Aug 31, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers helmets sit on the field during warmups prior to the game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 45-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: Week 6 Depth Chart + Injury Report For Game Vs. Northwestern

Madison, Wis. — Wisconsin football official released its two-deep depth chart and injury report ahead of its sixth game vs. the Northwestern Wildcats.

Here is a look at where things stand heading into Week 6:


Offensive Two-Deep

MADISON, WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 17: Braelon Allen #0 of the Wisconsin Badgers scores on a 39-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the New Mexico State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium on September 17, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Quarterback

Starter: Graham Mertz (RS JR)

Backup: Myles Burkett (FR) OR Deacon Hill (RS FR)

Running Back

Starter: Braelon Allen (SO)

Backup: Chez Mellusi (SR)

Fullback

Starter: Jackson Acker (RS FR)

Backup: Riley Nowakowski (RS SO)

Wide Receiver 

Starter: Chimere Dike (JR)

Backup: Markus Allen (RS FR)

Wide Receiver 

Starter: Skyler Bell (RS FR)

Backup: Keontez Lewis (SO)

Tight End

Starter: Hayden Rucci (RS JR)

Backup: Jack Eschenbach (RS SR)

Left Tackle

Starter: Jack Nelson (RS SO)

Backup: Nolan Rucci (RS FR)

Left Guard

Starter: Tyler Beach (RS SR)

Backup: Joe Brunner (FR)

Center

Starter: Joe Tippmann (RS JR)

Backup: Trey Wedig (RS SO)

Right Guard

Starter: Tanor Bortolini (RS SO)

Backup: Michael Furtney (RS SR)

Right Tackle 

Starter: Riley Mahlman (RS FR)

Backup: Logan Brown (RS JR)


Defensive Two-Deep

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 30: Keeanu Benton #95 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after a fumble recovery during the first half against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium on October 30, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Defensive End

Starter: Rodas Johnson (RS JR)

Backup: Cade McDonald (RS SO)

Nose Tackle

Starter: Keeanu Benton (SR)

Backup: Gio Paez (RS JR)

Defensive End 

Starter: Isaiah Mullens (RS SR)

Backup: James Thompson Jr. (RS SO)

Outside Linebacker

Starter: Nick Herbig (JR)

Backup: Kaden Johnson (RS SO)

Inside Linebacker 

Starter: Jordan Turner (RS SO)

Backup: Tatum Grass (RS JR)

Inside Linebacker

Starter: Maema Njongmeta (RS JR)

Backup: Jake Chaney (SO)

Outside Linebacker

Starter: C.J. Goetz (RS SR)

Backup: Darryl Peterson (RS FR)

Cornerback

Starter: Alexander Smith (RS SR)

Backup: Ricardo Hallman (RS FR)

Cornerback 

Starter: Jay Shaw (RS SR)

Backup: Semar Melvin (RS JR)

Nickel Corner

Starter: Cedrick Dort Jr. (RS SR)

Backup: Justin Clark (GR)

Strong Safety

Starter: John Torchio (RS SR)

Backup: Titus Toler (RS JR)

Free Safety 

Starter: Kamo’i Latu (RS JR)

Backup: Preston Zachman (RS SO)


Special Teams Two-Deep

Sep 4, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers punter Andy Vujnovich (38) during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Punter

Starter: Andy Vujnovich (RS SR)

Backup: Gavin Meyers (RS SO)

Field Goals

Starter: Vito Calvaruso (JR)

Backup: Nate Van Zelst (RS FR)

Kickoff

Starter: Jack Van Dyke (JR)

Backup: Vito Calvaruso (JR)

Long-Snapper

Starter: Peter Bowden (RS JR)

Backup: Zach Zei (RS FR)

Holder

Starter: Gavin Meyers (RS SO)

Backup: Andy Vujnovich (RS SR)

Punt Return

Starter: Dean Engram (RS JR)

Backup: Chimere Dike (JR)

Kick Return

Starter: Isaac Guerendo (RS SR)

