When: Sat.; Oct. 17 (noon ET)
Where: Madison, WI; Camp Randall Stadium (80,321)
Line: Wisconsin -24
1 Burning Question: Can Wisconsin Finally Blow An Opponent Out?
There is no doubt the Badgers have done some good work on the defensive side of the football this season. It allowed an average of 1.0 points per game to opponents not named Alabama in the non-conference season. However, the offense didn’t come along for the party, and the Badgers are ranked 83rd nationally in scoring offense (26.7).
UW has failed to score more than 28 points in each of the last four weeks after a 58-0 thrashing of woefully bad Miami (OH). Many fans have felt the Badgers should have done more against Troy and Hawaii, and they are right.
How can the Badgers offense get it going? It would help if UW doesn’t have to have the sixth different starting offensive line (center Dan Voltz could be scratch). It would also help if the Dare Ogunbowale that showed up in the second half against Nebraska could show up once again against Purdue.
2 Key Stats
— 9: That is the number of consecutive wins the Badgers currently have in this series. The Badgers history as a football program isn’t great, but this is a historical series they have dominated. UW leads 45-29-8 overall, but have one nine straight in this series and haven’t lost to the Boilermakers since a 2003 loss in Madison.
— 110.5: That is the amount of passing yards allowed by the Boilermakers defense. Purdue’s defense comes in to this matchup giving up the third-fewest yards through the air in the Big Ten. It will go up against a Badger offense that put up 322 yards on the arm of Joel Stave last weekend against Nebraska. Something will have to give in this matchup, and if it’s Purdue they are in serious trouble and vice versa given UW’s struggles running the football.
3 Key Players
Markell Jones, RB (Purdue): He is easily the best player on the field when the Boilermakers have the football. Just how good though? Jones is third in the nation amongst freshman, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. He also has 412 total yards, which is good enough for 10th in the B1G, and his five touchdowns are currently tied with now backup quarterback Austin Appleby for the team lead.
Joe Schobert, OLB (Wisconsin): All this outside linebacker has done is lead the nation in tackles for loss (13.5), while ranking second nationally in sacks (9.0) and forced fumbles (4). He is just one sack and one forced fumble away from the national lead in both of those categories. This guy is a must-stop for Purdue and a must have as the Badgers continue to work in two freshmen at inside linebacker.
David Blough, QB (Purdue): There is little doubt that a lot is going against Purdue winning this game, and a matchup against the likes of Schobert and fellow Badgers’ outside linebacker Vince Biegel has to have Blough shaking a bit. So does the fact that he looked like a freshman for the first time in his career last weekend. He needs to be the David Blough that showed up big late against Michigan State and not the one that worked over last weekend. If he can’t, Purdue doesn’t have much of a shot in this contest.
4 Bold Prognostications
— Dare Ogunbowale goes for over 150 yards: The second half of last week felt like the lightbulb finally went off between the Badgers offensive line and Ogunbowale. It led to him reaching a career-high 117 yards rushing on a career-high 18 carries as well. Purdue’s rush defense is laughable, and as long as Ogunbowale gets going early it could be a long day for the Boilermakers.
— Vince Biegel gets more sacks than Joe Schobert: Coming in to the season, Biegel was the bigger name nationally between the two Wisconsin outside linebackers. However, it’s the senior stealing the show from the junior so far this season. Schobert has 13.0 tackles for loss to Biegel’s 7.5 and he’s got 9.0 sacks to Biegel’s 3.0 as well. Look for this to be the game where Biegel climbs closer to his teammate on the sack total for the season and beat him out in a game.
— Wisconsin Challenges its largest margin of victory: UW’s largest margin of victory in this matchup was its 62-17 victory in 2011 at Camp Randall. Purdue’s biggest nightmare of a road trip is no doubt to Madison, and after last week’s performance this could be all sorts of bad news for the Boilermakers.
