Addition by Subtraction
The Badgers' linebacking core will be making a “switcheroo” this weekend as sophomore linebacker Chris Borland is sidelined and Week 1 inactive Mike Taylor will play.
Borland aggravated a right shoulder injury last weekend against UNLV. Tests performed earlier this week on Borland’s shoulder showed no structural damage.
It is expected that Borland will return next week against Arizona State.
Taylor has been out since mid-October with a knee injury, tearing his ACL against Iowa. He sat out Week 1 following another procedure he had in August.
Taylor is expected to be back and starting against San Jose State, making his 2010 season debut.
Taylor led the team last season with his 46 tackles, before injuring himself and sitting out the remainder of the year.
It will be great to see him back out on the field for Wisconsin and will be interesting to see if he can make as big of a debut as Borland did for his 2010 campaign.
"Pick your Poison" in the Backfield
Do you prefer the big and powerful runner?
Or maybe you have a taste for the quick and elusive running style?
Whatever your preference, Wisconsin seems to have a wide variety from which you and the coaches may choose.
The Badgers showed their whole hand to UNLV and the college football world last weekend, unleashing a very balanced and potent running game.
Starting running back John Clay led the way on 17 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Backup Montee Ball contributed with 16 carries, 79 yards, and two touchdowns of his own. While true-freshman running back James White kicked in 11 carries for 59 yards.
Backups Ball and White did a nice job relieving Clay of having to carry the full workload. Clay is still recovering from two offseason ankle surgeries and still needs a bit of time before he can begin taking back many of the carries. But, if the backups continue to contribute like they did against UNLV, Clay may not have to.
Wisconsin has always been known for big offensive lineman and a hefty running back who can get behind the big line and plow for yards.
James White provides a nice contrast to this stereotype and style of play.
White showed flashes of quickness and shiftiness, rivaling that of former Badgers running back Brian Calhoun. It will be a lot of fun to watch White continue to develop and grow as a running back in Wisconsin’s system. We may see him a lot more than planned this season because of his ability to come in and catch the defense napping.
If John Clay wants to start posting campaign banners, he’ll need to keep taking advantage of the soft run defenses Wisconsin is opening the 2010 season against.
Clay and the Badgers played the Mountain West Conference’s worst run defense in UNLV and again will play one of the worst in San Jose State. The Spartans allowed 259 rushing yards per game in 2009, placing them dead last in that statistic in the WAC Conference.
Expect another big day from “Clay and Co."
Scott Tolzien's Efficiency
Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien got off to a rough start last weekend against the UNLV Running Rebels, throwing a 19-yard interception that was returned for a touchdown.
Regardless, Tolzien did a nice job of shaking off the mistake and settling back in to the game. It wasn’t too long before Tolzien began making smart, timely passes and began looking like the most efficient Big Ten passer we saw last season.
The Badgers will face another “squishy” defense in San Jose State. In 2009, the San Jose State defense allowed an average of 34.5 points, 259 rushing yards and 184 passing yards per game.
Scott Tolzien should still see a nice test in facing San Jose State. The Spartans were just second in the WAC Conference for pass defense, allowing just one more passing yard per game than nationally ranked Boise State.
Expect Tolzien to find his groove Saturday and post the kind of numbers and pass efficiency we saw last season.
Tolzien’s Projected Stats: 20/24, 250 yards, 2 touchdowns
Chryst Wants Budmayr to Play
It’s typically always a good sign when your team brings in the backups for snaps. When this occurs in a game, it’s a sign that you’ve dominated the game and a win is within your control.
That is unless you’re the one being dominated and bringing in subs because you realize it’s over. Barring some unbelievable misfortunes, Wisconsin shouldn’t find itself on this side of the coin.
It’s no secret; Wisconsin should dominate and control the game at home against the San Jose State Spartans. If things go according to plan, this provides nice opportunity to see a good amount of action from the subs.
Look for Wisconsin backup quarterback Jon Budmayr.
Offensive coordinator Paul Chryst was disappointed to not be able to get Budmayr into some action in Week 1. But, Budmayr never found his way onto the field despite a 20-point victory margin.
Budmayr has mixed reviews amongst the Wisconsin media, fans and most importantly, the coaches.
Budmayr is praised for his “cannon arm” and his ability to deliver long passes very well for a redshirt freshman. However, Budmayr has not necessarily made the most of his opportunities, looking awful in Wisconsin’s spring game this offseason and in some of the team’s practices and scrimmages.
If Wisconsin can build up a nice cushion lead on San Jose State, it would be nice to see Budmayr get some of his first snaps behind center in Camp Randall Stadium.
Oglesby Fighting for His Job?
Starting right tackle Josh Oglesby finds his name on the depth chart right alongside a very motivated teammate, offensive lineman and team walk-on Ricky Wagner.
Wagner joined the Badgers as a walk-on in 2008, but has since played his way into earning a team scholarship in 2010. Wagner’s play earned him a scholarship, and it could soon earn him more.
The redshirt sophomore’s strong play has not gone unnoticed and has been showing through to head coach Bret Bielema. Bielema, a former walk-on himself during his playing days at Iowa, has admired Wagner’s work ethic and play.
Currently, Wagner is splitting reps in practices with the junior Josh Oglesby. Oglesby has entered the 2010 season with experience (14 starts with team last season) and hype (Outland Trophy watch list), but has not looked sharp in recent practices and in his performance against UNLV.
Head coach Bret Bielema has stressed fractures and “loose-ends” in Oglesby’s play that had been a problem last year. Bielema has emphasized that it is a situation he and the coaches will be watching.
Bielema says, “If he continues to do those things, there will be changes.”
I know not many of us watch the play of the lineman and “the battle in the trenches," of which I’m guilty as well, but do your best to watch the growing position battle at right tackle between Josh Oglesby and Ricky Wagner.