UW v Temple matchup analysis

A close look at the Badgers and Owls leading up to Saturday's game at Camp Randall Stadium

Temple offense versus Wisconsin defense

Temple projected starters Wisconsin projected starters

QB Mike McGann (Sr. 6-6, 225) MLB Mark Zalewski (Jr. 6-2, 228)
TB Umar Ferguson (Sr. 6-0, 215) WLB Dontez Sanders (Sr. 6-1, 223)
FB Mike Neal (So. 6-0, 205) SLB LaMarr Watkins (Sr. 6-1, 223)
LT John Gross (Sr. 6-6, 295) RE Jamal Cooper (So. 6-4, 217)
LG Stan Primus (Sr. 6-4, 315) RT Nick Hayden (So. 6-5, 302)
C Alex Derenthal (Fr. 6-4, 280) LT Jason Chapman (Fr. 6-4, 280)
RG Stephen Bell (Sr. 6-4, 310) LE Joe Monty (Jr. 6-2, 252)
RT Elliot Seifert (Jr. 6-7, 300) SS Joe Stellmacher (Jr. 6-1, 216)
TE Leyon Azubuike (Fr. 6-3, 235) FS Roderick Rogers (Jr. 6-2, 181)
WR Bruce Gordon (Jr. 5-11, 190) CB Brett Bell (Sr. 6-0, 200)
WR Jamel Harris (Jr. 6-1, 185) CB Allen Langford (Fr. 5-11, 187)

The Badger defense is licking its wounds after playing poorly in a winning effort against Bowling Green's prolific offense.

UW does not have to face an elite player like Falcon quarterback Omar Jacobs this week, but Temple's Mike McGann is a capable, if somewhat mistake-prone signal caller. He has been productive for the Owls over the years, throwing for more yards than all but two players in school history. But he has been hampered by injuries, playing just eight games in 2003 and only one last season, when he took a medical redshirt. McGann threw for nearly 2,000 yards as a full-time starter in 2002, and topped 1,400 in '03, but he threw 28 interceptions against 18 touchdowns in that span.

Still, if UW's secondary does not pick up its play considerably from last week, McGann can make them pay. The Badgers, though, will not be dealing with an offense remotely as complex as Bowling Green's, or one with nearly as much talent.

Temple had a strong offense last season, when quarterback Walter Washington ran and threw all over Big East defenses. But Washington is gone and the system has changed as a result, from an option/spread look to a scheme that uses more traditional two-back and one-back sets. Temple can play with three wide receivers and may choose to focus its attention on that aspect of its attack this week, after watching how well BG exposed UW with a spread style.

Purdue transfer Bruce Gordon has quickly emerged as the Owls' top receiver. He caught six passes for 98 yards in their 63-16 loss at Arizona State last week. Jamel Harris and Brian Allbrooks caught a combined seven passes last week, and 37 last year.

This receiving corps should not pose the stern test that Bowling Green's did, but if UW's secondary does not step up its play, the Owls will be productive.

Of course, UW's biggest question going into this game is who emerges in that secondary? Allen Langford and Joe Stellmacher were penciled in as starters this week ahead of Levonne Rowan and Johnny White, but expect the latter duo to play often again this week. Junior free safety Zach Hampton should again see considerable playing time, and freshman corner Jack Ikegwuonu is likely to be in the mix again. The Badgers have suggested that some younger players will get closer looks, and the likeliest choice there would be true freshman Shane Carter, who can play free safety or corner and was impressive in preseason camp.

The Badgers have an edge on the line of scrimmage and that should translate into consistent pressure on McGann and a middling running game for Temple. The Owls have three returning starters on their offensive line, led by Gross, who has started 24 straight games. The front five also has good size, but it is not particularly effective. Last week Temple rushed for just 62 yards on 35 attempts. On the bright side, the Owls did not yield a sack, despite having McGann drop back to pass 37 times. Expect that positive statistic to change quickly this week. The Badgers managed four sacks against a good Bowling Green offensive line last week.

UW should shut down the Owls' running game, much as ASU did last week. McGann is not the running threat Washington was, and running back Umar Ferguson must carry the load after the Owls lost senior Tim Brown, one of seven players declared academically ineligible prior to the season.

The Badgers' young defensive line played well last week and should have another good Saturday. Expect to see tackle Nick Hayden and end Jamal Cooper in the backfield often.

Like members of the Badger secondary, UW's linebackers corps is going to be under the microscope this week. Mark Zalewski played very well last week, but Dontez Sanders made a pair of glairing mistakes that directly resulted in touchdowns. He is reportedly being pushed by true freshman DeAndre Levy for his starting job. UW could use Josh Neal and/or Andy Crooks at mike linebacker in spots this week, with Zalewski sliding to the strongside.

