Coming off a convincing win versus the Akron Zips, the No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers (2-0) wrap up their non-conference schedule this weekend with a contest against the Georgia State Panthers (0-2).
Georgia State has struggled with the start of their schedule, dropping its first matchup 31-21 to Ball State, followed by a crushing 48-14 loss to Air Force just last week. The losses come as little surprise, as Ball State (78) and Air Force (77) dramatically outrank the Panthers (125) in ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI). That gap is even greater when it comes to the Badgers, who currently sit at No. 13 overall and No. 4 defensively in the FPI rankings.
Wisconsin’s defense has only allowed a single touchdown through two games. That’s the same amount as special teams, who allowed a punt return vs. Akron, and the offense due to a pick-six thrown by Bart Houston against LSU.
Though the Badgers have had early season success, they have not been without hurdles of their own, another one of which popped up this past weekend with the loss of No. 3 cornerback and special teams guru Natrell Jamerson. The verdict turned out to be a broken fibula, sidelining Jamerson for four to six weeks, barring any setbacks.
Pulling double-duty, Jamerson has physically been on the field more than any other Badger early this season, and it will unquestionably take multiple bodies to fill those roles. Titus Booker played Saturday after Jamerson’s injury, but the Badgers may try a few different things this week before the Big Ten season kicks off next week at Michigan State.
“It’s interesting when a guy like Natrell goes down,” head coach Paul Chryst said. “He’s a four-phase special-teamer, so you got four different guys that will probably get an opportunity and then in the nickel-package.”
With experiences in high school and middle school infecting his mind, Corey Clement has expressed interest returning kicks in Jamerson’s absence. In normal circumstances, Clement would probably be given that opportunity this week. However, after last week’s minor injury scare, the Wisconsin staff held Clement out for the remainder of the game.
Despite Chryst stating he expected Clement to be “at work” this week at Monday’s press conference, Clement has been limited in practice, spending the rest of his time with trainers.
“He got a little banged up. He did a couple things earlier today then went in and got treatment,” running backs coach John Settle said. “We’re going to be smart with him understanding that a healthy Corey is a better Corey and we don’t want to push him to get him back and end up costing ourselves in the end.”
Regardless of how much of Clement’s services are required or utilized this weekend, expect the Badgers to dominate the line of scrimmage, the time of possession and the scoreboard. If the Badgers jump out to another big lead, underclassmen will see the field like they did against the Zips.
“I’m looking forward to this weekend and doing it again,” Chryst said.