College Football Preview: The 2014 Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin looks like the team to beat in the West Division.
2014 College Football Preview
The Wisconsin Badgers shoot for the Western Division crown in the Big Ten in Gary Andersen's second year.
Overview: The Badgers have to rebuild the front seven of a very impressive defense and need to find somebody to catch the ball. If Andersen can fill these voids will Wisconsin challenge for the top spot in the West?
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Offense: Few teams were as effective on the ground as Wisconsin but they could move the chains through the air as well behind Joel Stave who threw for almost 2,500 yards with 22 TD's and 13 INT's at 62%. The top four receivers including Jared Abbrederis (78-1086) are gone which leaves the team with seven players back that caught 37 balls so rebuilding describes this unit well. James White is a significant loss in both the air and ground with 1,444 rushing yards and 300 receiving yards. Melvin Gordon (206-1609) is more then capable of handling the workload with Corey Clement (67-547) filling the role of the number two option on the ground. The line loses All Big Ten LG Ryan Groy with the group returning 75 games of starting experience altogether.
Defense: The defensive line will have plenty of new faces with only two of the top six returning which is bad news for an above average run D. The news doesn't get any better for the linebacking unit that loses it's top four including leading tackler Chris Borland (91.5) who was second on the team with four sacks. I do see some highly regarded recruits in the front seven but we definitely have to see results. The secondary is the most experienced unit on the defense with seven of the top eight back but might have to become more of a factor versus the run and maintain coverage longer if the front seven don't get pressure on the quarterback.
Special Teams: Jack Russell connected on 9-13 FG but Drew Meyer didn't have a strong leg as punter with a 38.6 yard average. Kenzel Doe will handle all return duties and had a TD on a kick return.
Outlook: I think the West is Wisconsin's to win if the front seven proves to be at least decent. The offense will be able to run but need to be effective through the air as well so if the Badgers can shore up these areas success will be their's.