The University of Wisconsin football team is closing their non-conference season this weekend when they head to Provo, Utah to take on BYU.
Bringham Young is in a difficult place right now, with a 1-2 record currently this season. The Cougars star quarterback Tanner Mangnum took a hit during their most recent game against Utah and left the game with an ankle injury. As of Wednesday morning, it is has not been confirmed that he will start against the Badgers.
His backup, Beau Hoge, might seem intimidating at first glance, as the 6-foot-11, 205-pound sophomore is the son of former NFL running back Merril Hoge, but Hoge gets much less intimidating the closer you look at him. While Hoge is certainly better off physically than Mangnum, and he is more capable of running than his predecessor, his throwing arm leaves much to be desired.
Hoge has only played in three games during his collegiate career, during which he threw for 137 yards, completing 10 out of 17 passes and managing to score a touchdown. However, that was back in 2015, and Hoge has not been on the field for BYU since then because he decided to red-shirt his 2016 season.
This level of inexperience could be the biggest disadvantage that BYU has Saturday, and it could lead to the Cougars relying heavily on their running game. So far this season, BYU has managed to net a grand total 229 yards and two touchdowns from their running game, and they have also managed to lose a grand total of 55 yards because of their running game.
In comparison, the Badgers have managed to gain a grand total of 591 yards and seven touchdowns from their running game, and they have only managed to give up 28 yards. It should be easy for the Wisconsin defense to stop the BYU running backs, and to easily take control of this game.
The Badgers have managed to squeeze out two wins during their tenure at Camp Randall, but there are still many things that UW can improve on during their battle against the Cougars.
Communication needs to improve
It seems as though one of the biggest issues with this Wisconsin team thus far has been communication, or lack thereof. The defense has stumbled over themselves due to a miscommunication as to what diagram they’re running.
The offense has the same issue, with quarterback Alex Hornibrook accidentally throwing three interceptions within the first two games of the year due to a misplacement of receivers. If this team can nail down their communication and all get on the same page of the playbook, they should be able to out skill the Cougars easily.
The Badgers need to keep their momentum going
Wisconsin has been having an issue with keeping up any momentum that they manage to gain, especially during the first half of the game. Their game against BYU is going to be a close game, and UW will need to be on their toes the whole time.
There can’t be a second quarter lull like there has been in the last two games of the season. If Wisconsin wants to be victorious this season, they need to come out of the gates strong and continue to build momentum throughout the game, not lose it.
The safeties need to keep doing what they’ve been doing
Wisconsin has had some truly stellar moments this season thanks to their safeties. From Joe Ferguson’s 99 yard-interception, to D’Cota Dixon earning an interception during the Utah State game, Wisconsin’s safeties have been managing to create waves in the secondary.
It is clear that this Wisconsin secondary is on their way to becoming one of the most dangerous secondaries the Badgers have ever possessed. If they keep this momentum up, BYU is going to have a hard time getting the ball into the end zone.
While Saturday’s game will still be a challenge for Wisconsin, it is clear they have all of the tools they need to produce a win. The best chance they have to succeed is to ensure their communication lines stay open and they continue to play the quality game they are capable of playing.