for his targeting call last weekend. 

But, amongst all the chaos emerged a secondary that allowed Patterson to throw for just 124 yards on 14 completions and never gave up a passing play over 20 yards on the night. 

Given this group’s propensity towards giving up those big plays throughout the season, not giving them up was a huge win. So was the fact that the young safeties showed up in a big way around the line of scrimmage. 

Pearson and Burrell were seen time and again blowing up plays on the edge early on. In fact, when they were playing near the line of scrimmage, Michigan often struggled to get anything going. It was only after UW backed off the pressure from the safeties that Michigan was able to get things going on the edge. 

Yes, the secondary had some bad moments — especially dropping a few opportunities to pick off Patterson, but on the whole this was a positive game for UW’s youthful secondary. 

It was a high pressure situation and a severe test of its depth, and Wisconsin’s secondary largely stood up to the pressure Michigan put on it. 

As the defense goes forward, the good news is that it can begin to unleash more and more pressure up front as the secondary continues to gain confidence and the coaching staff begins to trust it can count on them on an island. 

It happened early on in this game, with the Badgers putting up three sacks and four tackles for loss in the first half alone. Wisconsin would finish with just those three first half sacks, but eight tackles for loss on the night. 

Yes, it’s a small sliver of good in a night that still stings as we all wake up from that nightmare finish, but it is important that lessons — both good and bad — are highlighted. 

For UW’s defense, the good lesson is that it can seemingly trust its secondary, even when the four players out there have never played together before. 

Now about the rest of the night…

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Badgers football

Badgers add Michigan LB to 2020 class

Published

on

Summer is proving to be a pivotal month for the Wisconsin Badgers football program. Between finding gems at camp and getting official visitors on campus, the Badgers are on a roll.

That roll continued on Monday as 3-star inside linebacker Jordan Turner verbally committed to the Badgers according to Badger247. He did so following a set of official visits this month.

Turner, the No. 34 ranked outside linebacker in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He is also the No. 18 ranked player out of the state of Michigan.

The Farmington, Mich. native becomes the latest in a growing trend of the Badgers getting players out of a state they previously found difficult to recruit from. Just this past recruiting cycle the Badgers added 5-star offensive tackle Logan Brown and Stephen Bracey to go with another six players from that state in the past few classes.

However, Turner is the first player to commit to the Badgers from the state of Michigan in the 2020 class.

At 6-3 and 230 pounds, Turner has the size to play outside and inside, but the Badgers have told him the project him at inside linebacker. On tape, you can see him packing a heavy punch when he hits players and you can see some big time instincts that really can’t be taught.

Wisconsin wasn’t the favorite for Turner’s commitment until the very end. He does have a family connection to the Badgers, with his mother being a UW alumnus.

As for the Badgers, this commitment is the 10th in the class. Wisconsin ranks No. 33 overall in the 247Sports team composite rankings and No. 8 in the Big Ten.

While those numbers may not be impressive compared to other classes, remember that the Badgers already have three 4-star players in the fold and are waiting on some big names that have visited to make their decisions in the coming months.

Continue Reading

Badgers football

Best, Worst case scenarios for Badgers D-Line in 2019

Published

on

Yes, summer is officially here and that means just a few months time until the Wisconsin Badgers take the field against the USF Bulls in Tampa to open the season.

So, as we slowly approach the season, we’re going to look in-depth at each position and cover this team in a very different way than you may be used to.

It will start with a look at the best and worst case scenarios that could play out at every position at Wisconsin.

Previous Positions: Running Back |

After starting on the offensive side of the ball, let’s flip things around and talk some defense. Last season we saw just how important defensive line play could be, but what does 2019 have in store for us?

Best Case Scenario:

The Badgers get a full season with Garrett Rand and Isaiahh Loudermilk at defensive end and Bryson Williams uses his experience from his true freshman season to blossom in to a dominant nose guard.

