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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Football: A glimpse at some important stats through Wisconsin’s first two games

Some notes and important information after two weeks
Photo Credit: Justin Mielke/ The Badger Herald

Two weeks into the football season, the Wisconsin Badgers stand at an underwhelming 1-1 record after their victory against Illinois State on Sept. 3 and the upset that lead to a Washington State win last Saturday.

Through eight quarters of action, here are a few of the stats and players that have stood out.

Third Down


This season the Badgers are an impressive 12/24 on third down, according to Wisconsin Athletics. Quarterback Graham Mertz has been a star on this “money down,” completing 11 of his 16 pass attempts for 167 yards and a touchdown. But his lone interception of the year came on a third down late in the game against Washington State.

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This 50% conversion rate is significant, as this is typically an area that Wisconsin football struggles in. While it is unlikely that this rate of success will continue throughout the season, it certainly seems to be a step in the right direction from the 33% conversion rate the team had in 2021.

Receiving Breakdown

Coming into the season, sophomore receivers Markus Allen and Skyler Bell were two of the most mysterious players on the roster. Both came into the season inexperienced but highly touted.

Throughout both spring and fall camps, the Badgers coaching staff and quarterback Graham Mertz raved about the recievers’ athleticism and playmaking ability.

But through two weeks, we have yet to see much of these two young receivers.

Allen and Bell have combined for just seven catches and 61 yards. This is concerning , considering the general success that Mertz has had to throw the ball this season. Instead of the Allen and Bell receiving the majority of passes as predicted, Mertz has been more successful passing to his seemingly less skilled targets.

The biggest bright spot out of the pass catchers has been the junior tight end, Clay Cundiff. Cundiff has already racked up six catches, double the amount he had in his previous three seasons at Wisconsin. Cundiff has turned these six catches into 82 yards and two touchdowns.

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Outside of a late-game fumble against Washington State, Cundiff has proven himself as a high-quality safety valve for Mertz.

Standouts, or lack thereof, on defense

Nick Herbig and Keeanu Benton are two of the most skilled defensive players in all of college football. Both appeared to be likely breakout candidates as they took over leading roles on one of the country’s best defenses. But Herbig and Benton have both struggled to get on the stat sheet in the early season.

Benton, while not expected to be a tackles machine, has just three tackles through two weeks and has not been the disruptor many Badger fans were expecting. Herbig has just eight tackles so far this year but has managed to mix in three sacks.

While both players have been good, Wisconsin will need much more out of its two best defensive players as they approach conference play in two weeks.

On the flip side of things, junior Maema Njongmeta has been a superstar in the middle for the Badgers. His 15 tackles lead the team by a wide margin. Njongmeta is a first-year starter, after filling the holes left by Jack Sanborn and Leo Chenal. While it will be near impossible for Njongmeta to be on the same level as Sanborn and Chenal, his strong start to the season is certainly a good sign for Wisconsin.

Bobby Engram’s Offense

Wisconsin might have a competent offense for the first time in a handful of years. While the Badgers only scraped across 14 points last Saturday against Washington State, moving the ball was far from the problem. So far, the Badgers have been moving at ease, racking up more than 400 yards of offense in each game. 

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First year offensive coordinator at Wisconsin Bobby Engram has implemented a new offensive system that, so far, seems to be working. Graham Mertz has pleasantly surprised Wisconsin football fans, looking like a brand new quarterback this year while running back Braelon Allen has been just as dominant as most thought he would be.

It is early, and the competition has been light, but it is good to see some early success out of Wisconsin’s offense.

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