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Midterm grades for Wisconsin football’s 2019 season

Progress report time for Paul Chryst and company!

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NCAA Football: Michigan State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

All data in this article was supplied by Sports Source Analytics. Credit and gratitude to Zane Murfitt of CougCenter for creating the template for these interactive graphics through Tableau.

Have a seat, coach Chryst.

I want to congratulate you on your team’s performance so far. While some predicted you would be 6-0 going into the season, I don’t know if anyone would foreseen your team’s dominance.

I also want to note that you bounced back from a poor showing against Northwestern. I know the Wildcats are one of your weaknesses, but you overcame that hurdle and corrected course.

Just because you’ve done a good job so far doesn’t mean you can take it easy. On the contrary, you have folks believing right now, so you have to push this team to even higher heights. Let’s go through your midterm grades to see what has worked and what you can build upon.

Offense: B+

O-line: B+


Your offense has been steady. It’s barely above average in explosiveness and is surprisingly successful on third down.

However, your quarterback Jack Coan has been very efficient. He’s leading the fourth-most successful passing offense in the country and is No. 5 in third down conversion. Part of that is your success on first and second down; your average third down distance is only 5.289 yards.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

You and I both know that Jonathan Taylor continues to be amazing. What he brings to the offense is immeasurable, and he continues to grow each season. He has fully exorcised his fumbling issues (fingers crossed; knock on wood), and he is now a legitimate receiving threat.

(If the table does not load properly, click here to view. Mobile viewers should view horizontally for the best experience.)


  1. Score 20+ points against OSU.
  2. Keep turnovers at or below the current mark of 0.8 per game, which is tied for No. 9 in the country.
  3. Have Taylor rush for 300 yards against Nebraska, 100 yards against OSU and 200 yards against one other team.

Defense: A+

Pass rush: A
Pass coverage: A
Run defense: A


Your defense is simply the best. Your scoring defense, 4.8 points per game, is almost half the second-best scoring defense, Penn State (8.2). You’re No. 1 in passing defense (129 yards per game) and rushing defense (44.7 ypg).

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Wisconsin Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA T

Take a look at the interactive chart below; the advanced defensive stats love you. You’re No. 1 in:

  • yards per play,
  • yards per pass attempt,
  • success rate,
  • pass success rate,
  • 3rd down conversion percentage,
  • 3rd down distance,
  • havoc rate, and
  • explosion prevention.

Oh, and you’ve pitched four shutouts.

(If the table does not load properly, click here to view. Mobile viewers should view horizontally for the best experience.)


  1. Hold Ohio State to fewer than 17 points.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to control a mobile quarterback like OSU’s Justin Fields.
  3. Earn two more shutouts.
  4. Allow fewer than ten points per game over the next six games.
  5. Finish the season in the top-5 in each of the categories you are currently No. 1

Special Teams: C

Kicking: C-
Punting: C
Returning: C-
Coverage: B


It’s been an adventure here. Let’s start with the good: Zach Hintze is perfect. He’s saving this team from a C- or a D+ with his 64.7 yards per kickoff. In total, Hintze has kicked the ball 1.61 miles. Kickoff returns have been surprisingly effective. Aron Cruickshank has done a fine job averaging 28.2 yards per return.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Michigan State at Wisconsin Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now for the bad. The punt return game has been a struggle with several muffed punts and a measly 8.25 yards per return average. That average includes an outlier 41-yard return by Jack Dunn.

In other bad news, Wisconsin has allowed a few onside kick recoveries.

Collin Larsh has only attempted six field goals, and he has made three of them. While he has hit every field goal that is 36 yards or shorter, he has not made a single kick over 36 yards.


  1. Never allow the opposing kicking team to recover an onside kick.
  2. No more muffed punts.
  3. Hit a minimum of 75% of remaining field goals.
  4. Make all field goals against OSU.
  5. Give Hintze a long field goal attempt against Illinois in case he needs to hit a 60-yard field goal against OSU.

Coaching: A-

Strategy: A-
Adjustments: N/A
Play-calling: A-


You are 8-of-8 on fourth-down conversions. I love this aggression, but I want to point out that your passivity against Northwestern cost you. Otherwise, you’ve played every other coach like a fiddle; your staff has clearly out-coached every opponent.


