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Roundtable: Looking ahead to Wisconsin-Illinois

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Game balls from last week and what the Badgers need to do on Saturday.

Matt Fleming

Did you miss part one of this week’s roundtable? Check it out here.


GAME BALLS: Rough game, but who deserves them?

Drew Hamm: T.J. Edwards played well and I agree with everyone else that Eric Burrell had a nice game. ::checks box score again:: Ummmmmmmmmm, I guess Jake Ferguson for offense?

Owen Riese: Burrell stepped up big time in his first college start in a hostile environment. Eleven tackles is a huge day for a safety and he was all over the place on Saturday night. The Badgers have a good problem (log jam) at the safety position moving forward.

Bob Wiedenhoeft: Yeah, it has to be Burrell. It feels icky to say there are bright spots in a 25-point loss, but I do not see this game as an inflection point for the program. Lots of new faces showed they can ball—these fellas will contribute for years to come.

Tyler Hunt: The score doesn’t indicate it, but this game was not as bad as it looks on the defensive side. Overall I’d give a game ball to Burell as Owen mentioned above, as well as some of the other young guys like Reggie Pearson and Rachad Wildgoose. Those guys stepped into their first real action at the Big House. Not easy to do. If you look at the stat sheet, most Badger fans wont recognize a lot of names that played on the defensive side. Those guys do deserve some credit for stepping up and taking their opportunity. A lot of the names you may see were not expected to contribute from what we saw in spring ball. Plenty of positives to try and build on.

UP NEXT: ILLINOIS. What’s the one thing you want to see out of the Badgers on Saturday?

Drew: There is only one thing that needs to be seen on Saturday and it’s pretty simple: Complete and utter dominance on both sides of the ball.

Illinois is bad. Penn State scored 63 on the Illini and Purdue scored 46. Anything less than 40 points scored by the offense should be seen as an indictment on how the rest of the season will go (read: poorly) and the defense should, ideally, hold Illinois to fewer than 20 points. Alex Hornibrook needs to play mistake-free football. The team needs to be plus-two on turnovers. Zach Baun and Andrew Van Ginkel need to each have a sack. Taiwan Deal needs to have 100 yards because Jonathan Taylor is already out of the game due to the blowout nature of the score. The student section should be half empty after Jump Around (well, that’ll happen regardless of the score I suppose). A 50-plus yard kick return would also be nice, but that’s not mandatory. A relentless bludgeoning is what I’m looking for and, ::Stephen A. Smith voice:: QUITE FRANKLY, I won’t be happy with anything less. Want to be a big boy in college football? Beat the shit out of teams like Illinois.

Owen: I want to see the Badgers take out their frustrations on Illinois. Early and often, they should assert their dominance over the Illini. I expect Taylor to have over 200 yards and three scores, and the defense has a couple takeaways. Wanna still be thought of as a Big Ten contender? Look the part this weekend.

Bob: I’m looking for a fast start from Bucky this Saturday. If they start out sluggish and give Lovie Smith’s team the perception they could win, fans at Camp Randall will lose their collective minds. I don’t think there is anything they can do to make me believe again they are contenders for a conference title, but I also don’t want to think about the Michigan game ever again. A thorough crushing from the start will go a long way to wiping the slate clean.

Tyler: I would love to see the defense fly around and look the part of a Wisconsin defense of old. I know they’re banged up, I know they’re young, but the young guys playing is only going to make them better later on and into the future seasons. If you couple the young guys with the best recruiting class Wisconsin has ever had coming in, there are plenty of bright spots to look forward to.

I’d also like to see the Badgers throw the ball and get Hornibrook some confidence back. I know if this happens everyone will say, “Oh he only plays good against bad teams,’ but if you want to salvage something from this season and make a push for a quality bowl game you are going to need No. 12. Jack Coan may sound like a solution to a lot of people, but I trust the coaching staff would realize if he truly was the better option.