Wisconsin Football: Five Badgers Who Make This Season Special
It's hard to hate Madison, Wisconsin. While the conference is made up of some of the most iconic scenes in college football, Madison is special. Just ask Scott Van Pelt of ESPN, it seems as though he is being paid under the table by the tourism bureau the way he waxes poetic about the charms of the city.
While the lakes, the beer and the brats make for a unique experience in the heart of Wisconsin, the football teams have seldom been "special." The program can even be called great, or that it has had flashes of brilliance. But the teams of yesteryear have rarely donned the mantle of being a "special" team.
It takes something more than recruiting and winning to draw out the sparkle in the eye of the alumni. Five players this year are destined to solidify the 2011 Badgers in Wisconsin lore and record books.
The magician of Madison came to the shores of Lake Mendota like a lost king in search of his throne. He found it in Camp Randall.
Wilson is fast approaching 10,000 passing yards, with nearly 1,400 of those coming from his short time in a Wisconsin uniform. He has found the end zone 13 times and has only been intercepted once through five games.
The pundits, the critics and the analysts all begged for proof of his greatness and warned that a Nebraska defense would surely expose the Badger QB as a pretender. Instead, the Blackshirts were dressed down by a deadly accurate Wilson who could vanish from defenders' grasp just as he was cornered.
It has been said many times before but it is worth repeating. Wisconsin has never had a quarterback like Russell Wilson before—the team better take advantage of his talents while they can.
Everyone knew Taylor, if healthy, would be a force. But the hype around Mike Taylor's production has not gone unfounded as the linebacker is filling the leadership gap left behind by J.J. Watt.
His 230 lbs. frame is deceivingly quick as Taylor is taking cues from the Badger QB and becoming a master of deception. His interception against Nebraska came only after he faked the blitz, dropped back into coverage and picked off Husker's QB Taylor Martinez.
For anyone who thinks his tricks are all finesse, Taylor finished the game with 14 tackles.
A predictable choice? Maybe, but Chris Borland at 100 percent is a scary prospect for opposing offenses. His "hair on fire" style of play is reminiscent of another linebacker who plays in Green Bay (but has much longer hair).
While he gives up a few inches to his partner-in-sacks Mike Taylor, he has 15 more pounds on him. That combination actually makes No. 44 a more explosive player since he lines up as a defensive end every few plays. Taller offensive linemen need to get lower for pad level and Borland exploits that wasted energy with pure strength.
Borland has registered 5.5 tackles for loss so far this season but his effort can be felt all over the field as offenses roll away from his pressure and into the waiting jaws of the rest of Badger D.
Jared Abbrederis is one more Wisconsin walk-on that makes a big impact. While Nick Toon will get all the press, Abbrederis is quietly having a monster season.
It's not only the raw yards (he has already surpassed his entire 2010 season's production), it's how he does it. Defenses know that Toon is the No. 1 receiver for a reason and often rotate coverage to keep him in check. Meanwhile, Abbrederis proves to be a deadly second option. Not since the days of Brandon Williams and Lee Evans did the Badgers have such an embarrassment of riches when it came to pass catchers.
To date, Abbrederis only has two touchdowns but his ability to make the clutch play is the reason the Wautoma native will add to this special season.
A punter is like a mortician. They should do a good job when called upon, but you hope you never have to call them in the first place.
Brad Nortman is a very talented punter but his services have been seldom needed through five games so far this season. His 43.3 yard per kick average is actually the highest it has ever been throughout his time at UW.
No player ever joins a team in hopes they will never see action. Nortman may be the exception to that rule.