September 26, 2013

Tale of the Tape: Wisconsin Badgers

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Head Coach:

Gary Andersen

2012 Record: 8-6 Big Ten


Madison (Wis.)

Kickoff: 8:00 pm EDT Television: ABC Sports Location: Ohio Stadium (102,329)

When Ohio St. has the ball...

  • Rushing Defense: 76.3 Ypg. (6th)

  • Passing Eff. Defense: 86.11 (8th)

  • Scoring Defense: 10.5 Ppg. (10th)
  • Rushing Offense: 311.0 Ypg. (6th)

  • Passing Offense: 218.0 Ypg. (76th)

  • Scoring Offense: 52.5 Ppg. (4th)

  • Wisconsin Defensive Backs

    Ohio State Skill Positions (QB/WR/TE)
    The Badgers defense has not allowed a passing touchdown for the first four games of the season but they haven't really gone against much stout competition when you figure that they have played the 109th (UMass), 103rd (Tenn. Tech - FCS) and 102nd (Purdue) in three of the team's four games. Sure, Arizona State is 8th in the nation in passing offense and was held out of the end zone but the Sun Devils passed for 351 yards in that game on 51 attempts (and ultimately scored four TDs via the rush), can't exactly call that an 'A performance' at the end of the day. The Badgers are not a team heavy in experience on the two-deep in the secondary with six of eight players being either a freshman or sophomore and freshman Sojourn Shelton starting at corner. He does have one of the Badgers three interceptions on the season but you have to figure their streak of zero passing TDs should be retired sometime before the 9:00pm hour on game day. With that being said, don't expect Ohio State to be setting any records in the first half like last week. As we said last week, Braxton Miller or Kenny Guiton or both? How will they perform in practice? Will Miller's knee be good? Will he be rusty? Urban Meyer said on Monday that Miller is the team's starter but he has not named him the quarterback for Saturday's game. Regardless of who is the signal caller the Ohio State passing game has looked good, even if the overall passing offense numbers are middle of the pack. The Buckeyes have benefited from a lot of short fields with great field position and have not had to drive the length of the field in many cases and that has kept yardage down. The Buckeyes have had 15 touchdowns passing (nine if you throw out the FAMU game, so averaging three per game against I-FBS foes) and could have had a lot more if not for calling off the dogs in several games. The Buckeyes will see a serious upgrade in opponent defense this week but it shouldn't be enough to derail the momentum.

    Wisconsin Linebackers

    Ohio State Running Backs
    Last season the Buckeyes did not have to face Chris Borland who was held out of the game with an injury and still were pressed all the way to overtime to secure the win. The Badgers have given up five rushing touchdowns this season, one to Purdue and four to the No. 108 rushing offense in the nation with Arizona State. Statistics can easily get skewed however and the Wisconsin run defense is aided by a pair of shutouts against overmatched foes (much like Ohio State's game against FAMU) but was the game against ASU more of an exception than a rule? Arizona State's four TDs came on 116 yards of team rushing and the Badgers did not allow a 100-yard rusher in that game. Fellow linebackers Derek Landisch, Ethan Armstrong and Brendan Kelly (questionable for Sat.) are all good against the run but how will they fare against a run offense that has multiple backs better than ASU's Marion Grice? Carlos Hyde got a taste of action but look for Saturday night to be his chance to get back into the swing of things as the Buckeyes have the option to feature him with Jordan Hall and Rod Smith both seeing carries for changes of pace. Ohio State has 14 touchdowns on the ground but a couple of TDs have been awarded to the passing game in situations that you would normally expect runs. Last season the Buckeyes were only able to rush for 139 yards in four-plus quarters of football with Hyde being held to 87 yards and Braxton Miller being held to 48 on 23 carries (2.1 ypc average). The flipside of things is that the passing game was ineffective and Ohio State only attempted 18 passes so everyone in Madison (Wis.) knew the run was coming. This could be a game where Dontre Wilson has a major role with his devastating speed and ability to get to the outside and the Buckeye like their chances in trying to keep things out of the teeth of the Wisconsin front seven and going from there.

