Five Keys to Victory: Western Illinois

Looking to start its home slate with a convincing victory, No.18 Wisconsin hosts FCS opponent Western Illinois this morning at Camp Randall Stadium. BadgerNation gives our five keys to victory.

BadgerNation is compelled, by tradition, to review last week's Five Keys to Victory. We called for a 28-24 LSU victory and that was the score. In addition to noting the obvious need for the new Wisconsin QB (Tanner McEvoy) to play well, we also cited as a plus the Badgers’ strength on the interior of the offensive line. UW clearly won here. LSU's secondary, as noted, was a huge advantage as UW receivers could rarely get open, let alone catch an errant pass. We also highlighted Alex Erickson as a possible outlet as a possession receiver and Erickson led the team in receptions. A solid debut for our "Five Keys" feature even if the result of the game was dispiriting for Badger fans.

This week brings the Western Illinois Leathernecks to Camp Randall and there are "Five Keys to Victory" that stand out:

1, Improvement in UW's secondary

About the only way Wisconsin can lose this game is if Western Illinois manages to throw the ball as well as it did last week. Sophomore QB Trenton Norvell threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns. Additionally, he managed to spread the passes around to a quartet of entertainingly-named receivers: Hi-C Scott, Lance Lenoir, Joey Borsellino and Adam Hoogerwerf.

UW defensive backs, particularly starting safety Lubern Figaro and starting cornerback Darius Hillary, will be tested. Combined with the lack of depth at nose tackle (see below), the passing threat posed by the Leathernecks will probably force UW defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to play more linebackers and safeties in his base defense. WIU's success last week came against Valparaiso, all the same it would be heartening for future games to see UW's secondary dominate.

Prediction: Big advantage UW as an over-confident sophomore QB throws interceptions.

2, UW QB play/UW designs for QB play

Not only does Tanner McEvoy need to take this opportunity to play better, UW offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig needs to call a game plan more commensurate with McEvoy's strengths. Designed QB runs and options plays were far too infrequent last week. Additionally, the passing game needs to be short. Anything past 15 yards and McEvoy's shaky mechanics break down entirely.

3, UW runs

Even if they can't throw, Wisconsin will run the ball with ease: This is a big mismatch. WIU's offensive linemen have decent size, not so the defensive linemen. Badgers fans might get a good look at freshman running back Taiwan Deal.

4, Balancing the personnel in UW's front seven

There is a chance that Konrad Zagzebski will not play (concussion), and Warren Herring is definitely out. This will give a big opportunity for younger players on the defensive line (Arthur Goldberg, Alec James, Jake Keefer and Chikwe Obasih) the chance to shine. It probably also means that five linebackers will be on the field at one time. As mentioned, WIU's offensive line has some size. Expect UW to show multiple speed looks, both inside and outside, to disrupt WIU's game plan. Even with depleted forces, this should be an obvious advantage for Wisconsin. If LSU's running game was stuffed for three quarters, a game-long advantage is to be had Saturday.

5, Winning the Press Conference< /p> Several members of the Badgers football team, none more so than the head coach, failed to inspire confidence in the future after the let down against LSU. A solid demonstration of competence, confidence and a little Brazilian mambo will go a long way to reassuring the faithful that this team scan still make the season finale in Indianapolis.

Fearless prediction:

Wisconsin 51, Western Illinois 9

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