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2016 Fierce 40 Previews: #17 Wisconsin

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 4, 2016

#17 Wisconsin Badgers

2015 Recap:
Wisconsin had one of the quietest 10 win seasons in the schools history and all three losses came against ranked teams (Alabama, Iowa and Northwestern). Wisconsin capped off their season with a 23-21 win over USC in the Holiday Bowl.


Coaching:

Paul Cryst enjoyed his first season at the helm and 10-3 was a great start. Cryst had three years experience as a head coach at Pittsburgh and spent 2014 as the Offenisve Coordinator at Wisconsin.


Offense

The biggest challange for the offense will be quarterback play and finding the right player to fit in. Bart Houston is currently #1 on the depth chart but freshman Alex Hornibrook may be the starter before too long. It may not matter who the quarterback is, Wisconsin will need people to throw to and they will lose a lot of production from a balance that was unbalanced to begin with. Rob Wheelwright and his 416 yards and 4 touchdowns is back as the returning leader. The running back position at Wisconsin is always very active in the passing attack and Corey Clement will return from injury as Dare Ogunbowale is back with 819 rushing yards from last year to go with 36 catches made out of the backfield.  Wisoncsin is going to miss having the big time prospects along the offensive line and the best for the 2017 may not see much of the field due to injury. Dan Voltz and Michael Deiter look to be the two best lienman on the team and both are natural centers. If Voltz sees considerable time I would look for the Badgers to try and move Deiter into the interior, and likely the right guard position.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Corey Clement RB 3rd Round 2017.

                                       Dan Voltz C 4th/5th Round 2017.


Defense

This is where it was at for Wisconsin last season as the offense battled inconsistency the defense ranked #2 overall and #1 in scoring defense giving up only 13.7 PPG. Wisconsin gave up 35 points to eventual champion Alabama in the opener and they did not give up more than 24 in any other game the rest of the season. After the Alabama game Wisconsin had a 4-game stretch where they gave up only 13 points and pitched a pair of shutouts. T.J. Edwards and Vince Beigel  look mlike the best prospect for the Badgers and they play inside and outside linebacker respectively.  Beigel led the team with 8 sacks and will get after the quarterback often in the traditional 3-4 set that the Badgers have run for years. Soujourn Shelton is back for his senior year at cornerback and he has the ability to be one of the best cornerbacks in the Big Ten and the nation if he can stay healthy.

Best Draft Prospects: Vince Beigel LB 3rd Round 2017.

                                      T.J. Edwsrds LB 3rd Round 2019.


Special Teams:

Andrewe Lotti will have the task of replacing four year starter Drew Mayer at punter. Rafael Gaglianone struggled with nagging leg issues and saw his stats drop from his promising freshamn campaign. The biggest area of concern is kickoff return coverage where opponents gained nearly twice as many yards as Wisconsin in the return game.


Schedule:

Last year saw Alabama start the season for Wisconsin and this year they go back to the SEC for a neutral site game with LSU. September 24th and october 1st see Michigan State and Michigan in back-to-back games. The Badgers must do all they can to avoid being 3-3 after the first sic games in order to compete in the Big Ten.

Draft and Overall Outlook:

There are not as many individual prospects for the 2017 class right now. mainly because Wisconsin will be fielding more underclassmen along the offensive line, where they are known for producing high quality NFL products. If Wisconsin can hold it together near the beginning of the schedule thery should cruise in the back half of their schedule and have some momentum at the end of the year.

DJ Boyer