We're in the home stretch to college football, meaning things are going to get pretty crazy here very quickly. For months, fans have been playing out best-case scenarios in their minds, and in a fell swoop countless daydreams will be dashed on opening weekend. We will see outpourings of misery that only college football can truly incite, and we may even revel in this misery if it isn't our own. This is dangerous, but also a rite of being a college football fan.
There are two weeks left in the happiest time of year for most fans, and though there is little reason for Wisconsin fans to be pessimistic, it never hurts to accentuate the positive whenever possible. So with no more ado, here is why you should be really excited (or at least, less worried) about Wisconsin football this season:
Tyler Marz is a real left tackle
It seems that Marz has stood out the last few days, thanks to injuries to Dan Voltz and Kyle Costigan. He has taken advantage of extra reps in a reshuffled line, and has differentiated himself as the clear No. 3 offensive tackle, according to Jeff Potrykus.
Marz's development could be critical to the offense this season, giving the offensive line a minimum requisite depth in case injuries crop up. If Marz can step up and play left tackle, it will allow Ryan Groy to move around and handle any of the other four positions he has played if need be. Given Costigan's nagging ailments and pure dumb chance, there is a reasonable chance we will see a rejiggered line at some point.
Wisconsin's versatility may be its saving grace up front. In addition to Groy, Dallas Lewallen has played everywhere along the line. Currently the projected starter at left guard, he practiced extensively at left tackle during the spring and has filled in at center with Dan Voltz out. Zac Matthias is ready to step up at either guard spot after competing hard with Costigan this summer, as well.
No one would call Wisconsin's depth ideal, but the current crop of linemen seems to have the ideal skillset to handle any issues that may arise.
The secondary isn't so bad
Dezmen Southward isn't worried, so you shouldn't be. Via the State Journal:
"Everybody says, ‘If Dez isn't back there, the season is pretty much over,' " Southward said. "I don't see that at all.
"I think these two scrimmages (counting the one at the end of practice on Thursday), without me really playing a lot, have shown that. Our guys can play, they know what they're doing, they're tough kids. No one's just heard about them because they haven't had a chance."
Southward has a point, especially given how well the defense has played in camp up to this point. Conventional wisdom says the defense should be ahead of the offense in spring and fall practices, but in this case it's good to see the axiom hold. If you are bullish on the capabilities of Wisconsin's quarterbacks (and I'm bullish) then it's encouraging that the secondary hasn't been picked apart consistently (that long Jared Abbrederis touchdown in scrimmage notwithstanding).
Sentences about Sojourn Shelton usually have the word "swagger" nearby, and I've already talked about Leo Musso's potential. Wisconsin's weakest position group on paper just might be okay.
Wisconsin plays cupcakes to start the season
Scheduling has been debated ad nauseum on this site, and yes I'm still all in favor of bringing in better opponent whenever possible, but this squad in particular will benefit from two games against barely-there opponents to start the season.
UMass went 1-11 last season. Tennessee Tech went 3-8 playing in the FCS. Both games should give Wisconsin ample opportunity to let any lingering position battles shake out, as well as get players acclimated to the way the new coaching staff handles gamedays. Flying cross-country in Week 3 will be a huge curve, but a lesser one than a Week 1 trip would have been. This team will be as prepared as it can be when it takes on Arizona State for what should be the first real challenge of the Gary Andersen era.
More from Bucky's 5th Quarter:
- Badger Bits: Scrimmage No. 2 is here
- Christian Dvorak gives up eligibility to sign with OHL's London Knights
- Josh Gasser injury update: Guard expected to play during Wisconsin's Canada tour
- Practice Roundup, Aug. 17: Curt Phillips excels in 2-minute drill, Gary Andersen not naming starter
- 2013 preseason AP Top 25: Wisconsin ranked No. 23
- 10 Fun Facts About... Purdue