We saw just how big the Badgers missed on the defensive end front when it came to recruiting last season. When both Loudermilk and Rand went down with injury before the season started, the staff was left scrambling to find replacements.

Yes, it was nice that Kayden Lyles and Aaron Vopal stepped in and did an adequate job, but adequate isn’t good enough when you are breaking in some new pieces behind you in the secondary. Additionally, the Badgers were only able to produce 19 total sacks as a team in 2018 after averaging over 35 sacks a game in the previous four seasons.

Loudermilk did return during the season, but injuries kept bothering him and the sophomore finished with just 8 total tackles, 1 sack and 1 QB hurry in nine games played.

Lyles has moved back to the offensive line and both Loudermilk and Rand appear ready to be a dominant force on the edges of the line. Their return can only pay dividends for the outside linebackers as well.

Additionally, given the lack of depth last season, the best case scenario would also involve players like C.J. Goetz, Isaiah Mullens and Boyd Dietzen stepping up as freshmen.

Worst Case Scenario:

This one is easy — either Loudermilk or Rand aren’t ready to shake the injury bug and there is no one stepping up to make plays at defensive end.

I have trust in Williams game at nose guard thanks to his experience behind Olive Sagapolu, and in relief of him later in the season due to injury. But, I don’t have trust in anything behind the first three guys out there just yet.

If that injury scenario does play out, there aren’t a bunch of veterans behind this group at linebacker ready to step up and figure out how to maneuver around the inconsistency that would be up front.

It all starts with those three starters, and injury could mean a back part of the defense that is overexposed as well as a decrease in the ability to play the attacking style of defense we saw in years past.

Most-Likely to Happen:

I personally believe we’ll see Rand get back to old form and become the player everyone thought he would be as a 4-star recruit out of high school in Arizona. But, I can see a case in which Loudermilk or Rand miss a game or two during the season due to nagging injuries.

That means we’ll likely get to see a lot of youth stepping up. The good news there is that players like Dietzen and Goetz were stepping up and playing well in spring ball. Look for a rotation to be trusted at defensive end after no such trust existed last year.

I can also see a situation in which the Badgers will kick Rand inside a time or two to help spell Williams thanks to the lack of experience behind him.

All of this adds up to another season living on the edge (pun intended) for the Badgers defensive line, but that edge being less razor-thin than last season. It will equal an uptick in to the 30’s for sacks from this Badgers team at the bare minimum and it will be a welcome return to a more attacking style.

Continue Reading

Badgers football

Best, Worst case scenarios for Badgers RB’s in 2019

Published

on

Believe it or not, we’re just over 2 months away from the start of the Wisconsin Badgers 2020 season. It may not feel like it outside or in your mind, but it’s time to hunker down and look at the team as it stands prior to fall camp.

Of course we’ll have the full position break downs and all the information you’ve come to expect from a preview in general.

But, we’re starting things off a bit different this season. Yes, we’re going to look in to the best and worst case scenarios that could happen to each position in 2020.

We start with the marquee position at UW — running back.

Best Case Scenario

Jonathan Taylor to the left, Taylor to the right…Taylor up the middle too.

Is there any other better thought in the minds of Badgers fans or the coaching staff for that matter? The dude has smashed nearly every Badgers and national record you can think of for just two years of college.

The best case scenario for UW success this season is more of the same from Taylor, especially in terms of his explosiveness. If Wisconsin doesn’t have to rely on him as much as they did last season, that would be great. But, they’ll still need him to hit those big runs and touchdowns.

He ran for 10 or more yards on 61 carries last season and ripped off 16 runs of 20-plus yards as well. More of that, even with fewer carries would be the best case scenario.

Worst Case Scenario

An injury that ends Jonathan Taylor’s season.

It’s a frightening thought for the Badgers season, let alone the running back position. Simply put, there’s no scenario in which Taylor has an extended amount of time away from the team and the Badgers have a winning season.

