The Wisconsin Badgers kicked off the Luke Fickell era with a 38-17 win over the Buffalo Bulls in an up-and-down game that eventually led to a comfortable victory to start off the 2023 season.
However, in Week 2 of the season, the Badgers came out flat-footed, and couldn't overcome the slow start in a 31-22 loss, leaving the program with several key questions.
Here are three quick takeaways from the No. 19 Badgers 31-22 loss to the Washington State Cougars.
For the second week in a row, the Badgers started slow, and much worse than a week ago, as they trailed 24-9 heading into halftime.
While the Badgers crept back into the game, consistently starting slow isn't a sustainable outcome, and it was clear that the team looked outmatched preparation-wise to begin the game.
Whether it’s preparation, urgency, or whatever factor, the Badgers cannot continue to start slow, and it starts with the coaching gameplan.
Offensively, the Badgers had a few good drives, but killer plays forced them to settle for three field goals in the first half, while the Badgers were very lackluster defensively.
Against Georgia Southern, the Badgers will have a chance to wipe the slate clean and gain some early momentum.
Tanner Mordecai’s aggressiveness
A week ago, the passing attack was at the forefront of conversation, as the Badgers operated very conservatively, attempting an array of short passes, while Mordecai didn't make matters better with two poor interceptions.
In Week 2, with his team struggling, Mordecai willed the offense back, as the run game struggled, completing passes of 41, 27, 16, and 41 yards, including a strike to Skyler Bell while rolling to his left for an impressive touchdown.
Mordecai overcame the struggles of his offensive line, settling in well during the second half, and operating an aggressive, downfield passing attack.
If anything, the quarterback proved he had that in his arsenal, which will help stretch out defenses in the future with more balanced offensive attacks.
Now, Mordecai wasn't perfect; the Badgers quarterback missed on a few downfield shots that could've moved the chains, but the aggressiveness was a good look for the sixth-year senior.
All offseason, head coach Luke Fickell preached discipline as an important stressor for setting the culture.
On Saturday, however, discipline arguably cost the Badgers the game.
The Badgers had five penalties, including a major 15-yard penalty from Kaden Johnson that attributed to worse field position, which was around the turning point of the game.
Defensively, the Badgers didn't hold the contain as well against Cameron Ward, allowing the quarterback to seal the deal late with a number of rushes, while miscommunications led to open receivers all over the field.
The Badgers need to come into later weeks with much better mental preparation. That wasn't the case on Saturday, and the coaching staff needs to do a better job of instilling that discipline they've preached all offseason.