— Darrell Hazell pulls David Blough at halftime: Look, playing musical quarterbacks hasn’t worked out so well for Hazell so far, but this is one of the best defenses Blough is going to face. He’ll learn a harsh lesson, and Hazell is trying to find himself a winning way. He can’t afford to stick with a long-term project if he’s getting beat up, and UW’s defense will do just that in the first half, while Blough gets pulled at the half.
5 Staff Predictions (overall season record; record against the spread)
Andy: Wisconsin 42-17 (56-13 overall; 30-38 ATS)
Dave: Wisconsin 34-10 (58-11 overall; 38-29 ATS)
Greg: Wisconsin 42-6 (51-18 overall; 41-26 ATS)
Matt: Wisconsin 35-17 (56-13 overall; 41-26 ATS)
Phil: Wisconsin 27-13 (10-4 overall; 4-9 ATS) *joined in Week 5
Taylor Currie announces transfer from Badgers program
And then there was one.
The 2018 Wisconsin Badgers basketball recruiting class had three players, but in the span of a month there is but one member of that group remaining.
On Tuesday, it was announced that 6-8 forward Taylor Currie will transfer from the program after redshirting last season.
He joins point guard Tai Strickland in the leaving the program.
That also means that 7-foot center Joe Hedstrom, who took a grayshirt offer and will go on scholarship next season, as the lone member of the 2018 class still with the program.
It also means that the Badgers will be down to just nine scholarship players as of now for the upcoming season, leaving plenty of space for a big haul in the offseason if they want to.
Wisconsin already came in to the offseason looking to even out the scholarship situation between the 2019 and 2020 class. Now, it may be able to really accomplish adding good pieces in 2019 and saving room for 2020.
The Badgers may fill two of the unused scholarships with Joey and Same Hauser, who are transferring from Marquette.
A decision will be coming from the Stevens Point natives in the next few weeks as they are scheduled to visit both Michigan State and Virginia.
Neither of those schools currently have the room for both brothers to join up, something the Badgers clearly don’t have to worry about.
As for Currie, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, he’ll head back to his native Michigan and play and Mott Community College in Flint, where he will still have two years to play there should he chose to use those years.
Wisconsin isn’t likely to limit its looks at the transfer market to just the Hauser’s either. There is a glaring and immediate need for experience up front, so the Badgers could fill that with a graduate transfer.
That was something the coaching staff was kicking around prior to any transfer out of the program anyway. Now, the Badgers have the flexibility to add that extra one-year player to the mix.
Stay tuned for the next few weeks, as things could move fast on the transfer front.
Are Badgers fans right to have a case of Bennet envy?
No offseason, or for that matter, in-season, topic surrounding Wisconsin Badgers basketball was hotter in 2018-19 than what to make of the Gard era after nearly five years.
Some have become enraged at the lack of recruiting wins at the highest level and the seeming shortcoming of head coach Greg Gard’s in-game decision making.
Wisconsin basketball feels like it is regressing rather than progressing on so many levels. There’s the major inconsistencies on offense, a lack of free throw shooting and a seemingly overall lack of athleticism to get UW out of a jam if needed.
Let’s just say a vocal group of Badgers fans are very much in the anti-Gard mode. Most in that camp will point to the Virginia Cavaliers and their head coach Tony Bennett and say, why can’t the Badgers do that?
It’s easy to have program envy when the guy many wanted at Wisconsin a long time ago just cut down the nets for a national championship with another team.
More importantly, he did it with the very style of hard-nosed defense and a slower-paced offense that Wisconsin has been famous for for awhile now.
All of that got me to thinking…why not take a look at both programs and coaches head-to-head and see if facts back up the arguments for or against Gard?
After all, the offseason is all about taking stock. So, let’s take that deep dive.
What Does History Tell Us?
First off, the Badgers have made an appearance in four Final Fours as a program, which puts them in with 27 other programs to make at least that many in program history.
