MADISON -- Without being prompted, Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen began his post-practice media session Thursday by reiterating the challenge his defensive backs will face Saturday against Indiana.
Much has been made this week of the potency of the Hoosiers' offense, but the more tape Andersen watches, the more worried he's become.
"This will be a tremendous challenge for our back end on defense," Andersen said. "We'll see how this game goes. It's a very, very good offense. The more I watch them on tape, really the more concerning they become in terms of how potent these guys are."
Indiana ranks ninth in the country in points per game (43.1) and eighth in yards per game (527.1). Dating back to last season, the Hoosiers have scored at least 28 points in 10 straight games.
There are also plenty of numbers that favor the Badgers. Along with a top-10 ranking in both scoring defense and total defense, Wisconsin is 24-4 in regular-season games after Nov. 1 since 2006 and has won 11 of 12 games in Camp Randall Stadium during that span.
Andersen doesn't live in the past, though, and everything he's seen in the film room this week indicates Indiana's passing attack will be as difficult to defend as it seems.
"We all know the facts and stats, but they back it up on film," Andersen said. "So, it's going to be a big test. We've got a lot of work to do between now and Saturday morning at 11 o'clock to get ready to play these guys, I'll tell you that much."
Big-play passing game
As good as Indiana's passing game has performed this season, its secondary has been just as bad at stopping opposing threats through the air.
The Hoosiers allow more than 300 passing yards per game, which ranks 119th in the country, and Andersen hopes this could be the week the Badgers' passing game gets on a roll.
The head coach has also noted he wants to see the play-action game executed better than it did last week against BYU.
"When we can get the ball downfield, it really opens up the run game," Andersen said. "It would be nice to see Jared (Abbrederis) get rolling again and get some big plays for us in the throw game. It's in the game plan, and we'll see if we can get it executed."
Andersen impressed with punting game
Sophomore Drew Meyer's 38.1 average on 40 punts this season ranks 96th in the country, but Andersen said that stat can be misleading.
Andersen said Meyer has often found himself punting the ball near midfield this season, leaving less room for distance and more emphasis on precision.
"His pins are really good," Andersen said. "He does a nice job of kicking the ball and getting it up in the air. Our coverage has been good, but he's punted so many times from the 40 to the 50 to our 40 going in, those aren't going to be boomers as far as yardage, but the end result is what we're looking for -- inside the 20-yard line, and many times he's put it inside the 10. He's getting better and better."
This comment comes the same week Andersen said he gained more confidence in kicker Jack Russell after making two field goals against BYU. It appears many aspects of the Badgers' special teams could be rounding into form heading into the final stretch of the season.
Lewallen ruled out against Indiana
Andersen confirmed the expected news that center Dallas Lewallen will miss his second straight game against Indiana.
Lewallen, who suffered a leg injury against Purdue earlier in the season, has missed Wisconsin's games against Ohio State and BYU.
"Dallas hasn't done anything in practice, so he won't be ready to go," Andersen said. "We're in a good spot. Dan has played well."
Redshirt freshman Dan Voltz will start in Lewallen's place Saturday, and Andersen said Ryan Groy would likely shift over to center if something happened to Voltz.
More from Bucky's 5th Quarter:
- New responsibilities for Dezmen Southward, Nate Hammon give Badgers' defense more versatility
- RB Caleb Kinlaw becomes Wisconsin's 19th 2014 commit
- WISCruiting Roundup: Checking in with Joe Mixon, plus visits of the past and future
- Three Thoughts from Section 103: Florida Edition
- 2013 WIAA playoffs: Dominic Cizauskas, Jaden Gault, others advance
- Week 12 preview: Indiana vs. Wisconsin