Hello beautiful people, it’s time to talk football. Live, hard-hitting, football. No more preseason questions or hypotheticals. This is the nitty gritty we live for. The Badgers will kick off the 2019 season this week, and this post will tell you what the Badgers need to do to come out on top each and every week.
Here are the Badgers’ keys to victory, starting with their road trip to the Sunshine State.
Run the Dang Football
This was a common key last year and every year in the history of Wisconsin Football. However, it’s even more prevalent against the Bulls. Last year, South Florida started out hot going 7-0 but lost their remaining six games down the stretch.
Over the course of that losing streak, USF gave up an average of 39 points per game. They were heavily gashed on the ground, ranking 122nd in rushing defense for the entire season; they were much better against the pass, ranking 35th.
With the Badgers ranking 6th in rushing offense a year ago, this mismatch needs to be exploited. The Badgers have the best running back in college football, and I expect a heavy dose of Jonathan Taylor and the other backs. Early and often.
While Wisconsin will want to give Jack Coan some high percentage throws, this should be a ground and pound, get out of there type game. If they do that, the offense should have no trouble scoring points.
Get Guys in the Backfield
On defense, the Badgers do not have as easy of an option against South Florida. The Bulls defense clearly has a gap, but you cant say the same for their offense. Actually, the South Florida offense has a pretty strong core of returning players. Jordan Cronkrite comes into the season as the #2 returning rusher in the conference. Quarterback Blake Barnett comes in as the second leading returning passer.
With seven additional starters back, South Florida certainly has pieces. However, they were wildly inconsistent as you can see by the obvious highs and lows in their 2018 season. To me, I think the key will be getting pressure in both running and passing downs. You want to have guys like Zack Baun in the backfield right out of the gate.
Cronkrite is the obvious go-to piece, and slowing him down will be important. If you force Barnett to beat you, you’re likely going to have some mistakes fall into your hand. Last fall, Barnett threw for 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He’s going to make bad decisions at times, and you can force that issue by getting pressure on him and taking away his crutch in Cronkrite.
Aaron Rodgers made it famous, and I’m going to apply it to the Badgers in Week 1 too.
Why? Because its the first game AND its the first true road game to open the season in quite a long time. The last time the Badgers opened with a true road game was 2010 at UNLV.
The opener in general gives guys some jitters, and being on the road will only heighten that. I would not be surprised at all if it takes the Badgers a little bit of time to get their feet under them. They do this even in the home openers against much worse teams.
Raymond-James Stadium isn’t really an intimidating environment, but its still an unfamiliar place. The best thing the Badgers can do is work the nerves out, and get used to the environment and pace. When they do that and start playing football as they have many times before, they should take control of this game and put it away.
If they’re able to do each of these things, they should return to Madison for their own home opener 1-0.