Turel's Updated Wisconsin Preseason Preview

Wisconsin is averaging 272 yards per game rushing, and star running back Brian Calhoun accounted for almost 50% of the Badgers' total yards last week vs. North Carolina. Meanwhile, U-M is 8th in the Big Ten in rush defense (110 yds. per game). Also, Wisconsin's best DE is out.

The above summarizes pretty well the Wisconsin season so far. Below are key Wisconsin stats for the season so far, followed by the preview GBW's Josh Turel wrote on Wisconsin a month ago. The biggest change: the Badger's best DE Jamal Cooper is out for the season with a knee injury (and his back-up Kurt Ware has been sidelined so far with chicken-pox).

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Wisconsin Stats vs U-M's (including where they stand in the Big Ten)

-- Record: 3-0 (56-42 over Bowling Green, 65-0 over Temple, 14-5 over UNC on the road)
-- Rushing/Team: 272.3 yards per game (4.9 yards per carry), 2nd in Big Ten; U-M 184.7 (8th in Big Ten)
-- Rushing/Calhoun: 157 yards per game (5.1 yards per carry)
-- Passing/Stocco: averaging: 11.3/17.3 for 161 ypg (9th), 1.3 TD's, .3 int.; Henne: 199 ypg (6th)
-- Scoring Defense: 15.7 (6th); U-M 11.3 (1st)
-- Total Defense: 304.7 ypg (5th); U-M 263 (1st)
-- Rushing Defense: 39.7 ypg (2nd); U-M 110 (8th)
-- Passing Defense: 265 ypg (8th); U-M 153 (2nd)

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Josh Turel's Preseason Wisconsin Preview:

September 24th, 2005
At the Wisconsin Badgers
2004 Record: 9-3 (6-2 Conference)
Head Coach: Barry Alvarez 15th year Returning Starters: Offense: 6, Defense: 4

Wisconsin Offense:

Quarterback John Stocco (6-2, 197, Jr.) will be key for the offense to maintain balance. Stocco still has plenty of room to improve: last season his accuracy was inconsistent at times, and turnovers hurt the team's ability to consistently move the football at some points. The Badgers lose Anthony Davis, but Colorado transfer Brian Calhoun (5-10, 194, Jr.) should pick up the slack pretty well. I'm a big fan of Calhoun's game; he is a very fast back who can catch extremely well and should hit the 1,000+ rushing yard mark this year. Fullback Matt Bernstein (6-2, 266, Sr.) is a dual threat as a runner and blocker and is one of the top fullbacks in the country. Senior WR starter will likely be Jonathan Orr (6-3, 190, Sr.). This big, speedy Detroit native will get his last chance to convert his talent into major production. The guy to watch for is Brandon Williams (5-11, 175, Sr.) who fits the new timing offense very well because he works so well in the short passing game. Owen Daniels (6-3, 247, Sr.) could be the premier tight end in the Big Ten, and he should get the opportunity to prove it this year. The Badgers lost a good amount of talent up front, but the team returns three-year starter Donovan Raiola (6-3, 294, Sr.) at center along with junior left tackle Joe Thomas (6-9, 298, Jr.).

Wisconsin Defense:

Sophomores Nick Hayden (6-5, 302, So.) and Justin Ostrowski (6-5, 304, So.) take over at the defensive tackle spots after getting some minutes in as reserves last year. Despite the loss of pass rushing terror Erasmus James, the Badgers are breeding another pass rushing type in Jamal Cooper (6-4, 218, So.). On the opposite end will be Joe Monty (6-2, 252, Jr.). Weakside linebacker Dontez Sanders (6-1, 208, Sr.) doesn't have ideal bulk but he can fly to the ball and he will fit very well in the new aggressive, blitzing scheme. Playmaking middle linebacker Andy Crooks (6-3, 242, So.) returns as well. On the strongside returns Mark Zalewski (6-2, 228, Jr.), arguably the Badgers' best defensive player who should flourish in the new attack style defense that will see him blitz more frequently. The top returning defensive back, Brett Bell (6-0, 200, Sr.) is solid in coverage as well as supporting against the run from the flank. The other corner position will go to Levonne Rowan (6-1, 191, Sr.) who has some real potential but is inconsistent and doesn't look comfortable at times. Replacing Robert Brooks at safety is Johnny White (6-2, 217, Jr.), a run-stuffing safety who can really hit. The huge task of replacing All-American safety Jim Leonhard goes to Roderick Rogers (6-2, 183, Jr.). Rogers doesn't have much experience but he's an excellent athlete with potential.

Wisconsin Special Teams:

The place kicking could be done by either Taylor Melhaff or Adam Schober. Both have strong legs but very sporadic accuracy. Punter Ken DeBauche flew under the radar last season averaging 41.8 yards per punt. Brandon Williams has been marginal returning kickoffs, while the Badgers will try Marcus Randle El at returning punts.

Preseason Prediction: Alvarez has too much to replace in this his final year as head coach. Michigan: 27, Wisconsin: 14

Current Prediction: Michigan has lost so many starters on offense, but defensively may be able to at least slow down Calhoun … can the U-M get a lead and take the Badgers out of their running game? It'll be close and relatively low-scoring: Michigan 24, Wisconsin 17

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