After coming out of the gate slow and falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter, Wisconsin began hitting on all cylinders with a few minutes left in the second quarter. The Badgers then went on an absolute tear scoring 56 unanswered points. Here’s what we learned about are team in all phases of the game.
The defense is legit:
Aside from Utah State’s opening eight-play, 54-yard drive that resulted in a field goal, the defense looked dominant holding Utah State scoreless in the last three quarters. Jim Leonhard and his defense looked retooled and ready to go in the second half.
The linebacking core, lead by Chris Orr, performed exceptionally despite losing Jack Cichy to inury and TJ Watt and Vince Biegel to the NFL. The defense held up and looked incredibly stingy and was hardly tested following that first quarter.
Wisconsin might have the best tight end duo in the nation
Preseason All American Tight End Troy Fumagalli certainly did not disappoint in the season opener as he tallied 105 yards and a touchdown in what looked like an effortless performance.
In addition to Fumagalli Zander Neuville, a converted defensive lineman, showed a flash of brilliance with his 28 yard touchdown reception. These two targets are going to be tough for opponents to handle this season
Coach Chryst knows how to motivate a team
Whatever coach Chryst said to the team at halftime one thing is for certain, it worked. They came out with new life in the second half and didn’t take their foot off the pedal until the very end.
They clearly came out flat to start the first half and they weren’t going to do it again. By limiting mistakes on both sides of the ball and grinding their way down the field the Badgers were able to gain total control of the game.
Wisconsin’s rushing game is where it needs to be
Wisconsin has an abundance of rushers this year, with Jonathan Taylor and Chris James leading the team in total rushing yards. During the Utah State game, the Badgers earned a grand total of 234 yards via rushing, and had a total of 4 touchdowns during the game.
With James and Taylor alternating who saw the field at different moments of the game,and Bradrick Shaw also seeing some time on the field, the Badgers rushing game is one of the strongest in the Big Ten.
Hornibrook is heading in the right direction
While he might have had a rough start during Friday’s game, quarterback Alex Hornibrook eventually fell into the right groove with his team. Hornibrook has a dynamic eye, and his vision on the field is superb.
As the season progresses, and Hornibrook becomes more confident in his abilities, the Badgers will be able to improve their passing game. With talented receivers like Jazz Peavy, A.J Taylor and Quintez Cephus highlighting the Wisconsin receiving corps, the Badgers have the talent needed to become a great passing team.
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Leonhard is making waves early in the season
With less than a year of experience under his belt, defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard showed fans what he has to bring to the table for Wisconsin. The Wisconsin secondary was deadly, grabbing 3 interceptions and 105 return yards on said interceptions.
This Wisconsin defense, especially the Wisconsin safeties, are showing signs of being a very physical team that is not afraid to go for the big plays. If this is how they start the season, imagine how strong they will be at the end of the season.
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Overall, while there are still areas that need to be improved for the remainder of the season, it is clear that the Badgers are becoming a dynamic and explosive team. It is going to be hard to stop this team once they find their rhythm with one another, and they are on track to find themselves back in the Big Ten championship game.