  1. Continue to be moderately aggressive on fourth down.
  2. Create the game plan of your life against Ohio State.
  3. Keep your team’s no switch mentality.

Overall grade: A

Unit Grades: A
Big plays: A-
Game Control: A-
Penalties & Discipline: B+


This has been a great season by all the metrics. If you were named Ohio State, Clemson or Alabama, you’d be the unanimous No. 1 team in the country. Listen, a while back, Clemson wasn’t anything special. The clout that OSU, Clemson and Alabama has is attainable if you keep this level of performance up.

Once again, you’re right outside the door of the top-4 teams in the country. This has proven to be your ceiling the past few years. It’s time to break through the ceiling, win the Big Ten, and go to the playoffs.


  1. Beat Ohio State or keep the game very close.
  2. Crush every team that isn’t Ohio State.
  3. Be in a position where winning the Big Ten championship game means a College Football Playoff berth.

Grading B5Q’s predictions

I went back and reviewed all of our staffs’ predictions for the Badgers this year. I then created a formula that measures how close our contributors are to the actual score. This measure punishes wildly inaccurate predictions and favors consistency.

And yes, by the metric I created, I am the worst.

B5Q Contributors Predictions Fall 2019

Contributor Record Weighted Error
Contributor Record Weighted Error
Owen 6-0 15.03
Ryan 6-0 15.67
Tyler 6-0 16.41
Neal 6-0 17.23
Vegas Prediction 6-0 17.59
Drew 6-0 17.72
Belz 6-0 17.86
Rock 6-0 18.80
Kevin 6-0 20.06
Bob 6-0 21.49

Midterm grades across the Big Ten

Overall grades: Big Ten West

  • Wisconsin: A
  • Minnesota: B
  • Nebraska: C-
  • Purdue: D+
  • Iowa: C
  • Illinois: D-
  • Northwestern: D-

Overall grades: Big Ten East

  • Ohio State: A
  • Penn State: B+
  • Michigan: B-
  • Michigan State: C+
  • Indiana: C
  • Maryland: D
  • Rutgers: F
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Rutgers at Indiana Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

(Author’s note: apologies to those viewing this on mobile. You may have more luck reading the table directly from the source.)

2019 Wisconsin Football Grade Book

Category Mich NW MSU @ Ill. @ OSU Iowa @ Neb Purdue @ Minn B1G Championship Rose Bowl
Category Mich NW MSU @ Ill. @ OSU Iowa @ Neb Purdue @ Minn B1G Championship Rose Bowl
Overall A- C+ A+ D- B- B- C B- A- B- C-
Unit Grade Composite A C+ A D B- B- C+ B B+ B- C+
Big Plays A- B A D C+ B- C B A C D
Game Control B D A+ F N/A C D- C A D D
Penalties & Discipline C- C+ A F C+ D C+ C- A B+ N/A
Offense A D A D+ C+ B B+ B+ A- B- C+
QB B D A D N/A C C- B- A B- C
OL A+ D+ A D- C+ B- A- B B+ B- C+
RB / FB A+ B B+ C N/A A A A B B+ B-
WR / TE B D A B N/A B+ B+ A A B C
Defense A A- A+ D- B C+ D+ C B B- B+
Pass rush A- A+ A+ D+ B C+ C+ C+ B+ B B+
Pass coverage B+ B+ A+ F B C- D+ D B- C+ A-
Run defense A+ B+ A+ F B B F B+ A+ B- B+
Special Teams C+ D B- C+ B C- B+ A+ B+ F A- & F
Kicking C- B+ B C B C- B A+ B D+ D+
Punting B C C B- B C- B- N/A C- F F
Returning C+ F B C+ B C- A N/A A D A+
Coverage C- B C C+ B N/A B N/A B+ D N/A
Coaching A C A F N/A B- C- C+ A B- N/A
Strategy A+ C A D N/A B- D+ C B+ B N/A
Adjustments B C N/A F N/A B C B A F N/A
Play Calling A C A F N/A B- C B- A+ B N/A