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    Monday, December 15, 2008

    Breaking Down The Badgers: Tight End

    Wisconsin is one of those teams that prefer old-school football which means the use of a fullback and multiple tight ends as often as not. At the beginning of the 2008 season, one recruiting service listed Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum as the number one tight end in the nation.

    In 2007 for Wisconsin, he had the most receiving yards (982) and the second-most catches (75) of any tight end in the nation. His 75 catches matched the school single-season record for any player. Unfortunately for Beckum and Wisconsin, the senior tight end sustained a fractured left fibula during the Badgers’ eighth game against Illinois. Beckum underwent surgery to repair the fracture and ended his UW career third in school history in both receptions (159) and receiving yards (2,149).

    However, to the dismay of opponents, Garrett Graham was almost as much of a threat as Beckum in 2007. Graham was probably the best Badger offensive player that no one knew about last season. The 6-foot-4, 237-pound junior was the second-leading receiver on the Badgers last year with 30 catches for 324 yards and four touchdowns.

    Fast forward to this season. When the Badgers needed a sure thing in 2008, they looked up Graham. He missed playing in Wisconsin's narrow losses to Michigan and Ohio State due to a foot problem, but picked up where he left off with 6 catches in three consecutive games.

    And here is a scary stat for the Noles. Graham leads Wisconsin in catches (37) and is second in reception yards with 478 yards and leads with 5 TDs which is half of the team's touchdown receptions. Graham averaged 12.92 yards a catch and 3.7 catches a game for 2008. In conference play, Graham's 4.2 receptions and 52.5 receiving yards per game led the league's tight ends. His blocking is also instrumental in the team's running game.

    It is obvious from the above stats that the Badgers actively utilize their tight ends in the offense. As we Nole fans have seen throughout the season, the Nole defense has gotten burned repeatedly by opponents using their tight ends. A painful recent example was the Florida loss when their tight end scored two TDs against the Nole defense. Says, Graham, “I guess it’s just the plays that have been called and I’ve been open. We got a lot of guys who can go out and make plays and guys who have.”

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