Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Five questions: No. 20 Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Alabama

Joey Reuteman
Tanner McEvoy (3) will start at wide receiver Saturday against No. 3 Alabama.

The Wisconsin football team will kick off their regular season against No. 3 Alabama Saturday in Arlington, Texas. Here are five questions No. 20 Wisconsin hopes to have answered as they begin their 2015 campaign against one of the country’s most historic programs.

Who will emerge as the No. 2 option at wide receiver?

Alex Erickson is the clear-cut No. 1 target for starting quarterback Joel Stave after recording team highs in receptions (55) and receiving yards (772), on top of scoring three touchdowns. But who is going to lineup opposite of Erickson appears to still be up for grabs.

It’s essentially a two-man race between redshirt senior Tanner McEvoy and junior Rob Wheelwright, with McEvoy currently listed as the No. 2 wide receiver on the depth chart. While McEvoy has only taken on-field snaps as a quarterback and safety, he’s been impressive throughout camp as a wideout, especially given his size and athleticism.


Wheelwright, on the other hand, has been able to show flashes of potential through his first two seasons with the team, but has not been able to stay healthy enough to see consistent snaps on the field.

Both guys are seen as big targets who will be looked at in red zone situations and should see plenty of snaps Saturday as the University of Wisconsin coaching staff looks to finalize their depth chart.

Football: Wide receiving unit looks to get healthy and produce in 2015

What will each team’s quarterback situation look like?

The Alabama coaching staff is still yet to announce who their starting quarterback will be for the season opener.

As of now, it appears to be a three-way race for who will replace last year’s quarterback Blake Sims at the position, and it doesn’t look like Alabama will be releasing any more information until kick-off to keep Wisconsin’s defense and coaches on their toes.

On the other hand, the Badgers have had their starting quarterback in place since the spring, but there are still plenty of questions surrounding Stave.

Now a redshirt senior, Stave is entering his final season as the man under center for the Badgers and has left a lot to be desired in terms of on-field production and efficiency.

He’s coming off a disappointing season where he appeared in 10 games and threw just nine touchdowns to 10 interceptions, but reports out of training camp say Stave is showing improvements in his game, displaying more poise in the pocket and a quicker release on his throwing motion.

Against a defense like the one the Crimson Tide boasts, the Badgers will need to bring a balanced offensive attack. Stave will need to bring composed, efficient play under center to make that happen.

Can backup running back Dare Ogunbowale run effectively behind Corey Clement?

Clement’s talent as a runner is well documented. He is a shifty runner with breakaway speed whose size prevents him from going down easily. But he can’t expect to be on the field for every snap, and for the first time in a long time, the Badgers don’t have an overly reliable backup running back.

Last year they had now-starter Clement as a backup, while the year before they had both Melvin Gordon and James White at their disposal in the backfield. This year, they have cornerback-turned-running back Dare Ogunbowale, who has not shown — at least not yet — he will be as reliable as some of the backups UW has had in the past.

Ogunbowale will absolutely need to take some snaps out of the backfield when Clement needs a breather, so it will be very interesting to see how a runner like Ogunbowale, who relies more on speed than strength, fairs against the always-vaunted Alabama defense.

How will the offensive line perform?

A running back is nothing without his offensive line, and Wisconsin has been known for having some of the best offensive linemen in the country. Those guys in the trenches are a big reason why UW has always had successful running games.

But this year is a bit of a different story, as the team’s starting offensive line was not established until earlier this week because of various injuries and the shuffling of different combinations.

Now, the starting offensive line officially consists of fifth-year senior Tyler Marz at left tackle, redshirt freshman Michael Deiter at left guard, redshirt junior Dan Voltz at center, redshirt junior Walker Williams at right guard and redshirt sophomore Hayden Biegel at right tackle. While the talent may be there, the chemistry may not, as the listed unit has not worked together once during training camp.

Given the Alabama defensive front is likely going to be the best the Badgers see throughout the regular season, they’ll need a strong performance from the line to not only allow for Clement to have room to run, but also to give Stave enough time to make smart, efficient passes from the pocket.

Football: O-line ready for Alabama no matter who plays on right side

Can UW’s linebackers live up to the pre-season hype and halt Alabama’s offensive attack?

Wisconsin’s linebacking core, consisting of junior Vince Biegel and senior Joe Schobert at outside linebacker, and redshirt freshman T.J. Edwards and junior Leon Jacobs on the inside, serves as the foundation of a stout Badger defense.

With Alabama having some quarterback issues of their own, it will be important for UW to limit the Crimson Tide’s running game led by standout power runner Derrick Henry. Henry is a powerful back who commonly finds his way through the defensive line and into the second level of defense, so it’ll be important for the linebackers to stop Henry from breaking off large gains.

If the Badgers want to give themselves the best chance to win, they will need to hold down the middle of the field, limit Alabama’s big, momentum-shifting plays and keep the score low — which all starts with the four guys in the middle of the field.

Football: “Yin-yang” balance between OLBs Biegel, Schobert spells doom for opposing offenses

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *