Believe it or not, we're just eight days away from football. Seems like the Rose Bowl was just yesterday.
As we inch closer to the start of the 2011 season, there are still a lot of questions, despite the depth chart being released Monday. You guys have kept the questions coming, which I appreciate, so let's find the answers.
A series of questions from Peter, Los Angeles:
Honestly, Peter, I don't think Budmayr was ever close. Wilson just has too much talent and experience for Budmayr to compete with him. I have actually always like Budmayr's potential, but Wilson probably has the most raw talent of any Badger quarterback ever. Plus, like Bret Bielema said when he announced the transfer, he didn't bring Wilson here to sit on the bench.
2. With Wilson as the clear cut starting QB, what kind of style is the offense going to be running? Will they be a run-first team to slowly ease him in -- especially with a strong group of RBs -- or are they going to let him cut loose?
I've gotten this question a lot, especially from colleagues in Chicago who are wondering if the Badgers are going to get away from their run-first philosophy this season. Let's get this straight, Montee Ball and James White are still going to be the center point of the Badger offense. At the end of the year, there will be more running plays than passing plays and it might not even be close.
But, one thing Paul Chryst has always been good at is adjusting his offense to fit the quarterback. That doesn't mean he changes it from a pro-style offense to a spread offense just because he has a mobile quarterback, but he certainly adds in certain wrinkles and moves some pieces around to create formations that are advantageous for the quarterback to succeed. Without going into detail, James White told me there will be new surprises this year on offense, but it's still going to be the same run-first philosophy you are used to -- just with a very talented quarterback under center.
3. Are there any serious concerns with injuries, especially at the WR and LB positions? Injuries are congregating at those positions and I was wondering if that's going to affect how the team plays with the opener only one week away.
Well there wasn't necessarily a whole lot of depth to begin with at either position so yes, if there are any injuries at all, it's a concern. I particularly don't like how Nick Toon, Chris Borland and Mike Taylor all seem to be battling the same issues they had last season. After a full off-season to recover, why did it only take a couple of practices for those injuries to flare up again?
Both positions need young guys to step up. I think you are seeing that with guys like Kenzel Doe, Isaiah Williams and Jordan Frederick at wide receiver and Derek Landisch at linebacker. But Manasseh Garner and Marcus Trotter were two guys we expected to provide some depth at those positions this season and their injuries haven't helped the situation.
4. In your opinion, are there any indications on the mindset and approach the coaching staff and the players are taking against UNLV? Are they looking ahead to Oregon St? Do you think they might rest or be careful with certain players to save them for the Beavers?
The mindset is always the same with Bret Bielema. UNLV is the only opponent on the schedule right now. Will they rest their starters if they get a big lead? Maybe, but probably not until mid-way through the fourth quarter. That's pretty much what we saw against the Rebels last year. Granted, Wisconsin didn't get a huge lead until the third quarter, but it's the first game and Bielema will likely want to get his players as many game reps as possible. Guys with nagging injuries might sit earlier, but don't expect to see Russell Wilson get pulled real early. He can use as many reps with the offense as possible.
Fenelus was one of the most improved players last season and I expect he'll be even better this year. He is certainly a recruiting "steal", but Bielema already has a long list of steals and I'm not even sure Fenelus -- who was a two-star recruit -- comes in the top five. Scott Tolzien, John Moffitt, Chris Borland, Jay Valai, Travis Frederick and Culmer St. Jean were all two-star recruits and Bradie Ewing -- who is going to get a shot to play in the NFL -- was a ZERO star recruit. I have Fenelus ranked No. 23 in my list of Bret Bielema's Top 25 Recruits in Badger Kickoff 2011. Check it out.
Adam, the Russell Wilson hype hasn't really subsided at all in camp. I guess that's a good thing, but I'm almost worried that this is all good to be true. Is there any reason to believe Wilson isn't as good as advertised? - Ken, Beloit
Ken, it's OK to be apprehensive. This whole Wilson saga is very new to Badger fans and Bielema has admitted as much. But during the recruiting process, I seeked out some North Carolina State fans and experts and couldn't find a single person that had a bad thing to say about Wilson whether it had to do with football or with him as a person. And since Wilson has arrived on campus, there hasn't been a player, coach or practice report with any complaints about the kid. It also says a lot that his teammates voted him a captain without him ever taking a snap in a game at Camp Randall Stadium. Obviously what matters most are results -- and we're about to see those results shortly -- but for now, I think it's safe to be optimistic.
Keep those questions coming. As always, you can either e-mail to me or send them to me on Twitter (@B5Q).