Wisconsin Badgers Football: Breaking Bucky Down by Position
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2010 was a magical season to say the least. It had everything you could want as a fan and more.
The Badgers dominated teams, won a big ten title, made a Rose Bowl, but eventually fell short to TCU.
With the recent addition of Russell Wilson, fans and players alike have big hopes for Big Red.
Let's take a look position by position to see how good the Badgers really are.
Let's start with an easy one. Bret Bielema is still at the reins hopefully leading Bucky to another Big Ten title. Paul Chryst is still a genius calling the offense high above the action from the booth.
With two main elements in the coaching staff coming back for another year, why the A- and not an A?
The pass defense last season was rough. That's putting it nicely.
The secondary ranked tied for 43rd in interceptions, tied for 42nd in passes defended, and rank behind Marshall, Northern Illinois, and Middle Tennessee State in yards given up per play. Not a top tier defense that can make a run at a title if you ask me.
Under new defensive management this all could change. The secondary will be the key to a successful Badgers season and possible run at a BCS game, possibly the national title.
Running Game: A+
Do I need to explain? John Clay left for the draft (ended up un-drafted) but two of the three headed monster of 2010 will be back in red for the Badgers in 2011. Scary.
Freshman phenom in 2010, now a sophomore James White had an unreal 2010. He rushed for over 1,000 yards and compiled 16 touchdowns while technically not starting a single game.
The diamond in the rough, Montee Ball, also had a spectacular 2010. Ball rushed for almost 1,000 yards with 18 touchdowns in his sophomore campaign.
This grade was going to be the despicable grade of F before Russell Wilson committed to UW on Monday.
Now who knows if he is going to be the answer to the Badger woes but he is an improvement over Jon Budmayr. Budmayr in the spring game couldn't find his receivers. He had passes batted down at the line.
Wilson doesn't seem to have a similar problem.
Wilson has thrown for over 3,000 yards two of the three past seasons. Wilson has thrown for 31 and 28 touchdowns in his Sophomore and Junior seasons at NC State. Wisconsin hasn't even had anyone throw for 2900 yards since John Stocco achieved the feat in 2005.
Only time will tell if Wilson pans out to be the quarterback Badger fans want.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B-
This troupe of receivers is young, very very young.
Nick Toon is back in red which is good news for Badger fans but he is the oldest of the bunch being a fifth year senior. Chukwuma Offor is also a fifth year senior but has seen one game of action which came in 2009.
The next oldest with any significant playing time is Jared Abbrederis. Abbrederis is going to be a redshirt sophomore in 2011.
The Badgers have two freshman who red-shirted in 2010, both are over 6'4'' which could be beneficial to the Badgers pro-style offense.
With receivers who are young and not proven, the loss of Gilreath and Kendricks, 2011 will be an interesting coming out party for the young group.
Offensive Line: A
When the Badgers are considered "O-Line U" its tough to give them anything less than an A.
The Badgers year in and year out crank out top offensive linemen in the game. Names sometimes who you will hear about going into the season and sometimes not.
Even with the departures of John Moffitt, Bill Nagy, and Gabe Carimi the O-line doesn't have any glaring holes to fill.
Redshirt Junior Peter Konz is going to be a great fill in at center for Nagy. Konz has made 20 starts at center in the past two seasons and even earned an honorable all-big ten mention in 2010.
Ricky Wagner is switching from right tackle to left tackle to replace Carimi this season and he has huge expectations. He'll get a chance to blossom in the old shoes of "The Bear Jew".
I can't forget the new leader of this squad. Kevin Zeitler is the more experienced member of the line starting 22 games in the past two seasons. Also, an honorable All-Big Ten mention in 2010.
Defensive Line: B
JJ Watt departed to the Texans in April. But that's it.
The Badgers still have Louis Nzegwu who compiled 46 total tackles in 2010 with three sacks. Not to mention he had over five tackles six times in 2010, two of which came in the last three regular season games. Pretty good if you ask me.
Patrick Butrym had a pretty solid 2010 compiling 28 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. He also had a monster game with five solo tackles against Purdue in 2010. That's pretty good when you have the animal wearing number 99 on the same line overshadowing you.
Yes, Watt leaving leaves the Badgers 62 tackles in the hole but they have the personnel to maybe not make up for it, but make do.
The bad boys in red did lose two key components to the linebacking core in Blake Sorenson and Culmer St. Jean but they are ready to make noise in 2011 once again.
Chris Borland was hampered by injuries in 2010 but he had a monstrous Freshman campaign in 2009. He had 54 tackles with five sacks for the Badgers in 2011.
Mike Taylor had a monstrous Sophomore campaign. He had 57 tackles and two interceptions in 2010. He had a monstrous nine tackle game against Michigan in 2010.
The third linebacker spot will be the question mark among this group.
Special Teams: B+
Clutch place kicker, Phillip Welch will be back for another season in 2011. The Badgers are losing electric return man David Gilreath but Jarred Abbrederis is fast enough and electric enough to do a better job than Gilreath. He has explosive speed.
It'll be interesting to see if Abbrederis can return a few kicks for the Badgers this season.
Defensive Backs: C-
At best, this group receives a C. They were mediocre at best in 2010.
Anotonio Fenelus and hard-hitting Aaron Henry are expected to return in 2011 and play at a high level. After that, who?
A lot of people who are unproven or who don't have much experience that's who. In order for this team to succeed, this group of young men have to succeed.
The Badgers, with the addition of Wilson, are the run away favorites to win the Leaders Division of the Big Ten. Depending on which team wins the Legends division, the Badgers could be the favorite to win the entire division too.
The Badgers are going to make noise, a lot of noise in 2011. Rose Bowl repeat? BCS Bowl? National title game? The possibilities are endless.
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