Unlike season’s past, the Badgers don’t have proven depth at this position. Is Nakia Watson ready to take on 300 carries? His production at the collegiate level isn’t a given.

Counting on Garrett Groshek as the featured back? That’s all sorts of a bad idea. Maybe incoming freshman Julius Davis surprises in the fall or converted wide receiver Isaac Guerendo could also surprise?

That’s a whole lot of maybes and what-ifs for anything resembling success happens in the face of an injury to Taylor. Hell, do you think this offense is ready to become reliant on the pass game? I certainly don’t.

So, let’s all hope nothing crazy happens to Taylor this season.

Most Likely to Happen

Taylor rushes for 1,700 yards or more and 20 touchdowns on the season. It would likely end up with him as a major candidate for the Heisman Trophy come December. If that’s the case, it’s likely that the Badgers are also playing for a Big Ten championship once again as the West division champions.

I also believe it’s likely that we see Nakia Watson develop as the heir apparent to Taylor, thus the lower yardage numbers projected. It would be nice not to put 300 carries on Taylor’s body in what is likely his final season in Madison and Watson’s emergence as the second back would be a huge help there.

Overall, expect the Badgers run game to be more of the same, but perhaps more balanced than it was last season. That’s not a bad thing in my book.

Continue Reading

Badgers football

A look at Badgers 2021 football recruiting: Defense

Published

on

Earlier this week we began our in-depth look at the 2021 Wisconsin Badgers football recruiting class. After all, UW just got its second commitment in the class on Sunday.

We started looking at the offensive side of the ball, where both commitments have come from.

Today we are taking a look at the Badgers defensive efforts on the 2021 recruiting trail.

Where do things stand and what names do you and I need to pay attention to? Let’s take a look at the defensive side of the Badgers on the recruiting trail.

State of the 2021 Class

Commits: 2 (both on offense)
Likely Scholarships Left: 14-16

A look at the scholarship chart heading in to 2021 suggests that the Badgers aren’t going to have a massive class, like we talked about earlier this week.

But, on the defensive side of things it appears this class is likely to be spread out pretty evenly. Wisconsin loses a pair of defensive ends, four total linebackers and four defensive backs at the very least heading in to the 2021 season.

So, don’t be surprised to see the bulk of the effort on the recruiting trail focused on the back end of the defense.

Defensive End

Will the names Isaiahh Loudermilk and Garrett Rand live up to lofty recruiting expectations? We have two years to find out, but if they do they will leave a big hole in the Badgers defense upon their departure following the 2020 season.

That makes recruiting at defensive end pretty important for the 2021 class, because we haven’t seen much depth develop over the past few years either.

So, it shouldn’t surprise that UW has been hot on the 2021 defensive line recruiting circuit. To date they have offered six different prospects at defensive end and three defensive tackles as well.

Most of those offers have gone to highly rated players at both positions, but just how likely are the Badgers to hook one of the big fish? Let’s get in to that.

Name to Watch: JC Latham

Wisconsin was home to one of the best players in the country in the 2021 class in Latham. However, after this past season he moved to IMG Academy in Florida and that means his recruitment is going even more national than before.

He’s got offers from almost every blue blood program, with Clemson and Ohio State holding out so far but likely to offer at some point in his junior year.

Can the Badgers keep up with the Jonses in this recruitment? If they could land the current No. 8 strong-side defensive end it would be a game changer in the class, but he’s also the lynchpin of where this defensive line class will head.

I wouldn’t put my money on the Badgers winning out over all others, which means they have to put their eggs in other baskets. One name that I’d put in this position if it weren’t for Latham is actually someone the Badgers have yet to offer, but just hosted on campus in Chandler, Ariz. native Anthony Franklin.

Defensive Tackle

If you don’t aim to the highest of heights you’ll never achieve them, right? That seems to be Wisconsin’s strategy so far at defensive tackle, as they’ve offered three players at the position so far and all three of them are inside the top 5 of the 247Sports composite rankings.

