Saturday, July 18, 2009


This was my first Badger-related thought while reading through the Athlon season preview magazine: we don't look very strong. At all. Could really struggle this year unless the schedule is as soft as it seems.

Athlon puts us seventh, one spot behind Northwestern and on ahead of Michigan, which seems about right to me (although Illinois at fifth seems high after how mediocre they were last year).

I'll get into more detail as the season gets closer, but here's what I'm thinking mid-summer.

We have exactly one elite player, Garrett Graham. Gabe Carimi could get there. Nick Toon or David Gilreath could be elite, but will be held back by quarterback play. Jay Valai, John Moffitt, Jae McFadden -- those guys are solid.

My biggest reason for optimism, for both this year and the next couple, is our kickers. Our best teams have had above-average kickers, and Philip Welch and Brad Nortman have the potential to be above-average.

Then again, so does Gilreath as a returner, and the magazine issued a reminder that UW was 119th out of 119 Division I teams in average yards per kickoff return last year. So it's premature to call special teams a strong unit.

On the other hand, our defensive line seems like it will be weaker than at any point in the last 20 years. The linebackers don't seem like they're going to be generating many big plays. There are 20 returning defensive backs on the roster, but none of them seem like the guy I definitely want checking Arrelious Benn when we're up five and Illinois has the ball with two minutes left. And, of course, the quarterback thing.

Thing is, other than Ohio State and Penn State, the Big Ten is really up in the air, so anything can happen. But, as the title of this post implies, I'm concerned.


Mr.Man said...

I'm slightly more optimistic on the season in general, Scott, though I don't have a real reason behind it. I guess I do view the roster a bit more optimistically. In re potential great or high quality players: how about John Clay or Lance Kendricks or Oglesby at right tackle? Or Bsherer at guard?

Scott Tappa said...

Of those guys, Clay is the only one I feel has a chance to be high-quality this year. Leaving him out was a mistake.

Kendricks' ceiling, this season, is 35-40 catches, IMO. Oglesby, for all his prep accolades, really struggled at times last year, and I'm not convinced he starts this year. He was still recovering from that knee injury.

If Bscherer was better he would have found a way into the lineup last year.

Pessimism on my part isn't necessarily a bad thing, I was also pretty pessimistic before 2004 and 2006. Those teams, however, had stronger senior classes than this one does.

Duff Beach said...

I thought Bscherer was injured last season and took the remainder off to save a redshirt? Or was that the year before?

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