Badgers Lead in Offense and Ouchies
I have always wondered why college football teams need 100 players on their roster. At the University of Wisconsin, where it seems the list of injured players multiply daily, perhaps they might need a few more. What exactly are they doing to get so many players hurt year after year? Is it the FieldTurf, the training regimen, or too much tackling? This topic is of particular note in 2011, where Wisconsin has a team that, with a break or two and by avoiding injuries, can realistically be considered a threat to make it to the National Championship game.
Let’s take a look at the offense:
Transfer quarterback Russell Wilson, a starter at North Carolina State the previous three years, gives Wisconsin an experienced, accomplished quarterback that is equally efficient passing or running. The last time Wisconsin had a running quarterback was…was…Mike Samuel? Depth is a concern, with Jon Budmayr struggling with a sore elbow and the next two quarterbacks on the depth chart being freshmen.
At running back, depth is no problem. Montee Ball and James White were set to be the top 1-2 running back combination in college football. Now with the emergence of true freshmen Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin has three top flight backs all capable of big seasons. Fourth string running back Jeff Lewis is no slouch either and will play if injuries become an issue. Fullbacl Bradie Ewing, once a walk-on and now considered a pro prospect, is an effective receiver out of the backfield.
The offensive line, if it can remain healthy, is potentially very good. All five projected starters (Ricky Wagner, Travis Frederick, Peter Konz, Kevin Zeitler, and Josh Oglesby) are products of Wisconsin high schools. Zeitler (ankle) and Oglesby (knee) have both struggled with injuries during preseason camp and their good health would help the cohesiveness of the unit.
The receiving crew, while not awful, is probably the weakest unit on the offense. When healthy, Nick Toon is a playmaker who requires specific attention from opposing defenses. Jared Abbrederis, another former walk-on, has become a steady possession receiver. There are high hopes for Manasseh Garner, an excellent athlete who was switched between wide receiver, tight end, and defensive end early in his career. He has been slowed by a hernia and will likely miss the season opener.The tight ends, with Jacob Pedersen and Brian Wozniak, will not be confused with Owen Daniels, Travis Beckum, or Lance Kendricks but will be solid.
In short, this is a really good college offense. If, and it is a big if, they can remain healthy Wisconsin will lead the Big Ten in scoring offense.