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Wisconsin Football Week 3 Stock Report: Time to Bounce Back



C.J. Williams; Wisconsin Football
Sep 9, 2023; Pullman, Washington, USA; Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver C.J. Williams (4) is unable to complete a catch against Washington State Cougars defensive back Ethan O'Connor (24) in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin football loss in Pullman was a tough one to swallow. The defense didn’t look great. Braelon Allen had seven total carries. And the comeback fell short. But there are some positives on this team as well.

Through two weeks, we are starting to get an idea of who’s who on the team.

But there’s plenty of season left to look forward to.

Here is the Week 3 BadgerNotes Stock Report.

Wisconsin Football Stock Report: Stock Up

Hunter Wohler

Hunter Wohler has been an animal through two games for the Wisconsin football team. If there is a player who has benefitted from this Mike Tressel 3-3-5 defense, it’s Wohler. He doesn’t play the traditional safety position in this defense. He plays a majority of his time in the box. According to PFF, Wohler has played 138 total defensive snaps. 71 of those have been in the box. That’s 51% of his snaps. Only 35 snaps (25%) have been in the free safety position.

His defensive alignment is a big reason why he is the Badgers’ leading tackler on the season. Through two games, he has 24 total tackles. The next closest player is Maema Njongmeta, who has 12 total tackles.

His game against Buffalo wasn’t great, according to PFF. He was given a 57.0 overall defensive grade in Week 1. But last week against Wazzu, he earned a 72.5 (above average). His tackling grade in Week 2 was a whopping 84.7 (elite).

He is on pace for 144 total tackles this season and is tied for the second-most solo tackles among all players in college football.

Wohler’s stock is going straight up after his performance in Pullman.

Tanner Mordecai

Can we all admit we were a little quick to judge Tanner Mordecai? No, he didn’t put up big numbers against Buffalo, a MAC school, like we’d all hoped. But he didn’t need to. Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi ran wherever they wanted to, so why would they need to pass?

The Wazzu game, however, forced him to pass. The Cougars did a great job of shutting Allen and Mellusi down, giving up just 69 yards on 19 attempts (3.63 yards per attempt).

The fact that the Badgers were down early also forced them to throw the ball.

So Mordecai went to work. When he wasn’t being pressured or hit from behind, he looked pretty good. Sure, his accuracy was a little shaky to start, but once he got into a rhythm, he was throwing some nice balls. He finished with 278 passing yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.

PFF gave him a grade of 83.0 (high quality) for his performance in Pullman. In Week 1, he got a 61.9. So he definitely showed some improvement. On the season, he has a 76.8 grade.

As he gets more reps and more comfortable in this offense the better he is going to be. Granted, the competition will get harder, but for now, Mordecai’s stock is going up.

Wisconsin Football Stock Report: Stock Down

PAC-12 Refs and Wisconsin Football

Let me first preface this by saying I do not blame refs for the Badgers winning or losing a game. But I think we can all agree there were some questionable calls that did not go the Badgers’ way.

My first gripe was in the first half when the Badgers were in the red zone. Mordecai threw a ball up to C.J. Williams that was definitely catchable. The defender hooks Williams’ left arm, keeping him from catching the ball. No flag. Badgers end up settling for a field goal.

Later, the Badgers have the Cougars on their own goal line. Wazzu tries to run the ball out of their own end zone when the runner gets hit and fumbles the ball backward. Cam Ward recovers it and throws it out of bounds. He is still well within the tackle box and just throws it away. The refs say there was a receiver in the area. Not even close. Should have been intentional grounding and two points for Wisconsin.

Then there’s the other missed safety where Ward was clearly tackled in the end zone but the refs gave him ‘forward progress’ or something. That all led to the Kaden Johnson penalty and later the Chez Mellusi fumble, which is a whole other debacle.

Wait, I’ve seen this movie before.

Again, I don’t want to be that guy. But what the hell PAC-12? No wonder no one wants to be a part of that conference anymore.

C.J. Williams

Speaking of C.J. Williams, where is he? I know he’s a transfer, new to the system, and the receiver room is loaded with talent. But that didn’t stop Bryon Green and Will Pauling from making an impact on the field.

Through two games, he has been targeted just five times, catching two passes for 10 yards.

I know that it’s just like last week with Tanner Mordecai. I’m being impatient. I’m sure he’ll get things going. But like many Wisconsin football fans, I was hoping when the Badgers landed him from the portal that we would be getting an instant impact dude.

Luckily for the Badgers, Chimere Dike, Bryson Green, and Will Pauling have all been reliable targets for Mordecai and this Wisconsin offense.

Kaden Johnson

I think we all know why Johnson is here.

The momentum is fully on the Badgers’ side after stopping the Cougars deep in their own territory. They punt the ball from their own end zone. The punt doesn’t even make it to the 50 and Dike makes a nice return well into Wazzu territory. He goes out of bounds and seconds later, Johnson, who is 15-20 yards downfield and nowhere near the action of the play, decides to throw a shoulder at the punter, drawing a flag and pushing the Badgers back 15 yards.

Now, I’m not blaming Johnson for Mellusi’s fumble. Maybe something like that would have happened anyway. But what are you doing? That completely took the wind out of the sails for the Badgers. I don’t think I was the only Badger fan who felt extremely confident after Dike returned that punt that the Badgers were going to win that game.

Then came the flag.

I’ve seen this movie before. When that flag came down, you just got a bad feeling in your gut.

Kaden Johnson’s stock is dropping like a rock.

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Christian Borman was born and raised in Wisconsin and covers the Badgers football and basketball programs, plus some recruiting for He previously covered the Wisconsin Badgers for years as the site expert for Badger of Honor of the Fansided Network.