Backup: Keontez Lewis (SO)


Wisconsin Football Injury Report vs. Ohio State

Players listed as Questionable:

  • N/A

Players listed as OUT:

  • CB Al Ashford – Leg (Left)
  • K Vito Calvaruso – Leg (Right)
  • TE Cam Large – Leg (Right)
  • OLB Aaron Witt – Leg (Right)
  • S Hunter Wohler – Leg (Left)
  • QB Chase Wolf – Leg (Right)

 Out for the season:

  • S Travian Blaylock – Leg (Right)
  • TE Clay Cundiff – Leg (Left)
  • DE Mike Jarvis – Leg (Left)
  • ILB Luna Larson – Leg (Right)
  • DE Isaac Townsend – Leg (Left)


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MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 02: Wisconsin defensive coach Jim Leonhard looks on in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Badger Profile: Wisconsin Football Interim Coach Jim Leonhard

On the evening of October second, the Wisconsin Badgers moved on from head coach Paul Chryst.  The breaking news brought immediate shock, as well as mixed reactions.  Both from the fan base, and from inside the program.

Regardless of how anyone feels about it, the move has been made.  It’s time to move on.  Wisconsin Football still has plenty of season to play, and the change in scenery may spark some more life in to this Badgers program and fan base.  In an effort to push along this effort, lets get to know the new man in charge, Jim Leonhard.


Leonhard is Wisconsin down to his beginning.  The new Badgers head coach was born in Ladysmith, Wisconsin.  He attended Flambeau High School in Tony, Wisconsin and played quarterback and safety for his high school football team.  He continued his safety career during his secondary education at the University of Wisconsin, starting many years for the Badgers at safety after walking on the team.

 

Leonard would go on to set the single season interception record with 11 interceptions, and tie the all-time school record with 21 interceptions.  Additionally, the former defensive coordinator turned interim head coach would claim three first-team all Big Ten honors and three all American honors as well.

 

Despite the impressive collegiate accolades, the Wisconsin native would not hear his name called in the 2005 NFL draft.  Instead, Leonard would have to sign and fight his way on to a roster.  He did so over a 10 year span, for six different teams.  Leonhard retired in 2014.


Leonhard would take a year off from the game before receiving a call from Paul Chryst.  The former all-American would accept the defensive backs coaching position in 2016.  He wasted no time climbing the ranks, taking over as defensive coordinator one year later in 2017.  A Broyles Award finalist in that first year, Leonhard has proven his value to the coaching staff from the very beginning.

 

Wisconsin Football has had a dominant defensive underneath the current defensive leadership.  Over Leonhard’s five years, the team has achieved top five in total defense and top 10 in scoring defense on four separate occasions.  Numerous NFL draft picks have come the Badgers defense, including five in the most recent NFL draft.  Personally, my favorite stat of a Leonhard defense was back in the 13-win season, when the Badgers allowed only 18 touchdowns in 14 games.


Surely there will be some ups and downs.  Mixed opinions are to be expected.  However, there should be no denying Leonhard’s connection to the school’s program and state.  The Wisconsin native has openly expressed his devotion to the program, with his words and actions, after staying with the program amid NFL jobs knocking at his door.  Excitement is in the cool, Wisconsin fall air with Jim Leonhard at the helm.


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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 30: Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on from the sidelines against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl at Allegiant Stadium on December 30, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Badgers defeated the Sun Devils 20-13. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Report: Paul Chryst Out As Wisconsin Football Head Coach

Report: Paul Chryst is out as Wisconsin Football head coach.

After Saturday’s loss to Illinois, Wisconsin Football head coach Paul Chryst was undoubtably moved to the hot seat.  Very hot seat.  This saga has now officially come to an end.  The Wisconsin Badgers fired their head coach Paul Chryst, first reported by Senior Writer Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.

While always shocking, this move has been making waves around the internet as of late.  This year has not gone as expected, and even the blowout loss to Ohio State had people calling for a change.  One embarrassing loss later, and Wisconsin Football leadership agreed.

