Pregame Intel: Wisconsin Badgers

A special pregame report for Purple Reign readers, compiled from the "other team's" media on this week's opponent, Wisconsin. We've all read the early week interviews - Wisconsin Coach Barry Alvarez has stated publicly that he's worried about Northwestern's potent offensive team - but everyone seems to be missing the fact that last week the Badgers rediscovered their passing game too...

Barry Alvarez has been very vocal about his concerns defending the NU Spread.
But the pregame intel is about the opponent coming up so here goes:

Badger QB John Stocco has been known to make a few awkward throws - he's been seen throwing off his back foot, just like another Wisconsin QB, the guy in Green Bay...
"I didn't work on that," Stocco said [in Badger Plus] of his off-season workouts, "and sometimes I don't think it is a good thing."
They've been working on him getting set, but a good pass rush could get him off balance with good results for NU's beleaguered pass defense.

Defensing the Pass: So, you try to keep Stocco off balance, and then you use that hard rush to also shut down Brian Calhoun. Last week, Indiana stuffed the "box" and did slow down Wisconsin's Big 10 rushing runner up a bit, but the Badgers responded to the one on one coverage.

As BadgerNation's Jonathan Linder points out, Wisconsin has 3 decent receivers for Stocco to look for down field
Receivers Jonathan Orr and Brandon Williams and quarterback John Stocco busted right through it. Orr caught six passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. Williams had four receptions for 113 yards and two scores — all in the first half. Stocco completed 13 of 24 passes for 274 yards and the three touchdowns. -- Badger Nation
It was the first time the Badger offense has had 2 100 yard receivers in 12 years.

They also stretched the field, Orr had 2 receptions for 47 yards, and Williams one for 29.

Then there's former walk-on, tight end
Joel Nellis, who got a chance to start when Owen Daniels got hurt last week. He's 6-4 239, not bad size for a TE.

Their Running Game: Basically you try to stop Brian Calhoun - but out in front are a bunch of frosh fullbacks -most notably Chris Pressley. He was a great big tailback, but he moved over to fullback last winter and with the injury to Matt Bernstein ["sports hernia?"] he's got the job clearing the way for Calhoun.

Field Position: Wisconsin is very proud of their special teams - the typical starting point for opponents is the 23, they start, on average, at the 38. Their punter Ken DeBauche is #3 nationally, averaging 46.6 yards. He's good at pinning the other guys back and he does it with regularity.

Nicked Up or Weaker Defense:
Meanwhile the guys in Madison keep talking about a "nicked up" defense - and how well the presumed subs are playing. Nick Hayden and Frosh Jason Chapman are receiving high praise from the D-Line coach of the Badgers. Makes you wonder if the guys who are hurt are any better than the guys playing since the Badgers are 5-0 coming in?

The D, which had to replace both the D-Line and most of the secondary, is anchored by a junior LB - Mark Zalewski.
"A lot of media didn't have us ranked very high, and we do have a lot of new starters on the defense," Zalewski said. [quoted in the Daily Northwestern] "But that kind of motivated us. We had a lot of talent on the team, there just weren't any familiar names that people knew about. Coming in we wanted to show people that we still have a lot of playmakers."
The big issue in the secondary is stopping mistakes.
"Of the touchdowns that were scored against us, I would say one is legit," D-Back Coach Ron Lee said.[in the Wisconsin State Journal]  "The rest are from a mental error or a physical error.
Blown coverage and guys falling down is something they're apparently working on in the Wiscy defensive backfield.[sounds like NU]

Injuries: Matt Bernstein, the fullback who has single handedly beaten the Cats in the past won't play, and tight end Owen Daniels has an ankle injury that could keep him out. There are also a couple of defenders out for the season.
What the Cats have to do.
  • Stop Calhoun - Nick Roach has figured out that he bounces outside - now they have to stop that from happening.
  • Get a good pass rush going - Stocco doesn't always throw when he's set.
  • NU's Defensive secondary just has to plain step up and shut down the passing.
  • Baz has to pick apart the Wisconsin secondary and open up the running lanes for Sutton/Roberson/Hamlett [the 3 headed monster].
  • Run the ball, play ball control and keep Calhoun off the field.
In Conclusion
Wisconsin is beatable at home in Ryan Field. NU has a pretty good record against "red" teams on our home turf, and you know the seniors want to go out with a win.

Its probably going to be a ball control game for the Cats - if NU can get the kind of possession times they had against
Penn State, [2:1] they should be able to hold on and win. However, most insiders would like to see a scoring record from a running back hitting the end zone, instead of from the Field Goal kicker.

The Game is on ESPN or ESPN 2 with the ever lovable Pam Ward and David Norrie starting at 11:00 M [Wildcat Time].

Dave Eanet and Ted Albrecht will be the radio guys on WGN and WNUR is also broadcasting the game.

We'll be chatting at the same spot

You can send your comments or "back door" information
to Coach Roy
Go Cats
Beat 'em All!
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