Wisconsin is tied with Arizona, Kansas State, LSU, UNLV and Utah at four. Leading the way with 20 is North Carolina, who won in 2017 and has made three final four appearances in the past decade.
But, beyond that since the 2000 Final Four, where the Badgers lost to eventual national champions Michigan State, there have been eight schools to go to back-to-back Final Fours.
Those schools would be Michigan State (2000, 2001 and 2009, 2010), Maryland (2001, 2002), Kansas (2002, 2003), Florida (2006, 2007), UCLA (2007, 2008), Butler (2010, 2011), Kentucky (2011, 2012), Louisville (2012, 2013) and your Wisconsin Badgers (2014, 2015).
Considering there have been 20 tournaments (including the 2000 edition), that means 80 possible teams and Wisconsin is one of just nine teams to have occupied a spot in back-to-back Final Fours.
Yes, that was four years ago, but just 11 percent of the teams were back-to-back Final Four participants overall. That’s some rarified air and a good reminder of just how difficult it was to do what the Badgers did.
Getting to that level and doing it over and over again is a very difficult ask, even for the most blue-blood of programs. So, let’s take that in to consideration.
In fact, just 37 total teams have made an appearance in a Final Four since 2000. Wisconsin is in the top 5 for most Final Four appearances with three — tied with Kentucky, Louisville, Syracuse, UCLA and Villanova.
Michigan State leads all schools with seven, UNC is next at six and they are followed by Kansas (5), and Duke and UConn (4).
Virginia on the other hand has made just one appearance in the Final Four since 2000. It was a national title winning appearance, but the point of longevity of a program is important here.
Gard vs. Bennett’s First 5 Years
Which brings us to today, with Greg Gard fully in charge and leading this program without many legacy recruits from the Bo Ryan era around.
Can Gard get the Badgers back to that promised land? It’s the million-dollar question around Madison and the Badger fandom nationwide.
UW fans had a taste of the blue-blood air and they want some more. That’s understandable and its where the comparison to Virginia and Tony Bennett comes in to play.
Could the answer simply be that Greg Gard is not Tony Bennett? That’s to say one coach is not like the other.
I think so.
Let’s remember the Wisconsin gig was Gard’s first ever head coaching gig anywhere. Bennett was born to be a coach, it literally is in his DNA.
His father got the Badgers to the 2000 Final Four, led one of the 90’s biggest upsets while coaching at Wisconsin-Green Bay and his family has had a historic amount of success while coaching at Wisconsin-Stevens Point as well.
The level of success running through the veins of the Bennett family is scary to be honest.
But, success just doesn’t come because you were born around quality coaching or playing. It comes from hard work, and to that end, Tony has certainly put in his fair share of work.
He wasn’t handed anything when he started coaching other than an opportunity to prove himself to his father.
Bennett won wherever he went, including on staff at Wisconsin and when he eventually took over for his dad at the basketball powerhouse known as Washington State. While there, Bennett went 69-33 and never had a losing season in his three years before leaving for Virginia.
But, people have quickly forgotten that Bennett was not an overnight success at Virginia.
Let’s take the first five years of Bennett’s career at UVA to that of Gard’s at Wisconsin for example. Bennett had a record of 106-60 (.638), while Gard has a record of 80-47 (.630) in just 4.5 years.
That winning percentage is nearly identical and so are a few other things. Both Gard and Bennett missed at least one NCAA tournament (Bennett’s Cavs actually missed 3). However, Gard has two Sweet 16 tournament runs compared to just one for Bennett after the first five seasons at the helm.
It all adds up to two coaches who look pretty similar on paper over the first parts of their tenures at Virginia and Wisconsin. Perhaps there’s another piece to the puzzle that is missing for Gard to be as successful as Bennet?
There comes comparison point No. 3…recruiting.
Perhaps nothing has driven the doubters of Gard more crazy than what has, or more appropriately, hasn’t happened on the recruiting trail in the first five years of Gard at the helm.
