Wisconsin Football: 5 Startling Statistics from Badgers' 2013 Campaign
As Wisconsin football moves on from its bye week and gets set to prepare for a Northwestern team fresh off a hard-fought defeat, it's a good time to get nerdy.
Entering Week 7 of the college football season, the Badgers have put up some pretty staggering numbers, but even so, they are 3-2 and have a long road ahead of them if they want a chance at returning to Pasadena. Speaking of staggering numbers, Wisconsin has now lost 12 of its last 15 games decided by one possession.
Those 12 losses include two from 2013, although one didn't exactly come in conventional fashion. If it wants to avoid a third while subsequently dropping to .500, Wisconsin will have to take care of business at Camp Randall Stadium against a ranked opponent on Oct. 12.
There are some startling team statistics for the Badgers, and we'll touch on some of them, but it's the individual feats that we will focus on through five weeks of play.
The Disparity Between Abbrederis and No. 2 Receiver
Many pundits were clamoring that for the Badgers to have success throwing the football this season—especially against Ohio State—another receiver was going to have to step up and relieve the pressure on Jared Abbrederis.
Turns out there's just no stopping No. 4.
The Badgers might not face a better defense all season long, and yet Abbrederis caught 10 passes for a career-high 207 yards and one touchdown against the Buckeyes. Not one other receiver had more than four receptions or 39 yards.
Ohio State put its faith in All-American cornerback Bradley Roby to slow Abbrederis, but to no avail.
It certainly didn't help that Mackey Award contender Jacob Pedersen was unable to give it a go, although he has only caught eight passes for 101 yards in 2013. That makes him the third-leading receiver on the team behind Abbrederis and running back James White, who has hauled in 15 passes for 131 yards.
With Abbrederis having racked up 572 yards receiving in five games, that not only means he's averaging well over 100 each game, but that he has 441 more yards than Wisconsin's second-leading receiver. Abbrederis also accounts for half of quarterback Joel Stave's touchdown passes.
This would be concerning if it wasn't so impressive because the Badgers can seemingly just look Abbrederis' way whenever they choose.
Melvin Gordon's Yards Per Carry
While we're on the topic of the Ohio State game, the reason Abbrederis often found himself in one-on-one coverage was because the Buckeyes would line up everyone else near the line of scrimmage in an effort to stop Wisconsin's running attack.
It worked fairly well—the Badgers barely cracked 100 yards on the ground. But that's a testament to just how good Wisconsin's ground game is, as a proud defense like Ohio State was forced to go out of its way to try and slow Melvin Gordon and James White.
Speaking of Gordon, he is part of a three-headed rushing attack that has averaged a remarkable 300.6 yards per game and 7.4 yards per carry. Gordon himself?
That's despite being held to slightly under five a touch against the Buckeyes, a team that ranks No. 7 in the FBS in rushing defense. When you look at Wisconsin's remaining schedule, no team allows fewer rushing yards than Ohio State, which means Gordon is well on his way to having a legendary YPC average in 2013.
Chris Borland's Tackle Total
There probably weren't any odds on who would lead the Badgers in tackling before the season began, because anyone in their right mind knew it was going to be linebacker Chris Borland.
OK, so we're only five games into the season, but Borland has all but wrapped up the tackling title for Wisconsin. He has brought down 46 opponents, 26 by himself, and both of those numbers are light years ahead of anyone else on the Badgers' defense.
The second-leading tackler for Wisconsin? Conor O'Neill—25.
That means Borland has more solo tackles than the player that is second in total tackles, and that's just ridiculous considering Wisconsin isn't even halfway through the schedule. Borland's 16 tackles against the Buckeyes—it felt like he was in on every play—probably didn't hurt his cause.
In case you were wondering, Borland is tied for No. 38 in the FBS in tackles per game. Seems a little low, does it not?
A True Freshman Leading Team in INTs
He should have three (see picture), but that's still a sore subject around Madison.
Despite true freshman Sojourn Shelton's face-palm moment against Ohio State, he still leads Wisconsin in interceptions with two. Shelton is the only cornerback with an interception for the Badgers, and he accounts for half of Wisconsin's picks so far in 2013.
Not only does Shelton lead all Badgers in interceptions, but his five pass break-ups are good for No. 1 as well. Gary Andersen and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda have trusted the true freshman with a starting role, and so far he's delivered.
Shelton wants to deliver on a goal he set for himself—win the Big Ten's Freshman Defensive Player of the Year award. Hopefully the good plays continue to outnumber the bad, and fans can remember the interceptions that were rather than the interception that could have been.
A Backup Nose Tackle Leading the Team in Sacks
With the Badgers' switch to a 3-4 defense this season comes more blitzing, including from members of the secondary, an extremely foreign concept at Wisconsin.
So all things considered, more blitzing should result in more sacks. At least you would think.
The Badgers have only manufactured seven sacks on the season, which means they are barely managing one per game. While the outside linebackers tend to blitz off the edge more often than not, rarely does Aranda bring many more than his front three and a linebacker or two.
OK, so the leader in sacks has to be either a defensive lineman or linebacker, right? Right.
That player does indeed come from the defensive line, only he doesn't even start. It's junior nose tackle Warren Herring, and he has three of the Badgers' seven sacks on the season.
With a three-man front, Wisconsin rotates its defensive linemen quite a bit, giving more opportunities for Herring to play than ever. Even still, his feat is impressive, and he can expect his role to increase next season as all three starters from the line are seniors.