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Grading Wisconsin’s blowout loss to Michigan

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Nothing is bouncing the Badgers’ way right now.

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

Rubric - Wisconsin Football Unit Grades

Grade Description - accounting for degree of difficulty
Grade Description - accounting for degree of difficulty
A Excellent: Top-5 level performance
B Very good: Top-tier Big Ten performance
C Acceptable: Average for the Big Ten
D Unacceptable: Below average for the Big Ten
F Failure: Rutgers level performance
N/A Insufficient evidence for a grade

Offense: C

QB: B-
O-line: C-
RB/FB: C
WR/TE: B-

Rationale:

For the third time in four games, the Badgers played a talented defense, and for the third time in four games...the offense struggled to consistently produce.

Graham Mertz started slowly, but near the end of the first half looked like the quarterback that the Badgers’ faithful yearned for. A completion to Jake Ferguson and two big throws to Chimere Dike and Mertz really looked to have the swagger that had been missing, but on the first drive of the second he was knocked out of the game with an apparent rib injury, and didn’t return.

The Wisconsin offensive line struggled to protect Mertz or Chase Wolf all day. With Joe Tippmann getting injured during pre-game (just one of those years it seems), it appeared as though Wisconsin cut down on the offensive line rotation in this game, but pass protection was an issue all game. Tyler Beach, the fifth year senior left tackle, gave up three or four sacks, and it bears the question: is Logan Brown behind where they expected him? Or does Beach really give them the best chance to win?

The running game never really got going, a result of the offensive line not being able to carve out running lanes against a very tough Michigan defensive front. Braelon Allen and Jalen Berger seemed to have more success than Chez Mellusi, but none of them really ever got going.

The receivers and tight ends made plays when they had opportunities to. When the offense gave itself a shot, it played alright, but those opportunities were few and far between.

Defense: B+

Pass rush: C+
Pass coverage: B
Run defense: A-

Rationale:

Wisconsin’s defense is very good, but simply can’t shoulder the load for an entire 60 minutes, every week. They eventually gave up some plays in the passing game, but against a team as talented as Michigan, it’s going to happen at some point.

Wisconsin wasn’t able to generate the pass rush on Michigan like they were against Notre Dame, but a lot of that had to do with Michigan being able to run the ball a bit better than the Irish were. It wasn’t non-existent, but didn’t have the success they did a week ago.

For the most part, coverage was good enough. Caesar Williams and Faion Hicks both got beat down the field at times, but overall they didn’t allow Michigan to throw all over them. Michigan kept taking chances, and eventually hit them.

The run defense was insane yet again, Wisconsin is allowing fewer than 40 yards rushing per game on average, but Wisconsin’s offense has given opposing offenses too many opportunities, and at a certain point the dam will break.

Special Teams: C+

Kicking: B
Punting: B
Returning: C
Coverage: D+

Rationale:

Collin Larsh and Andy Vujnovich did their jobs and did what they were supposed to do, but Jack Van Dyke kicked a kickoff out of bounds, which gave Michigan a short field. Wisconsin, to my recollection, didn’t return a kick. Nothing but touchbacks from Michigan.

Michigan didn’t have any big returns, but a miscue by true freshman Hunter Wohler allowed Michigan a field goal in the second quarter. Wisconsin just can’t get out of their own way this year.

Coaching: C

Strategy: C-
Adjustments: C
Play-calling: C

Rationale:

I don’t know, man. Wisconsin struggled to execute in the first quarter, but other than that Wisconsin, to me, showed some improvement from last week. Obviously they lost and the results weren’t great, but the team isn’t quitting and keeps fighting - there’s something to that as a coaching staff.

The only real issue I have “adjustment” wise is the fact that Tyler Beach continued to get beat at left tackle and there was no sight of Logan Brown. /shrugs

Overall grade: C-

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

Rationale:

I’m gonna keep this grade the same as it was last week. This game was more competitive than the final indicated, as a couple big plays late from Michigan really stretched it out. However, simply put, the Badgers didn’t play well enough to win against a tough opponent, which has become a pattern this season.

Until Wisconsin stops beating itself, I don’t expect them to beat anyone else of note. That sentence was tough to type, but it’s the reality at the moment.