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B5Q Roundtable: life has no meaning, eat at Arby’s

I don’t know why, but we all watched this entire game and now we have some THOUGHTS on the matter.

Wisconsin v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Whatever, man. Sports are dumb. Here is what Owen, Bob, Tyler and Ryan had to say after the Wisconsin/Notre Dame curb stomping.

Is there anything to salvage from the offense as it is currently constructed? Does Paul Chryst need to hire a new offensive coordinator?

Bob: Even if there was some way to salvage the offense, there’s no chance the offense has any morale left after what its done to this point. I’d like to say Paul Chryst’s offense is stuck in 2009, but it’s worse than that. The development of the offensive line talent simply isn’t there, and the weapons Wisconsin does have in Danny Davis and Jake Ferguson are not involved enough. It feels like there is burnout on the offensive coaching staff.

I want Bob Bostad to coach the offensive line and Anyone Else designing the offense. But that probably won’t make an impact for 2-3 years since this current offense is doomed.

Owen: I think that there’s a little bit of being a prisoner of the moment going on here, but certainly some large scale changes need to be made to the Wisconsin offense.

Wisconsin v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

There are things that have gone right and have worked and Wisconsin simply hasn’t executed them. Wisconsin’s offensive line needs to improve, whether that means shortening the rotation, or trying different units for chemistry, but the basis for all of Wisconsin’s struggles can start up front. Graham Mertz clearly has lost all confidence, and the run game is suffering because of both the lack of effectiveness of quarterback play and the offensive line struggles.

The one thing that truthfully bothers me about the Wisconsin offense that is keeping a sour taste in the mouth, is the lack of identity offensively. Yeah yeah, the big Wisconsin offensive line and running backs bullshit is still repeated ad nauseam, but I couldn’t tell you the staple concept Wisconsin is leaning on in the run game or in the pass game. It’s like they’re running plays, not an offense.

Ryan: The offense is tragic. Wisconsin could skate by in the past with its current design because it had an amazing offensive line and guys like Montee Ball, James White, Melvin Gordon and Jonathan Taylor running the ball. But now, the offensive line is a shell of its former self and the play calling has been terrible.

Last season when Joe Rudolph took over calling plays, the offense lacked creativity and was flat. Reports have all shown that Paul Chryst is back calling the plays, but there is little excitement in what is being run. Wisconsin has weapons on offense, but barely uses them. Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor thrive with the ball in their hands when they have space to work with.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Wisconsin
Even if Davis caught this, there was no space to run.
Appleton Post Crescent-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin rarely runs jet sweeps anymore, allowing them to make things happen and when they are thrown the ball, its near the boundary or on a route that ends nowhere near the first down marker. Jalen Berger is another talented player who has yet to carry the ball more than 15 times in a game - he didn’t play against PSU and got two touches against Notre Dame.

In regards to Mertz, it seems like there has been little development that has occurred. He shows flashes from time to time, but the rest of the time it seems like he is put in a position to fail. A big part of that is the offensive line giving him little time. With the poor play calling last season and the lines demise, Rudolph could find himself on the chopping block. Wisconsin has a long history of looking within the program to fill major spots within the coaching ranks, but it may be time to look outside for a fresh perspective.

Tyler: No. This offense is stuck in the stone ages. It’s time to move the hell on. Kudos to Barry Alvarez for all he did with the power run but it seems to me that the game has evolved past Wisconsin. Maybe I’m being brash because I’m sitting on the train home from that dumpster fire but I think some serious changes need to be made beyond just some wrinkles and play calling changes.

This is doomed.

Does Graham Mertz get the start next week against Michigan?

Bob: Does he? You bet he will. Should he? Well, it’s hard to recommend Chase Wolf after watching him look even worse than Mertz.

Why not do a bunch of wacky stuff? You could try a Hail Mary every play and hope for pass interference. Or just run the wildcat all game. Or bring back the Veer! (Okay, maybe not that last one).

Everything is meaningless, so now is your chance to experiment.

Owen: Yes, because there is no other legitimate option. I understand the backup quarterback is always the most popular player on the team, but Chase Wolf has been objectively not good in his game experience thus far, Danny Vanden Boom hasn’t thrown a meaningful pass in three years, and Deacon Hill is a true freshman. Unless, of course, he’s the next messiah of Wisconsin football until it’s Myles Burkett, or whoever they get in the 2023 class.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Wisconsin Appleton Post Crescent-USA TODAY Sports

Graham Mertz gives your team the best chance to win. You play to win every week. This isn’t the NFL there is no “rebuilding”. A good way to lose your team and the upperclassmen is for the team to feel like you’re not actively trying to win. That’s bad process.

Ryan: Who else would start? As the person who handles the twitter account during games, I see many many people call for Mertz to be benched, but what are you going to do, start Chase Wolf? Wolf has thrown 12 passes and three have been intercepted. Danny Vanden Boom has seen very little action in a college game and Deacon HIll has never played.

