Worgull: Wisconsin's offense is still a work in progress. The Badgers have a lot of strength, production and depth at tailback and tight ends, but UW does not have sufficient talent outside Jared Abbrederis at wide receiver. UW has spent the better part of the last 18 months trying to find a good secondary option without much success, so it looks as if the Badgers will have to use a committee approach.
Quarterback will be a question mark again as Joel Stave won a close battle in camp with Curt Phillips. Stave started six games last season as a redshirt freshman before a broken collarbone in late October effectively ended his season. Stave continues to battle consistency issues from practice to practice, but has the best arm of the group and can provide a deep threat. He just needs to find somebody to consistently throw it to.
Offensive line should be OK if the group can stay healthy. Wisconsin is going in to the season with between eight or nine linemen that head coach Gary Andersen feels comfortable about. UW also spent the last 10-14 days of camp working on shifting its starters to different positions on the line to gain some familiarity with other positions, another sign UW's depth is lacking.
Coming out of fall camp how would you assess the team's defense?
Worgull: Strong. UW's returning players have adjusted well from the 4-3 to a 3-4 defense, which has allowed some of UW players to have more freedom and flexibility within the scheme to make plays. The front seven is loaded with talent and experience, as Wisconsin has eight seniors listed on the two deep. None are more important than outside linebacker Chris Borland, widely considered one of the best linebackers in the country. Wisconsin's secondary is young with only one senior and three new starters, but the young cornerbacks showed enough promise and talent that a lot of the concerns entering camp have been alleviated.
With the 2013 season about to begin, what do you think is the team's biggest strength and what is its biggest concern?
Worgull: Biggest strength from an offensive standpoint is the running game with senior James White and sophomore Melvin Gordon. Over the past three seasons, the Badgers have rushed for 134 touchdowns, the most of any team in the nation. With White already have a 1000-yard senior to his credit, Gordon having a breakout performance in the Big Ten championship game last season against Nebraska and question marks in the passing game, having talent in the backfield is crucial.
Defensively as I mentioned, the biggest strength is the front seven, which returns a good chunk of the starters that helped UW rank 15th nationally in total defense last season.
Biggest concern will undoubtedly be the wide receivers, especially when opposing defenses double team Abbrederis. Somebody will have to step up to take some pressure off the senior.
Which players were some of the bigger surprises on both sides of the ball?
Worgull: Offensively, true freshman tailback Corey Clement won the No.3 tailback spot out of camp and provides depth at the running back position to take some of the pressure off White and Gordon. Redshirt freshman receiver Alex Erickson also had a nice camp and the former high school quarterback/defensive back is listed among the top four wide receivers on UW's depth chart.
Defensively safety Michael Caputo emerged over the last two weeks of camp to grab the other starting safety spot. His athleticism cost him starting opportunities last year, but the sophomore has taken a big leap forward with his abilities. True freshman Leon Jacobs - a former high school basketball player who is only playing his third year of organized football - can help this team is certain defensive packages, as well.
With the current status of the team what in your opinion is a realistic prediction in terms of W-L record?
Worgull: On a scale of 1-to-10, I'll put this team at about a seven. Wisconsin is so easy it's laughable, especially considering they open against UMass (1-11 last season) and FCS opponent Tennessee Tech and don't have Michigan, Michigan State or Nebraska on the schedule. UW's conference road games are Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, hardly a challenge outside of the Buckeyes.
A realistic prediction for this team should be 10-2. I think the Arizona State-Wisconsin game is a tossup and it'll be interesting to see how these first two weeks of the season goes for Wisconsin as they prepare for its trip to the desert.