    Wisconsin Defensive Line


    Ohio State Offensive Line
    Disruptive defensive lines go with Wisconsin just like running backs and solid offensive lines but this year the numbers have not really been there with only one sack coming against Division I-FBS competition. Beau Allen is still a beast on the defensive line and will test the Ohio State offensive line from the first snap to the final one. To say the 3-4 front is big would be a major understatement with Allen checking in at a reported 325 pounds, Pat Muldoon is the shrimp of the group at 269 pounds and Ethan Hemer coming in at 6-foot-6, 285 pounds. The front has also been to the fair and seen the bear with everyone coming in as seniors on a defensive front seven that has six seniors and a junior. It will be time to see if the senior led offensive line is one of the best in the Big Ten or just part of the pack. The line to date has done a good job in keeping the quarterback(s) upright and also opening holes in the run game but Wisconsin's front is more talented than any of the lines that Ohio State has seen so far and while the Badgers may not have a player as good as Khalil Mack from Buffalo, they have multiple players that are better than anyone else the team has seen. Jack Mewhort and the rest of the crew have all talked about playing in games like these in various points of their careers and the spotlight will be shining brightly as the Badgers change philosophy a little bit under new coach Gary Andersen and use more multiple looks than in past years. Can the old line make the changes on the fly? Time will tell.

    When Wisconsin has the ball...

  • Rushing Offense: 349.8 Ypg. (3rd)

  • Passing Offense: 198.0 Ypg. (90th)

  • Scoring Offense: 41.0 Ppg. (24th)

  • Rushing Defense: 79.8 Ypg. (9th)

  • Passing Eff. Defense: 112.09 (34th)

  • Scoring Defense: 15.3 Ppg. (21st)

  • Wisconsin Skill Positions (QB/WR/TE)

    Ohio State Defensive Backs
    The Buckeyes are quite familiar with receiver Jared Abbrederis after facing him the past couple of seasons. In 2011 the former walk-on had six catches for 113 yards and two scores against Ohio State. In 2012 the Buckeyes kept him in check with three receptions and zero scores. Sophomore quarterback Joel Stave has done what has been asked of him in going 60-95 for six passing TDs (against 3 INTs) and 761 yards of offense. The Badgers always have seemed to have had a tight end that causes Ohio State issues through the years (Travis Beckum, anyone?) and Jacob Pedersen can be a viable No. 2 option for the Wisconsin passing game (has missed practice this week). Running back James White is more than a capable pass catcher out of the backfield as well and the Buckeyes will not be able to lose sight of him. The Badgers have only gone against one automatic qualifier (AQ) opponent this season and the passing game was good, not great, but that is not what this team is built around. The Badgers just need to show they can pass enough to open up the run and force opponents not to stack the box, do they have enough this week? Nobody is going to confuse Joel Stave for Jared Goff of California, but the Ohio State secondary is not going to have to play that type of game. The Buckeyes certainly will not be in the penny (7 DBs) or dime (6 DBs) this week but the corners are going to have to play on an island as the safeties assist in run stoppage with the Badgers bringing one of the top run offenses to the 'Shoe on Saturday. Bradley Roby bounced back from a terrible game at Cal with a good couple of series against FAMU (few starters saw much action, secondary included). He and Doran Grant will be tested but the match-up against Abbrederis will be the marquee one when it comes to UW pass against OSU pass defense. Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett will have to be aware of the pass game but their biggest duty will be assignment football in the run game and both will need to show that tackling issues are a thing of the past because the Wisconsin ball carriers are not ones to be brought down easily. The Buckeyes are among the nation's best-run defenses but none of the non-conference teams have been able to run like these guys can.

