Questions and Concerns

The Badgers are a top 25 team loaded with talent and potential. Everyone seems to be predicting at least a top four finish in the Big Ten. In can't all be peaches and cream, can it? Questions and concerns for the upcoming season follow. This is part 13 of a 14-part series.

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Biggest questions

 

What is the engine that drives the offense?

The Badgers have plenty of candidates and one of them has to step up and take charge. Wisconsin has long had an offensive engine, be it Ron Dayne or Brooks Bollinger—someone the play revolves around. So who becomes the focal point this year? Who is the player the Badgers turn to when they need a big play? It could be Anthony Davis, Lee Evans, Jim Sorgi, perhaps Brandon Williams or Jonathan Orr if they continue to develop. Of course, the corollary question is does this team, with so many super talented players that do not demand the ball, really need an engine?

 

Who becomes the competitive leader, replacing Brooks Bollinger's and Al Johnson's competitive drive?

A further follow up question. Bollinger and Johnson possessed a rare level of intensity the team could draw from. Time will tell how much this intensity is missed and whether anyone on the team replaces it.

 

Will the Badgers develop a pass rush?

The talent is on hand and players like Darius Jones, Jonathan Welsh and Erasmus James have flirted with breaking out and developing into the fearsome pass rusher the defense missed last season.

 

How creative will the offense become?

Wisconsin has loads of talent and loads of possibilities on offense. The team will likely play the hot hands early, then take advantage of a few work horses as the season goes on. But the team has done a lot of experimentation in spring and fall practices, working on sets including two halfbacks; three receivers in a "bunch" set; and experimentation with players such as Owen Daniels and Ernest Mason in spread sets. Then, there is the semi-annual flirtation with using the running backs in the passing game. The latter looks to be a reality this season and the rest of the wrinkles sure appeared to be running smoothly. But will we see it?

 

Will the tight ends produce? Do they need to?

Much has been said about Wisconsin's lack of production from the tight end position last season. The current group has talent and a diversity of skills, but very little experience or past production. Tight ends only had 11 catches last season, though, so this year's group would be hard pressed to be less productive. The latter question is the more important one.

 

Causes for concern

 

Punting

The coaching staff says it is fixed, but until further review, this remains a question/concern. The rest of Wisconsin's special teams should be quite good. The punting game needs to at least achieve adequacy.

 

Defensive depth

The starters have plenty of talent and experience. The reserves have plenty of talent, but very, very little game experience. The team's success this season weighs in large part on the health of inside linebacker Jeff Mack and cornerback Scott Starks, the two most important players on the roster because they are irreplaceable. This is not to say that there is no talent behind them at their respective positions. There is. But other than Kyle McCorison, the reserves at these two positions have little to no experience and, while talented, are a huge drop off from Mack or Starks. McCorison, while competent, is no Jeff Mack.

 

Depth at quarterback

Chances are, Sorgi will miss some plays this year. Matt Schabert looks like a capable backup, but he has limited real game experience and was nursing a minor arm injury in the latter portion of fall camp. The team is thin at quarterback with John Stocco and redshirt-destined Tyler Donovan behind Schabert.


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