Chryst made it to his eighth season with the Badgers, going 67-26 during that span.  From 2015-17, Chryst went 10-3, 11-3 and 13-1, which was the best record Chryst would achieve at the program.  Three, four and five loss seasons littered the remaining years under Chryst.  Notable accomplishments include being the third coach in modern Big Ten history to have 50 wins in his first five seasons, and having top ten scoring and total defenses in six of the seven years Chryst was at Wisconsin.

Despite the successes, this is the right move for where the program currently sits.  The team is stale, and lacks creativity.  This has been emphasized this year, enduring a 2-3 record thus far, which includes an 0-2 Big Ten record, and being dead last in the Big Ten West rankings.  Not ideal for a program that, while not on the elite levels of Ohio State, still expected good seasons.  It is time to move on.

In doing so, defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard will assume interim coaching duties.  This is also the right call.  Leonhard has done a wonderful job with the Badgers’ defense.  So much so, he had the NFL knocking at his door, including the Green Bay Packers.  Leonhard decided to stay, and now we get to see what he can accomplish the rest of the way as the head guy.  Based on where the team currently sits, it would be hard to imagine it can get much worse, and the only direction Wisconsin Football can go from here is up.


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PISCATAWAY, NJ – NOVEMBER 06 : Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers talks with quarterback Graham Mertz (5) during a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium on November 6, 2021 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Wisconsin defeated Rutgers 52-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Football: Report Card for Week 5 loss vs. Illinois

Wisconsin Football: Report Card for Week 5 loss vs. Illinois

Wisconsin football suffered a horrific defeat on Saturday, falling 34-10 to the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday.

This one stings quite a bit and should leave many fans of the program physically ill.  To lose like this to the Buckeyes is one thing, but against a fellow Big Ten West team, a team Wisconsin should’ve used as a bounce-back game, is rotten.

Credit should be given to Bret Bielema and Illinois, however.  They came into Camp Randall Stadium and handled business across the board.  Bielema’s first return to Madison since 2012 was an extreme success for the Illini and leave the Badgers in one of the worst spots the program has been in, in years.

This loss leaves the Badgers with an 0-2 record in conference play, and 2-3 overall.  That’s good enough for dead last in the Big Ten West standings.

Grading out the Badger Football team shouldn’t be too tough, as not many positives came out of this game, or many of the recent ones.  Below is the report card for week 5.


Offense: F

The opening drive to this game was not an accurate reflection of how this game would turn out in any way, shape, or form.  Quarterback Graham Mertz took the offense down the field and connected with running back Isaac Guerendo with a beautiful pass for the touchdown.  All is well so far.

Things would then take a turn for the worst.  The offense would total 208 yards for the game, which includes the stellar opening drive.  Even more upsetting, the Badgers rushing offense would total just 2 (!) yards.  No one in the backfield would have more than 8 rushing attempts, with Braelon Allen leading the way.  He would only have 2 yards gained by himself, however.

The rushing attack is usually a strength for the program, and a good amount of credit is usually given to the offensive line.  Against Illinois, however, they looked very different, and did not play a complete or effective game.

With the line not playing up to standards, and the rushing attack stalled, it was only a matter of time for the passing attack to slow down.  Exactly that happened, with Mertz finishing the day with a total QBR of 30.4, completing 17-of-31 throws for 206 yards, the lone touchdown on the opening drive, and 2 interceptions.

The receiving core may have been the only spot to smile at, but even they can’t take away the sting.  Wide receiver Chimere Dike and tight end Jack Eschenback would both haul in 5 passes, with Dike leading the charge with 76 receiving yards.

The cherry on top of this abysmal grade goes along with the backfield, again.  It’s hard to imagine things could get worse when they totaled two yards with a backfield led by Braelon Allen, one of the top backs in the country coming in to the season, but it does.  Running Back Isaac Guerendo added to the turnover count, fumbling, and losing, the ball.


