To continue our summer of football preview content at Bucky’s 5th Quarter, we are counting down Wisconsin’s Top 10 Most Important Players for the 2019 football season. These aren’t necessarily the “best” players on Wisconsin’s team, although you will find many of those listed, but they have been deemed the most important to Wisconsin’s success this year by our motley crew of writers.
There was much debate via email over who should be on the list and it even resulted in Drew going to Owen’s house and ding dong ditching him. Cooler heads eventually prevailed and now we have our final list to present to you.
We have finally arrived at No. 1 on that list, running back Jonathan Taylor
2018 stats: 13 games played (13 starts), 307 rushes, 2194 yards, 16 touchdowns, 8 receptions 75 yards
2018 year in review: Taylor had one of the most prolific rushing seasons in the history of Wisconsin football. Considering the bevy of talented running backs that have carried the ball as a Badger, this is no small feat. Taylor was the offensive bell cow for a primarily one dimensional offense (hey, it’s complicated). Consistently facing eight or nine man defenders at the line of scrimmage, Taylor still managed to lead the nation in rushing yards.
2019 year in preview: Without question the Badgers offense will rely heavily on Taylor for success. Taylor has over 600 rush attempts in his first two seasons and figures to get a bulk of the carries again this year. To the coaches’ credit, they seem to understand the volume of carries for Taylor needs to be monitored. In an interview with The Athletic, running backs coach John Settle noted the Badgers will look to reduce the number of Taylor’s rush attempts but increase his involvement in the passing game.
Taylor has his sights set on the NFL and will likely be headed there after this season. Staying on the field during third downs to display his receiving and pass blocking skills will play a huge role in his success at the next level. For the Badgers, having Taylor as more of a dual threat on offense should help alleviate some of the stacked defenses at the line of scrimmage.
Regardless of who ends up winning the quarterback job, Taylor will be counted on to provide a ton of relief. If Taylor can expand his play making ability through screens and short passes, it will be an excellent safety value and help make the Badgers offense less predictable. It may be asking a lot from Taylor, but if he has shown anything during his time at Wisconsin, he is more than capable of smashing high expectations. I expect the 2019 season will be no different. So enjoy the ride Badger fans, we are witnessing one of the greats.