In one sense, you can probably throw the 2016 class out of the window, given Gard only had a half of a recruiting cycle to get things going his way.
But, beyond that class, the Badgers have really struggled to elevate their recruiting game and thus make them more than an occasional contender for a national championship.
The fact of the matter is, Wisconsin got lucky that Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes developed like the coaching staff thought and that Sam Dekker had an affinity for the state of Wisconsin. Those three formed the backbone of a team capable of competing at the highest levels.
But, where has that player been under Gard’s leadership? Yes, Ethan Happ was fun to watch, but he was a Bo Ryan recruit first and foremost.
Maybe Kobe King is that guy, but his redshirt freshman year wasn’t a tell-tale sign of a player capable of taking over a program and leading it back to the promised land immediately.
There were glimpses of that being possible, but nothing sustained this past season.
In fact, no such signing has emerged as a must-see player for the Badgers to date. D’Mitrik Trice has been good in spurts, Brad Davison struggled to find his rhythm as the season went on this past year and about the only one that has emerged as a real star is big man Nate Reuvers.
He came to Wisconsin as the No. 66 ranked player in the country, and after putting on some weight and getting all the knowledge in a true freshman season, Reuvers became a go-to player on both ends of the court.
But, showing that one recruit can be the backbone of the program isn’t going to cut it. Not when you realize the losses that happened along the way.
Wisconsin lost out to Kentucky for Tyler Herro, Maryland for Diamond Stone and never had a chance with in-state big man Joey Hauser. All of those loses felt like a black eye for the program.
But, the biggest misses have come from the Badgers not being able to close the deal with some of the other big names they identified and went after early on.
Those names include point guard DJ Carton (Ohio State) and Zeke Nnaji (Arizona) in the 2019 class, as well as Payton Pritchard (Oregon) and Zavier Simpson (Michigan) in the 2017 class.
Land one or two of those players and there isn’t much room for the critics to talk. But, the reality is that Gard has yet to close on all but one of the big names offered to date.
This is a huge offseason with the Hauser brothers back on the market and Wisconsin named a finalist by 5-star Jalen Johnson. Getting one of the two situations to go in UW’s favor could be the game-changer needed to elevate this program back towards the top.
On the flip side, how did Bennett build his national championship winning squad? He was able to win on the recruiting trail with bigger names than the Badgers have ever had under Gard and it appears to have finally paid off.
But, there were some serious misses early on in that timeframe. In Bennett’s first class ever, he took the commitments of two top 100 players in KT Harrell and James Johnson.
Two years later and both players were gone, with Harrell off to Auburn and Johnson going to San Diego State and then Liberty as a graduate transfer.
The next year Bennett hit big time on the No. 98 ranked player in the country in guard Malcom Brogdon, but missed on No. 112 ranked Paul Jesperson, who ended up up transferring to Northern Iowa.
In total, Bennett had seven players commit to the program that were in the Top 100 in his first 5 seasons. Of those seven players, four ended up transferring away from the program with none of them making a massive change in the programs they landed at outside of Jesperson.
Only two could be considered successes, as Justin Anderson is in the NBA and was a first round draft pick of the Atlanta Hawks and Mike Tobey spent a few seasons in the NBA before moving overseas.
Over the course of his first five seasons, Bennett may have looked like a winner on paper, but he struggled to keep players in the program.
It was only after those initial struggles that Bennett found his form on the recruiting trail and got wins like Mamadi Diakite, Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter — three of those coming in just one recruiting class.
There is no doubt that Tony Bennett has built a near perennial contender in the ACC. What he’s managed to do there is special and as a native Wisconsinite, it’s equally hard to not play the what-if game.
But, the reality is the two coaches have proven to be on similar paths through the first five years as the head coach at these respective schools.
Only time will ultimately tell if Gard is up to the task of making the Badgers back in to true Big Ten and national championship contenders. But, gone are the days where just making the NCAA tournament and finishing fourth every year in the Big Ten would be good enough.
