Madison, Wis. — Spring practice has come and gone for the Wisconsin football program, which means Luke Fickell’s staff has some work to do before the Badgers take the field on September 2 against Buffalo.
Wisconsin has gone 20-13 in the last three seasons and failed to win the Big Ten West in each of them. That said, the new regime, transfer portal additions, and Phil Longo have fans expecting a significant turnaround in 2023.
While spring camp always brings out new and exciting energy around the program, there are still a lot of question marks surrounding Wisconsin.
So, with spring practice in the rearview mirror, here are some of the key storylines to follow as the Badgers re-enter the offseason.
How Does Wisconsin Address the Needs in Its Secondary?
The Wisconsin football program emerged from spring practice feeling confident in its top three cornerbacks, Alexander Smith, Ricardo Hallman, and nickel corner Jason Maitre. However, the second team and beyond that is undoubtedly a question mark.
True freshmen Jonas Duclona and Jace Arnold each took reps with the second-team defense this spring and showed flashes of promise. But A’Khoury Lyde, a redshirt freshman, Avyonne Jones (who had some talent), and Al Ashford entered the portal looking for more playing time.
None of those names came as a big surprise, and Wisconsin’s coaching staff has made no secret that they are looking to add some depth + experience to the secondary. It’s also possible that the new coaching staff didn’t think the talent was there to warrant moving forward and had an honest conversation with them, knowing UW had to get under the scholarship limit.
Either way, Wisconsin will have to get aggressive in the transfer portal to add some experience to fill out the depth chart. They’ve hosted a couple of transfers on visits and offered several others, so they’ll most likely land one or possibly even two players.
Who they’re able to attract will be a storyline worth watching.
Can Wisconsin Football Develop a Consistent RB3 to Rotate In?
This next one is obvious, but it’s a big one. The Wisconsin football program, which is top-heavy at running back, goes into the summer with no clear-cut RB3 behind Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi.
— Braelon Allen (@BraelonAllen) April 14, 2023
Behind one of the nation’s most formidable running back tandems are serious question marks and zero proven options.
Wisconsin transitioned fullback Jackson Acker and safety Cade Yacamelli to RB to improve depth at the position. Additionally, UW has freshman Nate White joining the program this summer, and walk-ons Zach Gloudeman + Grover Bortolotti round out the running back room.
But will that be enough for a team some hope will contend for a Big Ten title appearance? Considering that Allen and Mellusi have battled injuries throughout their respective careers, I’m unsure.
I know that the Wisconsin football recruiting department is doing homework on transfer portal additions, all of which have multiple years to grow within an offense. But unless Acker can get healthy and shoulder the load (he’s my choice), another body would go a long way in helping shore things up.
Who the Hell Punts for Wisconsin Football?
Andy Vujnovich spoiled Wisconsin football fans for the past three seasons. I say that because the Badgers don’t appear to have a legit punter on the roster Luke Fickell and his staff can feel good about entering next season.
“I’m a little bit concerned we got to figure some things out probably in the punting situation,” Fickell told UW reporters.
Jack Van Dyke and Gavin Meyers were the only players to get opportunities at punter this spring. Still, Fickell’s comments lead me to believe that UW might have to kick the tires on some competition in the portal to find a more reliable option.
Special teams always seem insignificant until they aren’t.
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