Wisconsin-Akron Pregame

Badger Nation previews the matchups for the Badgers home opener with the Akron Zips. Kickoff is 2:30 p.m. at Camp Randall Stadium

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Zips offense v. Badgers defense


Akron projected starters                         Wisconsin projected starters


QB Charlie Frye (Jr. 6-4, 213)                DE Nick Cochart (Sr. 6-1, 267)

WR Miquel Irvin (Sr. 6-1, 190)               DT Anttaj Hawthorne (Jr. 6-3, 300)

WR Matt Cherry (Sr. 6-1, 202)              DT Jason Jefferson (Jr. 6-3, 307)

FB Dan Basch (Jr. 6-0, 245)                  DE Jonathan Welsh (Jr. 6-4, 228)

RB Bobby Hendry (Sr. 5-10, 206)          LB Kareem Timbers (Jr. 6-3, 209)

LT Bryan Shaw (Sr. 6-3, 318)                LB Jeff Mack (Sr. 6-0, 244)

LG Aaron Conley (Jr. 6-3, 300)              LB Alex Lewis (Sr. 6-1, 237)

  C Jim Borrieci (Jr. 6-3, 302)                 CB Scott Starks (Jr. 5-10, 168)

RG Mike Piccirillo (Sr. 6-2, 320)             SS Ryan Aiello (Sr. 6-1, 196)

RT Jud Cummins (Sr. 6-4, 315)              FS Jim Leonhard (Jr. 5-8, 183)

TE Mike Brake (Sr. 6-4, 256)                 CB Brett Bell (Jr. 6-0, 193)


Key reserves:


Akron: WR Nick Sparks (Sr. 6-3, 215), WR Morris Ellington (Jr. 5-11, 181), Jason Montgomery


Wisconsin: LB LaMarr Watkins (So. 6-1, 216), FS Robert Brooks (Jr. 5-10, 179), SS Joe Stellmacher (Fr. 6-1, 198), DE Joe Monty (Fr. 6-2, 246)


When the Zips  have the ball…


Despite all the golden arms in the Big Ten this season, the best quarterback Wisconsin will face is Charlie Frye. The Zips signal caller can make all the throws and he is athletic enough to do damage with his feet as well. Frye will primarily distribute the ball to receivers Miquel Irvin, Matt Cherry and Nick Sparks, who combined for 26 catches, 319 yards and two touchdowns in Akron's 41-38 loss to Kent State.


Akron, like West Virginia last week, will employ a no huddle offense at times and will employ a variety of offensive sets. The Zips like to spread the field, but they will work out of a two back set as well. The team will almost certainly try to get Bobby Hendry into the game early. Hendry had 18 carries for just 30 yards last week, but was an integral part of the offense last season, rushing for more than 1,000 yards.


Wisconsin's defensive line has to chase Frye without the services of end Erasmus James and end/tackle Darius Jones. Nick Cochart will start at left defensive end, but expect Wisconsin to spend a lot of time in its nickel defense, with Alex Lewis sliding down to rush end and Cochart spending ample time inside as well. Reserve defensive end Joe Monty will see his first game action Saturday, as may a handful of other defensive linemen.


Maintaining a persistent pass rush will be vital to Wisconsin's success, but matching last week's two sack total would be a significant accomplishment. Akron will move the pocket frequently and call its share of three-step drops, allowing Frye to get rid of the ball quickly. West Virginia did this as well, though, and the Badgers applied ample pressure.


Frye is going to make plays against any defense and Akron will likely get its yards and put points on the board. The key for Wisconsin is for its linebackers and secondary to make sure tackles, not allowing the big plays that could give Akron confidence. It would not come as a surprise if Frye throws for 300 yards and Akron scores 20 or more points.


