NCAA Previews

#18 Wisconsin Badgers Preview 2019

Badgers Feature a Daunting Rush Attack

In creating our Wisconsin Badgers Preview 2019, we note that this team ran a lot last season. Our Wisconsin Badgers preview for 2019 sees them doing more of the same. Last year, Wisconsin finished second in the West to Northwestern, posting a 5-4 conference mark and a 7-5 regular-season record. Losses to Michigan, Penn State, Minnesota, and Northwestern were detrimental. On the up side, early in the season, Wisconsin beat a tough Iowa team and Nebraska. The Badgers went to the Pinstripe Bowl where they rolled over the Miami Hurricanes 35-3.

Wisconsin ranked 61st in points scored, averaging 29.7 per game. Their sixth-ranked rush attack earned 273.4 YPG, while the team’s 118th-ranked passing game put up 157.7 YPG. Total offensive yardage came to 431.2 per game, which was 36th in the nation. The Wisconsin defense was tough versus the pass, allowing just 189.1 YPG (22nd), while their run defense gave up 155.1 (54th). Overall, the D was sound, as total yards came to 344.2 PG (29th) and points allowed per game were at 22.6 (34th).

Wisconsin Badgers Preview 2019 – Offense

A major question for the Wisconsin Badgers in 2019 is who will be quarterback? There’s a competitor going on to see who will replace three-year starter Alex Hornibrook. Will it be junior Jack Coan (60.2 COMP%, 5 TDs, 3 INTs), who saw action last season when Hornibrook missed four of the six final games, or will it be true freshman Graham Mertz who comes in as a five-star recruit? It was thought that Coan would start, but Mertz, an early enrollee, has been impressive in camp. Stay tuned regarding this developing story.

Whoever is quarterback will have the top five receivers from last season to throw to. Included in the mix are senior WR A.J. Taylor (32 REC, 16.3 AVG, 3 TDs) and junior WR Danny Davis (40 REC, 10.4 AVG, 5 TDs). They were two of the most productive pass catchers on this team last season. Although the number of career starts dips on the line, we expect the Badgers to still field one of the best offensive fronts in the Big Ten. They’ll be making way for junior running back Jonathan Taylor (2,194 YDs, 7.1 AVG, 16 TDs). The two-time All-American and Doak Walker Award winner is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.

Defense and Special Teams

Two-of-three starters return to the defensive line, which is young and a bit thin. However, the Badgers usually do a good job in putting together a sound frontline. The linebacking group returns one starter, senior Zack Baun (63 TKLs, 2.5 SCKs, 5 TFL). Braun is the leading returning tackler who recorded eight QBHs, one pick, and two PBU last season. Of the three units on this side of the ball, the deep backs are the strongest. Despite the fact that Wisconsin must replace two-of-four starters in the secondary, they still look solid in this area. Last season, then freshman free safety Scott Nelson (41 TKLs, 6 PBU, 1 INT) was impressive. Along with recording a pick and six PBU, Nelson posted 3.5 TFL. At corner, Rashaad Wildgoose (29 TKLs, 7 PBU, 0 INT), who was also a freshman, proved to be solid.

Our Wisconsin Badgers Preview 2019 notes that last season, the Badgers’ special teams struggled. Jack Dunn (17 RT, 5.5 AVG, 0 TDs) brought back punts but was not very effective. Aron Cruickshank (26 RT, 20.5 AVG, 0 TDs) did better on kick returns. Sophomore PK Colin Larsh replaces four-year starter Rafael Gaglianone (48-48 XP, 10-17 FG). Hopefully Larsh can find more distance than Gaglianone who’s longest field goal last season was 42 yards. Senior punter Anthony Lotti (32 Punts, 38.6 YPP, 14 In20) needs to put more leg into the ball.

Coaching and Recruitment

Paul Chryst (42-12 Wisconsin, 61-31 Overall) has been coaching for seven years with four of those spent guiding the Badgers. His lifetime bowl record is 5-1 and his postseason record with Wisconsin is 4-0. In his first four seasons as a Big Ten coach, he’s won 40-plus games. Only four other Big Ten head coaches have done that. Joe Rudolph is back for his fifth season as offensive coordinator, while Jim Leonhard returns for his third season as defensive coordinator. Of Wisconsin’s incoming class one is a five-star, two four-star, and 16 three-star recruits. This is the sixth-strongest class in the Big Ten.

Our Wisconsin Badgers Preview 2019 – Final Word

This Wisconsin Badgers Preview 2019 sees potential in this team’s pass attack. That is, if they can find solid leadership and sound performance at the quarterback spot. The rush attack looks lethal. The Badger defense has some concerns upfront, and they’re a bit thin, but this team tends to field a fine group on this side of the ball just about every year. Big tests for this team on September 21 at home against Michigan, October 26 at Ohio State, and November 16 at Nebraska.

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Paul has been writing about sports betting and sports for more than a decade, offering picks on the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA, as well as on college sports and European football. He's written thousands of season and post-season previews, innumerable articles on sports betting strategies, and various books on sports and sports betting.

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