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Luke Fickell Demands More from Wisconsin Football Reserves

During his weekly media availability, Luke Fickell called out the Wisconsin football team’s depth.



Wisconsin badgers football head coach Luke Fickell
Oct 21, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Luke Fickell talks to his players during the first half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

During his weekly press conference, Wisconsin football head coach Luke Fickell said something that caught my attention. Without being questioned by reporters, he emphasized the pressing need for the Badgers reserves to step up and play meaningful roles.

Fickell directly stated that it’s imperative for players who aren’t in the limelight, often referred to as the 2s and 1Bs, to elevate their performance. With the season entering its second half, the team cannot overwork its star players — specifically mentioning Braelon Allen and CJ Goetz.

“We’ve gotta find a way to make sure these guys that are the 2s and 1Bs step up a little more right now,” Fickell told reporters. “We’re going into the second half of the season, and we’re not going to be able to play 72 snaps with Braelon Allen at tailback. He did an unbelievable job; maybe he was out for 8-10 plays. You can’t continue to do that. CJ Goetz played 72 snaps on defense; you can’t continue to do that,” Fickell explained. 

“We’ve gotta have other guys that have to step up. They’re not young anymore; whatever experience they have, they’ve gotta prove a lot to all of us, so on Saturday night or the following Saturday, we can use them and continue to grow with what we’re doing on both sides of the ball.”

Wisconsin Football Coaches Need Depth Options to See the Field 

Despite preseason discussions about Wisconsin football player rotations and the search for a solid group of 22 game-ready athletes, there has been limited depth exploration behind the regulars in certain positions. 

I also found it interesting that Luke Fickell specifically pointed out running back and outside linebackers as areas where more players need to step in. 

With Chez Mellusi out for the season, finding someone to rotate behind Braelon Allen is imperative. Although Jackson Acker has looked serviceable in limited action, it’s clear that the Badgers coaches are looking for more. At outside linebacker, a position once thought to have tremendous depth — no longer looks the part. The Badgers need someone like Kaden Johnson or TJ Bollers to push for snaps — and the fact they have yet to do that is somewhat concerning. 

Luke Fickell didn’t mention it specifically, but cornerback is another position that, from an outsider’s perspective, is vastly overworked. Jonas Duclona would benefit from seeing the field to aid in his development for the future while keeping Ricardo Hallman fresh. 

As the Wisconsin football season progresses, the coaching staff will likely need to expand their use of the depth chart to maintain the team’s energy and effectiveness. However, with a challenging game against Ohio State on the horizon, introducing new faces into the lineup may not be the most opportune choice.

Wisconsin Football Misses on Another Big-Time In-State Recruit

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Trevor Lovec is a freelance sports writer, correspondent, and a diehard Northern Iowa fan. He covers trending Wisconsin football and basketball social media topics.