The Wisconsin Badgers won a tight-knit game, defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers 15-14 after trailing for a majority of the afternoon last Saturday.
Here are the grades for the rest of the offense.
Wide Receivers: C-
While Graham Mertz had a poor outing against Nebraska, Wisconsin’s wide receivers struggled as well, failing to gain separation on several instances, while dropping passes as well.
Chimere Dike had a rough game, dropping an early 1st down pass from Graham Mertz, while failing to haul in a floated pass later on due to an incoming defender, although his quarterback should’ve fired the pass in.
Later, with a chance to score a touchdown, Dike couldn’t corral in a 3rd & Goal pass from Mertz, as he lost control while falling to the ground after initially making the catch.
Overall, Dike ended with zero catches in a disappointing performance.
Skyler Bell overcame an initial drop on Wisconsin’s first drive, but missed out on a touchdown opportunity when Mertz underthrew a pass after he beat his defender, resulting in a poor interception.
Once again, Bell had a nice 10-yard gain off a jet sweep, which has been his calling card this year as one of Wisconsin’s faster receivers.
Bell also hauled in Mertz’s lone passing touchdown of the day, which was his lone catch, as he ended with just 20 total yards.
Keontez Lewis was Mertz’s most-targeted receiver, catching three passes for 31 yards, but the UCLA transfer struggled to gain separation for the majority of the game.
Additionally, Lewis couldn’t haul in a nice 3rd & 13 throw from Mertz on Wisconsin’s second-to-last drive, failing to get his feet inbounds.
Overall, it was an uninspiring performance from Wisconsin’s wide receiver group.
Tight Ends: C
Tight end Jack Eschenbach was another culprit in failing to separate, resulting in a 50% catch rate.
In Nebraska territory, on a third down opportunity, Mertz locked into Eschenbach as his first read, floating out an incompletion, but the tight end could not separate on the play.
Later, while running a stick route, Eschenbach couldn’t separate again on a 3rd & 4, resulting in another incompletion, forcing the end of a drive.
Eschenbach did haul in two passes for 15 yards on play-action passes to the flat, and his quarterback didn’t do him favors, but it was a struggle to separate for Wisconsin’s main tight end in the passing game.
Offensive Line: A
The offensive line was consistent all afternoon, which was a question going into the game given the unavailability of starting guard Trey Wedig, but they proved to be effective.
All afternoon, even with the Nebraska defense understanding Wisconsin’s run-heavy approach offensively, the offensive line created holes for Braelon Allen, Chez Mellusi, and Isaac Guerendo, leading to a 4.9 yards per carry mark on 50+ carries.
The offensive line did have a couple of whiffs, resulting in tackles for loss, but also weren’t helped by Allen’s desire to avoid contact later in the game, which forced him to go away from the holes created.
Wisconsin’s front five also kept Graham Mertz untouched for the majority of the game, resulting in yet another strong performance.
If any criticism was there, left tackle Jack Nelson did commit another clipping penalty, which has been an unfortunate recurring theme recently.
But, overall, this game was dependent on the trenches, given the inconsistencies of Graham Mertz in the passing game, and the offensive line delivered.