There is and should be pressure on Gard and this program to produce at a higher and more consistent level. Let’s give this coaching staff the chance to do it.
Winning either or both of the recruitments for the transfer of the Hauser brothers or top 5 national 2020 recruit Jalen Johnson would go a long way in solidifying the change in the program.
But, we’ll have a while to wait for those answers it seems.
Until then, there are good lessons to be learned by how Bennett built his program following those first 5 seasons in Charlottesville.
5 Badgers to to know after Spring practice
Believe it or not, we’re almost out of the month of April and that means the end of the 2019 Wisconsin Badgers spring football practices.
Despite the lack of a true spring game or real media hype there was a lot to learn from the 15 just-completed practices over the course of the last month.
Some of what we learned came to names that flashed that we maybe didn’t totally see coming as spring ball began.
So, let’s look at the 5 names to watch the most following spring practice.
Leo Chenal, ILB
All the talk coming in to spring was about another early entrant, but by about halfway through the 15 practices, there was only one name that everyone was talking about — Leo Chenal.
The younger brother of John Chenal burst on to the scene in a major way at inside linebacker. So much so that it’s going to be really hard for the Badgers coaching staff to keep him off the field.
He was a force in the run game and showcased good hands with multiple interceptions over the course of spring ball.
When coaches single you out for praise in interviews, you’re doing something right…especially if that coach is as tight-lipped as Paul Chryst is.
Chase Wolf, QB
All the talk coming in to spring revolved around Jack Coan and Graham Mertz. Well, you can add a third name in to the mix as redshirt freshman Chase Wolf had himself an impressive spring.
The former 3-star recruit is used to being in the shadows, having backed up a former 5-star recruit for most of his high school career. Instead of backing down from the challenge, he rose to the occasion and earned himself the scholarship at Wisconsin.
He again rose to the challenge this spring and proved he has the arm and athleticism to do something different with this offense should the coaching staff want to go that route.
I’m not saying Wolf is going to win the starting job, but what I am saying is that this is far from a two-quarterback race according to those who saw spring practice.
Brady Schipper, RB
Everyone knows that Jonathan Taylor is UW’s RB1. But, who will back him up is perhaps the biggest question mark at the skill positions. While it’s likely that Nakia Watson and Bradrick Shaw will get the first cracks, one could argue the most eye-opening offensive performer this spring was Schipper.
The walk-on out of Stoughton appears to have something that the others don’t have at this point. His power is so different and his ability to see the hole is natural.
Don’t be surprised to see Schipper fighting for snaps in relief of Taylor this fall.
Alexander Smith, CB
Good luck really figuring out what the pecking order looks like at cornerback coming out of spring. That isn’t a bad thing though, and largely it is due to the high level of competition there.
One of the more consistent competitors was Alexander Smith, who played well when forced in to action as a freshman last year. Luckily the Badgers didn’t burn his redshirt, but his time on the field last season seemed to pay off this spring.
He was always around the ball and showed good instincts overall. Add in some decent recovery speed and Smith wound up as a player who gave himself more reps in fall. What he does with those will go a long way in deciding just how much he contributes at cornerback when the games matter.
Aron Cruickshank, WR
Wisconsin needs to get more speed and more separation out of its wide receivers. One person that can provide that in spades could be Cruickshank.
He spent last season largely running as a decoy or on gadget plays. This spring, Cruickshank showed he had more to his game and could be a major weapon in the pass attack this year as well.
Whatever he can add to a solid group like AJ Taylor, Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor will be a bonus. But, he could be a matchup nightmare for defenses. Spring ball showcased that in a big way.
Guessing the Badgers depth chart post-spring
Spring football came to a quick and uneventful end on Friday. Now that we’ve had some time to digest what the coaching staff has had to say and what reports have come out of spring camp, it’s a perfect time to address the depth chart.
Did anyone jump to a starting role that we didn’t expect or what about underclassmen showing they belong?
