Here is our weekly roundtable featuring Ryan, Owen, Belz and Tyler. Everyone seems to agree that yesterday ruled and I’m inclined to also agree. YESTERDAY RULED! Let’s break down what ruled.
So. THAT was a pretty good game. What are your overall thoughts on Wisconsin stomping a mud-hole in Michigan on Saturday?
Ryan: This was the perfect way to start off the Big Ten season, and the perfect way to make a statement. Wisconsin’s offensive approach was aggressive and methodical. Wisconsin broke Michigan’s will and never let up. Defensively, Wisconsin hit hard and brought the pressure, all game.
Owen: I think it was the best possible outcome for a program coming off of a “down year”. I had doubts if UW was for real or not following the first two games against some suspect competition — they’re for real folks. Offensively the identity seems as strong as it’s been under Chryst and Rudolph, all while continuing to add wrinkles and becoming more modern.
Belz: That. Was. Fun. Camp Randall was saucy for the first time in a while for an 11 a.m. kickoff. The Badgers looked very good, especially on offense. The defense looked amazing until both starting safeties took early exits due to the targeting calls. Overall the team had a really great energy on the field and on the sidelines which is cool to see.
Tyler: As Owen said I think it was the best possible start after a down year. The Badgers rolled their first two games but didn’t get nearly enough credit for it. To then come out and roll a team that many picked to be in the College Football Playoff is huge. This team is for real and I think everyone saw that on full display yesterday. Now its time to refocus and take care of business against Northwestern.
On a scale of 10 to 11 how good was Paul Chryst’s play-calling on fourth down and, honestly, throughout the game?
Ryan: I don’t think we can stop at 11… I have never seen a Wisconsin football team be that aggressive and I loved every second of it. You can tell that Coach Dad has trust in his offense to convert when needed and his defense to pick his offense up if they cannot.
Owen: Matt stole what I was going to say. In the past people have complained about Chryst’s lack of aggressiveness, but it’s a lot easier to be confident and aggressive when your team seems to be clicking on all cylinders.
Belz: I loved to see an aggressive Paul Chryst. He showed creativity in his early game calls, and trusted the offense. I think his aggressiveness is a strong indication of his confidence in the team.
Tyler: Paul put the Big Boy Pants on yesterday and I absolutely loved it. I was so impressed with not only going for it, but how he seemingly didn’t think twice about it. I love the confidence and I think it shows the team that as well. Kicking is for losers.
Who gets your game balls on offense and on defense for the game?
Ryan: On offense, I’m going to give it to Jonathan Taylor. He kept getting fed the ball and ground out a lot of yards and was even able to break away on a 72-yard score.
On defense, Zack Baun. He was constantly in the backfield, as he has been all season. Baun recorded a sack, two tackles for loss, two QB hurries and a forced fumble.
Owen: I’m going give it to the offensive line. Regardless of Michigan’s current offensive woes, their defense is still very talent laden and Wisconsin completely controlled the line of scrimmage all day long. Rushing for over like 350 yards against a defense of Michigan’s quality is obnoxiously good.
Belz: On offense I think Jack Coan. His stat line of 128 yards through the air won’t wow anyone, but he was efficient. He completed 81% of his throws and was able to make plays with his legs. Pile on no turnovers, and he had a great game.
On defense Eric Burrell. While he only played a little more than a half of football because of a targeting call, he was all over the field making plays. He had an interception and a fumble recovery, and was steady in coverage.
Tyler: I am giving the game ball to Jack Coan. You can give it to JT almost every week, but I was impressed with Coan again. He threw the ball well, took care of the ball, but he also had command of the offense and the huddle. Lastly, he threw his body on the line on a few scrambles which always hypes the crowd and gets your teammates to have confidence in you as their QB. Jack was awesome yesterday.
Are you worried about the kicking game at all?
Ryan: I felt better about the punting game yesterday, Anthony Lotti did a good job of flipping the field and landed a few punts inside the 10, but coverage was unable to down the ball. Hintze is automatic on kick offs. While Collin Larsh is 1-for-4 on the season, he has been close on his misses. He also has enough of a leg to kick from long range, hitting the post on a 48-yard kick yesterday. With Wisconsin’s ability to score touchdowns at a high rate, the kicking game may not be leaned on too greatly.
Owen: The kicking game is a really touchy thing. I think as long as the staff keeps showing confidence in Larsh, there’s no real reason for worry. Obviously if this continues, a remedy will have to be in order.
Belz: I felt a lot better about the punting yesterday, but the kicking game has been shaky all season. Collin Larsh was good in practice during fall camp, but that has yet to materialize in the first three games. Because of that, yes, I am a bit worried.
Tyler: Kicking, very much yes. Punting, no. Normally on a missed kick you at least see some velocity on the ball. From where I was sitting, the ball had no strength behind it. It looked like a duck throw. I think field goals are going to be a major concern. All the more reason to go for it.
As I said earlier, kicking is for losers.
What is Wisconsin’s updated ceiling this year?
Ryan: I think the ceiling is as high as the Badgers want it to be. Looking at the remaining schedule, the only game I am worried about is the Ohio State game. Like Owen, I think Wisconsin could work their way into the College Football Playoff conversation.
Owen: I can’t believe I’m saying this, really, but if they play like this against Ohio State in Columbus, or at least well enough to really not know how a potential B1GCG could turn out, a trip to the CFP shouldn’t be completely out of the picture.
Tyler: Wisconsin is a top ten winningest program over the last decade plus, as is Ohio State. They’re the only two Big Ten teams on this list. They’re the top two programs in the conference, and it has been that way for a while now. Media will try to sell you on Michigan and Nebraska, but the numbers tell all. These two should meet in Indy, and we’ll see from there.