Tag Archives: Wisconsin Badgers

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.

2018 Preview: Wisconsin Badgers

Season outlook

Wisconsin was a touchdown away from representing the Big Ten in the College Football Playoff a season ago.  With sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor and junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook (6'4, 218) back in the fold, there's reason for optimism in Madison.  With roster turnover and coaching changes in the conference, Wisconsin is a safe pick to win the Big Ten in 2018.  On defense, the Badgers have to replace seven starters from a season ago but will return linebacker T.J. Edwards (6'1, 244) for his senior season.  Edwards was a first- team All-American a season ago and recorded four interceptions.  On the back end, safety D'Cota Dixon (5'10, 198) has started 23 games and will be the elder statesman in a secondary which welcomes three new starters around him. If Wisconsin has a spot of concern it could be the inexperience at defensive back. However, the Badgers had the nation's second-best total defense last season and with its offensive playmakers having another year of experience under their belts, look for Wisconsin to compete again for a College Football Playoff spot.

Troy's player to watch

23 Jonathan Taylor 5'11 214 RB-Sophomore
 
Taylor, a former state champion in track and field with 10.49 100-meter speed, burst onto the college football scene last season, rushing for 1,997 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Wisconsin running back will enter 2018 as one of the best players in the nation and a Heisman candidate.  Head coach Paul Chryst has prided himself on running the football early and often.  He will once again rely on Taylor to shoulder the load.  Expect Taylor to get anywhere from 275- to-300 touches in 2018 and to lead the conference in rushing yards.

Game of the season

October 13th at Michigan
 
The Badgers will get their first test of the season when they go on the road to the Big House.  Wisconsin won't have to play Michigan State and Ohio State until a potential conference championship game. The Badgers defeated the Wolverines last year, 24-10, in Madison.  It's a good chance the only two ranked teams Wisconsin will face during the regular season are Michigan and Penn State, which means they could run the table to an undefeated season.

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch

63 Michael Deiter 6'6 329 OC-Senior

Where will Deiter line up this fall?  After all, he's earned starts at center, left guard and left tackle.  The position he may be best suited to play on a regular basis is left guard.  As a left tackle, there could be next level question marks regarding his foot speed.  While at that position, however, he takes the correct hinge steps on the backside and locks out his arms favorably in pass pro.  His tenacity as a run blocker is most evident on trap blocks.  In these instances, he has shown the ability to throw defensive linemen around (see Nebraska '16).  Perhaps even more exciting for NFL scouts is the fact that he's displayed an adequate ability to snap and pull from the center position.  Deiter's value for the NFL-level is his positional flexibility.

Prediction:  11-1 overall

The Wisconsin Badgers will win the Big Ten West division but will not go undefeated. Draftnasty's Troy Jefferson is predicting a road loss in November to Penn State. 

2018 Season Preview: Northwestern Wildcats

Season outlook

Pat Fitzgerald's team has won 27 games over the past three seasons but his Wildcats haven't been able to make an appearance in the Big Ten Championship game.  Once again, division foes Iowa and Wisconsin will field strong teams and offer Northwestern tough competition.  Senior quarterback Clayton Thorson (6'4, 225) has started every game over the last three seasons and is on the watchlist for the Maxwell Award.  The biggest key for Thorson will be how he recovers from a serious injury suffered in the 2017 Music City Bowl.  With the departure of Justin Jackson,  sophomore running back Jeremy Larkin (5'10, 194) will take over the duties of carrying the rock.  On defense, the Wildcats have playmakers at every level.  Senior cornerback Montre Hartage leads the charge on the back end, junior defensive end Joe Gaziano (6'4, 280) sets the edge and sophomore linebacker Paddy Fisher (6'4, 245) mans the second level of the defense.

Troy's player to watch

24 Montre Hartage 6'0 190 CB-Senior
 

Hartage has started 26 straight games at cornerback and has worked himself into somewhat of a shutdown corner. The senior has eight career interceptions and will enter 2018 as the best defensive back on the roster.  The Wildcats return three potential All-Conference players in its front seven, which should alleviate some of the responsibilities on the back end for Hartage. Look for the cornerback to have another strong season, if opposing quarterbacks choose to throw his way. 

