After a heartbreaking loss to Arizona State, the Badgers are working to put last week’s confusion in the rearview mirror as all eyes are turned toward the Badgers’ Big Ten opener against Purdue Saturday at Camp Randall.
The Badgers’ offense has put up impressive numbers this season and looks to continue that success this weekend against the Boilermakers.
The run game has traditionally been a staple in the Badgers’ offense, and this year is no different.
So far the Badgers’ have compiled 1,011 total rushing yards, second in the FBS, with 7.96 yards per carry, also second in the FBS.
Most of that production has come out of the trio of senior James White, redshirt sophomore Melvin Gordon and freshman Corey Clement.
Gordon has been especially impressive, with an eye-popping 12.9 yards per carry this year.
He leads the nation with six runs of 30-plus yards.
White, the current active rushing leader in the FBS, has been consistent as well with 297 total yards and 6.6 yards per carry.
He also has a lot of great history against Purdue, including last season’s offensive explosion.
The Badgers ran for a total of 467 yards on the ground, with White gaining 124 yards on just 16 carries.
Wisconsin’s three-pronged running attack, however, isn’t overlooking this year’s Boilermaker run defense.
“Every run is tough, especially in conference play,” White said.
If Purdue does hope to stop the Badgers on the ground, they will have to watch out for Gordon’s jet sweep, a dangerous weapon Wisconsin has already established over the course of its first three games.
Against Arizona State, UW ran the play quite successfully, adding to the highlight reel with an 80-yard dash from Gordon for a touchdown.
“The blockers do a good job up front,” offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said. “Then Melvin is an athletic and gifted player.”
Badgers’ offensive line coach T.J. Woods thinks his squad passed its test against ASU and is ready for the Boilermakers.
“They have a tough front seven and we just have to continue to fight and work,” Woods said.
Purdue boasts a front seven made up of three seniors, three juniors and a sophomore.
Purdue has held its own against the run, allowing an average of only 117 yards per game.
The Boilermaker pass defense is another story completely, however. It has allowed 373 yards per game through the air, even with veteran senior cornerback Ricardo Allen.
“[Allen] has a nose for the ball, and he can make some big plays,” sophomore quarterback Joel Stave said.
If there’s one thing the Badgers’ offense wants to focus on, it is consistency.
“We just need to be more consistent and keep drives going,” Ludwig said. “Hand in hand with that consistency is avoiding three-and-outs.”
Saturday the Badgers failed to make a first down until near the end of the first quarter.
“We need to do more on first and second down and be prepared for any kind of third down situation,” Stave said.
The Badgers did have six three-and-outs last Saturday, but were fairly efficient on third down, going 8-of-17.
Third downs were a weakness for the Boilermakers last Saturday against Notre Dame, while the Fighting Irish converted 11-of-16 of their third downs.
It’s a different week but the same story for the Badgers, with a strong defensive opponent for the Badgers’ offense to handle.