We’ll look at each position and give your our best guess on where things stand heading out of spring ball and in to the fall.
- Jack Coan
- Graham Mertz
- Chase Wolf
- Danny Vanden Boom
We honestly have no idea where this position really stands, largely because this was the first time in a long time in which there wasn’t access to just about every practice. So, did the Badgers show something different behind closed doors?
From what the media was able to see, Coan appeared to take the vast majority of the first-team snaps this spring. Whether that was a test to see where he stands or a by-product of inexperience behind him, we simply do not know.
The good news behind Coan is that both early entrant freshman Graham Mertz and redshirt freshman Chase Wolf competed well in large chunks of the open spring practices.
If either of them can up their game heading in to the fall, we could see a very interesting situations unfold heading in to the first game at USF.
- Jonathan Taylor
- Nakia Watson
- Bradrick Shaw
- Garrett Groshek
- Brady Schipper
This group didn’t make much noise in the spring and that is alright when you have one of the most prolific running backs in college football history in your backfield.
A lot was expected out of redshirt freshman Nakia Watson in terms of stepping up to be the backup. I’m not sold that the coaching staff was all too happy with any of the running backs and here’s why — Isaac Gruenedo and Brady Schipper were seeing a ton of reps.
To their credit, both showed some good things when given their opportunities, but both have a long way to go to be on the level of Taylor.
Watson appeared to be the most consistent option behind Taylor, but he still has some growth to do as an inexperienced redshirt freshman. Meanwhile, we really don’t know what’s up with Bradrick Shaw as he attempts to come back from some awful injury issues.
Fully expect to see Taylor, Watson, Shaw and Groshek (as the 3rd down back) in the mix this fall.
- Danny Davis
- Kendric Pryor
- Taj Mustapha
- AJ Taylor
- Aron Cruickshank
- Jack Dunn
Given the quarterback battle that is ongoing, the wide receiver group got a ton of reps this spring as well. The top of the depth chart was pretty much set in stone with Danny Davis, AJ Taylor and Kendric Pryor the top three options.
But, the biggest jump this spring came from Aron Cruickshank, who showed he could be more than a gimmick in the offense. He looked good in the slot and most importantly, showed much more crispness in his route running and that means he could be a very dangerous weapon in the deep passing game.
Overall, this group did well in spring and don’t be surprised to see younger names like AJ Abbott and Taj Mustapha make a run at serious playing time. In fact, Mustapha may have already put himself in the mix for snaps this fall.
- Jake Ferguson
- Luke Benzschawel
- Hayden Rucci
To say this position was less than spectacular this spring would be an understatement. Ferguson is great and will continue to be the top target at this position, but what is behind him should give plenty of opportunity to the pair of incoming freshmen to say the least.
Benzschawel continues to show promise, but can’t stay healthy enough to be a reliable option just yet. Gabe Lloyd got a lot of playing time this spring, but wasn’t great.
Thus, I believe we’ll see at least one of Hayden Rucci or Clay Cundiff making their mark felt. Right now, I’m leaning towards Rucci being the more college ready player heading in to the fall and most likely to be called upon if they have to.
Depth at this position is a massive concern for a position that is crucial to success for the offense.
LT: Cole Van Lanen
LG: Kayden Lyles
C: Tyler Biadsz
RG: David Moorman
RT: Logan Bruss
LT: Tyler Beach
LG: Josh Seltzner
C: Jason Erdmann
RG: Michael Furtney
RT: Logan Brown
A lot of the starting pieces were missing this spring thanks to injury or recovery from offseason surgery and with all the transition happening up front that may actually have been a blessing in disguise.
The Badgers coaching staff got a good look at a lot of inexperienced but quality options on the line and it appears that some spots were locked up thanks to quality play.
One of the most consistent performers was senior David Moorman, who played both guard and tackle on the right side with the first team offense. Ultimately, I believe his best spot is inside, but he’s versatile enough to kick outside too.
