College football is getting closer and closer every day, which means we’ll be back at Camp Randall watching the Badgers before you know it. While excitement builds for the fan base, the team gets into the grind parts of Fall camp. They’re now a second full week in, with another still ahead of them before they fall into “game week”.
We’re starting to see a clearer picture at some positions, but others appear to still be open for some competition. Here are some of the storylines standing out after week two.
Panic! (At Camp Randall)
If you follow the many respected beat writers that cover the Wisconsin Badgers you likely saw a flood of tweets in regards to Braelon Allen and him not being a part of Monday’s open practice. If you’re like me, that immediately sent you into a bit of panic as the Badgers are very reliant on the now 18-year-old star tailback.
Despite the bit of panic, it sounds like Allen is just a little banged up and the Wisconsin staff is being overly cautious with him. If he’s not 100% there's no reason for him to be going this early in Fall camp. While that did tamper the panic a bit, it is certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward.
With Allen out, it sounds like tailback Chez Mellusi and Isaac Gurendo have had solid days and were able to get some more reps, which isn't a bad thing considering both are coming off injuries from last season. Mellusi, especially, has been really impressive given the seriousness of his injury a season ago. Braelon Allen is certainly the focal point, but Mellusi is looking like he’ll give Wisconsin that lethal 1-2 punch at the running back position. He appears ready to go and rolling thus far. Don’t believe me? See for yourself!
The Shuffle Continues
Last week a lot of the chatter around Fall camp was about the offensive line with all sorts of movement happening on that front. This week, that continues to be a focal point as many players are working in different areas and battling out for positioning.
Right tackle was the main area to watch with Riley Mahlman, Logan Brown, and Nolan Rucci all competing for the starting spot. It appears Mahlman has the edge right now as he continues to get first-team reps, while Logan Brown works in the second-team role.
Another area of attention was at center. Joe Tippman is the established starter, but Tanor Bortoloini moved there to take backup snaps. Unfortunately, Bortoloini left practice yesterday with an injury and is still being evaluated according to UW officials.
Offensive line coach Bob Bostad has mentioned that he wants depth at center multiple times, and it appears he may need to look to some newer faces to lock down that backup spot at least for the time being. Former 4-star Trey Wedig and 3-star Dylan Barett appear to have been getting reps at those spots. Wedig, especially, would be interesting to see at the center position as he’s just plain big standing at 6’8”. Hopefully, Bortolini is able to return from injury soon as he is a valuable piece to the offensive line room.
Can the defense get some love?
A lot of the off-season talk has been on the offensive side of the football, which is understandable. It’s the unit that struggled the most and is looking for some improvement to elevate this team. However, this defense deserves some love and attention too as the vibes continue to improve.
Defense was vibin' last night pic.twitter.com/R3JiHNpjuo— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) August 12, 2022
Despite some new faces to the fold, this group is expected to be pretty good once again as is a tradition at Wisconsin. It starts with the familiar stars in outside linebacker Nick Herbig and defensive tackle Keanu Benton, but there are some others making waves in camp.
Up front, Rodas Johnson seems to be a continual name popping up on the defensive line. He, along with Isaiah Mullens, are looking to replace what the Badgers had in Matt Hennigsen a season ago.
The outside linebacker position opposite of Nick Herbig is one that has been a focal point as well. It appears Daryl Peterson has gotten a lot of first-team reps and was even included in a little scuffle with offensive lineman Jack Nelson.
Darryl Peterson saw first-team reps at OLB opposite Nick Herbig and was involved with a scuffle with Jack Nelson during 11-on-11 time.— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) August 15, 2022
Now, I must say, scuffling with Jack Nelson takes some guts. If you recall, Nelson was a player who tends to play to the whistle and was on the receiving end of some unnecessary roughness and personal foul calls a season ago. To translate, he isn’t a guy that I, personally, would want to mess with. Kudos to Daryl Peterson for having that confidence. That’s what you want in your linebacker room!
The rest of the defense we haven’t heard a ton from, but that isn’t a bad thing. At inside linebacker, it appears that Jake Chaney and Jordan Turner are getting first-team reps, but there are likely multiple others in the fold for those two open spots.
The secondary appears to be open, but deep, as transfers Cedrick Dort, Jay Shaw, and Justin Clark have all worked with the ones, along with sophomore Ricardo Hallman. The safety room has been mostly John Torchio and Hunter Wohler, but neither position is much of a surprise. Utah transfer Kamoi Latu is another interesting player to keep an eye on at that spot.