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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

Wisconsin running back #0 Braelon Allen with the ball during Saturday's game on Sept. 2. 

Column: 3 things to focus on against Rutgers

The Badgers continue to develop as a team. What are the biggest focal points for the Homecoming game?

Wisconsin’s 38-17 win against Purdue last month marked the first time all season that the Badgers were able to start strong. They came out firing across all cylinders, holding Purdue to just one field goal in the first half as Tanner Mordecai ran for two touchdowns and Braelon Allen punched it in for a third. 

Yet, the inconsistency that haunted the Badgers all season came back in the third quarter as they let Purdue score two touchdowns. Although it wasn’t a perfect win, it was still a victory that put Wisconsin in first place in the Big Ten West. 

After that performance, three focus points emerged as the Badgers prepare for the Rutgers game: find consistency on defense, limit the penalties and keep improving the offense. 

While the defense did come away with three takeaways, two interceptions and one fumble recovery, they struggled to defend the run. Despite quarterback Hudson Card’s struggles throwing the ball, Purdue was able to move the ball downfield effectively through their run game. Stopping the run should be high on the list of priorities for the Badgers as they continue their schedule. 

Penalties were a huge issue, costing the Badgers 70 yards on 11 penalties, six of which were false starts. Limiting these will be key for them in the upcoming weeks as they look towards tougher teams in the conference where mistakes become more costly. 

While the offense came out firing at Purdue, there is still much room for improvement. The increased implementation of the quarterback draw and run helped the offense find success and is something that the Badgers should look to continue utilizing as Mordecai’s run game is very strong. The passing game still had its issues, with Mordecai completing just 62% of passes with one interception. Given Chez Mellusi’s injury and unclear status, a more balanced offense will be key this upcoming weekend. 

Mellusi’s injury certainly dampened the excitement of the win against Purdue, but increased production in the passing game and consistency on defense should make the gaping hole his absence leaves a little bit smaller. 

As the Badgers head into the game against Rutgers, they should feel immensely proud of their play against Purdue. With a little more overall consistency, this team will be a lot harder to beat. 

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