Defense: F

The Wisconsin Badger defense, led by Jim Leonhard, was not any better for the overall grade of the team.  While having three turnovers on offense won’t do the defense any favors, this unit still underperformed on a massive scale.

Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito had a nice day, finishing with a QBR of 86.6.  This came from a day where DeVito went 18-of-24 with 167 yards and three rushing touchdowns.  No passing touchdowns came with this, but neither did any interceptions.

The Illini rushing attack also had a nice day, with running back Chase Brown doing the most damage.  Brown would carry the ball 25 times for 129 yards and a touchdown.

Wisconsin’s defense was not able to force any turnovers on the day either.  Hard to come out with a win losing the turnover battle 3-0.


Coaching: F

The matchup came with emotions on both sides of the field.  Bret Bielema was coming back to Madison for the first time since his departure, and Wisconsin was coming off an embarrassing loss to the Buckeyes the week prior.  Both were motivated to come into this matchup and perform.  Bielema just so happened to be the winner here and did so in convincing fashion.

Coach Paul Chryst was outperformed in every aspect of the game.  His players were undisciplined, unmotivated, and seriously lacked any creativity or drive.  This game was a sure-fire stamp that his seat should be hot.  The Badgers program looks bad, and the outlook can only be described as stale, at best.  The boos in Camp Randall Stadium should’ve made that loud and clear.


Overall: F

There is nothing positive to come out of this game.  Everything was bad.  Something needs to change.


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Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) celebrates following a touchdown during the third quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) celebrates following a touchdown during the third quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers Defeat New Mexico State Aggies 66-7 by Offensive Onslaught

An explosive game on offense led by quarterback Graham Mertz and running backs Braelon Allen and Isaac Guerendo gave the Wisconsin Badgers a dominating 66-7 win over the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday in Madison. The team posted 595 yards of total offense in the game, scoring every quarter.

Mertz Shows Prowess in the Pocket

Graham Mertz only threw 15 passes on Saturday.

That was all he needed to give his team the victory.

Mertz finished the afternoon with 12 completed passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns, only being sacked once. He posted a 273.23 passer rating (approximately 130 in NFL terms) and averaged 20.9 yards per completion. Two of his touchdowns found the hands of redshirt freshman receiver Skyler Bell, including a 49-yard touchdown five minutes into the third quarter. This touchdown is Bell’s first of his collegiate career.

Big Game Braelon

It wasn’t just the passing game that showed up to play Saturday.

Braelon Allen came, too.

Allen broke loose within the first two minutes of the game, taking the ball for a 39-yard touchdown following a great kickoff return by running back Isaac Guerendo. The sophomore from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin finished the game with three touchdowns total to go along with 86 rushing yards. Allen has eight rushing touchdowns through three games this season, nearing his season total from last year (12).

But, it wasn’t just Braelon Allen controlling the ground game on Saturday. He brought his entire running back room with him.

Speaking of Isaac Guerendo, the Badgers’ backup running back posted two rushing touchdowns of his own. He found the end zone late in the third quarter on a three-yard carry, as well as the early fourth quarter with a 30-yard carry. Other backup running back Chez Mellusi took one to the house as well with a two-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. Junior running back Julius Davis got some action on the field, too, rushing for 45 yards on nine carries, including a 33-yard run.

What’s Next

Following Saturday’s game, the Badgers travel to Columbus, Ohio for their first conference matchup against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The game starts at 6:30 p.m. CST and will air on ABC.


 

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Sep 10, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; General view of Camp Randall Stadium during the second quarter of the game between the Washington State Cougars and Wisconsin Badgers. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Game Breakdown and Best Bets: Week 3 Wisconsin vs. New Mexico State

Well, last week against Washington State, the Wisconsin Badgers did what they do best. Play down to their competition.

Was I completely wrong in my game breakdown? Yes. Did I also hit 50% of my best bets? Yes.

It takes a real man to admit when he’s wrong, but an even bigger one to apologize. 

Unfortunately, I’m not that guy. 

