Despite blowouts, Wisconsin has blemishes to erase before Arizona State

Mike McGinnis

The Badgers have been-near perfect through two games, but some blemishes could cost them the game at Arizona State.

The older I get, it seems the more pessimistic and cynical I become. I like to think of myself as more of a realist instead, but hey, that's what happens when you grow up a Minnesota sports fan.

Anyways, I'm getting at the fact I decided to write last week about how Wisconsin had plenty of room for improvement following the UMass game, although UW dominated its first opponent of the season.

This week, I've decided to follow the same script. The Badgers manhandled Tennessee Tech in what I believed to be a much more impressive victory than the UMass game, although Tennessee Tech was an FCS opponent. Thus far, I've been as impressed as anybody by the Badgers' start under head coach Gary Andersen. How could you expect more than outscoring your opponents 93-0 in the first two weeks of the season? The frustrating part about "easy" non-conference games is any sort of compliments you pay the team needs to be followed by a "BUT, it was against a weak opponent."

I won't keep this up every week, but against inferior non-conference opponents it's sometimes easier to nitpick a team's play than praise it. And in this case, the Badgers face their toughest non-conference match-up in at least the last few years in Arizona State, so it's imperative Wisconsin fixes  some of these mistakes before Saturday night.

First and foremost, the center-quarterback exchange needs to be cleaned up. There's been three botched snaps in the first two games this season, and that's unacceptable. I empathize with center Dallas Lewallen given he's not only just making his first starts on the offensive line but, was training this off-season to play guard, too. The hamstring injury to redshirt freshman Dan Voltz -- the original starter at center -- in fall camp forced offensive line coach T.J. Woods to shift Lewallen from guard to center.

The interesting part is Voltz has returned to health and played but in a backup role. You have to believe Voltz would probably have struggles of his own snapping the ball to quarterback Joel Stave, but at least he'd been practicing it all offseason. Maybe T.J. Woods feels more comfortable with a more veteran player in Lewallen and figures he doesn't want to mess with the cohesiveness of the unit.

While a bad exchange could cost the Badgers dearly in the desert this weekend, their kicking game could be just as damning.

It's early in the season, but kickers Kyle French and Jack Russell are already in a competition again, which really means neither can maintain the consistency needed to be the full-time starter. Both players had consistency and accuracy issues last season as well, and so far, it's translated over to this season. On Saturday, French missed a PAT and Russell whiffed on a 31-yard field goal attempt. Not to mention, French also missed a 40-yarder in the opener against UMass, putting him at just 1-for-2 on field goal attempts this year.

How much are Wisconsin fans missing the days of Phillip Welch now? He'd been chastised for his missed field goal in the 2011 Rose Bowl versus TCU but the four-year UW starter at least made 59 of his 76 kicks (78 percent) as a Badger from 2008-2011.

Anyways, this is a glaring issue for Wisconsin. It may not be so obvious against the likes of UMass and Tennessee Tech, but you bet it will be soon with Arizona State and Ohio State just around the corner. Same goes for the center-quarterback snap exchange. They're supposed to be automatic but could result in costly turnovers in a close road game.

These may seem as minor issues and sound like I'm nitpicking for the sake of it, but they're aspects of the game that really shouldn't be a problem for a school like Wisconsin. However, the Badgers have executed nearly every other aspect of their game very well, and I'm looking forward to a helluva contest against Arizona State this Saturday evening.

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