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Stock up, stock down from 1st half of Badgers vs. Buffalo

Who’s stood out so far in the first half of Wisconsin’s Week 1 game?

The Wisconsin Badgers came into the season with significant hype, starting off the year against the Buffalo Bulls at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.

Through one half though, it’s been a slow start offensively, as the Badgers are leading 14-10 after a late touchdown drive.

Despite the up-and-down performance overall, there are still some standouts on either side of the ball, while some have struggled to start.

Whose stock is up and down through 30 minutes of action between the Badgers and the Bulls?

Stock Up

S Hunter Wohler

With the departure of safety John Torchio to the NFL, Hunter Wohler has been pegged as the next breakout candidate for the Badgers throughout the offseason.

Through one half, Wohler has lived up to the buzz, making an early impact with two tackles on the first drive and another good angle on the team’s second drive.

Wohler consistently put himself in good positions with his angles and instincts, triggering fast and getting to the ball quickly.

His lone missed play was a miscommunication with cornerback Alexander Smith, leaving an open receiver on the outside in the flat for a seven-yard pass.

Other than that, Wohler has been stellar so far.

RB Chez Mellusi

Chez Mellusi looks like a man on a mission at the moment, playing faster and with good patience in the first half thus far.

Mellusi earned nine carries for 62 yards and a touchdown in the first half, breaking away a number of big runs, proving his value as an elite No. 2 college back to Braelon Allen.

It’s been an even split, with Mellusi earning nine carries and Allen seeing eight in the first half, and Mellusi is playing hard.

His efforts, combined with good run blocking from the offensive line, have led to a stronger run game, offsetting some of the issues in the aerial attack thus far.


With the injury to center Jake Renfro, there were questions on how well the offensive line would gel in Week 1, as Tanor Bortolini took over at center, while Joe Huber slid into the left guard role.

While the passing attack hasn’t fully gone according to expectations, I thought the offensive line held their ground in the first half, especially on the ground, where they set up holes at the line of scrimmage for running backs to operate through for bigger gains.

In the passing game, Mordecai hasn’t seen too much pressure, with only one sack coming from Buffalo thus far on a linebacker blitz that beat Braelon Allen in pass protection.

Again, it’s important to note the level of difficulty that the group will see later in the season, but it’s been a solid start for the Badgers’ offensive line.

Stock Down

S Kamo’i Latu

Coming into the season, the biggest question about safety Kamo’i Latu was whether he’d show improvements in his tackling and angles to ball-carriers.

Through the first half, Latu has been inconsistent on that front, having three missed tackles and a bad angle on a different play that led to extra yardage.

Latu has real power on hits, but needs to be more technically refined when looking to tackle, rather than attempting for a big play, and that was the case on one of his misses Saturday.

In coverage, Latu was beaten by a great route from wideout Cole Harrity, leading to Buffalo’s lone touchdown.

Latu did have some solid plays, making a key run stop to force a 4th & 1, which the Badgers stuffed, while also nearly intercepting a pass before being accidentally hit by his own teammate in Nyzier Fourqueran.

But, he needs to improve as a tackler and with his angles.

HC Luke Fickell

Fickell’s placing on this list comes down to primarily one decision: the choice to punt in opponent territory at the Buffalo 42-yard line on 4th & 3.

The Badgers were moving the ball on a six-play, 38-yard drive, while a Tanner Mordecai scramble on 3rd & 5 led them to a 4th & 3.

After contemplating an offensive play, Fickell elected to punt and take a delay of game, essentially leaving Buffalo deep in their territory.

With the offense getting its feet underneath them, you would’ve liked some additional confidence in the group, but instead, Fickell elected for conservativeness.

Can that move slide in this game? Potentially. But, you would’ve liked to see the Badgers continue to put their foot on the gas pedal and trust their defense to get a stop had they not converted.

WR Skyler Bell

Skyler Bell’s reps were obviously limited in the first half, given Will Pauling’s ascendance in the slot, but the wideout still saw some opportunities come his way.

Unfortunately, after a short bubble screen on his first target, Bell had a huge opportunity for a 60-yard touchdown, getting behind the defense and earning a ball on the money from Tanner Mordecai, but the wideout dropped the pass.

To make matters worse, Mordecai threw an interception two plays later, killing the momentum of the offense.

Bell has three catches for 14 yards thus far, but that drop was a huge killer for the Badgers.