Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers safety John Torchio (15) returns an interception for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers Football: Stock up or down?

Wisconsin Badgers football has already reached its bye week for the 2022 season. It feels like we were starting this journey just yesterday, and now only four games remaining. The bye week tends to be a slow news week, so why not look at some guys who have exceeded expectations and some who have underperformed their expectations. 

John Torchio

John Torchio, aka the Jewel Thief, has 100% exceeded my and many other Badgers fans’ expectations this season. Coming into the year, safety depth was a major concern for this team. After the injury to Hunter Wohler, someone had to step up. Not only does Torchio lead Wisconsin in interceptions, but he also leads all of the Big Ten as well. 

Earlier this year, Torchio took an interception 100 yards to the house against Illinois State. This past weekend against Purdue he was named Big Ten defensive player of the week after recording 10 tackles, two picks, a touchdown, and another pass breakup. He has been a vital piece for this defense and one could argue the best player on this defense so far this season.

Kamo’i Latu

Sticking with the safety group, Utah transfer Kamo’i Latu has proven to be a nice pickup for this Wisconsin defense. Coming into the year, we didn’t know how much we would see Latu. Now, it seems like he is on the field for every defensive snap. 

You could argue that Latu’s best game this year came against Northwestern where he notched two interceptions. However, I believe the game against Michigan State was his most impressive. The week leading up to the game against the Spartans, Latu broke his hand in practice. He had surgery Friday, wore a club in Saturday’s game, and led the Badgers defense in tackles with 13. 

Skyler Bell 

Another group that had some questions surrounding it was the wide receivers. We knew that Chimere Dike and Graham Mertz had a good connection, but who was gonna be the number two receiver to step up and help this offense?

Skyler Bell has certainly answered that question. Bell has shown some great flashes this season and has recorded 22 catches for 367 yards and 4 touchdowns. As his and Mertz’s connection continues to grow it will be fun to see how much this offense will continue to improve. I think the sky’s the limit for Skyler Bell. 

Graham Mertz

Say what you want about Graham Mertz and his inconsistencies since taking over this Badger offense. Mertz is having a hell of a season so far. I think a lot of Badger fans had given up on Mertz heading into this season. So far, he has thrown for 17 touchdowns and 6 interceptions and has a Quarterback rating of 159.6. He has certainly had his struggles at times, but overall I have been very impressed with his growth as a Quarterback. 

Offensive Line

Wisconsin is known for having the best offensive line in the country year in and year out. So, coming into this season most Badger fans and myself, expect excellence from this group. At times this year, we have seen this group really struggle. I think the worst moment was the game against Illinois where the Badgers running backs ran for just 24 yards on 17 carries. Throughout this year we have seen the offensive line truly struggle to win the line of scrimmage along with a lot of unforced penalties.

Pass Rush

Another group as a whole that hasn’t met expectations is the pass rush. Outside of Nick Herbig and Keeanu Benton, this group hasn’t produced much pressure against opposing quarterbacks.

 

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