Thinking positive

Badger Nation's 14-part season preview culminates with a look at things worth getting excited about and those for which the jury is still out.

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Worth getting excited about:


The running backs

Tailback Anthony Davis and fullback Matt Bernstein are the best combination in the Big Ten and quite possibly the nation. Bernstein is a devastating blocker with adequate skills as a short yardage runner and pass receiver. Davis is as good as they come at tailback. After running for more than 3,000 yards the past two seasons he looks even quicker, stronger and faster this season. In addition, he should become a factor in the passing game this season.


The reserves are solid. Dwayne Smith would be a star elsewhere and could still have huge numbers as Davis's backup. Redshirt freshman Booker Stanley would likely be a feature back at a lot of elite conference schools. At Wisconsin he will bide his time and perhaps earn some carries here and there. The No. 4 tailback, Jerone Pettus, can also do some things to help the team. Wisconsin is so loaded at half back it worked on a two-back set last spring and in the fall, featuring Davis and Smith.


There is only one reserve at fullback, but Greg Root had a very good fall camp and the Badgers run so many one-back sets that this should not be an issue.


The receivers

It cannot be said often enough. This unit is among the best in the nation. A healthy, productive Lee Evans makes this the best group in the country hands down. There are almost too many players. The options are simply tantalizing. Evans, Brandon Williams and Jonathan Orr are a stellar top three who exhibit all sorts of skills. The team has ample room for creativity simply with those three in tow, but then they pile on talented players in Darrin Charles, Brandon White, Owen Daniels, Ernest Mason and Byron Brown. Charles will be a regular on four and five wide receiver sets; Mason will get his reps in situations; Daniels will play a lot in spread formations. White will likely serve as a top reserve all across the receiving depth chart. Quarterback Jim Sorgi has quite a cast to work with.


No ego problems on O

With so much talent on offense, it is not a stretch to imagine the team imploding for lack of footballs. Not this group. The big-time skill players are selfless, composed and business-like almost to a fault. In fact the team may have the opposite problem: who takes the reigns and becomes the go-to guy?


The return game/coverage units

In the Big Ten, only Iowa's look better on paper.


The Jury is Out:


Jim Sorgi

Sorgi displayed solid poise and command of the offense in preseason camp. He has experience and he has played well in live game action. Still, it is unknown how well he will perform as the starter. It takes a different psyche to lead a team rather then providing a spark off the bench. How well Sorgi makes the transition will determine whether Wisconsin's offense becomes truly great.


The offensive line

This was considered a concern in spring, but the questions have been answered, on paper at least. With three new starters it is still best to take a wait-and-see attitude. There are sure to be some struggles, but once the unit gels it should be a competent group.


Cornerback Brett Bell

All eyes will be on Bell once the season starts. He hasn't played corner in a game since high school and his tenure at safety was not one to write home about. But Bell looked fantastic in fall camp, flashing the type of talent that a shutdown corner possesses. How, though, that translates to live game action will soon be discovered.


The defense

So much talent, so much inconsistency. This unit returns nearly intact from last season. There is tons of ability and potential, or proven, difference makers at every level of the defense. The production was hit or miss last season, though. The defense needs some constancy or else winning will be inconsistent again as well. The bright side: the team proved that it has plenty of playmakers last season with the barrage of turnovers the defense caused. This group certainly has the skill to be one of the better units in the Big Ten.


Kicker Mike Allen

Allen seemed to put it together last season and his confidence is much improved since then. All indications are that Allen will have a very good year, but once that first kick goes through the uprights it will be easier to believe.

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