    Wisconsin Running Backs

    Ohio State Linebackers
    This is what it is going to come down to, will the Badgers be able to run against the Buckeyes and with how much success in terms of scoring. Wisconsin has the league's top rusher in Melvin Gordon (53 car., 624 yards, 7 TD, 11.8 ypc) and the No. 4 rusher in James White (61 car., 442 yards, 3 TD, 7.2 ypc.). If you just want to talk about a wealth of riches they also have the No. 8 runner too in Corey Clement (44 car., 334 yards, 4 TD, 7.6 ypc.). Total that up and the Badgers are No. 1 in the Big Ten with 1399 yards for 15 TD and an 8.0 ypc average. The one thing that Badgers don't have the threat of however is a running quarterback with Joel Stave being an offensive liability when he is forced out of the pocket and made to run. The last time these two teams played the Badgers ran for 206 yards but were only able to score once on the ground and no Buckeye fan will soon forget the Montee Ball fumble as he tried to get into the end zone and Ryan Shazier's big play to create the fumble.

    All eyes will be on Curtis Grant, be that fair or not. The Ohio State middle linebacker will have a lot of pressure on him going against the best running team that the Buckeyes will face all season long and with a history of some mediocre tackles, all of his improvement in 2013 will be on the line as he tries to limit the three-headed monster on the ground that the Badgers possess. Ryan Shazier has fond memories of playing against Wisconsin when it comes to his forced fumble but no game against the Badgers is a walk in the park and this will be the type of game that sends all of the Ohio State defenders to the cold tub for an extra treatment or two. Joshua Perry has been the linebacker who has come off the field in passing situations but he should see his most extended action against a team that just wants to pound. The Buckeyes will rely on all 11 players on the defense to stop the run and dare Stave and the Badgers to try and beat them in the air. More often than not the Buckeyes have won with that philosophy.

    Wisconsin Offensive Line
    Ohio State Defensive Line
    The Badger offensive line is big, strong and doesn't give up sacks. In other news from the "Obvious Times", water is wet, gas is expensive and the sky is blue. This year's line may be a little younger across the board than in years past with Tyler Marz checking in as a 3rd year sophomore and Roby Havenstein coming in at the other tackle position as a 4th year junior but the entire line checks in at more than 315 pounds a piece and the shortest man on the line is 6-foot-5. The Buckeyes will not have a lot of luck getting to the quarterback with a four man rush but ultimately this game will be determined by how Ohio State effects the run. Dallas Lewallen could be a game-time decision after missing practice. The return of Adolphus Washington would mean a lot to Ohio State when it comes to getting pressure on the quarterback and blowing up plays in the backfield. Michael Bennett was held out of the FAMU game as well and will be returning to action as the Buckeyes are as close to full strength as they have been for most of the year (only missing Tommy Schutt). Joey Bosa could be a difference maker coming off of the bench at the Viper position but as with all young players, will he remember to play his assignment or go for the spectacular at play at risk of abandoning his assignment. The most intriguing matchup would be if Chris Carter sees any time on the interior line and just the mass of humanity that would be in motion between the two lines.

    Special teams matchups...

  • Net Punting: 38.21 Avg (50th)

  • Punt Returns: 7.42 Yds/Ret (62nd)

  • Kickoff Returns: 23.43 Avg. (41st)

  • Field Goals: 4-6 (67%)

  • Net Punting: 40.83 Avg. (22nd)

  • Punt Returns: 14.55 Yds/Ret (21st)

  • Kickoff Returns: 25.33 Avg. (25th)

  • Field Goals: 2-2 (100%)

  • Wisconsin Special Teams

    Ohio State Special Teams
    Kicker Kyle French has hit on five of his six field goal attempts while Jack Russell has missed his lone attempt. Neither return game not the punt average have been all that special but Ohio State fans will remember the year the Buckeyes went into Camp Randall as the No. 1 team and saw the Badgers return the opening kick. The Badgers would love to get some cheap points to put the pressure on the favored Buckeyes. Cameron Johnston has not played in an American Football game of this magnitude in his young career and could be busy if the Ohio State offense stalls (Ohio State punted nine times in 2012). Corey Brown will have to do a better job of securing the ball in the return game because this is not the game that you want to give your opponent a short field on a careless turnover.


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