Game of the season

October 6th at Michigan State
Northwestern has defeated the Spartans in consecutive years.  Last year's contest was a game to remember,  as the Wildcats bested the Spartans in a triple overtime 39-31 thriller in Evanston.  This year, the Wildcats will have to travel to East Lansing to face a Michigan State team that returns a number of starters.  If the Wildcats want to put the Big Ten on notice as a contender in the West division, a win against the Spartans will go a long way.

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch

32 Nate Hall 6’2 230 LB-Senior

Hall finished 2017 with 79 tackles, six quarterback sacks, 16.5 tackles for losses, two interceptions and six pass break-ups.

Hall throws his body around and reacts quickly versus blockers.  Perhaps more importantly, he can react instinctively versus the passing game.  The weakness for him revolves around his man-to-man coverage skill.  His pursuit angles can be hit-or-miss in pursuit.  With all of that said, his ability to rush the passer and make plays in zone coverage provides a unique combination for the Wildcats.  If he can drop his pad level with more consistency, look for Hall to take the next step as a prospect.

Prediction:  8-4

Northwestern will start the season 4-0 but will stumble across the finish line, according to Draftnasty's Troy Jefferson. The Wildcats will lose on the road against Michigan State and Iowa and at home against Wisconsin and Notre Dame. 

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2018 Season Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers

 Season outlook 

Scott Frost will attempt to complete his second redemption story in as many seasons.  Last year, Frost led UCF to a 13-0 record and a bowl game victory against Auburn following a 6-7 season in 2016.  The former Cornhuskers quarterback will guide a Nebraska squad which finished 4-8 in 2017.  The Cornhuskers aren't as talented as they were in the eighties, but they do have a few skill position players to rely on in Frost's spread offense. Junior running back Tre Bryant (5'11, 201) and senior wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. (6'1, 201) will be counted on to serve as gamechangers.  Bryant returns to the Cornhuskers after missing 10 games last season with a knee injury.  However, in just two games of action, Bryant totaled 299 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Oregon and Arkansas State.  Defensively, sophomore defensive lineman Ben Stille (6'5, 290) will be counted on to stuff the run and rush the passer after making an impact in his freshman season. Stille finished with 3.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in 2017. Frost doesn't have the talent that he had last year at UCF and the Cornhuskers face a tough schedule, but the new head coach does have enough pieces to lay the foundation for the future. 

Troy's player to watch

8 Stanley Morgan, Jr.  6'1 200 WR-Senior
Morgan, Jr. enjoyed a breakout season in 2017, posting 986 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.  The senior wide receiver recorded 259 yards against Penn State and Iowa, two of the best pass defenses in the Big Ten, to end the season.  Morgan, Jr. is able to make catches in traffic, reminiscent of Odell Beckham Jr., another New Orleans native.  He has the size and speed that will make him a candidate to go in the first three rounds of the draft after the season.

Game of the season

September 15 against Troy
The Troy Trojans are coming off an 11-2 season and a 7-1 conference record in the Sun Belt. Scott Frost will have to navigate an early non-conference slip-up against the Trojans, who will be prepared for FBS competition. In Week 1, Troy will play Boise State.  Don't expect the Trojans to come into Lincoln wide-eyed, and this Week 3 matchup should provide a close contest for the Cornhuskers.

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch

24 Aaron Williams 5'11 195 DB-Senior

Williams has shown an ability to come under control to make inside-out sideline tackles.  He has also shown requisite skill when it comes

Williams has notched five interceptions and one touchdown during his three-year stint in Lincoln.

to filling on as an eighth man in the box.  His overall thump as a tackler is just adequate and some of this has to do with average size.  For him to get looks from NFL scouts next spring, he has to improve in coverage.  Quicker wide receivers have given him problems in man-to-man coverage.

Prediction: 4-8

Draftnasty's Troy Jefferson is projecting a tough season for Scott Frost in Year 1. The Cornhuskers may be improved on the field from last year but the schedule doesn't do Nebraska any favors. Jefferson is predicting losses against Troy, Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Minnesota, Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa.

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