The Badgers (now un-ranked) will look to right the ship against the New Mexico State Aggies (0-3), on Saturday, September 17th, at Camp Randall Stadium. Kickoff is at 2:30 pm(CST)

To find all of our content for this week’s game, visit badgernotes.com


Game Breakdown

New Mexico State Aggies

To put it bluntly, the Aggies are one of the worst teams in all of college football.

They have lost 20 straight road games to FBS competition, and you can expect that number to go up by one on Saturday.

The Aggie’s defense allows 350 yards per game, which surprisingly ranks 49th in the nation.

There is good news for the Badgers, though. The Aggies allow 194 rushing yards per game—ranking 111th out of 131 FBS teams.

Their offense, however, only averages 236 yards per game. Ranking them 121st out of a possible 131 teams in the FBS.

To top it off, the Aggies average a mere 8.3 points per game, which is good for second-worst in the country(Iowa currently ranks dead last, which is a shocker…but also a very Iowa thing to do).

New Mexico State runs a two-quarterback system. With Gavin Frakes and Diego Pavia getting reps as the starting quarterback, and it has been sub-optimal, to say the least. “If you have two quarterbacks, you actually have none,” said the late, great John Madden.

Frakes and Pavia have combined for six interceptions and only one touchdown pass in their three previous games.

Pavia does have 119 rushing yards (he’s the Aggie’s leading rusher as a part-time quarterback, which is fucking wild) on 23 carries with two touchdowns on the season. Making him a much more significant threat than the Frakes, who is just a freshman. Expect him to start and possibly play the whole game.

I said this last week, and it burned me, but the Aggies will need to play the game of their life to win this one.


Wisconsin Badgers

For the Badgers, this is undoubtedly a prove-it game. Is this year’s team for real? Is Paul Chryst the right coach for this program? Every time Wisconsin struggles, this will be a question, with Jim Leonhard waiting in the wings.

Last week the Badgers struggled mightily, committing 11 penalties and turning it over three times in plus territory.

Graham Mertz played reasonably well but didn’t get the protection he needed from the offensive line or additional help from the receiving corps.

Clay Cundiff was the most impressive receiving option against Washington State, registering four receptions for 59 yards and two touchdowns.

Not surprising to see a tight end thriving in a Bobby Engram offense. Look for the Badgers to keep utilizing this strategy.

As for the running game, the Badgers need to be more physical. It all starts with Braelon Allen, so look for him to set the tone early.

This week is going to be a huge statement for the big fellas up front. The Aggies have ZERO business competing in this contest.

New Mexico State only has three sacks and one forced turnover the entire season. There is no reason the Wisconsin Badgers shouldn’t be able to do whatever they want.


Best Bets for the Wisconsin Badgers

Last week wasn’t the best, but it could’ve gone a lot worse. I went 2-2 on the week, cashing in on two unders. Under 49.5 for the game(final total was 31) and the under for the 2nd half as well. 

  • Under 46.5(-110) – Wisconsin is historically an under team. The defense probably won’t give up many points, and I wouldn’t bank on the Badgers scoring over 40. 
  • Defensive or Special Teams touchdown(+229) – As long as these are plus odds, I will bet on the defense to score a touchdown every week. Don’t give a fuck how much money I lose.
  • New Mexico State +37.5(-110) – The Badgers “should” dominate this game, but I don’t see them winning by 38 points. Diego Pavia’s rushing ability from the quarterback position will allow the Aggies to score just enough to cover. 
  • Longest Touchdown over/under 54.5(over +108) – This is my favorite bet of the week. I could see the Badgers breaking off a big play to start the game. If the running game clicks, there’s always a chance for a big gain with Wisconsin’s talent at running back.

To place your own bets with BadgerNotes partner – MyBookie.AG – Click here


You can follow me on Twitter @FrznPizzaCooperThere you’ll find jokes, plenty of music takes, offensive line talk (especially anything Larry Allen related), Larry Bird highlights (I got a thing for Larry’s what can I say), and of course my work for badgernotes.com.

Gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER. Always bet responsibly.

Badgers Country. Let’s ride.

Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen (0) and the rest of the offensive unit listens to quarterback Graham Mertz (5) in the huddle during their game Saturday, November 20, 2021 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin beat Nebraska 35-28. Mjs Uwgrid21 24 Jpg Uwgrid21

Wisconsin Badgers vs. New Mexico State: What to watch for

Wisconsin Badgers vs. New Mexico State: What to watch for

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin Badgers (1-1) will host the New Mexico State Aggies (0-3) on Saturday, September 13, at Camp Randall Stadium.

Following a brutal 17-14 loss against the Washington State Cougars, the Badgers will look to right the ship in their final non-conference matchup.

Here are some items worth watching for in week three:


How will the Badger’s offense respond following a disappointing loss?

In Wisconsin’s week one matchup against Illinois State, the Badgers put together a complete performance on the ground and through the air.

In week two, it was not the same story.

While the offensive stats favored Wisconsin, costly mistakes allowed the Cougars to secure a 17-14 win. The Badgers committed three turnovers last week, with two fumbles and one interception.

The game plan had a few bumps in the road, considering Washington State had answers for the UW’s running back duo of Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi. Furthermore, the wide receiver group struggled after Chimere Dike, and Markus Allen dropped passes.

One group that struggled the most was the offensive line. Left guard Tyler Beach and right tackle Logan Brown notched a top 5 offensive PFF grade, but all and all, the line was disappointing.

Although quarterback Graham Mertz made impressive throws when given time in the pocket, he did not have adequate time on all his dropbacks.

Heading into Saturday’s matchup, the Badgers must come out of the gates firing on all cylinders. The offense will need a big game from their running back tandem, who struggled against Washington State’s sound run defense. Conversely, the WR room must get involved against New Mexico State and limit mistakes when given the opportunity.

After a tough outing last week, how the Badger’s offense responds will be an interesting storyline to watch in week 3.


Will Clay Cundiff become the focal point of Wisconsin’s passing attack?

Although Clay Cundiff coughed up an untimely fumble in the fourth quarter against Washington State, the redshirt junior tight end looked like one of the best receiving options on the Wisconsin offense.

In week two, the Kansas native hauled in four catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns.

Despite the back-breaking turnover, Cundiff received a vote of confidence from his quarterback after a strong performance in week two.

Mertz has favored the tight ends in the passing game in his two years as a starter, and Cundiff looks like a reliable option for the third-year starter.

The 6-foot-3, 236-pound tight end has caught six passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns through two games.

Cundiff has the tools to be a formidable tight end and will be a player to watch as he builds off a strong outing in week two.

If you keep an eye on any one player this week, Clay Cundiff is an excellent place to start.


Will the special teams unit fix the mistakes?

Although there were plenty of concerns coming out of week two, the special teams unit was arguably the biggest.

The special teams unit proved costly in the matchup against Washington State as kicker Vito Calvaruso missed two field goal attempts. The Arkansas transfer is now 1-for-4 on field goal attempts in two games this year.

However, Calvaruso was not the only concern on special teams. At the beginning of the third quarter, Washington State had a significant kickoff return that later set up a field goal to close the gap on Wisconsin’s lead and ultimately allowed the Cougars to notch a three-point victory.

Not only that, but the return game has been a big concern for Wisconsin. In two games, punt returner Dean Engram has posted only two yards in his return opportunities. The Badgers are losing out on field position due to the poor return game, which is becoming costly to the Badger’s success in the third phase.

For Wisconsin to get things back on track and notch a victory in week three, limiting mistakes on special teams will be one of the most critical factors.

Although the offense will need to make strides in week three, the special teams unit may be one of the most important groups to watch.


