Badgers Poised To Make A Run For Big Ten Title

Chris HoellContributor IMay 15, 2008

The Badgers look to be lead by a lot of young and talented, but now experienced players for 2008.

Starting on offense, the Badgers will probably rely on their stable of running backs:

P. J. Hill - Hill is the type of bruiser Wisconsin fans have come to know and love, but he carries an injury flag that cut into both his freshman and sophomore years.

Zach Brown - Brown is was a good player last year, but he doesn’t seem to scare defenses the way you’d like.

Lance Smith and John Clay - Smith and Clay are the two I’m looking at the most. Smith is the type of game changer the Badgers need. They were a different team when he was playing last year. Frosh phenom Clay has all Badger fans buzzing.  I saw him in high school and his play reminds me of a young Adrian Peterson - a powerful runner but also has that break-away speed that will electrify Camp Randall. 

Other offensive factors:

Look for Allan Evridge to emerge as the starter for next year. Coach Bielema and Coach Chryst know there’s no substitute for experience, and Evridge is the only quarterback on the roster who has started a game in college. Hopefully he takes on the mindset of John Stocco and Tyler Donovan, where he manages the game and doesn’t make the big mistake. That seems to be his weakness, as he demonstrated during the Spring Game that his gunslinger attitude leads to interceptions. If he can prevent the mistake, he’s got All-American Travis Beckhum back for his senior season and Kyle Jefferson ready to make the big plays. Even as defensive coaches schemed against Beckhum last year, he still managed to lead the team in receptions. Jefferson looks to follow in the footsteps of Chris Chambers, Lee Evans and Brandon White as the next big Badger receiver. He has the size and speed to be dangerous, and another year of experience only helps.

The defense looks strong, with the majority of the starters returning:

Matt Shaughnessy - Shaughnessy was injured during the Spring Game, but he should be back by fall camp. He has a great motor and seems to be around the ball a lot. However, he seems to get lost during big games. 

Jason Chapman - If Jason Chapman returns to full strength following his ACL surgery, the D-line will be a force.

Jonathan Casillas and DeAndre Levy - Hopefully Casillas and Levy can rebound from sub-par years. Both have big play potential and should be the senior leaders on the defense.

Other defensive factors:

Safety Shane Carter has the bloodlines to be successful, he just needs to show it. He made too many mistakes last year and with several talented guys behind him, he can not afford to do it again if he hopes to keep his job.  We really do not know what the cornerback situation will be with both expected starters coming back from injuries.  If Allen Langford returns to full strength, he should be able to take away half the field.