What could be the most interesting battle this fall will be between incoming 5-star offensive lineman Logan Brown and Logan Bruss, who started six games this past season.
If there was one observation to take away from the spring it was that despite all the turnover, there is a lot of talent waiting their turn once again on this offensive line. That wasn’t the case just a few short years ago.
DE: Garrett Rand
NG: Bryson Williams
DE: Isaiahh Loudermilk
DE: Isaiah Mullens
NG: Gunnar Roberge
DE: Matt Henningson
The good news coming out of spring is that starters Garrett Rand and Isaiahh Loudermilk appear healthier and ready to contribute in 2019 in a major way. Rand still has some work to do physically, but was nearly 100 percent come the end of spring ball.
Add in the fact that Mullens Roberge and Henningson did some good work in major snaps this spring and you have a much stronger defensive front than UW had at any point last fall.
The interesting part will be when the freshmen enter the mix in the fall. Could any of them get in the mix?
ROLB: Zack Baun
LOLB: Christian Bell
ROLB: Noah Burks
LOLB: Izayah Green-May
We didn’t get to see Christian Bell much in spring and he was eventually shut down. But, you can fully expect him in the mix come fall. In fact, I’m not sure anyone outside of Noah Burks will challenge him for the starting spot opposite of Baun.
Speaking of Zack Baun…this was a monster spring for him, as he showed major improvement and big time leadership on and off the field. He could be the most impressive player to come out of spring ball amongst the entrenched starters.
But, the player I’m most intrigued to see get some reps in the fall is Izayah Green-May. He’s a matchup nightmare with his length and athleticism just by stepping on the field. But, this spring, the youngster appeared to have the lightbulb go off and that could be mean some nice playing time this fall.
ILB: Chris Orr
ILB: Jack Sanborn
ILB: Mike Maskalunas
ILB: Leo Chenal
Replacing T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly — the latter of which was picked in the just-completed NFL draft — was never going to be all that easy. But, a renewed effort from senior Chris Orr and a whole lot of talent behind him suggested the Badgers will be just fine at inside linebacker.
Orr was flying around a lot in spring ball, having cut some serious weight. But, the real name that stuck out from the crowd was actually an unheralded early entrant named Leo Chenal.
He impressed so much this spring that he may have already locked in a spot in the two deep before the Badgers even broke camp. He showed vision, athleticism and a nose for the football that will make him valuable in sub packages at the very least come fall.
I love what I’ve heard about this group all spring long.
- Caesar Williams
- Deon Harrell
- Faion Hicks
- Rachad Wildgoose
- Madison Cone
Coming in to spring ball, this group was the biggest wildcard on the team — and that was because so many players got experience last season it was nearly impossible to figure out how they stacked up.
That may still be the case, but someone has to start on paper and in the game. The good news is that there were six solid performers this spring and UW would be good to have any one of them start. The bad news is that there wasn’t really anyone outside of Williams that separated from the crowd.
Much more will have to done in the fall to figure this group out, but I’ll take competitive play over a set-in-stone depth chart at this point of a season.
FS1: Eric Burrell
FS2: Reggie Pearson Jr.
SS1: Scott Nelson
SS2: Colin Wilder
Unlike the cornerback position, the Badgers coaching staff likely knows the pecking order at both safety spots following spring ball. Eric Burrell and Scott Nelson looked like a great starting tandem, while both Wilder and Pearson provided quality competition.
This is as close to a lock for the depth chart as you’ll see anywhere on this roster if you ask me.
There is little doubt about who will take over the field goal kicking duties now that Rafael Gaglianone is graduated. Larsh looks like a great get for the program as a walk-on and could be a reliable asset to the team, which Gaglianone just wasn’t following multiple back issues and surgeries as his career went on.
It appears Lotti has settled in after a rough first year as the main punting option for this team. His steady improvement and consistency will be important in 2019 and spring proved that he could be much more consistent according to the coaching staff. You have to like that kind of reporting.
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