Monday, April 21, 2008

The offense

Was reading a column this evening, think it was by Tom Oates of the State Journal, about the Badgers' quarterback situation. He had a line that said something to the effect of "It doesn't really matter who the UW quarterback is, as long as he's not terrible. With the running backs on the roster, especially now that Clay is showing he's the real deal, the quarterback won't be asked to do all that much."

That sentiment makes sense. But here's why I don't feel really confident with the offense heading into the 2008 season with a highly suspect passing game.

1. I don't think this offensive line is a road grading line. It's a good line, to be sure. Kraig Urbik is a terrific player, Gabe Carimi has star potential at left tackle, and the rest of the returnees are seasoned. But - and you can argue with me - I think the UW offensive lines of recent seasons have been somewhat overrated. They're good, but they're riding the reputation of the damn good blockers of a decade ago. This line doesn't have an Aaron Gibson or Bill Ferrario who's going to open huge holes.

So while I like our backs, and think each one of them brings some valuable attributes to the table, I still don't think the running game will be dominant enough to carry the offense by itself.

2. With each passing day I'm more bearish about our current group of wideouts. There's a lot of talent there - Kyle Jefferson especially, but several other guys as well - but something's missing. Henry Mason is missing. He was the constant with all of those NFL-caliber receivers we sent to the next level over the past decade. Jefferson's production tailed off at the end of last season when he was asked to carry a bigger load, David Gilreath is only like Brandon Williams in his return ability right now, and the rest of the guys have basically done nothing.

Two years ago, Luke Swan and Paul Hubbard had basically done nothing, but they had a three-year starter at quarterback and Mason coaching them.

3. Because of this, Travis Beckum is going to get more attention than ever. He's damn good, but if opposing defenses can get by with single coverage on the wideouts, they can bracket Beckum with a linebacker and safety and limit what he can do.

4. For all my recent optimism about the defense, it still has the chance to be really bad this season. As such, there's a good chance the Badgers will be playing from behind, which of course limits what you can do in the run game and puts more pressure on the quarterback to make plays in the passing game.

Who knows, maybe tomorrow I'll wake up and think Allan Evridge is the second coming of Jim Zorn, but right now I'm pessimistic.


Timmay said...

I share your concern about limited passing options and putting a target on Beckum's back. However, I am encouraged by the staff's claim of using Lance Smith in a slot receiver role. He's probably faster than Beckum and Bielema claims he might have the best hands on the squad.

I haven't watched the Spring Game yet to see if they showed anything after all the talk, but I'll guess we'll have to wait and see whether they make him a legit threat.

Scott Tappa said...

Good point, I like Smith's potential in the slot too. Thing is, I can't remember a player used like that in the Badger offense ... which isn't to say that it can't work, but it's a departure from Chryst's normal stuff.