Badgers offense v. Zips defense


Wisconsin projected starters                   Akron projected starters


QB Jim Sorgi (Sr. 6-5, 190)                    DE Brian White (So. 6-2, 255)

TB Anthony Davis (Jr. 5-8, 191)            DT Marques Hayes (Sr. 6-1, 262)

FB Matt Bernstein (So. 6-2, 273)            DT Kiki Gonzales (So. 6-1, 295)

WR Lee Evans (Sr. 5-11, 202)               DE Dwayne LeFall (Jr. 6-3, 256)

WR Brandon Williams (So. 5-11, 170)    LB Matt Robinson (Sr. 6-1, 235)

LT Morgan Davis (Jr. 6-5, 326)              LB Dionte Earl (So. 5-10, 240)

LG Dan Buenning (Jr. 6-4, 298)             LB Chase Blackburn (Jr. 6-3, 245)

  C Donovan Raiola (So. 6-3, 290)          CB Jesse Smith (Sr. 6-1, 191)

RG Jonathan Clinkscale (Jr. 6-3, 308)     SS John Fuller (Jr. 6-2, 205)

RT Mike Lorenz (So. 6-5, 313)               FS Domenik Hixon (So. 6-2, 193)

TE Tony Paciotti (Jr. 6-4, 263)               CB Rickey McKenzie (Sr. 6-0, 188)


Key reserves:


Wisconsin: WR/TE Owen Daniels (So. 6-3, 213), WR Jonathan Orr (So. 6-3, 190), WR Darrin Charles (Jr. 6-6, 210), TB Dwayne Smith (So. 5-11, 225), TE Jason Pociask (So. 6-3, 250)


Akron: LB Jay Rohr (So. 5-11, 207), DE Tim Wilkes (So, 6-0, 250), LB Cam Yeow (Jr., 6-1, 236)


When Wisconsin has the ball…


If last week is any indication, Jim Sorgi is the leader of Wisconsin's offense and tailback Anthony Davis is the engine. Expect the Badges to work Davis early and try to wear down Akron's smallish defensive line. Wisconsin should be successful running the ball and reserves such as Dwayne Smith and Booker Stanley may see plenty of action this week. Akron's defense struggled immensely against power running teams last season and did not hold up very well last week against Kent State, yielding 181 yards on the ground.


The Badgers bread-and-butter may be feeding Anthony Davis this season, but a very versatile passing game will keep opposing defenses on their toes. Gone are the days when teams can load up against the run and hope to be successful. Lee Evans is the go-to guy but expect the Badgers to keep working the running backs into the passing game. Talented reserves Jonathan Orr and Darrin Charles went without a catch last week. Do not expect that trend to continue.


Akron's pass defense was miserable last week, especially when it counted, but the team does have some talent in this regard. Akron struggled last season in this respect, but improved through the course of the year and was respectable against the pass late in the year. They played quite well defensively against the likes of Marshall. All that went out the window last week when the Zips were torched by Kent State, a team Akron completely shut down a year before.


It will be interesting to see how Akron's defense reacts after imploding in last week's loss to Kent State. If they are not ready, and mighty fired up, this game could be over by the end of the first quarter.


On paper, Akron should not be able to do much to stop Wisconsin, but this is not to say that the Zips do not have talent. Chase Blackburn is a respectable linebacker and a couple of defensive backs, corner Rickey McKenzie and free safety Domenik Hixon can be play makers. Still, it would be surprising if the Badgers do not score 40 points against Akron, a team that has yielded that number six times in their last 13 games.


Special Teams match up


Wisconsin specialists                             Akron specialists


   P R.J. Morse (Jr. 6-1, 246)                 Billy Sullivan (So. 5-11, 179)

PK Mike Allen (Jr. 6-2, 186) or              Sullivan

KO Scott Campbell (Sr. 6-0, 245)           Sullivan

KR Brandon Williams (So. 5-11, 170)     Domenik Hixon (So. 6-2, 193)

PR Jim Leonhard (Jr. 5-8, 183)              Matt Cherry (Sr. 6-1, 202)

LS Matt Katula (Jr. 6-6, 282)                 Dennis Basch (Fr. 6-3, 241)


Wisconsin punter R.J. Morse had a respectable performance last week, averaging 40.2 yards per punt while pinning the Mountaineers inside the 20 twice.


Wisconsin's kicking duties are a question mark. Mike Allen's health is anyone's guess. He may or may not play Saturday. Scott Campbell does a respectable job on kickoffs and has a big leg, but he has struggled as a place kicker.


Billy Sullivan is a respectable kicker. He held the place kicking duties last season but also earned the top punting duties this year and had a fantastic game last week, averaging 47.2 yards per punt. Of his six punts, four were inside the 20 and another resulted in a fair catch. Kent State, though, did return two of them for 38 yards.


Each team has solid return specialists who have big play potential.


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