Tyler: I suppose he does. At this point you ride with him for better or worse, right? Till death do us part? Who really cares. Throw Wolf in, IDGAF. Can’t be any worse. Sure the offense is inept but I think Mertz’s problems go deeper than that.

How are the special teams still not fixed? Blown kick coverage, punts not caught and two kick returners trying to catch the ball at the same time. What the hell?

Bob: I don’t know, man.

Owen: To me the only real issue is the punts not being caught. The kick returned for a touchdown sucks, but it happens. But for an offense with a margin for errer so small, giving up 10-20 yards because they can’t fair catch a punt is ridiculous.

Ryan: No clue. This is part of the team that has been bad for a while. Apart from Andy Vujnovich, there are some serious corrections that need to be made. What I want to know is, was it harder to kick the ball into the end zone at Soldier Field? Was the wind an issue? Was the decision to make every kick returnable a conscious decision? What is happening?

Tyler: It’s a joke. It’s been a joke. To me this further signals that Wisconsin has some deep issues. Offense is inept, special teams has been putrid for years, and let us not forget that there have been multiple off field issues popping up. Seems to me the cracks in the foundation are starting to show.

How impressive was the pass rush for the Badgers today?

Bob: If it weren’t for that pass rush, there would have been zero redeeming qualities for the day. It’s fierce and beautiful. However, the pessimism sets in big time and I am reminded it’s all a waste.

Owen: If Wisconsin’s pass rush was anything of a sign to come, Wisconsin might beat the 51 sacks they had in 2019. Nick Herbig is the future at outside linebacker, but the consistent pressure generated by the inside linebackers is encouraging as well. The defensive line has also continued to push the pocket, which is gonna be tough for everyone the Badgers play moving forward.

Wisconsin v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Ryan: Very. Six total sacks is unheard of. Jim Leonhard does an amazing job of dialing up pressure and they deserve so much more and what is even more insane is that while the offense can barely stay on the field, the defense is overworked and is still successful.

Tyler: Impressive, but sadly it wasn’t enough. This defense deserves so much more than to be 1-2. Jim Leonhard is Wizard, and that group has been incredibly impressive. We should be talking all about that yet they’ll once again be the underlying topic.

Any game balls to give out? Feel free to make them all defensive.

Bob: Jim Leonhard made a great catch on the sideline! Ummmm it’s hard to tell exactly what worked well on the defense because I was watching in person, but Faion Hicks and Nick Herbig seemed pretty solid.

Owen: Nick Herbig, Faion Hicks, Rodas Johnson. That should do it.

Ryan: Jim Leonhard’s catch on the sideline was the play of the game, so he definitely deserves to keep that ball, even though Torchio knocked it out of his hands. Nick Herbig with two sacks and Faion Hicks’ four PBU’s also deserve game balls.

Wisconsin v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Tyler: Hicks played great. Herbig was great. Chenal was great. Leonhard was great. Still wasn’t enough. Sorry all, I’m salty.

How many games does Wisconsin win this year?

Bob: I was told I could complain about Soldier Field and the game-day festivities surrounding Soldier Field, so I’m going to do that. There was an event run by the alumni association to the north of the field. We were told there would be appearances by UW stars and the band. We got Becky Black and Chris McIntosh for a total of two minutes and no band.

Further, the one (ONE!!!) beer stand was selling $13 warm beer cans. There was a single hot dog stand servicing the northern exterior of the stadium. There was a Wendy’s cart on the eastern exterior of the stadium. That’s it.

Inside the stadium was worse. The food and beverage stands were staffed at about 35% capacity. We stood in line from 10:15-10:40 to get a beer before the game. During the game, others around us were reporting 40 minute wait times for concessions. Simply maneuvering around the stadium is extremely confusing, nobody consulted a UI expert when creating an awful stadium.

Why Soldier Field was chosen is beyond me. Actually, it’s not. Money is the reason (although I can’t really say how Soldier Field made UW or ND any more money than playing anywhere else).

Badgers are going to end the regular season with six wins. It’s that bad.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 25 Shamrock Series - Notre Dame v Wisconsin Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Owen: I still think this team wins eight or nine games, all things considered - Iowa, Michigan and Army will all be tough, but the rest are extremely winnable and I think Wisconsin comes out swinging next week against Michigan. Worst case, they lose two of those three games and finish 8-4.

Wisconsin isn’t as good as fans want, but their two losses are to top 15 teams, and they WERE LEADING IN THE 4TH QUARTER OF THIS STUPID GAME.

Ryan: I don’t even know anymore. I thought Wisconsin would end up with at most two losses this season and here they are with two losses in the first three games. I will say Wisconsin will end up at 7-5, maybe 6-6?

Tyler: love Bob’s comments about Soldier Field. That place is a dumpster fire. Neutral site games should be fired into the sun. Game would have been so much better in South Bend.

Anyway…..I think this team gets to a bowl game. 7-5 at best? No game feels like a surefire win but the defense will win them a few. Frisco Bowl? Jesus.