The Wisconsin Badgers dropped their third game of the season in a 24-10 loss to the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes in Week 8, playing competitively for a majority of the game before the latter pulled away in the final minutes.
In the loss, the Badgers threw the ball 39 times while playing from behind, with Will Pauling leading the team as usual with 51 yards and a touchdown on four catches and nine targets.
However, one wideout that didn’t see as much success was top wideout Bryson Green, who caught two passes for 46 yards while being targeted nine times.
It’s been a quieter year for Green, who has 19 catches and 264 yards in eight games, eclipsing 50 yards just twice this season.
Green was the most heralded transfer receiver this offseason, catching 36 passes for 584 yards and five touchdowns at Oklahoma State last season, but has struggled to be consistently featured in the gameplan this season, with the Badgers not throwing downfield as much.
The wideout himself acknowledged that the start of the season hasn’t been up to his expectations, but pointed to the transitional period as the primary reason why.
“No, I wouldn’t say it has,” Green said about this season meeting expectations thus far. “But, I think it’s new to everybody and I think it’s hard because we expect great things as soon as we start things, including this offense, including just all the stuff that we do.
“But good things are going to take time and I have trust and faith in this school, this offense, my coaches and my teammates of what we can do in the future.”
Head coach Luke Fickell, who was visibly emotional following the loss to Ohio State, pointed specifically at Green as a player who the Badgers need to target more, which Wisconsin attempted to do in Week 8.
“Bryson (Green) probably, you saw him a little bit, targeted a little bit more, which we need to do,” Fickell said after the game.
Green earned nine targets, easily his highest of the season, but could only connect with Locke twice, of which one was a major 27-yard catch-and-run where the wideout broke multiple tackles after the catch to move the Badgers downfield on their lone touchdown drive of the game.
“I just felt like it was my job as part of this team just to just create a spark and when I got the ball and have the opportunity to make something like that happen, just do what I can. Make some people miss, get a first down,” Green said about the catch.
Ahead of the Indiana game this weekend, quarterback Braedyn Locke reiterated Fickell’s statement that the Badgers need to find ways to get Green the ball more, pointing to his size as a mismatch for defensive backs.
“Bryson’s a great player,” Locke said. Really brings a physical presence to the receiver position. I think he’s a mismatch for DBs because of his strength.”
“I mean, and we’ve definitely talked about it in our quarterback room, too: we need to push the ball to him down the field, put him in some one on one scenarios. Yeah, there’s no doubt we need to get the ball to him more.”
It starts with putting his receiver in advantageous situations, as Locke knows Green’s downfield abilities, which is something the team will continue to look to play off of.
“You kind of want to always put him in advantageous situations. It’s not so much throwing the ball to him when he’s covered, it’s putting it in a competitive area for him to go up and get it,” Locke said.
“I know his abilities. I know what he’s really good at. He knows what he’s really good at, and we just have to play off of that.”
How can Green help his quarterback out in those situations to potentially warrant more targets?
“Just make big plays when they come our way,” the wideout said. “I think being consistent and reliable source for the quarterback, just with all our receivers on the field is what we can do to get the ball more as a unit.”
“And then I think just the third down situations, making those plays, moving the change, is something that I think we need to work on, I need to work on.”
Green could see a bigger opportunity against the Indiana Hoosiers this weekend, as the Badgers may be without wideout Chimere Dike, who suffered a leg injury against the Buckeyes last week.
How is Green approaching the opportunity?
“Just have a good week of practice, prepare the most I can prepare, watch film, be ready for the game, and then same with all the receivers,” Green said. “I think we’re going to have a good game this week, and I think we’re all prepared and I think we all are ready for the moment when our name’s called upon.”
It’s a two-way street in terms of getting open, but the Badgers need to get Green more involved, and find ways to be efficient in doing so for a stronger passing attack.
That starts this weekend on the road, where the Badgers will face off against the Hoosiers on Saturday, looking to improve to 6-3 on the season.