BYU football: 5 questions with a Wisconsin football insider
Sophomore Joel Stave is under center for the second straight season, and he’s having a pretty decent first full year under center if you ignore his vocal critics and just look at the numbers. His completion percentage is higher than last year, but Stave and the Badgers really depend on senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis if they want to hit scores through the air. If BYU can keep Abbrederis in check, it’ll be a lot harder for the Badgers to move the ball down the field the way they want to.
4. Same question on defense. What's the system and who are the primary play-makers?
The Badgers switched to a base 3-4 under Andersen and Dave Aranda, who came with the head coach from Utah State. It’s worked out rather well for a team that recruited to the 4-3 for so many seasons. The Badgers have been very effective on defense this season, thanks largely to a senior-laden front seven. All three of their defensive linemen are seniors, and it’s best to keep an eye on inside linebacker Chris Borland. He’s the defense’s emotional leader and has a knack for big plays, but he missed last week’s game against Iowa with a hamstring injury and missed about half of their game against Illinois with the same injury two weeks before. He says he’s feeling better and will practice this week, but Wisconsin’s defense plays a lot differently without Borland.
Apart from that, the Badgers use a lot of pretty traditional 3-4 concepts. They end up playing more man coverage now than they did in a 4-3, which puts some pressure on the younger players in their secondary. At the line of scrimmage the Badgers will rotate a lot of players in and out of the game to match up against different offensive packages, and like to use an all-up package on third down to disguise where the fourth or fifth rusher is coming from.
5. What are the key matchups this Saturday and what do the Badgers need to do to come away with a win?
The Badgers are going to need to run the ball well if they want to beat the Cougars at home. Ohio State is the only team they’ve played with a better rushing defense, and the Buckeyes held the Badgers to just 3.9 yards per carry — easily their lowest mark of the season. And either through the passing game or the running game the Badgers need to make a few plays where they get a few big chunks of yardage. The Badgers are 15th in the country with 25 offensive plays of 30 yards or more, whereas the Cougars have allowed 18 plays of 30 yards or more this season (72nd nationally).
On defense, the Badgers need to keep the Cougars from converting red zone trips into touchdowns and have to keep their third down conversion percentage low. That means holding Taysom Hill and the rest in check on first and second down, which is no small feat. It wouldn’t hurt if the Badgers could hang on to a field position advantage, either: the Badgers were able to keep Iowa out of the end zone despite excellent starting field position in the game, but it’ll be harder to do that if the Cougars can work with a consistently shorter field.
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