Roundtable: Reflection on Wisconsin's first three games
Wide receiver Quintez Cephus set a career high with 99 yards on four catches against Northwestern, one day before his late father's birthday.Image By: Brandon Moe
1) What has been the biggest surprise for the Badgers this season?
2) What is the area in which the Badgers need to improve the most?
3) What is your bold prediction for the rest of the season?
1) After arriving to spring camp at the bottom of the Badgers’ depth chart, running back Jonathan Taylor has seemingly been vaulted into the feature back role for Paul Chryst’s team. The Salem, NJ native has five touchdowns already this season, including a 223-yard effort vs. Florida Atlantic in week two. The job is now his to lose at this point.
2) While the undefeated Badgers don’t seem to have a clear weakness through three games, the outside linebackers unit, featuring new starters in Garret Dooley and Leon Jacobs, will look to continue to make strides. If this unit can improve its pass rush and reduce its missed tackles as the season goes on, Wisconsin will be even stronger.
3) Quintez Cephus, currently slated as the team’s No. 2 wide receiver, will surpass Jazz Peavy for the No. 1 spot before the season’s end. I previously predicted Peavy to be the Badgers’ MVP in his senior year, but he has been vastly outplayed by the younger Cephus thus far. With more catches, yards and touchdowns than Peavy at this point in the season, Chryst may be forced to promote Cephus into a larger role.
1) The Badgers have gotten unexpected production from a lot of players expected to play second fiddle this season. Transfer cornerback Nick Nelson has been great in coverage opposite Derrick Tindal, wide receiver Quintez Cephus has overshadowed Jazz Peavy and right tackle David Edwards has been the team’s best offensive lineman this year. The growth from the lesser-known plays has been critical to their success.
2) Wisconsin’s defensive line was supposed to take that next step this year with a deep group of seniors, but so far they have really disappointed, and the loss of Chikwe Obasih to injuries only made things worse. Redshirt freshman Isaiahh Loudermilk has actually flashed more than the veterans have, and this group as a whole needs to do a better job of winning at the line of scrimmage.
3) If Jonathan Taylor stays healthy, he might very well break Ron Dayne’s record for most rushing yards by a freshman running back of 2,109 yards. Taylor is averaging over eight yards per carry and 146 yards per game through three weeks. If Wisconsin makes the Big Ten Championship Game and a bowl game as expected, that will be 14 games for Taylor, which puts him on pace for 2,044 yards. The Badgers’ soft Big Ten schedule sets the freshman up for a lot of big opportunities to accelerate his current pace and surpass the legend.
1) The impact of their true freshman. The headliner of the class is Jonathan Taylor and his historically good start. But Danny Davis III has also made a few impact plays on offense and is getting more snaps as the weeks progress. Additionally, center Tyler Biadasz has stepped into the role with ease and besides one mishap with Alex Hornibrook in the first quarter of UW’s season opener, looks poised to lead Wisconsin’s offensive line.
2) Wisconsin’s defensive line has certainly been an area of concern. While the numbers don’t indicate a massive hole, UW’s experienced defensive line has struggled to open the season. Chikwe Obasih is already injured and nose tackle Olive Sagapolu has struggled to clog up the A-gap. Opposing offensives, as a result, are more easily able to get running plays to the second level, causing major defensive problems.
3) We haven’t heard the last of Bradrick Shaw this season. Jonathan Taylor might have a 200-plus yard game and lead UW’s running game right now, but Shaw still has potential to be a major force in UW’s backfield. He missed the Badgers’ win over FAU due to injury and received limited snaps against BYU. Don’t be surprised though if by mid-season or the end of the year he has re-emerged as Wisconsin’s feature running back.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter