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Wednesday, December 08, 2021
Terriers' unique offense could test Wisconsin

Jaevery McFadden: Senior linebacker Jaevery McFadden is tied with senior defensive end O?Brien Schofield for the team lead in tackles with 18.

Terriers' unique offense could test Wisconsin

It's not often Wisconsin plays a team whose offense makes the Badgers' look like an aerial attack. Typically it is the Badgers carrying the mantle of the most-run heavy team on the field.

Not this weekend.

Wisconsin (2-0) gets its final tune-up for the Big Ten season Saturday with FCS foe Wofford (1-1). The Terriers bring to Camp Randall an offense as unusual as any that many of the defensive players have dealt with.

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""It's got the double wing, double slot, shotgun, three backs in the back field, four receivers on one side. You basically see it all with this offense,"" senior linebacker Jaevery McFadden said. ""It's probably the most diverse offenses I've seen in a while.""

The Wofford offense rushes around 80 percent of its plays, but unlike most run-centric attacks, does not work mainly out of one formation. Wofford will use the shotgun and a variety of under-center looks. It relies heavily on option plays (for the last three seasons quarterbacks have been the team's second leading rushers), reading cues from the defense's openings, forcing the Badgers to stay disciplined.

According to Wisconsin defensive line coach Charlie Partridge, the Wofford quarterback will read both the defensive tackles and end when executing an option, trying to find holes in the defense.

""I think the biggest thing is if you teach your kids that they need to be disciplined and take care of the job regardless of the scheme that's coming at you, then you're going to be OK,"" Partridge said. ""With the advent of spread options ... we're really seeing options every week, it's just a different style of option, so that's nice carry-over from one week to the next, when you step into a game like this.""

Wofford is a contender in the FCS division, having advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season, but is not a consistent postseason presence at the level of a school like Appalachian State. Wofford lost its only other game to a Bowl Subdivision team this season, a 40-7 loss to South Florida. In 2006, however, the Terriers stuck with South Carolina in the Gamecocks' stadium, and were 10 yards away from going to overtime, before falling 27-20.

One break for Wisconsin came in the form of a season ending injury to sophomore Terrier fullback Eric Breitenstein, who was leading the team in rushing yards after two games. Breitenstein ripped off 121 yards on just 13 carries against South Florida, a team known for its stout defense.

The Badgers had quite a bit of trouble the last time they faced off against an FCS team. The Cal Poly Mustangs came to Madison last November, and lost by only one point in overtime, on a day where their place kicker missed three extra points.

The Mustangs also used a run-heavy option-based offense, but it had much more passing and fewer formations than Wofford's unit.

Regardless, Wisconsin struggled with quarterback runs and let Cal Poly accumulate 276 yards on the ground.

""We saw it on film. It was really hard to simulate an offense like that in practice,"" senior defensive end O'Brien Schofield said. ""Those guys, they rep it over and over and they've perfected it by the time they're playing you.""

During this week's practice, the Wisconsin scout team often used a wide receiver in the quarterback position to prepare for the challenge of a fast quarterback.

The biggest lesson the players and coaches took from that close call last November was a jolting reminder to take opponents from smaller schools with perhaps less talent just as seriously as they would anyone else.

""It was stunning to me,"" junior safety Jay Valai, who watched the Cal Poly game from the bench due to an injury, said. ""What I learned from that is you got to come to every game and treat everybody with respect, because these guys, they worked their butts off in high school to get where they're at and just keep working hard every day.""


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