[UPDATE: Per UWBadgers.com's Mike Lucas, junior running back Corey Clement is out of Saturday's game]
Many expect a different result for the No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers this week after last Saturday's 35-17 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide at AT&T Stadium. On Saturday morning with an 11 a.m. kickoff, the Badgers return to Camp Randall Stadium for Paul Chryst's first home game as Badgers head coach, as they face a MAC opponent in the Redhawks of Miami (Ohio).
The Badgers faced an elite defense in their first test of the season. Most of their mistakes can be corrected based on the film from last week. If they are able to focus and right their assignments and mental mistakes, UW should come away with the victory. With the return of redshirt senior safety Michael Caputo from a head injury, but junior running back Corey Clement's status a "game-time decision" [ed. note: now out for today's game] here are some keys to the early afternoon affair for a Wisconsin win.
Get back to basics on offensive line
The Badgers' offensive line had to face a dominant, elite front seven of Alabama's a week ago that held UW to only 40 yards and a 1.9 yards per carry average. This week, Tyler Marz, Dan Voltz and the three new starters on that line face a MIami (Ohio) defense that forced 10 quarterback hurries against FCS opponent Presbyterian. It should be an easier afternoon for offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph's crew, butl Chryst noted during his weekly press conference on Monday that the line needed to get back to the basics of lower pad level, getting movement and working on pass protection. The still-gelling line will have the opportunity to reaffirm themselves on Saturday, and we'll see who's on that right side of the offensive line with combinations of Hayden Biegel, Walker Williams, and Micah Kapoi.
Correct mental errors, missed tackles on defense
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's squad will have the opportunity to correct gap assignments and missed tackles against a Redhawks offense that tallied 466 total yards against their FCS opponent last week. The Badgers missed 17 tackles against Alabama, including two on Alabama junior running back Derrick Henry's touchdown runs of 37 and 56. Aranda, when speaking with reporters on Wednesday, expects the Badgers to be more polished on that front heading into Saturday's game
Alabama made Wisconsin pay with mental errors and gap assignment mistakes. On both of Henry's touchdowns, it also appeared defenders were out of position to help support the run. Aranda admitted on Wednesday that on the third play of the game, the defense wasn't 'fitted" right, with the inside linebacker out of position. That led Caputo to "clean" up the play, and subsequently the head injury. With Caputo now back and cleared to play on Saturday, his leadership and communication should help resolve issues.
Junior outside linebacker Vince Biegel expects a different result this week, with many of those mistakes from Saturday fixable.
"I think you'll see that on Saturday is getting things corrected in the middle of the defense, getting things corrected on the outside and just clean up stuff -- and make that defense thrive," Biegel said Wednesday.
Establish Dare Ogunbowale, Taiwan Deal in the running game
With Clement out, expect the former walk-on and converted cornerback in Ogunbowale -- along with the powerful redshirt freshman in Deal -- to get the opportunity to see what they can do between the tackles on Saturday. The two only combined for 23 yards on nine carries against Alabama last week, but Ogunbowale did catch six passes -- including a couple for first downs in key third-down situations out of the backfield.
Ogunbowale asserted himself as the No. 2 back in fall camp, but expect both him and Deal to get the rock Saturday. If the offensive line performs well in getting helmet-on-helmet at the second level of the defense, there's no reason both back-ups won't have big days. If not, expect redshirt senior quarterback Joel Stave to carry the offense.