Front Seven - UMass

Badger Nation's popular feature - the Front Seven - is back, rankings the top seven players based on performance, expectations and need.

The three time defending Big Ten champs are set to defend their Big Ten crown as they gear up for another run at Indianapolis. Even though Wisconsin has the talent to get back to Indianapolis, the Badgers are aware that it, per usual, it won't be an easy task.

The Badgers will need to get consistent play out of the quarterback and find out which wide receiver is going to step up. First year head coach Gary Andersen won't get all of his answers against Massachusetts on Saturday but hopefully things become a little clearer.

Our popular feature is back again, as the rankings for the Front Seven are determined based on performance from fall camp, expectations this coming week and need. It was not easy determining who will be important in helping the Badgers to an opening season win over UMass.

1, Joel Stave, QB: Stave and Curt Phillips have been splitting reps with the first-team offense through out fall practices, but it appears Stave will get the start. Although Phillips was the more consistent of the two during fall camp, the fact remains that Andersen wants his quarterback to be able to stretch the field with the deep ball. Phillips showed good arm strength at times, but it's clear that Stave has the best arm out of any of the quarterbacks. Stave played well in his six starts a year ago and continually improved each week before his broken collarbone sidelined him. It'll be interesting to see if Stave can elevate UW's passing game.

2, James White RB: White will probably see a fair amount of carries against UMass and he should find success against a young defense. White should get the most out of his carries and has a chance to bust off a couple of long runs, not to mention see some passes come his way in the passing game. The Badgers during fall camp have tried to get White more involved in the passing game because he can make things happen when the football is in his hands. During the two scrimmages open to the public, White had a couple of strong runs and was targeted in the passing game. White caught the football naturally, was able to get right up field and pick up first downs.

3, Michael Caputo S: Caputo's first career start against Illinois didn't go well, as he was pulled in favor of senior Shelton Johnson after only the third series. That seems like a long time ago with Caputo starting to flash at the end of fall camp and make a lot of plays at the safety position. Caputo has been able to adjust to the speed, which he struggled with a year ago and seems more comfortable out there. As long as Caputo continues to trust his instincts and lets the game come to him he will continue to have success at the safety position.

4, Kenzel Doe WR: Outside of Abbrederis, Doe was one of the more consistent wide receivers during camp, but still has plenty to work to be a playmaker in the offense. Doe does a solid job of catching the football but doesn't pick up a lot of yards after catch. He has to be able to learn how to run through tackles to try and pick up more yards. Doe only had 16 catches for 121 yards but has a chance to improve upon those numbers this coming year because he should be more involved in the passing game.

5, Dan Voltz C: Voltz is still recovering from his injury but should be back in time for the opener. Voltz was putting together a solid camp prior to his injury, showing that he could make the proper line calls. If Voltz can't play, redshirt junior Dallas Lewallen will be the starter at center. Lewallen has consistently improved at the center position since Voltz's injury. If Voltz plays then Lewallen can slide back to left guard.

6, Beau Allen NT: Allen is a very good fit for the nose tackle position in the new 3-4 defense. Allen should use his size and quickness off the line to his advantage, being able to create space for the linebackers to make plays. Allen has been able to adjust well to his new position and has been consistent throughout fall.

7, WR Jared Abbrederis: We know what to expect from Abbrederis and he should have a good game against UMass. But at the same time, if the Badgers can take control of the game early, Abbrederis may have a short day. This game will give some of the younger wide receivers some game experience and let them work on their game as well.

Others to Note

QB Tanner McEvoy: It will be interesting to see if McEvoy gets any snaps under center or at wide receiver … or at defensive back. McEvoy started to work with the wide receivers a little bit and Gary Andersen said in the Big Ten teleconference that McEvoy could even help on defense. It will be interesting to see how the Badger coaching staff uses him. Andersen has said they would like to develop a package for McEvoy at the quarterback position but it is still to be seen if that package will be unveiled against UMass.

FS Leo Musso: Musso was the starter for most of fall camp at the safety spot before Caputo over took him, but should still see plenty of time. Musso has yet to play a college down so getting him plenty of reps in these first two games will be important before the Badgers take on Arizona State.

RB Corey Clement: Clement has put together an impressive fall camp and will be one of the few true freshmen to play this year. Depending on how the game goes, Clement will probably see a handful of carries come in the third and fourth quarter. Clement will get some valuable game reps and he should make the most of his carries. Whenever Clement gets the ball in his hands he makes the most out of it. He's very decisive, gets up the field and doesn't dance when he doesn't need to.

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