The Wisconsin Badgers’ offense started to click on all cylinders this weekend, scoring on each of their first three drives, while reaching paydirt via a touchdown or field goal a combined seven times against Purdue on Saturday.
While the Badgers will likely look to improve from their three field goals, it was a good sign for a Wisconsin offense that had shown signs of potential, but hadn't really put it all together.
How did the Badgers start hot? It began with an incorporation of the quarterback run, as Tanner Mordecai scored the team’s first touchdown on a designed run, which had been Purdue’s kryptonite in past weeks.
But, another added element was the off-script ability of Mordecai, who scrambled for the Badgers’ second touchdown, while making a couple of plays throughout the game in that way.
Following the game, head coach Luke Fickell praised his quarterback, adding that Mordecai’s off-script ability may be the strongest facet of his skillset.
“[Off-script] is where Tanner, I think, sometimes is best,” Fickell said. “And there are two quarterbacks that I think you saw some of their versatility. Obviously, we’re talking about Tanner with ours, but his ability to make things happen, his ability to move around, his ability to buy time is really big.”
Fickell specifically alluded to the quarterback run opportunities, pointing out that some were by design, although others were up to the quarterback and led to positive plays.
“Obviously, he had a great big run down there in the red zone for a touchdown on a drop eight situation, that he’s a threat in many different ways, and he ran it probably a few more times than we had all year.”
“Some of them were designed, in some ways, a couple of option plays, but I think that from what they were doing defensively, they make it difficult and a lot of things you got to do. And sometimes you got to add the quarterback in there a little bit.”
Mordecai seems most comfortable when playing in that free manner, and as long as turnovers aren’t being created, it’s been a good sign for the Badgers thus far.
Continuing to implement different elements of their offense each week, the Badgers may have an added feature to tap into with Mordecai’s off-script ability, which seems natural for the gunslinger.