Breaking it down: Wisconsin's Offense vs the Huskie D

Will RB John Clay have a day against the Huskies? (via assets.espn.go.com)

The Backfield

Wisconsin Head Coach Brett Bielema can't decide who to put where in this mix of players.  Both quarterbacks came out of nowhere in camp and look to see playing time in the opener.  Doesn't Bielema realize that playing 2 QBs in games simply never works?  It seems like he can't seem to decide on a starter, rather than using a 2-QB system.  Zach Brown is the current pick to start in front of all-world John Clay in another unusual choice.  An underrated aspect is that the Badgers lose their fullback from last year in Chris Pressley, currently with the Bengals.

QB - Scott Tolzien: Jr, 6'3" 205, pocket passer.  Previous accolades: Played in 3 games last year and went 5 for 8 with an INT!.

QB - Curt Phillips: RS Fr, 6'3" 228, dual-threat.  Previous accolades: Scout team player of the year (WHOO!) and stud recruit coming out of high school.

RB - Zach Brown: Jr, 5'10" 210.  Previous accolades: Has played 24 games the last 2 years, averaging 5.0 ypc

RB - John Clay: So, 6'1" 248, freak of nature, Preseason All-Big 10.  Previous accolades: Being a human wrecking ball, placing 7th in the Big 10 LY with 884 rushing yds averaging 5.7 ypc (YIKES).

FB - Bradie Ewing: So, 6'0" 231.  Previous accolades: Mostly special teams

The Receivers

Wisconsin has been stockpiling highly touted wide receivers through recruiting and this corps has tremendous potential.  If they choose to stop running the ball and pass it....and if one of the new quarterbacks can actually get them the pass.  Face it, Wisconsin is just going to stick two tight ends in there, run the ball and occasionally throw in the play action pass to one of these threats.

WR - Nick Toon: So, 6'3" 212. Previous accolades: Played in 12 games LY...17 rec for 257 yds and 1 TD, came on strong late.  Think Landon Cox clone.  Super-recruit.

WR - Issac Anderson: Jr, 5'10" 177.  Previous accolades: Started 8 games LY...21 rec for 286 yds, also came on strong late in the season.

WR - David Gilreath: Jr, 5'11" 170.  Previous accolades: Started 9 games LY...2nd on team with 31 catches for 520 yds and 3 TDs.  Biggest deep threat and mainly a kick and punt return specialist.

TE - Garrett Graham: Sr, 6'3" 250, Preseason All-Big 10.  Previous accolades: Started 10 games LY...Led team with 40 catches for 540 yds and 5 TDs.

TE - Lance Kendricks, Jr, 6'4" 236.  Previous accolades: Played in 8 games LY...6 catches for 141 yds

The Offensive Line

This has been the meat and bones of the Wisconsin offense for years.  The success of the team starts up front, run blocking.  The uglies have been through a lot of turnover and a couple of guys are beat up, but make no mistake that these guys are HUGE and talented.

LT - Gabe Carimi: Jr, 6'7" 325, Preseason All-Big 10.  Previous accolades: Has started at LT 23 games the last 2 years

LG - Jake Bscherer: Jr, 6'7" 310.  Previous accolades: Played in 24 games on special teams the past 2 years.  Super-recruit.

C - John Moffitt: Jr, 6'5" 320.  Previous accolades: Started 19 games the past 2 years.  As I type this, Moffitt still hasn't returned to practice because of a pec strain.

C - Travis Frederick: Fr, 6'4" 336.  Previous accolades: True freshman.

RG - Kevin Zeitler: So, 6'4" 317.  Previous accolades: Played in 3 games last year.  His backup Bill Nagy looks to miss the opener because of a heel injury.

RT - Josh Oglesby: So, 6'7" 330.  Previous accolades: Played in all 13 games LY, starting 3.  Super-recruit.

Important Matchups

RB John Clay vs Everybody

At 6'1" 248 the gameplan against Clay is to get as low as possible and take out his legs. May God help our defense.  Our linebackers actually have pretty good size this year with the 6'2" 229 Pat Schiller anchoring the middle.  Gang-tackling will have to be the key and look for the Safeties to step up big.

Wisconsin's Paul Bunyan O-Line vs NIU's Defensive Line

The Badger offensive line averages over 320 per guy.  Let me just rattle off some players on NIU's D-Line: DJ Pirkle: 6'0" 285, Brian Lawson: 6'3" 272, Adam Coleman & Ron Newcomb: 6'3" 265.  The key will be getting low and speeding past these big bodies to get to the running backs and the quarterbacks.  Look to defensive ends Brandon Bice & Jake Coffman 6'4 250, 6'5" 255 respectively to cause a lot of pressure off the edge, relieving some of the guys in the middle.

TE Garrett Graham vs WLB Cory Hanson/SLB Alex Kube

Usually the weakside linebacker lines up away from the tight end, but that isn't going to matter in this game where they will be constantly be on both sides.  Either one of these guys is going to have to stop Graham from being the outlet for any of the Badger QBs that end up playing in the game.  Kube is only 6'0" 212, but has extreme quickness while Hanson is a little bigger at 6'2" 220.  Somebody is going to have to give up 30 lbs facing the 6'3" 250 pass-catching threat.

CB Patrick George vs WR Nick Toon

With all the running that Wisconsin is going to be doing in this game, the corners are going to be pretty much left on an island to defend for themselves against the Badger receivers.  Our best CB in George is only 5'11 190 going up against a 6'3" 212 Toon.  It should be an interesting matchup to see if the speedy PG can keep Toon at bay.

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