With poor weather conditions, the passing game took a backseat, while the running backs starred in a strong effort on the ground to propel the Badgers to a quick start.
Here are the offensive grades for the Badgers in Week 10.
Graham Mertz struggled in the air, completing just 5/18 passes for 77 yards on the day.
However, Mertz suffered through severe weather conditions, which limited the passing game significantly as the wind appeared to alter several throws.
There was one stretch of the game where the weather was good enough for the passing attack to be unleashed, but Mertz did have his inaccuracies during that period, which stalled the Wisconsin offense during the middle of the game.
But, it’s good to see Mertz have confidence in his receivers to continue throwing downfield shots, which resulted in one pass-interference penalty on a well-placed ball to Keontez Lewis.
Overall, while the passing numbers were poor, it’s tough to take much from this game from Mertz, given the conditions, as both aerial attacks significantly struggled on Saturday.
Running Backs: A
With the windy and rainy weather, it was clear that this game would be orchestrated on the ground for the majority of the time.
Wisconsin had a great rushing attack, gaining nearly 300 yards, while averaging 6.7 yards per carry, despite Maryland knowing that the Badgers would utilize the ground game significantly.
Braelon Allen led the way with 119 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, but backup Isaac Guerendo had a monster game with 114 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Allen continues to improve as the season goes along, identifying holes quicker, while expressing patience for the pullers to engage on their blocks before crashing the running lane.
But, Guerendo continues to prove why he should receive carries on a consistent basis, rushing for an 89-yard touchdown with help from Chimere Dike as a blocker after hitting the edge quickly.
Guerendo’s speed is unlike anyone at the running back position, which is why I’ve been clamoring for the Badgers for weeks to utilize him more in the backfield, given the balance it provides with Allen, whose a powerful rusher between the tackles.
Wide Receivers: B
With only five completions, the receivers didn’t see much action in the passing game, as only Chimere Dike and Keontez Lewis were targeted for the Badgers.
However, Skyler Bell had a big impact in this game, rushing for 53 yards on two jet sweeps that resulted in first downs.
Bell’s speed and ability after the catch have made him a prime candidate for jet sweeps every game, which has added an extra element to Wisconsin’s motion offense under Bobby Engram.
For the second straight week, Mertz and Lewis struggled to consistently connect, as the duo had just one completion on five targets, but it appears that trust hasn’t waned as the former UCLA receiver continues to see significant action in the receiving game.
The Badgers limited mistakes by their skill-position players with no drops from receivers in this game, hence the B grade despite limited action.
Tight Ends: B
No tight end earned a single target in Saturday’s bout, despite the return of tight end Hayden Rucci from an injury that he sustained weeks before.
But, Rucci was an integral piece in Wisconsin’s rushing attack, serving as a key blocker on Skyler Bell’s 36-yard gain off a jet sweep.
With Rucci back in the fold, Wisconsin’s offensive line should be relieved of some pressure, while the offense can be more diverse, as the tight end is essentially a jumbo offensive lineman on some plays with the ability to catch passes.
With Rucci and backup Jack Eschenbach, the Badgers are now more insulated at tight end after being down to just the latter and freshman Jaylan Franklin against Purdue.
Offensive Line: A
Perhaps the best position group for the Badgers this weekend, the offensive line was churning on all cylinders against the Terrapins.
In a game that was decided on the ground, the offensive line created several opportunities for the running backs to operate, and executed well enough to create several big plays.
In the passing game, Graham Mertz had enough time to facilitate in the pocket, which had been an issue at times in weeks past.
The offensive line had yet another change to the starting lineup, as Tanor Bortolini replaced Tyler Beach at left guard, while Trey Wedig slid into the right guard spot to accommodate Riley Mahlman.
Despite the turnover, the offensive line operated well and worked in cohesion with each other, which was vital given the weather conditions.
With players coming back to full strength along the front five, Wisconsin is working its way to unleashing the potential that this roster had at the beginning of the season.