Does it bode well for the Badgers? So far not a single one of them is listed as “warm” on UW, if that tells you anything.

Name to Watch: Rocco Spindler

Spindler is not only a highly-rated recruit, he is from a state that Wisconsin has begun to have a lot of success in — Michigan. Getting in early with one of the Midwest’s best recruits in the 2021 class doesn’t hurt and neither will UW’s current track record with players out of the state of Michigan.

Will any of it matter? That’s a question that few seem to be able to answer. I wouldn’t bet on Spindler choosing the Badgers, but I would bet that his recruitment will be a good indication of where offers could go in this class.

Outside Linebacker

Don’t expect this class to be heavy on outside pass-rushers per say. Only two offers have gone out to date and both are in the state of Georgia, where UW had the beginnings of a foot hold under Gary Andersen and haven’t been able to sustain a lot of that momentum under this coaching staff.

Name to Watch: None

UW has offered both Chaz Chambliss and Barrett Carter, but neither have really been receptive to the efforts on the recruiting trail to date. Chambliss could be a heavy Clemson lean, given he’s visited the school multiple times and recently for the Dabo Swinney Camp as well.

If the Badgers are going to land a 2021 outside linebacker, that person has not been offered to date.

Inside Linebacker

Recently, the Badgers biggest track record of success on defense has come at inside linebacker. So much so that a player who would start almost anywhere is finally becoming a starter again as a Senior (Chris Orr).

So, keeping up that tradition is important and vital to success on the field of course. To that end, UW has offered four targets and few of them are huge names in the 2021 class on a national level. The good news there is that Wisconsin actually has a chance with a few of those names.

Name to Watch: Bryan Sanborn

If that name sounds familiar, you would be right. Bryan is the younger brother of Wisconsin’s potential starting inside linebacker Jack Sanborn. Having that family connection won’t be the end-all, be-all of his recruitment given he is the No. 9 ranked inside linebacker in the class. But, the good news is that the Sanborn family really loves what the Badgers have to offer as a whole program.

This recruitment is going to be huge to prove the Badgers can stick in with some of the biggest names in the country and win. They’ve proven that with other players, but continuing to do so is going to be important. Wisconsin has more than a 60-40 chance to win his commitment and the younger Sanborn could be a player that helps elevate UW with other targets on the recruiting trail.

Cornerback

Umm…so far things have been really quiet on this front and that’s likely because the Badgers are going to be really experienced at this position on the field in 2021.

Just how quiet are things to date? There literally isn’t a single offer out to a cornerback in 2021. That’s a sign that the Badgers aren’t prioritizing this position and are going to be selective with offers.

In the end, expect one or two cornerbacks at most in this class.

Safety

Safety is the exact opposite of cornerback, as UW currently would only have three scholarship players on the roster (with the 2020 cycle yet to land a safety commitment). That means we should expect some pressure to get quality in this class.

As such, you shouldn’t be surprised to find out there have been seven offers out at Safety in the 2021 class. There are some high-end offers out there and some under the radar ones as well.

But, the Badgers could stay home and get a big named recruit as well.

Name to Watch: Hunter Wohler

It isn’t often that one of the country’s best defensive backs sits in the Badgers back yard according to the rankings. But, Wohler is the No. 7 ranked player in the nation at his position and the No. 1 recruit in Wisconsin.

Simply put, this is a must-win recruitment for the Badgers. Letting the No. 1 player slip out of the state and at a skill position nonetheless would be a massive disappointment.

The good news is that UW seems to be the early leader in his recruitment and according to his own words earlier this week, will look to commit after his junior season at the earliest.

Michigan State and Ohio State could be Wisconsin’s biggest competition here so it will be interesting to see how things shake out.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending

© 2019 Facere Media. This site is not affiliated with, endorsed or sponsored by the University of Wisconsin, it's athletic department or any other university entity. It is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only and is no way associated with the NCAA, the Big Ten or any member institutions.