Bret Bielema released his post-spring depth chart this morning and overall there aren't too many surprises. You can see the two-deep here.
We followed the depth chart pretty closely during spring ball and had the starters nailed for the most part. The only semi-surprise came at right tackle, where sophomore Josh Oglesby is listed as the starter after an up-and-down spring.
Here are five burning questions regarding the depth chart:
1. How far behind Dustin Sherer is freshman QB Curt Phillips?
I'd say Sherer's hold on the starting quarterback job is stronger than Allan Evridge's last season or Tyler Donovan's the year before. This is the third year in a row where we have a "competition" at QB yet we have a pretty good idea of who the starter will be. Still, the story of the spring was Phillips' climb up the depth chart. He and Scott Tolzien are technically tied on the chart right now, but anytime a freshman makes a climb like Phillips did this spring, he has the upper hand. And more importantly, it provides some optimism because a quarterback hasn't emerged like that for the Badgers in a long time.
2. Speaking of optimism, how come there is none when it comes to the wide receivers?
The wideout position continues to be a puzzling one. It looked like David Gilreath was going to have to fight just to be a backup, yet he is listed as a starter on the depth chart. Meanwhile, Kyle Jefferson is listed as a backup. Just based on this, it looks like the wide receivers might struggle again next season, but help could be on the way. If incoming freshman Kraig Appleton has a strong training camp, he could be in the mix immediately. Sophomore Nick Toon could have a breakout year, but right now is tied with Gilreath for a starting job.
3. Any surprises on the offensive line?
Not really, but the starting jobs at right tackle and left guard are definitely not set in stone. The coaching staff loves freshman Travis Frederick and Jake Bscherer has struggled at times trying to move to guard. Meanwhile, Peter Konz and Oglesby battled all spring long at right tackle. It's still Oglesby's job to lose, but the coaches (and the fans) are starting to grow impatient with the former No. 1 recruit.
4. Are there any newcomers that can help the D-line and linebackers?
The linebackers two-deep has the biggest chance of changing before the Badgers take on Northern Illinois Sept. 5. Culmer St. Jean and Jaevery McFadden bring some experience to the table, but both have also battled inconsistency and injuries. Depth is a big issue and everyone is hoping incoming freshmen A.J. Fenton and Conor O'Neill can come in and contribute immediately. The good news is that the coaches love freshman Mike Taylor and he is already listed on the two-deep as a backup.
Meanwhile, the defensive ends are pretty set with O'Brien Schofield returning and the coaches loving J.J. Watt on the other side. But the tackle spots can still be improved. Dan Moore and Jeff Stehle have some experience but neither are huge impact players and both are seniors.
5. Is there hope for the secondary?
Yes. I actually expect the secondary to much improved. Jay Valai and Chris Maragos are your safeties because of the effort they give, but Aubrey Pleasant and Chris Carter provide great depth if they can fix their past blunders. Meanwhile, Aaron Henry is back on the corner and is backed up by an intriguing freshman in Marcus Cromartie. The coaches expect Niles Brinkley to improve on an up-and-(mostly) down season and Devin Smith provides a little depth. The key here is that Henry has to become the shut-down corner he seems destined to be.