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Sep 10, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; General view of Camp Randall Stadium during the second quarter of the game between the Washington State Cougars and Wisconsin Badgers. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Badgers PFF Grades: Top 5 Offensive/Defensive Players In Week 2 vs. Washington State

Madison, Wis. – Weather, as they say, is the great equalizer in football. That held true on Saturday when the No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers (1-1) suffered a sloppy, unacceptable home loss against the Washington State Cougars (2-0) at Camp Randall Stadium.

If you were to only look at the box score, you’d probably be happy with what you saw from the offense. However, if you watched the game, it told a very different story.


A look at the Badgers offense

PISCATAWAY, NJ – NOVEMBER 06 : Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers talks with quarterback Graham Mertz (5) during a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium on November 6, 2021 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Wisconsin defeated Rutgers 52-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Bobby Engram and company produced a balanced offensive attack for the second straight week, recording 401 total yards (227 passing, 174 running) but scoring only 14 points and turning the ball over three times.

At times, third-year starting quarterback Graham Mertz carried the Wisconsin Badgers offense, but his effort simply wasn’t enough to overcome untimely turnovers and sloppy play from all three phases.

Although he was far from perfect, Mertz completed 18-of-31 passes for 227 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Also worth noting is that 10 of his passes went for first downs. The Kansas native appears to have taken a step forward this season.


A look at the Badgers defense

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 02: Wisconsin defensive coach Jim Leonhard looks on in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Jim Leonhard’s defense was good on Saturday but not as great as we’ve grown to expect.

Wisconsin, still without No. 1 cornerback Alexander Smith and top nickel corner Justin Clark chose to combat the Washington State air raid offense by playing significantly more dime package, deploying six defensive backs throughout most of the game.

Although the Badgers’ defense only allowed 17 points, 253 yards of offense, and forced three turnovers, Wisconsin’s offense couldn’t help get them any additional breathing room.

And when the game mattered most, UW’s defense failed to make a big play to allow the offense one last crack at winning the game. Washington State held the ball for the final 5:14 of regulation.

Overall, Wisconsin needs its defense to be elite for the Badgers to win games consistently, so while they performed well on Saturday, it wasn’t good enough.

I do not doubt that coach Leonhard and the Badgers’ defense will learn from this game and improve as the season progresses.


Top five highest graded offensive/defensive players

Wisconsin will look to get things back on track in a hurry, considering the Badgers are just two weeks away from a trip to Columbus to take on the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes.

Here’s a look at the top 5 highest graded offensive/defensive players from Wisconsin’s 17-14 loss to Washington State, according to Pro Football Focus:

Top 5 offense

  1. Tyler Beach (84.9) Elite
  2. Jack Nelson (76.9) High Quality
  3. Isaac Guerendo (71.1) Above Average
  4. Logan Brown (70.1) Above Average
  5. Keontez Lewis (69.6) Above Average

Top 5 defense

  1. John Torchio (77.7) High Quality
  2. Isaiah Mullens (75.3) High Quality
  3. Cedrick Dort Jr. (74.2) High Quality
  4. Maema Njongmeta (73.3) High Quality
  5. Jay Shaw (69.4) Above Average

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Sep 21, 2019; Madison, WI, USA; A Wisconsin Badgers helmet sits on the sidelines during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: Badgers drop out of this week’s AP Top 25 Poll

The latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll has the Badgers on the outside looking in following a 17-14 loss against Washington State

The Associated Press released its Top 25 Poll on Sunday afternoon, and the Wisconsin Badgers (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) have fallen out of the top 25.

Following a 17-14 loss to the Washington State Cougars, the Badgers fell from the No. 19 spot. Despite being unranked, the Badgers received seven votes in the latest poll.

The Big Ten is well represented in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, with three teams ranked inside the top 15. The Big Ten teams include Ohio State (No. 3), Michigan (No. 4), and Michigan State (No. 11).

Wisconsin joins Minnesota and Purdue as other Big Ten teams who received votes in this week’s poll.

Following a tough loss, Wisconsin will look to wrap up its non-conference schedule on a high note when they play the New Mexico State Aggies (0-2) at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon.


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