Wisconsin offense versus Temple defense

Temple projected starters Wisconsin projected starters

LB Ryan Gore (Jr. 6-0, 225) QB John Stocco (Jr. 6-2, 197)
LB Manuel Tapia (Sr. 6-3, 235) TB Brian Calhoun (Jr. 5-10, 194)
DE Mike Mendenhall (Sr. 6-3, 250) FB Matt Bernstein (Sr. 6-1, 260)
DT Antwon Burton (Sr. 6-3, 315) LT Joe Thomas (Jr. 6-8, 303)
NT Adam Fichter (Sr. 6-4, 300) LG Matt Lawrence (Sr. 6-5, 295)
DE Rodney Wormley (Sr. 6-3, 240) C Donovan Raiola (Sr. 6-3, 294)
OS Keith Holt (Fr. 6-1, 200) RG Jason Palermo (Sr. 6-3, 307)
SS Andrew Smith (Sr. 5-10, 195) RT Kraig Urbik (Fr. 6-6, 317)
FS Garrett Schultz (Jr. 5-11, 185) TE Owen Daniels (Sr. 6-3, 247)
CB Chris Page (Jr. 5-10, 175) WR Brandon Williams (Sr. 5-10, 180)
CB Ray Lamb (Sr. 5-10, 185) WR Jonathan Orr (Sr. 6-3, 190)

Temple's defense was miserable last season and it gave up 559 yards to Arizona State last week. The Owls employ a 4-2-5 scheme and will likely roll their "Owl" safety and strong safety up near the line of scrimmage to try to slow down UW's running game.

Whatever Temple does, however, the Badgers should dominate with the run for the second consecutive week. UW rushed for 388 yards last week, controlling the ball for 2/3 of the second half in its 56-42 win over BG. The Owls, meanwhile, gave up 300 rushing yards on just 44 attempts to a team not typically known for its running game. UW tailbacks Brian Calhoun and Booker Stanley should be in line for another pleasant week.

On paper, it looked like Temple might improve its feeble run defense this year. The Owls have a lot of size in the interior of the defensive line. Antwon Burton was a productive player as a part-time starter two years ago. He missed all of last season with a broken foot, but had five tackles, two for loss, and the game's only sack against ASU.

Defensive end Mike Mendenhall was a second-team All-Big East pick last year and he has the potential to be a dangerous pass rusher. He had eight solo tackles last week but he is decent at best against the run.

ASU had little trouble clearing running lanes last week, and Temple's linebackers, who are both first-year starters, struggled to make plays.

The Owls' pass defense is nothing to write home about either. Only six teams in Division I-A football were worse in pass efficiency defense last year. ASU's Sam Keller completed 14 of 24 passes for 208 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions last week. His backup, Rudy Carpenter, was even more efficient: 5 of 7, 51 yards and one touchdown. The Sun Devils' team passing efficiency was 171.8.

UW quarterback John Stocco only had to throw 10 passes last week, but he completed eight and had a 190.4 passer rating. He should have plenty of time to throw behind an offensive line fresh off a dominating performance, and receivers Brandon Williams and Jonathan Orr and tight end Owen Daniels should have little trouble working free against the Owls' secondary.

The Badgers will likely go with a more balanced offense early Saturday, then turn more conservative as the game gets out of reach. Watch for quarterback Tyler Donovan and third/fourth team tailbacks Jamil Walker and Dywon Rowan to receive a lot of playing time in the second half.

Wisconsin versus Temple special teams

Temple projected starters Wisconsin projected starters

PK/KO Ryan Lux (Sr. 6-3, 200) PK/KO Taylor Mehlhaff (So. 5-11, 179)
P/H Jake Hendy (Sr. 6-4, 225)/Mike McLaughlin (Sr. 6-1, 215) P/H Ken DeBauche (So. 6-2, 219)
LS Jacob Simon (Sr. 6-1, 280) LS Steve Johnson (So. 6-3, 247)
PR Nick Santa Cruz (Jr. 5-9, 175) PR Brandon Williams (Sr. 5-10, 180)
KR Michael Billops (Sr. 5-8, 185) KR Brandon Williams (Sr. 5-10, 180)

Ryan Lux is a talented kicker, but he made just 9 of 17 field goal attempts last season. He is very good on kickoffs, but if UW has an opportunity to return one Brandon Williams should have success. The Owls' kick coverage unit was among the worst in the nation last season and they gave up 38 yards on ASU's only kick return last week. Temple was also among the nation's worst in the net punting department last year and is not showing signs of much improvement.

Wisconsin punter Ken DeBauche had an uncharacteristically tough outing last week. He averaged 48.3 yards on three punts, but that number is deceptive. His usually superb hang time was lacking, which helped contribute to 49 yards on two BG returns, and a net average of just 32 yards per punt. Expect a much better performance from him and UW's coverage unit this week.

Do not expect Temple to have much success on kick returns, or for Taylor Mehlhaff to allow the Owls to have many chances. Mehlhaff is still looking for his first career field goal attempt.

Final thoughts

Unless Wisconsin lays a nearly unthinkable egg, this should be a rout. The Owls are just too poor defensively to slow the Badgers down. Wisconsin should, for the second week in a row, be able to run the ball at will. Expect the Badgers to throw more often this week and to be effective doing so. Tailback Brian Calhoun will break at least one run of more than 35 yards.

The larger question is how well does UW's defense bounce back? This is going to be an angry unit and that will prove unfortunate for Temple. Still, expect McGann to make a few big plays and to lead at least one touchdown drive.

BadgerNation.com projection: Wisconsin 45, Temple 10

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