Connect with us


Wisconsin Football Bye Week Confidence Meter: Offense

A look at the Wisconsin football confidence meter on offense after four weeks.



Wisconsin football; Badgers running back Braelon Allen shows love for Chez Mellusi on touchdown vs. Purdue
Sep 22, 2023; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) makes a heart with his hands in honor of teammate Wisconsin Badgers running back Chez Mellusi (1) after Mellusi suffered an injury during the second half at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin football program has started their 2023 campaign at 3-1 heading into the bye week. It hasn’t been the fairytale start that some Badgers fans were expecting, but there have been several flashes of what this team could be.

Going into the season, Phil Longo and his new style of offense was the talk of the town. There have certainly been some bumps in the road, but the Badgers offensive attack was coming into its own approaching the bye week. 

With the flashes of potential and the momentum heading into the bye, I thought I’d break down my confidence in each position group after four games. 

Wisconsin Football Bye Week Confidence Meter: Offense

Wisconsin football; Badgers QB Tanner Mordecai and Bryson Green

Sep 22, 2023; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Tanner Mordecai (8) celebrates with Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Bryson Green (9) after running for a touchdown during the first half at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback: High Confidence

Through the first stretch of the season, the air raid hasn’t looked as advertised, but that doesn’t mean that Tanner Mordecai has been a big disappointment. 

Thus far, the sixth-year senior has completed 85 of his 128 pass attempts for 867 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. On top of that, Mordecai has logged 103 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. While he isn’t your prototypical dual-threat quarterback, the former SMU transfer has shown a knack for getting out of the pocket and using his legs. 

Mordecai was picking up his level of play heading into the bye week with solid performances against Georgia Southern and Purdue. If he can build off his recent string of performances after the bye, I have the utmost confidence in Wisconsin’s QB1 to get this offense to where it needs to be. 

Running Back Room: Medium Confidence

Had Chez Mellusi not suffered his devastating injury against Purdue, running back would likely be the position I have the most confidence in. Sadly, Mellusi will be sidelined for the rest of the year, and my confidence has dwindled. 

Braelon Allen will continue to be Braelon Allen — now that he’s seemingly back up to speed — so there’s nothing to worry about there. So far, the Fond du Lac native has registered 371 yards and six touchdowns on the ground on 52 carries. He’s also the team leader in receptions, with 16 for 50 yards. Again, I’m not too worried about Allen; I have plenty of confidence in him. However, I am worried about the depth at the position. 

Jackson Acker and converted safety Cade Yacamelli will be backing up Allen. Acker has appeared in three games thus far, notching eight carries for 31 yards, and Yacamelli has yet to appear in a game. With two unproven backs, it’s hard to have a lot of confidence in what this rushing attack will look like. 

I’m having some doubts about this group of tailbacks, but I hope to eat my words as the season progresses.

Wide Receivers: High Confidence

There wasn’t a position group with more hype around it than the receiver room heading into the 2023 season. Through four games, the pass-catchers have been hit or miss, but I’m confident in this group.

The main reason for my confidence is Chimere Dike, who has logged 11 receptions for 228 yards and a touchdown thus far. I thought that the senior receiver would take a small step back due to the amount of talent in the room, but I was very happy to be wrong about that. 

I’m also confident in Will Pauling, who has seemingly built a solid connection with Mordecai. Pauling is currently tied for first in receptions among wide receivers with 14. He’s tacked on 175 yards with those catches, and he’s looked to be one of the more reliable options in the room. 

Also like what I’ve seen from CJ Williams. His numbers aren’t eye-popping, but he has really come into his own in the last few games. 

Bryson Green and Skyler Bell are some players I haven’t been overly impressed by, but they have made some nice contributions to the receiver room. I hope to see this crew get some more opportunities, and I think that’s likely with Chez Mellusi’s injury.

Wisconsin Football Tight End Room: Medium Confidence

Going into the season, Clay Cundiff and Jake Eschenbach were no longer on the team. That news dropped my confidence in this room significantly. Although the tight ends have been relatively quiet for the first few games, that’s not a bad thing. 

Hayden Rucci has done great as a blocker, which was always going to be his role, but he’s still contributed in the receiving game, notching three receptions for 56 yards.

True freshman Tucker Ashcraft has also looked great in the reps he’s earned. Through four games, Ashcraft has logged four catches for 68 yards, and he’s looked better than I expected he would. 

Not too much to say about this crew here, but there have been some promising developments with Ashcraft and Rucci. I hope to see this group break out a bit more as the season progresses. 

Badgers Offensive Line: Medium-to-Low Confidence

I go back and forth with my confidence in the Wisconsin football offensive line. On one hand, guys like Riley Mahlman and Joe Huber have been serviceable options and have held their own for the most part. On the other hand, guys like Jack Nelson and Tanor Bortolini have had some disappointing performances. 

I know that Bortolini will not be the full-time center when Jake Renfro gets back, but the lofted snaps have been tough to watch at moments. Once Renfro gets back, I hope to see this offensive line take a big step up. 

Jack Nelson, who was largely seen as the Badgers top NFL prospect heading into the season, has put out some poor reps through the first four games. With the two strip sacks allowed in the Washington State game and some procedural penalties, it’s been a tough go for Nelson. I’m really hoping to see him clean it up for the remainder of the season.

I’d like to say that my confidence would be about medium, with Renfro likely coming back after the bye, but the performances in the first part of the season have left too much to be desired for me to have strong confidence in the offensive line.

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here. Also, like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers football news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Jake Maier on Twitter @JakeJMaier.

Jake Maier is the managing editor and publisher at He has provided coaching and editorial support to numerous writers in his role, contributing significantly to the platform's growth. His expertise extends to Wisconsin Badgers football, basketball, and recruiting coverage. Jake's previous bylines can be found at Fansided and Wisconsin Sports Heroics.