Tag Archives: Big Ten

Wisconsin vs. Iowa, 9-22-18: In-game report

Last Saturday’s Big Ten matchup featured two teams with common offensive ideologies, but a difference in execution decided the game in its final minutes.  Wisconsin defeated Iowa, 28-17, behind a fourth quarter 10-play, 88-yard drive in the waning moments.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

14 D’Cota Dixon 5’10, 198 Wisconsin S-Senior

Dixon is the veteran leader of the secondary for the Badgers. Wisconsin uses Dixon in a variety of ways and his performance doesn’t dip no matter the role.  Against Iowa, Dixon spent time as the eighth player in the box to help in run support, played as a single high safety and even contributed a forced fumble on the punt coverage team.  If that wasn’t enough, Dixon shadowed slot receivers and split tight ends in man-to-man coverage on a few occasions.  Dixon projects to be a middle round pick in the upcoming draft and what separates playing time for young players in the NFL is their ability to contribute in a variety of ways.  He checks off that category,  and look for him to continue his solid play across the board.

23 Jonathan Taylor 5’11 221 Wisconsin RB-Sophomore

There might not be a better marriage of offensive system and player in college football than Wisconsin and Jonathan Taylor. Taylor makes the Badgers downhill, grind it out possession-by-possession style work.  Week after week, quarter after quarter, Taylor imposes his will on opposing defenses and rarely seems tired.  Despite only being a sophomore, his technique stands out. The New Jersey native is patient with his pulling guards and rides their hip before exploding to the outside.  Taylor is able to keep his body fresh and save his legs because he is astute with his reads and never gives opposing defenders “a clean hit.”  Don’t let the fundamentals fool you, Taylor still has some open field make you miss ability in his game, and a good example was his side step of Iowa’s defensive tackle after the lineman went unblocked up the middle.  The Wisconsin running back runs with knees high and his shoulders low, leaving little for defenders to tackle.  Taylor finished with 113 yards on 25 carries.

Opposing speedsters

Iowa’s sophomore wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (6’1, 175) and Wisconsin’s junior wide receiver A.J. Taylor (5’11, 203) play similar roles on different teams.  Both stretch the defense horizontally and vertically for their respective units and put the fear of the big play in the minds of opposing defensive coordinators, whose first priority is to stop the rushing attack.  Taylor is used on deep passes to the outside and he can be a problem in the slot running across the middle of the field.  Taylor caught the game-winning touchdown after he beat Iowa linebacker Jack Hockaday on a vertical route concept.  Smith-Marsette was used on an end around, where he picked up 20 yards on the ground.  In the pass game, Smith-Marsette is averaging 18 yards per catch and -as the numbers would indicate- he’s usually running routes for big plays.  If you ever watch Wisconsin and Iowa and wonder why teams don’t put eight or nine men in the box at all times, matchup nightmares like Taylor and Smith-Marsette may be the answers.

Bredeson a key factor for Wolverines

It doesn’t take long when watching Michigan junior left guard Ben Bredeson to see why he was named a team captain for 2018.  Along with junior star linebacker Devin Bush, Bredeson is just the second non-senior with eligibility remaining to be named a captain in the Jim Harbaugh-era (https://247sports.com/college/michigan/Article/Offensive-lines-work-ethic-makes-life-easy-for-Ben-Bredeson-121097213/).

Bush, for one, thinks Bredeson has created somewhat of a change for an offense that played second-fiddle to the Wolverines elite defensive unit in 2017 (3rd nationally).

“I want to say Ben Bredeson was a huge asset to that,” Bush said. “Shea coming in, being the person he is, he also created that bond. I think the offense is just a lot closer and a lot more on the same page than it was last year.” (https://www.freep.com/story/sports/college/university-michigan/2018/08/27/michigan-football-ben-bredeson-simpler-offense/1113569002/).

Bredeson (No. 74 pictured at left guard) earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2017.

Bredeson slides his feet well versus interior movement; particularly when handling stunts coming from left-to-right.  His hand placement is normally attached in-between the defender’s numbers in pass protection, which alleviates an occasional tendency to lean over his toes.  On gap-schemed runs where he is asked to pull on inside powers, linebackers can stack-and-shed him when his helmet location dips at the point of attack.  For a player who doesn’t have elite length, he tends to rely on his quick-set to win early in downs.  This is why he has to stay active if he can achieve extension quickly versus defensive linemen.  Perhaps most evident is his ability to slide his feet while his arms are locked-out.   Once he’s been challenged vertically, the Wolverines left guard sinks his low back into the chair to re-anchor effectively.  Additionally, his ability to wheel interior three-technique defensive tackles can open up passing lanes for a quarterback in Shea Patterson -who stands 6-foot-1- to look down the field (vs. Notre Dame DT Jerry Tillery (No. 99), 52-yard completion, 3rd QTR, ND ’18).

As a run blocker, his hands tend to slide upward into the neck and chest area on some of his reach blocks.  At this stage, he probably uses his frame to engulf more than win with his first couple of steps off the snap going laterally.  His lateral quickness is efficient but not exceptional.  This becomes evident when handling inside line spikes from opponents (from his left to his right).  Although he’s a tad higher with his hand in the dirt (pre-snap stance) on passing plays, Bredeson does not give away many pre-snap indicators by being too light on his fingertips.  His ‘nasty’ play demeanor shows up down-to-down.  If he doesn’t have work, he will look to clean-up defensive ends to help his tackles.  When doing so, he rocks the opposition (3rd QTR, smacks No. 91 Ogundeji, Notre Dame ’18).

The addition of new offensive line coach Ed Warinner has helped the former four-star recruit and entire offensive line when it comes to technique.   A year after giving up 36 quarterback sacks to rank 13th in the Big Ten, the team is on pace to drop the total (if projected throughout the entire season).  If the unit is going to continue to improve, Bredeson’s leadership and playing style will be a big key factor.