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

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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.

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Cephus says he wants to return to Badgers football

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Earlier on Monday we got word from the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the status of Quintez Cephus, the student. He was to have his expulsion reversed after the evidence from his acquittal was brought forth to the university.

The only question left was if he would want to return to the university and the Wisconsin Badgers football team.

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, the speculation was put to an end. Quintez Cephus wants to return to the university and the football team.

During his press conference, Cephus mentioned how he wanted to stay at Wisconsin largely because of the support he got from his teammates and the entire staff of the UW football program.

He also mentioned that he had yet to speak with head coach Paul Chryst face-to-face after this decision was announced, but he would be doing so later in the day on Monday.

Many will also wonder if he’s ready physically and mentally to get back on the football field this season. Well, Cephus has been working out in Arizona for three months straight in anticipation of coming back on the field.

Judging by the video he’s put out, he’s certainly in some good physical condition.

Of course, only time will tell how quickly any and all of this will happen for Cephus and the Badgers. But, Cephus is very clearly focused on not wasting this opportunity and doing things at a very high level.

There are likely a few NCAA hurdles to officially jump through, but I’m also guessing the paperwork was just waiting to be put in motion once the university reinstated him and he gave the go-ahead.

Either way, he will be a welcome sight for an already strong group of wide receivers.

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UW reinstates Quintez Cephus

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A week after Quintez Cephus, his teammates and his attorneys went in front of the cameras to implore the University of Wisconsin-Madison to allow Cephus back in to school, we now have word on his status.

On Monday morning, it was revealed that Cephus was reinstated to the university. UW sent out the following tweet regarding the matter:

In the statement announcing their decision, the university noted that they had received information that wasn’t available during their initial Title IX investigation.

“UW–Madison obtained information following the criminal proceeding that was not provided to the university during the student conduct process, ” said the statement. “Chancellor Rebecca Blank conducted a review of this information and the petition for Quintez Cephus’ reinstatement as quickly as possible and in a complete and impartial manner.

“As a result of this review, sanctions for Quintez Cephus have been reduced and his expulsion lifted. There were findings of responsibility of the student non-academic misconduct code that were upheld.”

Chancellor Rebecca Blank had the following to say about the situation.

“All three of the primary participants in this case are our students, and I know the past year has been painful for everyone involved,” said Blank. “My decision is based on the availability of substantial new information that wasn’t made available to us during the earlier process. I recognize that some will disagree with this decision.”

“To those in our community who have experienced sexual assault, I sincerely hope that there is nothing in this case that will deter you from coming forward for support,” she added. “Our university continues to be prepared to listen and respond.”

Cephus had his expulsion lifted, but did not have all sanctions removed from his record. According to the statement, the findings of responsibility of the student non-academic misconduct code that were upheld.

With this reinstatement, Cephus has a decision in front of him. He is free to return to the university and the football team has made it clear they will welcome him back with open arms.

But, does he want to return to UW at all? All indications are that he does want to come back to school, but getting his expulsion lifted would allow him to move on from the university if he so chose.

We will have to wait for more information from the program once everyone has had a chance to make their decisions known.

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Joe Thomas makes CBS Sports All-time All-American list

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College football celebrates is 150th season in 2019 and that necessitates a look back at the history of the sport. That’s exactly what CBS Sports decided to do and they came up with a long list of the best players in college football history.

Given the fact that the Wisconsin Badgers went through long stretches of horrific play and few years of good work prior to 1990, seeing a Badgers name on the list was a long shot.

But, one Badger did make the list and that was famed left tackle Joe Thomas.

He was named to the honorable mention All-Time All-American offensive line category. Center was broken out in to a different group all together as well.

While at Wisconsin, Thomas became the first Badger to win the Outland Trophy, which is given to the nation’s best interior lineman. He also was named to the 2006 first team All-American list and started 39 games in his four years in Madison.

He is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame after an 11-year career in which he made the Pro Bowl in 10 straight seasons.

Joining him on CBS Sports honorable mention offensive lineman list were Maurkice Pouncey (Florida), Lincoln Kennedy (Washington), John Hicks (Ohio State), Aaron Taylor (Nebraska) and Jake Long (Michigan).

Making the first team list were Orlando Pace (Ohio State), Jonathan Ogden (UCLA), John Hannah (Alabama) and Ron Yary (USC).

On the second team were Anthony Munoz (USC), Bryant McKinnie (Miami), Will Shields (Nebraska) and Tony Boselli (USC).

Those are all some amazing names and gives us all a great reminder of just how great college football has been over the years to be sure.

Thomas is the only Badgers player to make the list, yes including all-time greats like Ron Dayne and Alan Ameche, let alone perhaps the most famous player of the formative years of college football — Pat O’Dea.

Yes, he doesn’t fit neatly in to the mold of a modern college football player, but this was supposed to be a list of the best players to ever grace the field in the history of the game.

It’s very hard to argue that O’Dea wasn’t exactly that in his era. He was a two time All-American in 1898 and 1899 as a punter and a fullback.

If CBS Sports was serious about honoring the entirety of college football, having O’Dea on the list would be a good place to start.

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Badgers unveil throwback unis for Northwestern game

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College football is celebrating its 150th year in 2019 and the Wisconsin Badgers have been playing the game since the 1889 season.

In order to honor some of the history of the game and the program, the Badgers will put on throwback (and I use that term loosely) uniforms according to a video released by the football program on Tuesday afternoon.

It appears that UW is looking back to the days where a simple UW adorned the front of the sweaters, as they were called at the time, in that 1889 season.

Today, regulations say that all teams must include numbers on the front and back of the jersey and thus the conundrum the Badgers find themselves in here.

Interestingly, the helmets will feature a first-time logo with the ‘UW’ having never appeared together in any helmet in Badgers history. Given the fact that back in 1889 there was no such thing as a helmet in the game of football it was an interesting call.

The helmets will also feature just a thin Cardinal stripe down the center and gray face masks.

Personally, I have to say I’m not a fan of cramming the ‘UW’ on to the front of the jersey and it would’ve been interesting to see them go back to the Bucky Badger helmet or something else.

It just looks too congested on the front of the jersey, but I do like the idea of the black shoes, khaki colored pants and the red jersey overall. It does harken back to that era in as much as is possible in today’s modern game.

However, the players were certainly excited for a different-than-normal look to the Badgers uniforms.

The logo on the side of the khaki colored pants is also the one that the athletic department used from 1962 to 1965 according to research.

Wisconsin will take on Northwestern in the Sept. 28 game that will feature these jerseys inside Camp Randall. Northwestern will also have a similar look as part of what Under Armour is calling its Second Heritage line.

What do you think of this ‘throwback’ look? Hit up the comments below or follow on Twitter @talkingBadgers.

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