Their offense scored just seven points last week. Their team has lost three straight games. And they don’t know who will be throwing them the ball this weekend. But Wisconsin’s receiving corps hasn’t given up.
After struggling to find a rhythm in their last two games, the receivers aren’t doubting themselves heading into Saturday’s game at Iowa.
“I never lose confidence in my offense,” wide receiver Kyle Jefferson said. “Because when you do that, that’s when everything goes downhill.”
Things seemed to hit rock bottom against Penn State last week. Starting quarterback Allan Evridge completed just two passes before being pulled in the third quarter. Backup Dustin Sherer came in and connected on the first two passes he threw, only to have his third intercepted.
For the game, the team managed just 165 yards through the air and only 50 those came from the starter Evridge.
They aren’t expecting a repeat performance against Iowa.
“I think we’re going to play much better,” tight end Travis Beckum said. “I don’t think we came to play last week.”
Even leading up to last weekend’s game, however, there was talk about needing more production out of the quarterback position. After Penn State, things only intensified.
Though it’s the signal caller who’s taken the heat as of late, the receivers don’t think Evridge and Sherer are entirely to blame.
“I feel like that’s our job, to make them look better,” wide receiver David Gilreath said. “I think we just have to step up for them. Step up and make some plays.”
In the loss to the Nittany Lions, Gilreath was held without a catch for the first time this season.
He expects that to change against the Hawkeyes as well.
“I would hope so,” Gilreath said. “I’d rather not just sit there. … It’s frustrating.”
In fact, Beckum and Zach Brown were the only Badgers to catch more than one pass last weekend. Beckum hauled in five of them while Brown, a running back, caught two passes for a total of just 10 yards.
As they prepare to move forward and improve from last weekend, the receivers find themselves as spectators in the middle of a quarterback quandary. Head coach Bret Bielema reiterated Tuesday a choice had not been made yet on who would start this weekend’s game.
“We’re going to take this week, understand where we’re at and probably make a decision on Friday and move forward,” Bielema said.
For Beckum, playing with a new quarterback is nothing out of the ordinary. The tight end has plenty of experience with having different guys throw him the ball.
“I’ve been with different quarterbacks for the last three years,” Beckum said. “I think as a veteran I’m kind of used to it and I can pass on that knowledge to the younger guys and have them realize no matter who is [playing quarterback], you need to play football.”
As for the preparation leading up to the game, Beckum said it doesn’t matter that it’s uncertain who will be throwing him the ball on Saturday.
“We practice with both,” Beckum said. “No matter who it is, I feel comfortable with either one of them out there.”
“It’s a tough competition between the two men, and may the best man win,” Beckum said.
In fact, having some uncertainty might even be a good thing, according to the senior.
“I think the best time for the offense to come together is with competition behind each position,” Beckum said. “I think it brings the best out of whoever it is, and it makes guys be aware knowing that their spot isn’t for sure.”
And even though it has been a while since the offense put up big numbers, the receivers still know what the unit is capable of.
“When we get rolling we can do some things,” Gilreath said. “We’ve just got to execute.”
Whether they can execute this week will be seen Saturday, but regardless of what happens, the group isn’t planning on giving up any time soon.
“Things happen — you just have to rebound,” Jefferson said. “I can’t be mad; sometimes things don’t go our way.
“It’s not easy to stay positive, but you have to.”