While the No. 4 Badger offense yet again has an excellent rushing attack, a very pleasant surprise this season has been the effectiveness of the vertical passing game. Sophomore quarterback Joel Stave has been lights out, especially to redshirt senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. The two have been a dynamite duo on the deep ball, connecting for nine passes of over 40 yards, five of which have gone for touchdowns.
Abbrederis and the rest of No. 24 Wisconsin’s vaunted Wisconsin offense take their talents to Iowa City this weekend to face the Hawkeyes in what should be a tough matchup, pitting the explosive Wisconsin offense against a stout Iowa defense.
The ability to throw the deep ball effectively adds another dimension to the Badgers’ offense that defenses have to prepare for.
“That’s how we’re built. We’re a run play action team,” offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said. “The defense needs to bring an extra player into the box to stop the run, and it creates some one-on-ones on the outside, and Jared does a nice job winning those one-on-one’s.”
Abbrederis forces his way against opposing secondaries, letting the stats speak for themselves. He already has 43 receptions for 752 yards and five touchdowns, with an average of 107.4 yards per game. His 16.8 yards per catch is the second highest active mark in the nation. While Abbrederis has often seen some easy looks because of most defenses’ concentration on the run game, he has definitely had his fair share of remarkable catches this year.
“The ball’s got to be yours when it is contested,” Abbrederis said. “You focus on the ball, get the defensive back in a position where you want him, and go make a play.”
His acrobatics have made defenses focus in on him more, and thus takes a lot of pressure off the running game.
“As soon as they have to take someone out of the box, it opens up the run for us,” Ludwig said.
“[Abbrederis] is a guy that does a great job at making big plays,” senior running back James White said. “He’s a dangerous guy. He attracts a lot of attention.”
This weekend he will be attracting the attention of Iowa’s secondary, a unit that up to this point has put up impressive numbers. They have the No. 2 passing defense in the Big Ten, allowing a mere 191.9 yards per game, and have the fourth-most interceptions in the conference.
The unit is led by senior defensive back B.J. Lowery, who has three interceptions so far this year. Opposite him is freshman Desmond Brown, who was recently named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after his performance against Ohio State.
“I don’t see any weakness (in Iowa’s secondary), they’re a salty group,” Ludwig said. “They’re very physical, they run to the football, they got an excellent scheme, they’re very well coached, so we got our work cut out for us.”